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Title: Primitive Christian Worship

Author: James Endell Tyler

Release date: November 17, 2004 [eBook #14072]
Most recently updated: December 18, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David King, The Million Book Project and the PG Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.






Speaking the truth in love.—EPH. iv. 15
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.—1 THESS. v. 21.





Nov. 25, 1840.


Members of the Church of Rome, and members of the Church of England, have too long entertained towards each other feelings of hostility. Instead of being drawn together as brethren by the cords of that one faith which all Catholics hold dear, their sentiments of sympathy and affection have been absorbed by the abhorrence with which each body has regarded the characteristic tenets of its adversary; whilst the terms "heretic" on the one side, and "idolater" on the opposite, have rendered any attempt to bring about a free and friendly discussion of each other's views almost hopeless.

Every Christian must wish that such animosities, always ill-becoming the servants and children of the God of love, should cease for ever. Truth indeed must never be sacrificed to secure peace; nor must we be tempted by the seductiveness of a liberality, falsely so called, to soften down and make light of those differences which keep the Churches of England and Rome asunder. {Pref 5} But surely the points at issue may be examined without exasperation and rancour; and the results of inquiries carried on with a singleness of mind, in search only for the truth, may be offered on the one side without insult or offence, and should be received and examined without contempt and scorn on the other.

The writer of this address is not one in whom early associations would foster sentiments of evil will against members of the Church of Rome; or encourage any feeling, incompatible with regard and kindness, towards the conscientious defenders of her creed. From his boyhood he has lived on terms of friendly intercourse and intimacy with individuals among her laity and of her priesthood. In his theological pursuits, he has often studied her ritual, consulted her commentators, and perused the homilies of her divines; and, withal, he has mourned over her errors and misdoings, as he would have sighed over the faults of a friend, who, with many good qualities still to endear him, had unhappily swerved from the straight path of rectitude and integrity.

In preparing these pages, the author is not conscious of having been influenced by any motive in the least degree inconsistent with sentiments of charity and respect; at all events, he would hope that no single expression may have escaped from his pen tending to hurt unnecessarily the feelings of any sincere Christian. He has been prompted by a hope that he may perhaps {Pref 6} induce some individuals to investigate with candour, and freedom, and with a genuine desire of arriving at the truth, the subjects here discussed; and that whilst some, even of those who may have hitherto acquiesced in erroneous doctrines and practices, may be convinced of their departure from Christian verity; others, if tempted to desert the straight path of primitive worship, may be somewhat strengthened and armed by the views presented to them here, against the captivating allurements of religious error.

Whether the present work may, by the Divine favour, be made in some degree instrumental in forwarding these results, or in effecting any good, the author presumes not to anticipate; but he will hope for the best. He believes that the honest pursuit of the truth, undertaken with an humble zeal for God's glory, and in dependence on his guidance and light, is often made successful beyond our own sanguine expectations.

With these views the following pages are offered, as the result of an inquiry into the doctrine and practice of the Invocation of Saints and Angels, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To prevent misconception as to the nature of this work, the author would observe, that since the single subject here proposed to be investigated is, "The Invocation of Saints and Angels and the Blessed Virgin Mary," he has scrupulously avoided the discussion of many important and interesting questions usually considered {Pref 7} to be connected with it. He has not, for example, discussed the practice of praying for the dead; he has investigated no theory relating to the soul's intermediate state between our dissolution and the final judgment; he has canvassed no opinion as to any power in the saints and the faithful departed to succour either by their prayers or by any other offices, those who are still on earth, and on their way to God. From these and such like topics he has abstained, not because he thinks lightly of their importance, nor because his own mind is perplexed by doubts concerning them; but because the introduction of such points would tend to distract the thoughts from the exclusive contemplation of the one distinct question to be investigated.

He is also induced to apprise the reader, that in his work, as he originally prepared it, a far wider field, even on the single subject of the present inquiry, was contemplated than this volume now embraces. His intention was to present an historical survey of the doctrine and practice of the invocation of Saints and Angels, and the Virgin, tracing it from the first intimation of any thing of the kind through its various progressive stages, till it had reached its widest prevalence in Christendom. When, however, he had arranged and filled up the results of the inquiries which he made into the sentiments and habits of those later writers of the Church, whose works he considered it necessary to examine with this specific object in view, {Pref 8} he found that the bulk of the work would be swollen far beyond the limits which he had prescribed to himself; he felt also that the protracted investigation would materially interfere with the solution of that one independent question which he trusts now is kept unmixed with any other. He has, consequently, in the present address limited the range of his researches on the nature of Primitive Christian Worship, to the writers of the Church Catholic who lived before the Nicene Council, or were members of it.

In one department, however, he has been under the necessity of making, to a certain extent, an exception to this rule. Having found no allusion to the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin, on which much of the religious worship now paid to her seems to be founded, in any work written before the middle of the fifth century, he has been induced, in his examination of the grounds on which that doctrine professes to be built, to cite authors who flourished subsequently to the Nicene Council.

The author would also mention, that although in substance he has prepared this work for the examination of all Christians equally, and trusts that it will be found not less interesting or profitable to the members of his own Church than to any other, yet he has throughout adopted the form of an address to his Roman Catholic countrymen. Such a mode of conveying his sentiments he considered to be less controversial, while the facts and the arguments would remain the same. His object {Pref 9} is not to condemn, but to convince: not to hold up to obloquy those who are in error, but, as far as he may be allowed, to diminish an evil where it already exists, and to check its further prevalence.

{Pref 10}



Introduction—The duty of examining the grounds of our Faith—Principles of conducting that examination—Errors to be avoided—Proposed plan of the present work


§ 1. Evidence of Holy Scripture, how to be ascertained
2. Direct Evidence of the Old Testament
3. Evidence of the Old Testament, continued
4. ——— New Testament


§ 1. Evidence of Primitive Writers
2. ——— Apostolic Fathers


§ 1. Evidence of Justin Martyr
See also Appendix
2. Evidence of Irenæus
3. ——— Clement of Alexandria
4. ——— Tertullian
——— Methodius
5. ——— Origen
See also Appendix
6. Supplementary Section on Origen
See also Appendix
7. Evidence of St. Cyprian
See also Appendix
8. Evidence of Lactantius
9. ——— Eusebius
See also Appendix
10. Apostolical Canons and Constitutions
11. Evidence of St. Athanasius
See also Appendix

{Pref 11}


State of Worship at the time of the Reformation

§ 1. "Hours of the Virgin"
2. Service of Thomas Becket


Council of Trent See also Appendix


Present Service in the Church of Rome




§ 1. Introductory Remarks
2. Evidence of Holy Scripture


Evidence of Primitive Writers


Assumption of the Virgin Mary


Councils of Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon


§ 1. Present authorized Worship of the Virgin
2. Worship of the Virgin, continued
3. Bonaventura
4. Biel, Damianus, Bernardinus de Bustis, Bernardinus Senensis,&c.
See also Appendix
5. Modern Works of Devotion
See also Appendix






Fellow Christians,

Whilst I invite you to accompany me in a free and full investigation of one of those tenets and practices which keep asunder the Roman and the Anglican Church, I am conscious in how thankless an undertaking I have engaged, and how unwelcome to some is the task in which I call upon you to join. Many among the celebrated doctors of the Roman Church have taught their disciples to acquiesce in a view of their religious obligation widely different from the laborious and delicate office of ascertaining for themselves the soundness of the principles in which they have been brought up. It has been with many accredited teachers a favourite maxim, that individuals will most acceptably fulfil their duty by abstaining {2} from active and personal inquiries into the foundations of their faith; and by giving an implicit credence to whatever the Roman Church pronounces to be the truth1. Should this book fall into the hands of any who have adopted that maxim for the rule of their own conduct as believers, its pages will of course afford them no help; nor can they take any interest in our pursuit, or its results. Whilst, however, I am aware, that until the previous question (involving the grounds on which the Church of Rome builds her claim to be the sole, exclusive, and infallible teacher of Christians in all the doctrines of religion,) shall have been solved, many members of her body would throw aside, as preposterous, any treatise which professed to review the soundness of her instructions; I have been at the same time assured, that with many of her communion the case is far otherwise; and that instead of their being averse to all investigation, a calm, candid, and friendly, but still a free and unreserved inquiry into the disputed articles of their creed, is an object of their sincere desire. On this ground I trust some preliminary reflections upon the duty of proving all things, with a view of holding the more fast {3} and sure what is good, may be considered as neither superfluous nor out of place.

Footnote 1:(return)

It is sometimes curious to observe the language in which the teachers and doctors themselves profess their entire, unlimited, and implicit submission of all their doctrines, even in the most minute particulars, to the judgment and will of the authorities of Rome. Instances are of very frequent occurrence. Thus Joannes de Carthagena, a very voluminous writer of homilies, closes different parts of his work in these words, "These and all mine I willingly subject to the judgment of the Catholic Roman Church, ready, if there be written any thing in any way in the very least point contrary to her doctrine, to correct, amend, erase, and utterly abolish it." Hom. Cath. De Sacris Arcanis Deiparæ et Josephi. Paris, 1615. page 921.

But just as it would belong to another and a separate province to examine, at such length as its importance demands, the claims of the Church of Rome to be acknowledged as that universal interpreter of the word and will of God, from whose decisions there is no appeal; so would it evidently be incompatible with the nature of the present address, to dwell in any way corresponding with the magnitude and delicacy of the subject, on the duty, the responsibility, and the privilege of private judgment; on the dangers to which an unchastened exercise of it may expose both an individual, and the cause of Christian truth; or on the rules which sound wisdom and the analogy of faith may prescribe to us in the government of ourselves with respect to it. My remarks, therefore, on this subject will be as few and brief as I believe to be consistent with an acknowledgment of the principles upon which this work has been conducted.

The foundation, then, on which, to be safe and beneficial, the duty of private judgment, as we maintain, must be built, is very far indeed removed from that common and mischievous notion of it which would encourage us to draw immediate and crude deductions from Holy Scripture, subject only to the control and the colouring of our own minds, responsible for nothing further than our own consciousness of an honest intention. Whilst we claim a release from that degrading yoke which neither are we nor were our fathers able to bear, we deprecate for ourselves and for our fellow-believers that licentiousness which in doctrine and practice tempts a man to follow merely what is right in his own eyes, uninfluenced by the example, the precepts, {4} and the authority of others, and owning no submissive allegiance to those laws which the wise and good have established for the benefit of the whole body. The freedom which we ask for ourselves, and desire to see imparted to all, is a rational liberty, tending to the good, not operating to the bane of its possessors; ministering to the general welfare, not to disorder and confusion. In the enjoyment of this liberty, or rather in the discharge of the duties and trusts which this liberty brings with it, we feel ourselves under an obligation to examine the foundations of our faith, to the very best of our abilities, according to our opportunities, and with the most faithful use of all the means afforded to us by its divine Author and finisher. Among those means, whilst we regard the Holy Scriptures as paramount and supreme, we appeal to the witness and mind of the Church as secondary and subsidiary; a witness not at all competing with Scripture, never to be balanced against it; but competing with our own less able and less pure apprehension of Scripture. In ascertaining the testimony of this witness, we examine the sentiments and practice of the ancient teachers of the Church; not as infallible guides, not as uniformly holding all of them the same opinions, but as most valuable helps in our examination of the evidence of the Church, who is, after all, our appointed instructor in the truths of the Gospel,—fallible in her individual members and branches, yet the sure witness and keeper of Holy Writ, and our safest guide on earth to the mind and will of God. When we have once satisfied ourselves that a doctrine is founded on Scripture, we receive it with implicit faith, and maintain it as a sacred deposit, entrusted to our keeping, to be delivered down whole and entire without our adding {5} thereto what to us may seem needful, or taking away what we may think superfluous.

The state of the Christian thus employed, in acting for himself in a work peculiarly his own, is very far removed from the condition of one who labours in bondage, without any sense of liberty and responsibility, unconscious of the dignity of a free and accountable agent, and surrendering himself wholly to the control of a task-master. Equally is it distant from the conduct of one who indignantly casting off all regard for authority, and all deference to the opinions of others, boldly and proudly sets up his own will and pleasure as the only standard to which he will submit. For the model which we would adopt, as members of the Church, in our pursuit of Christian truth, we find a parallel and analogous case in a well-principled and well-disciplined son, with his way of life before him, exercising a large and liberal discretion in the choice of his pursuits; not fettered by peremptory paternal mandates, but ever voluntarily referring to those principles of moral obligation and of practical wisdom with which his mind has been imbued; shaping his course with modest diffidence in himself, and habitual deference to others older and wiser than himself, yet acting with the firmness and intrepidity of conscious rectitude of principle, and integrity of purpose; and under a constant sense of his responsibility, as well for his principles as for his conduct.

Against the cogency of these maxims various objections have been urged from time to time. We have been told, that the exercise of private judgment in matters of religion, tends to foster errors of every diversity of character, and leads to heresy, scepticism, and infidelity: it is represented as rending the Church of Christ, and totally {6} subverting Christian unity, and snapping asunder at once the bond of peace. So also it has been often maintained, that the same cause robs individual Christians of that freedom from all disquietude and perplexity and anxious responsibility, that peace of mind, satisfaction, and content, which those personally enjoy, who surrender themselves implicitly to a guide, whom they believe to be unerring and infallible.

For a moment let us pause to ascertain the soundness of such objections. And here anticipating, for argument's sake, the worst result, let us suppose that the exercise of individual inquiry and judgment (such as the best teachers in the Anglican Church are wont to inculcate) may lead in some cases even to professed infidelity; is it right and wise and justifiable to be driven by an abuse of God's gifts to denounce the legitimate and faithful employment of them? What human faculty—which among the most precious of the Almighty's blessings is not liable to perversion? What unquestionable moral duty can be found, which has not been transformed by man's waywardness into an instrument of evil? Nay, what doctrine of our holy faith has not the wickedness or the folly of unworthy men employed as a cloke for unrighteousness, and a vehicle for blasphemy? But by a consciousness of this liability in all things human, must we be tempted to suppress the truth? to disparage those moral duties? or to discountenance the cultivation of those gifts and faculties? Rather would not sound philosophy and Christian wisdom jointly enforce the necessity of improving the gifts zealously, of discharging the moral obligation to the full, and of maintaining the doctrine in all its integrity; but guarding withal, to the utmost of our power and watchfulness, against the abuses to which {7} any of these things may be exposed? And we may trust in humble but assured confidence, that as it is the duty of a rational being, alive to his own responsibility, to inquire and judge for himself in things concerning the soul, with the most faithful exercise of his abilities and means; so the wise and merciful Ruler of our destinies will provide us with a sure way of escaping from all evils incident to the discharge of that duty, if, in reliance on his blessing, we honestly seek the truth, and perseveringly adhere to that way in which He will be our guide.

It is a question very generally and very reasonably entertained among us, whether the implicit submission and unreserved surrender of ourselves to any human authority in matters of faith, (though whilst it lasts, it of course affords an effectual check to open scepticism,) does not ultimately and in very deed prove a far more prolific source of disguised infidelity. Doubts repressed as they arise, but not solved, silenced but not satisfied, gradually accumulate in spite of all external precaution; and at length (like streams pent back by some temporary barrier) break forth at once to an utter discarding of all authority, and an irrecoverable rejection of the Christian faith. From unlimited acquiescence in a guide whom our associations have invested with infallibility, the step is very short, and frequently taken, to entire apostasy and the renunciation of all belief.

The state of undisturbed tranquillity and repose in one, who has divested himself of all responsibility in matters of religious belief and practice, enjoying an entire immunity from the anxious and painful labour of trying for himself the purity and soundness of his faith, is often painted in strong contrast with the {8} lamentable condition of those who are driven about by every wind of novelty. The condition of such a man may doubtless be far more enviable than theirs, who have no settled fixed principles, and who wander from creed to creed, and from sect to sect, just as their fickle and roving minds suggest some transitory preference. But the believer must not be driven by the evils of one extreme to take refuge in the opposite. The whirlpool may be the more perilous, but the Christian mariner must avoid the rock also, or he will equally make shipwreck of his faith. He must with all his skill, and all his might, keep to the middle course, shunning that presumptuous confidence which scorns all authority, and boldly constitutes itself sole judge and legislator; but equally rescuing his mind from the thraldom which prostrates his reason, and paralyzes all the faculties of his judgment in a matter of indefeasible and awful responsibility.

Here, too, it is questioned, and not without cause, whether the satisfaction and comfort so often represented in warm and fascinating colours, be really a spiritual blessing; or whether it be not a deception and fallacy, frequently ending in lamentable perplexity and confusion; like guarantees in secular concerns, which as long as they maintain unsuspected credit afford a most pleasing and happy security to any one who depends upon them; but which, when adverse fortune puts their responsibility to the test, may prove utterly worthless, and be traced only by losses and disappointments. Such a blind reliance on authority may doubtless be more easy and more free from care, than it is to gird up the loins of our mind, and engage in toilsome spiritual labour. But with a view to our own ultimate safety, wisdom bids us look to our foundations in time, and assure ourselves {9} of them; admonishing us that if they are unsound, the spiritual edifice reared upon them, however pleasing to the eye, or abounding in present enjoyments, will at length fall, and bury our hopes in its ruin.

On these and similar principles, we maintain that it well becomes Christians, when the soundness of their faith, and the rectitude of their acts of worship, are called in question, "to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." Thus, when the unbeliever charges us with credulity in receiving as a divine revelation what he scornfully rejects, it behoves us all (every one to the extent of his means and opportunities) to possess ourselves of the accumulated evidences of our holy faith, so that we may be able to give to our own minds, and to those who ask it of us, a reason for our hope. The result can assuredly be only the comfort of a still more unshaken conviction. Thus, too, when the misbeliever charges us with an undue and an unauthorized ascription of the Divine attributes to our Redeemer and to our Sanctifier, which he would confine to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, exclusively of the Eternal Son and the Blessed Spirit, it well becomes every Catholic Christian to assure himself of the evidence borne by the Scriptures to the divinity of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, together with the inseparable doctrines of redemption by the blood of Christ, and sanctification by the Spirit of grace; appealing also in this investigation to the tradition of the Church, and the testimony of her individual members from the earliest times, as under God his surest and best guides. In both these cases, I can say for myself that I have acted upon my own principles, and to the very utmost of my faculties have scrutinized the foundations {10} of my faith, and from each of those inquiries and researches I have risen with a satisfaction increased far beyond my first anticipations. What I had taken up in my youth on authority, I have been long assured of by a moral demonstration, which nothing can shake; and I cling to it with an affection, which, guarded by God's good providence, nothing in this world can dissolve or weaken.

It is to engage in a similar investigation that I now most earnestly but affectionately invite the members of the Church of Rome, in order to ascertain for themselves the ground of their faith and practice in a matter of vast moment, and which, with other points, involves the principle of separation between the Roman and Anglican branches of the universal Church. Were the subjects of minor importance, or what the ancient writers were wont to call "things indifferent," reason and charity would prescribe that we should bear with each other, allowing a free and large discretion in any body of Christians, and not severing ourselves from them because we deemed our views preferable to theirs. In such a case we might well walk in the house of God as friends, without any interruption of the harmony which should exist between those who worship the true God with one heart and one mind, ever striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. But when the points at issue are of so vast moment; when two persons agreeing in the general principles of belief in the Gospel and its chief characteristic doctrines, yet find it impossible to join conscientiously in the same prayer, or the same acts of faith and worship, then the necessity is imperative on all who would not be parties to the utter breaking up of Christian unity, nor assist in propagating error, to make sure of their {11} foundations; and satisfy themselves by an honest inquiry and upright judgment, that the fault does not rest with them.

Such appear to me both the doctrine and the practice of the INVOCATION OF SAINTS. I have endeavoured to conjecture in what light this doctrine and this practice would have presented itself to my mind, after a full and free inquiry into the nature and history and circumstances of the case, had I been brought up in communion with the Church of Rome; the question to be solved being, "Could I continue in her communion?" And the result of my inquiry is, that I must have either discarded that doctrine at once and for ever, or have joined with my lips and my knees in a worship which my reason condemned, and from which my heart shrunk. I must have either left the communion of Rome, or have continued to offer prayers to angels, and the spirits of departed mortals. Unless I had resolved at once to shut my eyes upon my own personal responsibility, and to surrender myself, mind and reason, soul and body, to the sovereign and undisputed control of others, never presuming to inquire into the foundation of what the Church of Rome taught; I must have sought some purer portion of the Catholic Church, in which her members addressed the One Supreme Being exclusively, without contemplating any other in the act of religious invocation. The distinction invented in comparatively late years, of the three kinds of worship; one for God, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third for Angels and Saints;—the distinction, too, between praying to a saint to give us good things, and praying to that saint to procure them for us at God's hand, (or, as the distinction {12} is sometimes made, into prayer direct, absolute, final, sovereign, confined to the Supreme Being on the one hand; and prayer oblique, relative, transitory, subordinate, offered to saints on the other,) would have appeared to me the ingenious and finely-drawn inventions of an advocate, not such a sound process of Christian simplicity as the mind could rest upon, with an undoubting persuasion that all was right.

This, however, involves the very point at issue; and I now invite you, my Christian Brethren, to join with me, step by step, in a review of those several positions which have left on my mind the indelible conviction that I could never have passed my life in communion with that Church whose articles of fellowship maintained the duty of invoking saints and angels; and whose public offices were inseparably interwoven with addresses in prayer to other beings, than the Holy and undivided Trinity, the one only God.

In pursuing this inquiry I have thought the most convenient and satisfactory division of our work would be—

First, to ascertain what inference an unprejudiced study of the revealed will of God would lead us to make; both in the times of the elder covenant, when "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," and in that "fulness of time" when God spoke to us by his Son.

Secondly, to examine into the belief and practice of the Primitive Church, beginning with the inspired Apostles of our Lord.

Thirdly, to compare the results of those inquiries with the tenets and practice of the Church of Rome, with reference to three periods; the first immediately {13} preceding the Reformation; the second comprising the Reformation, and the proceedings of the Council of Trent; the third embracing the belief and practice of the present day.

In this investigation, I purpose to reserve the worship of the Virgin Mary, called by Roman Catholic writers "Hyperdulia," and for various reasons the most important and interesting portion of the whole inquiry, for separate and distinct examination; except only so far as our review of any of the primitive writers may occasion some incidental departure from that rule.

May God guide us to his truth!




Here, Christian Brethren, bear with me if I briefly, but freely, recall to our thoughts on this first entrance upon a review of the inspired volume, the principles, and tone of mind, the temper and feelings, in a word, the frame both of the understanding and of the heart, with which we should study the sacred pages, on whatever subject we would try all things, and hold fast what should prove itself to be most in accordance with the will of God. Whether we would regard the two great parts into which the Holy Scriptures are divided, as the Old and the New Covenants; or whether we would prefer to call them the Old and the New Testaments, it matters not. Although different ideas and associations are suggested by those different names, yet, under either view, the same honest and good heart, the same patience of investigation, the same upright and unprejudiced judgment, the same exercise of our mental faculties, and the same enlightened conscience, must be brought to the investigation. In the one case we must endeavour to ascertain for ourselves the true intent and {15} meaning of the inspired word of God, on the very same principles with those on which we would interpret a covenant between ourselves, and a person who had made it in full and unreserved reliance on our integrity, and on our high sense of equity, justice, and honour. In the other case we must bring the selfsame principles and feelings to bear on our inquiry, as we should apply in the interpretation of the last will and testament of a kind father, who with implicit confidence in our uprightness and straightforward dealing and affectionate anxiety to fulfil his intentions to the very utmost, had assigned to us the sacred duty of executor or trustee.

Under the former supposition, our sincere solicitude would be to ascertain the true intent and meaning of the contracting parties, not to seek out plausible excuses for departing from it; not to cull out and exaggerate beyond their simple and natural bearing, such expressions in the deed of agreement, as might seem to justify us in adopting the view of the contract most agreeable to our present wishes and most favourable to our own interests. Rather it would be our fixed and hearty resolution, at whatever cost of time, or labour, or pecuniary sacrifice, or personal discomfort, to apply to the instrument our unbiassed powers of upright and honest interpretation.

Or adopting the latter analogy, we should sincerely strive to ascertain the chief and leading objects of our parent's will; what were his intentions generally; what ruling principles seemed to pervade his views in framing the testament; and in all cases of obscurity and doubt, in every thing approaching an appearance of inconsistency, we should refer to that paramount principle as our test and guide. We should not for a moment {16} suffer ourselves to be tempted to seek for ambiguous expressions, which ingenuity might interpret so as to countenance our departure from the general drift of our parent's will, in cases where it was at variance with our own inclination, and where we could have wished that he had made another disposition of his property, or given to us a different direction, or trusted us with larger discretion. Moreover, in any points of difficulty, we should apply for assistance, in solving our doubts, to such persons as were most likely to have the power of judging correctly, and whose judgment would be least biassed by partiality and prejudice;—not to those whose credit was staked on the maintenance of those principles which best accorded with our own inclination. Especially if in either case some strong feeling should have been raised and spread abroad on any point, we should seek the judgment and counsel of those who had been familiar with the testator's intentions, or with the views of the covenanting party, before such points had become matter of discussion.

Now only let us act upon these principles in the interpretation of THAT COVENANT in which the Almighty has vouchsafed to make Himself one of the contracting parties, and man, the creature of his hand, is the other: only let us act on these principles in the interpretation of THAT TESTAMENT of which the Saviour of the world is the Testator; and with God's blessing on our labours (a blessing never denied to sincere prayer and faithful exertions) we need not fear the result. Any other principle of interpretation will only confirm us in our prejudices, and involve us more inextricably in error.



The first step in our proposed inquiry is to ascertain what evidence on the doctrine and practice of the Invocation of Saints and Angels can be fairly drawn from the revealed word of God in the Old Testament.

Now, let us suppose that a person of a cultivated and enlightened mind, and of a sound and clear judgment, but hitherto a stranger to revelation, were required to study the ancient Scriptures with the single view of ascertaining what one object more than any other, subordinate to the great end of preparing the world for the advent of Messiah, seemed to be proposed by the wisdom of the Almighty in imparting to mankind that revelation; could he fix upon any other point as the one paramount and pervading principle with so much reason, as upon this, the preservation in the world of a practical belief in the perfect unity of God, and the fencing of his worship against the admixture of any other, of whatever character or form; The announcement that the Creator and Governor of the universe is the sole Giver of every temporal and spiritual blessing; the one only Being to whom, his rational creatures on earth should pay any religious service whatever; the one only Being to whom mortals must seek by prayer and invocation for the supply of any of their wants? Through the entire volume the inquirer would find that the unity of God is announced in every variety of expression; and that the exclusive worship {18} of HIM alone is insisted upon and guarded with the utmost jealousy by assurances, by threats, and by promises, as the God who heareth prayer, alone to be called upon, alone to be invoked, alone to be adored. So to speak, he would find that recourse was had to every expedient for the express purpose of protecting God's people from the fatal error of embracing in their worship any other being or name whatever; not reserving supreme adoration for the Supreme Being, and admitting a sort of secondary honour and inferior mode of invocation to his exalted saints and servants; but banishing at once and for ever the most distant approximation towards religious honour—the veriest shadow of spiritual invocation to any other Being than Jehovah HIMSELF ALONE.

In process of time, the heathen began to deify those mortals who had conferred signal benefits on the human race, or had distinguished themselves by their power and skill above their fellow-countrymen. Male and female divinities were multiplying on every side. Together with Jupiter, the fabled father of gods and men, worshipped under different names among the various tribes, were associated those "gods many and lords many," which ignorance and superstition, or policy and craft, had invented; and which shared some a greater, some a less portion of popular veneration and religious worship. To the people of God, the worshippers of Jehovah, it was again and again most solemnly and awfully denounced, that no such thing should be. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve," is a mandate repeated in every variety of language, and under every diversity of circumstance. In some passages, indeed, together with the most clear assurances, {19} that mankind need apply to no other dispenser of good, and can want no other as Saviour, advocate, or intercessor, that same truth is announced with such superabundance of repetition, that in the productions of any human writer the style would be chargeable with tautology. In the Bible, this repetition only the more forces upon the mind, and fixes there, that same principle as an eternal verity never to be questioned; never to be dispensed with; never to be diluted or qualified; never to be invaded by any service, worship, prayer, invocation, or adoration of any other being whatever. Let us take, for example, the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, in which the principle is most strongly and clearly illustrated. "I am the LORD, and there is none else: there is no God beside me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am the Lord, and there is none else. They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them; they shall go to confusion together, that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end: I am the Lord, and there is none else. I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. There is no god beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."

But it is needless to multiply these passages; and members of the Church of Rome will say, that they themselves acknowledge, as fully as members of the Anglican Church can do, that there is but one supreme {20} God and Lord, to whom alone they intend to offer the worship due to God; and that the appeals which they offer by way of invocation to saints and angels for their services and intercession, do not militate against this principle. But here let us ask ourselves these few questions:—

First, if it had been intended by the Almighty to forbid any religious application, such as is now professedly the invocation of saints and angels, to any other being than Himself alone, what words could have been employed more stringently prohibitory?

Secondly, had such an address to saints and angels, as the Church of Rome now confessedly makes, been contemplated by our heavenly Lawgiver as an exception to the general rule, would not some saving clause, some expressions indicative of such an intended exception, have been discovered in some page or other of his revealed will?

Thirdly, if such an appeal to the angels of heaven, or to the spirits of the just in heaven, had been sanctioned under the elder covenant, would not some example, some solitary instance, have been recorded of a faithful servant of Jehovah offering such a prayer with the Divine approbation?

Lastly, when such strong and repeated declarations and injunctions interspersed through the entire volume of the Old Testament, unequivocally show the will of God to be, that no other object of religious worship should have place in the heart or on the tongue of his own true sons and daughters, can it become a faithful child of our Heavenly Father to be seeking for excuses and palliations, and to invent distinctions between one kind of worship and another?

God Himself includes all in one universal prohibitory {21} mandate, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." So far from according with those general rules for the interpretation of the revealed will of God, which we have already stated, and from which, in the abstract, probably few would dissent, an anxiety to force the word of God into at least an acquiescence in the invocation of saints and angels, indicates a disposition to comply with his injunctions, wherever they seem to clash with our own view, only so far as we cannot avoid compliance; and to seek how we may with any show of propriety evade the spirit of those commands. Instead of that full, free, and unstinted submission of our own inclinations and propensities to the Almighty's will wherever we can discover it, which those entertain whom the Lord seeketh to worship Him; to look for exceptions and to act upon them, bears upon it the stamp of a reserved and grudging service. After so many positive warnings, enactments, and denunciations, against seeking by prayer the aid of any other being whatever, surely a positive command would have been absolutely necessary to justify a mortal man in preferring any prayer to any being, saint, angel, or archangel, save only the Supreme Deity alone. Instead of any such command or even permission appearing, not one single word occurs, from the first syllable in the Book of Genesis to the last of the prophet Malachi, which could even by implication be brought to countenance the practice of approaching any created being in prayer.

But let us now look to the examples on this subject afforded in the Old Testament. Many, very many a prayer is recorded of holy men, of inspired men, of men, to whose holiness and integrity and acceptance {22} the Holy Spirit bears witness; yet among these prayers there is not found one invocation addressed to saint or angel. I will not here anticipate the observations which it will be necessary to make in consequence of the extraordinary argument which has been devised, to account for the absence of invocations to saints before the resurrection of Christ, namely, that before that event the saints were not admitted into heaven. Although pressed forward with such unhesitating confidence in its validity, that argument is so singular in its nature, and so important in its consequences, and withal so utterly groundless, as to call for a separate examination, on which we will shortly enter: meanwhile, we are now inquiring into the matter of fact.

The whole Book of Psalms is a manual of devotion, consisting alternately, or rather intermixedly, of prayers and praises, composed some by Moses, some by other inspired Israelites of less note, but the greater part by David himself; and what is the force and tendency of their example? Words are spoken in collaudation of "Moses and Aaron among the saints of the Lord," and of "Samuel among such as called upon his name;" and mention is made with becoming reverence of the holy angels; but not one word ever falls from the pen of the Psalmist, addressed, by way of invocation, to saint or angel. In the Roman Ritual supplication is made to Abel and Abraham as well as to Michael and all angels. If it is now lawful, if it is now the duty of the worshippers of the true God to seek his aid through the mediation of those holy men, can we avoid asking, Why the inspired patriarchs did not appeal to Abel for his mediation? Why did not the inspired David invoke the father of the faithful to intercede for him with God? If the departed spirits {23} of faithful men may be safely addressed in prayer; if those who in their lifetime have, to their fellow-mortals, (who can judge only from outward actions, and cannot penetrate the heart,) appeared accepted servants and honoured saints of our Creator, may now be invoked by an act of religious supplication either to grant us aid, or to intercede with God for aid in our behalf, why did not men whom God declared to be partakers of his Spirit of truth, offer the same supplication to those departed spirits, who, before and after their decease, had this testimony from Omniscience itself, that they pleased God? Why is no intimation given in the later books of the Old Testament that such supplications were offered to Moses, or Aaron, or Abraham, or Noah? When wrath was gone out from the presence of the Lord, and the plague was begun among the people, Aaron took a censer in his hand, and stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed. If the soul of Aaron was therefore to be regarded as a spirit influential with God, one whose intercession could avail, one who ought to be approached in prayer, were it only for his intercession, could a stronger motive be conceived for suggesting that invocation, than David must have felt, when the pestilence was destroying its thousands around him, and all his glory and strength, and his very life too, were threatened by its resistless ravages? But no! neither Abel, nor Abraham, nor Moses, nor Aaron, must be petitioned to intercede with God, and to pray that God would stay his hand. To God and God alone, for his own mercy's sake, must his afflicted servant turn in supplication. We find among his prayers no "Holy Abraham, pray for us,"—"Holy Abel, pray for us." His own Psalm of thanksgiving describes full well the object and the nature of his {24} prayer: "When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid, the sorrows of hell compassed me about, the snares of death prevented me; in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God; and He did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears." [2 Sam. (2 Kings Vulg.) xxii. 5. or Ps. xviii.] Abraham, when on earth, prayed God to spare the offending-people; but he invoked neither Noah, nor Abel, nor any of the faithful departed, to join their intercessions with his own. Isaac prayed to God for his son Jacob, but he did not ask the mediation of his father Abraham in his behalf; and when Jacob in his turn supplicated an especial blessing upon his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, though he called with gratitude to his mind, and expressed with his tongue, the devotedness both of Abraham and of Isaac to the Almighty, yet we do not find him appealing to them, or invoking their intercession with Jehovah.

When the conscience-struck Israelites felt that they had exposed themselves to the wrath of Almighty God, whose sovereign power, put forth at the prayer of Samuel, they then witnessed, distrusting the efficacy of their own supplication, and confiding in the intercession of that man of God, they implored him to intercede for them; and Samuel emphatically responded to their appeal, with an assurance of his earnestly undertaking to plead their cause with heaven: "And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not.... The Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's {25} sake.... Moreover, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you." [1 Sam. (1 Kings Vulg.) xii. 19.] Samuel is one whom the Holy Spirit numbers among those "who called upon God's name;" and when Samuel died, all Israel gathered together to lament and to bury him,—but we read of no petition being offered to him to carry on the same intercessory office, when he was once removed from them. As long as he was entabernacled in the flesh and sojourned on earth with his brethren, they besought him to pray for them, to intercede with their God and his God for blessings at his hand, (just as among ourselves one Christian asks another to pray for him,) but when Samuel's body had been buried in peace, and his soul had returned to God who gave it, the Bible never records any further application to him; we no where read, "Holy Samuel, pray for us."

Again, what announcement could God Himself make more expressive of his acceptance of the persons of any, than He actually and repeatedly made to Moses with regard to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How could He more clearly intimate that if the spirits of the faithful departed could exercise intercessory or mediatorial influence with Him, those three holy patriarchs would possess such power above all others who had ever lived on the earth? "I am the God of your fathers; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob: and Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God." "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you. This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial throughout all generations." [Exod. iii. 6. 15.] Did Moses in his alarm and dread, when he was afraid {26} to look upon God, call upon those holy and accepted servants to aid him in his perplexity, and intercede for him and his people with the awful Eternal Being on whose majesty he dared not to look? Did he teach his people to invoke Abraham? That was far from him. When Moses, that saint of the Lord, was himself called hence and was buried, (though no mortal man was allowed to know the place of his sepulture,) did the surviving faithful pray to him for his help and intercession with God? He had wrought so many and great miracles as never had been before witnessed on earth; whilst in the tabernacle of the flesh he had talked with God as a man talketh with his friend; and yet the sacred page records no invocation ever breathed to his departed spirit. The same is the result of our inquiry throughout.

I will specify only one more example—Hezekiah, who "trusted in the Lord God of Israel, and clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments," when he and his people were in great peril, addressed his prayer only to God. He offered no invocation to holy David to intercede with the Almighty for his own Jerusalem; he made his supplication directly and exclusively to Jehovah; and, yet, the very answer made to that prayer would surely have seemed to justify Hezekiah in seeking holy David's mediation, if prayer for the intercession of any departed mortal could ever have been sanctioned by Heaven: "Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father; I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; I will heal thee. I will save this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake." [2 Kings (Vulg. 4 Kings) xix. 15. and xx. 6.] Of what saint in the calendar was ever such a thing as this spoken?


I have already intimated my intention of referring, with somewhat more than a cursory remark, to the position assumed, and the argument built upon it by writers in communion with Rome, for the purpose of nullifying or escaping from the evidence borne by the examples of the Old Testament against the invocation of saints. The writers to whom I refer, with Bellarmin at their head, openly confess that the pages of the Old Testament afford no instance of invocation being offered to the spirits of departed mortals; and the reason which they allege is this, No one can be invoked who is not admitted to the presence of God in heaven; but before Christ went down to hell2 and released the spirits from prison, no mortal was admitted into heaven; consequently, before the resurrection of Christ the spirit of no mortal was invoked. The following are the words of Bellarmin at the close of the preface to his "Church Triumphant:"—"The spirits of the patriarchs and prophets before the coming of Christ were for this reason not worshipped and invoked, as we now worship and invoke the Apostles and martyrs, because they were yet shut up and detained in prisons below3." Again, he says, "Because before {28} the coming of Christ the saints who died did not enter heaven and saw not God, nor could ordinarily know the prayers of suppliants, therefore, it was not customary in the Old Testament to say, 'Holy Abraham, pray for me,' &c.; but the men of that time prayed to God only, and alleged the merits of the saints who had already departed, that their own prayers might be aided by them."

Footnote 2:(return)

The word Hell, signifying, in Saxon, a hidden-place, altogether corresponding in its etymology with "hades," is now used for the place of torment called by the Hebrews "Gehennah;" and we must perhaps regret that the same Saxon word is employed to signify also the unseen region of departed spirits. This circumstance has been the source of much difficulty and confusion.

Footnote 3:(return)

"Nam idcirco ante Christi adventum non ita colebantur neque invocabantur spiritus patriarcharum atque prophetarum, quemadmodum nunc Apostolos et martyres colimus et invocamus, quod illi adhuc infernis carceribus clausi detinebantur."—Ingolstadii, 1601. vol. ii. p. 833. "The last edition, enlarged and corrected by the Author."

Now let us inquire into this statement thus broadly made, and ascertain for ourselves whether the point assumed and the argument built upon it can stand the test of examination. Is this argument such as ought to satisfy the mind of one, who would humbly but honestly follow the apostolic rule, "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good?" Is this such an exposition as that the reason of a cultivated mind, and the faith of an enlightened Christian, can acquiesce in it? Let it be examined neither with prejudice in its favour, nor with any undue suspicion of its soundness, but with candour and impartiality throughout.

It is not necessary to dwell at any length on the inconsistencies and perplexities involved in this assumed abstract theory with regard to the souls of the faithful who died before the resurrection of Christ, and which require to be cleared away before its advocates can reasonably expect to obtain for it any general acceptance among thinking men. I do not wish to contravene the theory, far less to substitute another in its stead. On the contrary, I am fully content, in company with some of the most valuable among Roman Catholic writers, following the example of Augustin [Aug. De Pecc. Orig. c. 23. tom. vii. p. 338.—Quoted by De Sacy. 2 Kings (Vulg. 4 Kings) ii.], to leave the subject where Scripture has left it. To the arguments {29} alleged, I would wish to reply independently of any opinion, as a matter of Christian belief, with regard to the place, the condition, and the circumstances of the souls of the patriarchs and prophets before our blessed Lord's resurrection. It may, nevertheless, materially facilitate an inquiry into the soundness of the reasons alleged for the total absence of invocation to those souls, if we briefly contemplate some of the difficulties which surround this novel theory. At all events, such a process will incline us to abstain from bold assumptions on a point upon which the Almighty has been pleased to throw so little light in his Holy Word, or at least avoid all severity of condemnation towards those who may differ from our views.

It is very easy to assert, that all the souls of the faithful departed were kept in the prison-house of Hades, and to allege in its behalf an obscure passage of St. Peter, to which many of the most learned and unprejudiced Christian teachers assign a meaning totally unconnected with the subject of departed spirits. But surely the case of Enoch's translation from this life to heaven, making, as it has been beautifully expressed, but one step from earth to glory, which St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, cites with a most important comment of his own, requires to be well and patiently weighed. He was taken from the earth by an immediate act of Providence, that he should not see death; and before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Surely the case of Elijah too, when we would ascertain the soundness of this theory, must not be dismissed summarily from our thoughts, of whom the book of eternal truth declares, that Jehovah took him {30} in a whirlwind into heaven; his ascent being made visible to mortal eyes, as was afterwards the ascension of the blessed Saviour Himself. Indeed the accounts of Elijah's translation, and of our Lord's ascension, whether in the Septuagint and Greek Testament, the Vulgate, or our own authorized version, present a similarity of expression very striking and remarkable.

On this subject we are strongly reminded, first, with what care and candour and patience the language of Holy Scripture should be weighed, which so positively declares, that Moses and Elijah, both in glory, appeared visibly to the Apostles at the transfiguration of our blessed Saviour, and conversed with Him on the holy mount: "And behold there talked with Him two men, who were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory (in majesty, as the Vulgate renders the word), and spake of his decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem;" [Luke ix. 30.]—and, secondly, how unwise it is to dogmatize on such subjects beyond the plain declaration of the sacred narrative. Moreover, how very unsatisfactory is the theory which we are examining as to the state of the souls of the faithful who died before Christ, even the words of Jerome himself prove, who, commenting on the transfiguration of the blessed Jesus, is unhappily led to represent the Almighty as having summoned Elijah to descend from heaven, and Moses to ascend from Hades, to meet our Lord in the Mount4.

Footnote 4:(return)

"Elia inde descendente quo conscenderat, et Moyse ab inferis resurgente."—Hieron. in Matt. xvii. 1. Paris, 1706. vol. iv. p. 77.

Strange and startling as is this sentiment of Jerome, it is, you will observe, utterly irreconcileable with the theory, that the reason why the ancient Church did not {31} pray to the saints departed, was because they were not yet in heaven.

On this point, among Roman Catholic writers themselves, there prevails a very great diversity of opinion, arising probably from the difficulty which they have experienced in their endeavours to make all facts and doctrines square with the present tenets and practices of their Church5. Thus, whilst some maintain that Elijah was translated to the terrestrial paradise in which Adam had been placed, not enjoying the immediate divine presence; others cite the passage as justifying the belief that the saints departed pray for us6. But not only are different authors at variance with each other on very many points here; the same writer in his zeal is betrayed into great and palpable inconsistency. Bellarmin, anxious to enlist the account given by our Lord of the rich man and Lazarus, to countenance the invocation of saints by the example of the rich man appealing to Abraham, maintains that section of Holy Writ to be not a parable, but a true history of a matter of fact which took place between two real individuals; and of his assertion he adduces this proof, that "the Church worships that Lazarus as verily a holy man7;" and yet he denies that any of the holy men were in heaven before the {32} death of Christ. Either Abraham was in heaven in the presence of God, or not; if he was in heaven, why did not his descendants invoke his aid? if he was not in heaven, the whole argument drawn from the rich man's supplication falls to the ground.

Footnote 5:(return)

See De Sacy on 4 Kings i. 1. See also Estius, 1629. p. 168. Pope Gregory's Exposition; Rome, 1553. p. 99. Stephen's Bible in loc. 1557, &c. The Vulgate ed. Antwerp, 1624, cites a note, "Thy prayers are stronger than chariots and horsemen."

Footnote 6:(return)

Gaspar Sanctius, Antwerp, 1624. p. 1360, considers the fable not improbable, that Elijah, living in the terrestrial paradise, wrote there the letters to Joram (mentioned 2 Chron. xxi. 12), and sent them by angels.

Footnote 7:(return)

Colit Lazarum ilium ut vere sanctum hominem.—Bellarm. De Ecd. Triumph, p. 864.

Another very extraordinary inconsistency, arising from the same solicitude, forces itself upon our notice, when the same author urges a passage in Leviticus [Levit. xix. 13.] to prove, that the saints are now admitted at once into the enjoyment of the presence of God in heaven, without waiting for the day of final judgment. [Bell vol. ii. p. 865.] "God (such are his words) commanded it to be written, 'The work of the hireling shall not remain with thee till the morning;' therefore, unless God would appear inconsistent with Himself, He will not keep back the reward of his saints to the end of the world." How strange, that in the same treatise [Ibid. p. 833.] this author should expressly maintain, that the reward of Abel and Abraham, and the holy prophet and lawgiver Moses, the very man who was commanded to write that law in Leviticus, was kept back,—the last for a longer period than a thousand years; the first well nigh four thousand years.

I mention these particulars merely to point out how very unsatisfactory and unsound is the attempted solution of the difficulties which surround on every side the theory of those who maintain, that the reason why we have no instance of the righteous departed being invoked in the times of the elder covenant is, that they were not as yet admitted into heaven, but were kept in prison till the resurrection of Christ. I would also observe, even at the risk {33} of repetition, that I am here not maintaining any opinion as to the appointed abiding-place, the condition, and circumstances, the powers of consciousness, volition or enjoyment of the departed, before Christ's resurrection; on the contrary, I am rather urging the consideration of the great and serious caution requisite before we espouse, as an article of faith, any opinion which rests on so questionable a foundation, and which involves such interminable difficulties.

But while we need not dwell longer on this immediate point, yet there are two considerations which appear to be altogether decisive as to the evidence borne against the Invocation of Saints by the writers of the Old Testament. If the spirits of the saints departed were not invoked before the resurrection of Christ, purely because they were not then admitted into heaven; the first consideration I would suggest is this: Why did the faithful and inspired servants of Jehovah not invoke the angels and archangels who were in heaven? The second is this: Why did not the inspired Apostles and faithful disciples of our Lord invoke the spirits of those saints after his resurrection; that is (according to the theory before us), after those saints had been taken by Christ with him into his Father's presence? I wish not to anticipate here our inquiry into the testimony borne by the writers of the New Testament as to the doctrine and practice of the Roman Church in this particular; and I will only add, that whatever be the cause of the absence from the Old Testament of all worship and invocation of Abel and Abraham, whom the Roman Church now invokes, the alleged reason that it was because they were not in heaven till after Christ's resurrection, is utterly set aside by the conduct of the Apostles and disciples of our Lord recorded in the New {34} Testament, for more than half a century after his return to his Father's glory.

This, however, seems to be the proper place for entertaining the first consideration, Why did not the holy men of old, under the elder covenant, invoke angels and archangels, as the Roman Church now does? Writers, indeed, who have declared themselves the defenders of that doctrine and practice, refer us to passages, which they cite, as affording examples of the worship of angels; and we will not knowingly allow any one of those sections of Holy Writ to remain unexamined. We must first endeavour to ascertain the testimony borne by the books of the Old Testament: and that presents to us such a body of evidence as greatly increases our surprise at the perseverance with which the invocation of angels has been maintained by any community of men acknowledging the inspiration of the sacred volume.

The inspired writers of the Old Testament, and those to whom through their mouth and pen the Divine word was addressed, were as fully as ourselves acquainted with the existence of angelic beings. They were aware of the station of those angels in the court of heaven, of their power as God's ambassadors, and agents for good. Either their own eyes had seen the mighty operations of God by the hands of those celestial messengers; or their ears had heard their fathers tell what HE had done by their instrumentality in times of old. Why then did not God's chosen people offer to the angels the same worship and invocation which the Church of Rome now addresses to them in common with the patriarchs and prophets of the elder covenant, and with saints and martyrs under the new? In the condition of the holy angels no one ever suggests that {35} any change, affecting the argument, has taken place since the time when man was created and made. And as the angels of heaven were in themselves the same, equally in the presence of God, and equally able to succour men through that long space of four thousand years, which intervened between Adam's creation and the birth of HIM who was Son of Adam and Son of God, so was man in the same dependent state, needing the guidance and protection of a power above his own. Nay, surely, if there was in man any difference affecting the argument, it would all add weight to the reason against the invocation of angels by Christians. The Israelites of old had no clear knowledge, as we have, of one great Mediator, who is ever making intercession for us; and yet they sought not the mediation and intercession and good offices of those superhuman beings, of whose existence and power, and employment in works of blessing to man, they had no doubt8. This is a point of great importance to our argument, and I will refer to a few passages in support of it.

Footnote 8:(return)

A small section indeed of their countrymen in our Saviour's time denied the reality of a future state, and the existence of angels and spirits; but the sect was of then recent origin, and the overwhelming majority believed as their fathers had believed.

When David, who had, as we know [1 Chron. xxi. 16.], visible demonstration afforded him of the existence and ministration of the angels, called upon them to unite with his own soul, and with all the works of creation through all places of God's dominion, in praising their merciful, glorious, and powerful Creator, he thus conveys to us the exalted ideas with which he had been filled of their nature, their excellence, and their ministration. "The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his {36} kingdom ruleth over all: Bless the Lord, ye his angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts, ye ministers of his that do his pleasure." [Ps. ciii. 19-21.] David knew moreover that one of the offices, in the execution of which the angels do God's pleasure, is that of succouring and defending us on earth. For example, in one of the psalms used by the Church of Rome at complin, and with the rest repeated in the Church of England, and prophetic of the Redeemer, David, to whom this psalm is probably to be ascribed, declares of the man who had made the Most High his refuge and strength, "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling; for he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways; they shall bear thee up in their hands lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." [Ps. xci. 10-12.] And again, with exquisitely beautiful imagery, he represents those same blessed servants of heaven as an army, as a host of God's spiritual soldiers keeping watch and ward over the poorest of the children of men, who would take refuge in his mercy: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them9." And yet David, the prophet of the Lord, never addresses to these beings, high and glorious though they are, one single invocation: he neither asks them to assist him, nor to pray for him, nor to pray with him in his behalf.

Footnote 9:(return)

Ps. xxxiv. 7. (Vulg. xxxiii. 8.) "Immittet angelus Domini in circuitu timentium eum, et eripiet eos." In the Vulgate the beauty of the figure is lost; which, however, Roman Catholic writers restore in their comments. Basil makes a beautiful use of the metaphor. See De Sacy in loc.


Isaiah was admitted by the Holy Spirit to witness in the fulness of its glory the court and the throne of heaven; and he heard the voices of the seraphim proclaiming their Maker's praise; he experienced also personally the effect of their ministration, when one of them said, "Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." [Isaiah vi. 7.] Still, though Isaiah must have regarded this angel as his benefactor under God, yet neither to this seraph, nor to any of the host of heaven, does he offer one prayer for their good offices, even by their intercession. He ever ascribes all to God alone; and never joins any other name with His either in supplication or in praise. Let us also take the case of Daniel. He acknowledges not only that the Lord's omnipotent hand had rescued him from the jaws of the lions, but that the deliverance was brought about by the ministration of an angel. "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me." [Dan. vi. 22.] Yet when we look through Daniel's prayers, we find no allusion to any of the highest angels. He had seen Gabriel before his prayer; he had heard the voice and felt the hand of that heavenly messenger who was commissioned to reveal to him what should be done in the latter end; and immediately after the offering of his prayer, the same Gabriel announces himself as one who was come forth to give the prophet skill and understanding. And yet neither towards Gabriel, nor any other of the angels of God, does one word of invocation fall from the lips of Daniel. In the supplications of that holy, intrepid, and blessed servant and child of God, we search in vain for any thing approaching in spirit to the invocation, "Sancte Gabriel, ora pro nobis."



We must now briefly refer to those passages, by which Roman Catholic writers have endeavoured to maintain that religious adoration was paid to angels by the faithful sons of God. The two principal instances cited are, first, the case of Abraham bowing down before three men, whom he recognizes as messengers from heaven; and, secondly, the words of Jacob when he gave his benediction to his grandsons.

With regard to the first instance, how very far the prostration of Abraham was in itself from implying an act of religious worship, being as it was the ordinary mode of paying respect to a fellow mortal, is evident from the very words of Scripture. The Hebrew word, which we translate by "bowed himself," and which the Vulgate unhappily renders "adoravit" ("adored"), is, letter for letter, the same in the case of Abraham saluting his three heavenly visitors, and in the case of Jacob saluting his brother Esau. The parallelism of the two passages is very striking.

GEN. xviii. 2.

And he [Abraham] lift up his eyes, and lo! three men stood by him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door; and bowed himself toward the ground.


GEN. xxxiii. 1 and 3.

And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold! Esau came ... And he passed over, and bowed himself to the ground seven times until he came near to his brother.


By rendering the Hebrew word10, which means to "bow or bend oneself," by the word "adoravit," which is literally "to pray to," the Latin Vulgate has laid the foundation for much unsound and misleading criticism. But suppose the word had meant, what it does not mean, an act of solemn religious worship; and let it be granted (as I am not only ready to grant, but prepared to maintain) that Abraham paid religious adoration at that time, what inference can fairly and honestly be drawn from that circumstance in favour of the invocation of angels? The ancient writers of the Christian Church, and those whom the Church of Rome habitually holds in great respect, are full and clear in maintaining that the person whom Abraham then addressed, was no created being, neither angel nor seraph; but the Angel of the Covenant; the Word, the eternal Son of God, Himself God11. Before the visible and miraculous presence of the God of heaven, who for his own glory and in carrying on the work of man's salvation, sometimes deigned so to reveal Himself, the patriarchs of old bowed themselves to the earth. Can this, with any shadow of {40} reason, be employed to sanction the invocation of Michael and all the myriads of angels who fill the court of heaven?

Footnote 10:(return)

Not only is the Hebrew word precisely the same, letter for letter, and point for point, [Hebrew: shahah], but the Septuagint in each case employs the same, [Greek: prosekunaesen]; and the Vulgate in each case renders it by the same word, "adoravit." The Roman Catholic commentator De Sacy renders it in each case, "se prosternavit," which corresponds exactly with our English version. The Douay Bible in each case renders it "adored."

Footnote 11:(return)

Many early Christian writers may be cited to the same purpose: it is enough, however, to refer to Justin Martyr and to Athanasius; who are very full and elaborate in maintaining, that the angel here mentioned was no created being, but was the Angel of the Covenant, God, in the fulness of time manifested in the flesh. The passage from Athanasius will be quoted at some length, when we come to examine that father's testimony. For Justin Martyr, see Dial. cum Tryph. ch. 56, &c. p. 150, &c. (Paris, 1742.)

The only other instance to which it will be necessary to call your attention, occurs in the forty-eighth chapter of Genesis. The passage, however, is so palpably and on the very face of it inapplicable, that its examination needs not detain us long. "And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who fed me all my life long unto this day, the ANGEL which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." [Gen. xlviii. 15.] Here the patriarch speaks of God as the Angel, and the Angel as God: being the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant—God manifested to man. He speaks not of Michael or Gabriel, or archangel or seraph, or any created being; but of the Lord Himself, who appeared to him, agreeably to the revelation of God Himself recorded in a previous chapter, and thus communicated by the patriarch to Rachel and Leah: "And the ANGEL of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob; and I said, Here am I. And he said ... I am the GOD of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and vowedst a vow unto me." [Gen. xxxi. 11.] The Angel whose blessing he desired for the lads was the God12, to whom he had vowed a vow in Bethel, the Lord Himself.

Footnote 12:(return)

It may not be superfluous to add, that this is the interpretation of the passage adopted by primitive writers, Among others see Eusebius Demonstr. Evan. lib. v. ch. 10: who declares that the Angel spoken of by Jacob was God the Son.

Independently, however, of this conclusive consideration, if the latter member of this sentence had merely expressed a wish, that an angel might be employed as {41} an instrument of good in behalf of Ephraim and Manasseh, I could readily offer such a prayer for a blessing on my own children. My prayer would be addressed to the angel neither immediately nor transitively, but exclusively to God alone, supplicating Him graciously to employ the service of those ministering spirits for our good. Such a prayer every Catholic in communion with the Church of England is taught and directed to offer. Such a prayer is primitive and scriptural; and such is offered in the Church on the anniversary of Saint Michael and all angels:

"O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of angels and men in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that as Thy holy angels alway do Thee service in heaven, so by Thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Such is the prayer of the Church Catholic, whether of the Roman or the Anglican branch; it is in spirit and in truth a Christian prayer, fit for faithful mortals to offer on earth to the Lord of men and of angels in heaven. Would that the Church of Rome, preserving, as she has preserved, this prayer in all its original purity, had never been successfully tempted to mingle in the same service, supplications, which rob the one only God of his exclusive honour and glory, as the God "who heareth prayer;" and to rob Christ of his exclusive honour and glory, as our only Mediator and Advocate!

Here, though unwilling, by departing from the order of our argument, to anticipate our examination in its place of the Roman ritual, I cannot refrain from contrasting this prayer, the genuine offspring of Christian faith, with some forms of invocation contained in {42} the Roman service on St. Michael's day, in which I could not join, and the adoption of which I deeply lament. The first is appointed to be said at the part of the Mass called "The Secret:" "We offer to Thee, O Lord, the sacrifice of praise, humbly beseeching Thee, That by the intervention of the prayers of the angels for us, Thou, being appeased, mayest both accept the same, and make them profitable for our salvation. Through ..." The second is offered at the Post Communion: "Supported [propped up, suffulti] by the intercession of Thy blessed archangel Michael, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that what with honour we follow13, we may obtain also in mind. Through ..."

Footnote 13:(return)

I do not understand the exact meaning of these words, which however contain no portion of that sentiment, the presence of which in this prayer I deplore. The original is this: "Beati archangeli tui Michaelis intercessione suffulti, supplices te Domine deprecamur, ut quod honore prosequimur, contingamus et in mente. Per ..." Probably the general sense is, that what we reverently seek we may actually realize.

Still, though here the Christian seems to be taught to rest on a broken reed, to support and prop himself up by a staff which must bend and break; yet I acknowledge that so much violence is not done to my Christian principles, nor do my feelings, as a believer in God and his ever-blessed Son, meet with so severe a shock by either of these prayers, as by the invocation addressed to the archangel himself in the "Gradual" on that same day:

"O holy Michael, O archangel, defend us in battle, that we perish not in the dreadful judgment."

Christians of the Church of Rome! for one moment meditate, I beseech you, on this prayer. It is not addressed to God; in it there is no mention made of {43} Christ: having called upon the angels, and on your own soul in the words of the psalmist, to praise the Lord, you address your supplication to Michael himself; not even invoking him for his intercession, but imploring of him his protection. If it be said, that his intercession is all that is meant, with most unfeigned sincerity I request you to judge for yourselves, whether any prayer from poor sinful man, putting his whole trust in the Lord and imploring his help, could be addressed to our God and Saviour more immediate and direct than this? In the place of the name of his servant Michael, substitute the highest and the holiest name ever uttered in heaven or on earth, and can words form a prayer more direct to God? "O Lord God Almighty, O Lord Jesus our only Saviour, defend us in battle, that we perish not in the dreadful judgment. Hallelujah!"—Can this be right? Were the archangel allowed now, by his Lord and ours, to make his voice heard upon earth by Christians offering to him this prayer, would he utter any other words, than the angel, his fellow-servant and ours, once addressed to Saint John, when he fell down to worship before him, "See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant: worship God."

Such then is the evidence borne by the writers of the Old Testament. No prayer to angel or beatified spirit occurs from its first to its last page. The theory which would have us account for the absence of all prayer to the saints before the advent of Messiah, by reason of their not having been then admitted into their everlasting habitations, and the immediate presence of God proves to be utterly groundless. The holy angels were confessedly in heaven [Matt. xviii. 10.], beholding the face of {44} God; but no invocation was ever addressed to them, by patriarch, or prophet, or people, as mediators or intercessors. God, and God alone, the one eternal Jehovah, is proclaimed by Himself throughout, and is acknowledged throughout to be the only object of any kind of spiritual worship; the only Being who heareth prayer, to whom alone therefore all mankind should approach with the words and with the spirit of invocation. It has been argued by some writers, that in the times of the Old Testament, prayer was not offered to God through a mediator at all; and that as the one Mediator was not then revealed in his person and his offices, the subsidiary intercessors could not of course act; and therefore could not be invoked by man. The answer to this remark is conclusive. That Mediator has been revealed in his person and his offices; and has been expressly declared to be the one Mediator between God and man: we therefore seek God's covenanted mercies through Him. Those subsidiary intercessors have never been revealed; and therefore we do not seek their aid. To assure us that it was the mind and will of our Heavenly Father that we should approach Him by secondary and subsidiary mediators and intercessors, the same clear and unquestionable revelation of their persons and their offices as mediators would have been required, as He has vouchsafed of the mediation of his Son. Had God willed that the faithful should approach Him by the intercessions of the saints and martyrs, is it conceivable that He would not have given some intimation of his will in this respect? If believers in the Gospel were to have unnumbered mediators of intercession in heaven, as well as the one Mediator of redemption, would not the {45} Gospel itself have announced it? Could such declarations as these have remained on record without any qualifying or limiting expression, "He14 is able also to save to the uttermost them who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." But this involves the question to which the next section must be devoted. All I would anticipate here is, that if the irresistible argument from the Old Testament is sought to be evaded on the ground that no mediator at all was then revealed, we must require a distinct revelation of the existence and offices of other mediators and intercessors, before we can be justified in applying to them for their intervention in our behalf. And the question now is. Are they so revealed?

Footnote 14:(return)

Heb. vii. 25. I Tim. ii. 5.—Unde et salvare in perpetuum potest accedentes per semetipsum ad Deum, semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis.—Vulg.


Though such is the evidence borne against the invocation of saints and angels by the Old Testament, yet it has been said that we are living neither under the patriarchal, nor the Mosaic dispensation, but under the Gospel, to whom therefore as Christians neither the precepts nor the examples of those ancient times are applicable: {46} the injunctions consequently given of old to preserve the chosen people from idolatry and paganism, cannot be held to prohibit Christians from seeking the aid of those departed saints who are now reigning with Christ. But, surely, those precepts, and denunciations, and commands, are still most strictly applicable, as conveying to us a knowledge of the will of our Heavenly Father, that his sons and daughters on earth should associate no name, however exalted among the principalities and powers in heavenly places, with his own holy name in prayer, and spiritual invocation. I am throughout this address supposing myself to be speaking to those whose heart's desire is to fulfil the will of God in all things; not those who are contented to depart from the spirit of that will, whenever they can devise plausible arguments to countenance such departure.

The cases both of precept and example through the Old Testament affording so stringent and so universal a rule against the association of any name with the name of the Almighty in our prayers; before we can conclude that Christians have a liberty denied to believers under the former dispensations, we must surely produce a declaration to that effect, clear, unequivocal, and precisely in point. Nothing short of an enactment, rescinding in terms the former prohibitory law, and positively sanctioning supplications and prayers to saints and angels, seems capable of satisfying any Christian bent on discovering the will of God, and resolved to worship Him agreeably to the spirit of that will as it has been revealed. But let us read the New Testament from its first to its very last word, and we shall find, that the doctrines, the precepts, and the examples, the pervading reigning spirit of the entire {47} volume, combine in addressing us with voices loud and clear. Pray to God Almighty solely in the name and for the sake of his dear and only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and offer no prayer, no supplication, no intreaty, to any other being or power, saint or angel, though it be only to ask for their intercession with the great God. But this involves the whole question, and must be sifted thoroughly. Let us then review the entire volume with close and minute scrutiny, and ask ourselves, Is there a single passage, interpreted to the best of our skill, with the aid of those on whose integrity and learning we can rely, which directly and unequivocally sanctions any religious invocation of whatever kind to any being except God alone? And then let us calmly and deliberately resolve this point: In a matter of so vital importance, of so immense interest, and of so sacred a character as the worship of the Supreme Being, who declares Himself to be a jealous God, ought we to suffer any refinements of casuistry to entice us from the broad, clear light of revelation? If it were God's good pleasure to make exceptions to his rule—a rule so repeatedly, and so positively enacted and enforced—surely the analogy of his gracious dealings with mankind would have taught us to look for an announcement of the exceptions in terms equally forcible and explicit. Instead, however, of this, we find no single act, no single word, nothing which even by implication can be forced to sanction any prayer or religious invocation, of whatever kind, to any other being save to God alone.

Let us first look to the language and conduct of our blessed Lord, whose prayers to his Father are upon record for our instruction and comfort, and whose precepts and example form the best rule of a Christian's {48} life. So far from repealing the ancient law, he repeats in his own person its solemn announcement, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." [Mark xii. 29.] While the same heavenly Teacher commands us with authority, "When thou prayest, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." [Matt. vi. 6.] No allusion in any word of His do we find to any prayer from a mortal on this earth to an angel or saint in heaven. And yet occasions were multiplied on which a reference to the invocation of angels would have been natural, and apparently called for. He again and again places beyond all doubt the reality of their good services towards mankind, but it is as God's servants, and at God's bidding; not in answer to any supplication or invoking of ours. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus has been cited [Bellarmin, p. 895.] to bear contrary evidence; but, in the first place, that parable does not offer a case in point; in the second place, were it in point, it might be fairly and strongly urged against the practice of invoking the spirit of any departed mortal, even the father of the faithful himself. For what are the circumstances of the parabolic representation? A lost spirit in the regions of torment prays to Abraham in the regions of the blessed, and the spirit of the departed patriarch professes himself to have no power to grant the request of the departed and condemned spirit. [Luke xvi. 19.] The practice indeed of our Roman Catholic brethren would have been exemplified, had our blessed Lord represented the rich man's five brethren still on earth as pious men, and as supplicating Abraham in heaven to pray for themselves, or to mitigate {49} their lost brother's punishment and his woes. But then it would have afforded Christians little encouragement to follow their example, when they found Abraham declaring himself unable to aid them in attaining the object of their prayer, or in any way to assist them at all. Without one single exception, we find our blessed Lord's example, precepts, and doctrines to be decidedly against the practice of invoking saint or angel; whilst not one solitary act or word of His can be cited to countenance or palliate it.

Next it follows, that we inquire into the conduct and the writings of Christ's Apostles and immediate followers, to whom He graciously promised that the Holy Spirit should guide them into all truth. In the Acts of the Apostles, various instances of prayer attract our notice, but not one ejaculation is found there to any other being save God alone. Neither angel nor saint is invoked. The Apostles prayed for guidance in the government of Christ's infant Church, but it was, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men." [Acts i. 24.] They prayed for their own acceptance, but it was "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." [Acts vii. 59.] They prayed for each other, as in behalf of St. Peter when in prison; but we are expressly told, that the prayer which was made without ceasing by the Church for him was addressed to GOD. [Acts xii. 5.]

To deliver St. Peter from his chains, an angel was sent on an especial mission from heaven; but though St. Peter saw him, and heard his voice, and followed him, and knew of a surety that the Almighty had employed the ministration of an angel to liberate him from his bonds, yet we do not hear thereafter of {50} Peter having himself prayed to an angel to secure his good offices, and his intercession with God, nor has he once indirectly intimated to others that such supplications would be of avail, or were even allowable. He exhorts his fellow-Christians to pray, "Watch unto prayer," but it is because "The eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." [1 Pet. iv. 7; iii. 12.] He Himself prays for them, but it is, that the God of all grace might make them perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle them. He suggests no invocation of saint or angel to intercede with God for them. He bids them cast all their care upon GOD, on the assurance that God Himself careth for them.

Precisely the same result issues from a contemplation of the acts and exhortation of St. Paul. He too experienced in his own person the comfort of an angel's ministration, bidding him cast off all fear when in the extreme of imminent peril. [Acts xxvii. 23, 24.] Many a prayer of that holy Apostle is upon record; many an earnest exhortation to prayer was made by him; we find many a declaration relative to his own habits of prayer. But with him God and God alone is the object of prayer throughout: by him no saint or angel or archangel is alluded to, as one whose intercession might be sought by himself or by us. He could speak in glowing language of patriarchs, prophets, and angels, but unto none of these would he turn. "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." [Phil. iv. 6.] And let any one receive, in the plain meaning of his words, his prohibitory monition [Col. ii. 18.], and say, could St. Paul have {51} uttered these words without any qualifying expression, had he worshipped angels by invocation, even asking them only to aid him by their prayers. "Let no one beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels; not holding the Head," which Head he had in the first chapter (v. 18) declared to be the dear Son of God, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins."

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews could bring before our minds with most fervent uplifting eloquence Abel and Abraham and David,—that goodly fellowship of the prophets, that holy army of martyrs; he could speak as though he were an eye-witness of what he describes, of the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. And, surely, had the thought of seeking the support or intercession of saint or angel by invocation addressed to them, been familiar to him; had the thought even occurred to his mind with approbation, he would not have allowed such an occasion to pass by, without even alluding to any benefit that might arise from our invoking such friends of God. So far from that allusion, the utmost which he says at the close of his eulogy is this, "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." [Heb. xi. 39, 40.]

The beloved Apostle who could look forward in full assurance of faith to the day of Christ's second coming, and knew that "when He shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is," has left us this record of his sentiments concerning prayer: {52} "This is the confidence that we have in HIM, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." [1 John v. 14, 15.] St. John alludes to no intercessor, to no advocate, save only that "Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is also the propitiation for our sins." [1 John ii. 1.] St. John never suggests to us the advocacy or intercession of saint or angel; with him God in Christ is all in all.

I will only refer to one more example, that of St. James: the instance is equally to the point, and is strongly illustrative of the truth. This Apostle is anxious to impress on his fellow-Christians a due sense of the efficacy of our intercessions: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." [James v. 16.] He instances its power with God by the case of Elijah, a man so holy, that the Almighty suffered him not to pass through the regions of death and the grave, but translated him at once from this life to glory: "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months; and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." [James v. 17, 18.] And yet St. James is very far from suggesting the lawfulness or efficacy of any invocation to the hallowed spirit of this man, to whose prayer the elements and natural powers of the sky and the earth had been made obedient. He exhorts all men to pray, but it must be to God alone, and directly to God, without applying for the intervention of any mediators or intercessors from among angels or men. {53} "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally to all men, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." [James i. 5, 6.] Like the writer to the Hebrews, he would have us come ourselves "boldly" and directly "to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Surely, these Apostles, chosen vessels for conveying the truths of salvation throughout the world, knew well how the Almighty could best be approached by his children on earth; and had the invocation of saint or angel found a place in their creed, they would not have kept so important a truth from us.

Before leaving this part of our inquiry, I would propose the patient and unprejudiced weighing of the import of two passages in the New Testament, often quoted on this subject; one in the Acts of the Apostles, the other in the Apocalypse.

The holy Apostles Barnabas and Paul, by the performance of a striking miracle, had excited feelings of religious reverence and devotion among the people of Lystra, who prepared to offer sacrifice to them as two of their fabled deities. [Acts xiv. 11-18.] The indignant zeal with which these two holy men rushed forward to prevent such an act of impiety, however admirable and affecting, does not constitute the chief point for which reference is here made to this incident. They were men, still clothed with the tabernacle of the flesh, and the weakness of human nature; and the priests and people were ready to offer to them the wonted victims, the abomination of the heathen. Now, I am fully aware of the wide difference, in many {54} particulars, between such an act and the act of a Christian praying to their spirits after their departure hence, and supplicating them to intercede with the true God in his behalf: and on this difference Roman Catholic writers have maintained the total inapplicability of this incident to the present state of things. But, surely, if any such prayer to departed saints had been familiar to their minds, instead of repelling the religious address of the inhabitants of Lystra at once and for ever, they would have altered the tone of their remonstrance, and not have suppressed the truth when a good opportunity offered itself for imparting it. And, supposing that it was part of their commission to announce and explain the invocation of saints at all, on what occasion could an explanation of the just and proper invocation of angels and saints departed have been more appropriate in the Apostles, than when they were denouncing the unjustifiable offering of sacrifice to themselves while living? But whether the more appropriate place for such an announcement were at Lystra, in Corinth, at Athens, or at Rome, it matters not; nor whether it would have been more advantageously communicated by their oral teaching, or in their epistles. Doubtless, had the Apostles, by their example or teaching, sanctioned the invocation of saints and angels, in the course of fifty years or more after our blessed Saviour's resurrection, it would infallibly have appeared in some page or other of the New Testament. Instead of this the whole tenor of the Holy Volume breathes in perfect accordance with the spirit of the apostolical remonstrance at Lystra, to the fullest and utmost extent of its meaning, "We preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities to serve the living God."


Of the other instance, it well becomes every Catholic Christian to ponder on the weight and cogency. John, the beloved disciple of our Lord, when admitted to view with his own eyes and hear with his mortal ears the things of heaven, rapt in amazement and awe, fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed him these things. [Rev. xxii. 8, 9.] If the adoration of angels were ever justifiable, surely it was then; and what a testimony to the end of the world would have been put upon record, had the adoration of an angel by the blessed John at such a moment, when he had the mysteries and the glories of heaven before him, been received and sanctioned. But what is the fact? "Then saith he to me, See thou do it not. I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them who keep the sayings of this book. Worship God." I cannot understand the criticism by which the conclusiveness of this direct renouncement of all religious adoration and worship is attempted to be set aside. To my mind these words, uttered without any qualification at such a time, by such a being, to such a man, are conclusive beyond gainsaying. The interpretation put upon this transaction, and the words in which it is recorded, and the inference drawn from them by a series of the best divines, with St. Athanasius at their head, presents so entirely the plain common-sense view of the case to our minds, that all the subtilty of casuists, and all the ingenuity of modern refinements, will never be able to substitute any other in its stead. "The angel (such are the words of that ancient defender of the true faith), in the Apocalypse, forbids John, when desiring to worship him, saying, 'See thou {56} do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them who keep the sayings of this book. Worship God.' Therefore, to be the object of worship belongs to God only; and this even the angels themselves know: though they surpass others in glory, but they are all creatures, and are not among objects of worship, but among those who worship the sovereign Lord." [Athan. Orat. 2. Cont. Ar. vol. i. p. 491.] To say that St. John was too fully illuminated by the Holy Spirit to do, especially a second time, what was wrong; and thence to infer that what he did was right, is as untenable as to maintain, that St. Peter could not, especially thrice, have done wrong in denying our Lord. He did wrong, or the angel would not have chided and warned him. And to say that the angel here forbade John personally to worship him, because he was a fellow-servant and one of the prophets; and thus that the prohibition only tended to exalt the prophetic character, not to condemn the worship of angels, is proved to be also a groundless assumption, from the angel's own words, who reckons himself as a fellow-servant with not St. John only, but all those also who keep the words of the book of God,—thus equally forbidding every faithful Christian to worship their fellow-servants the angels. They are almost the last words in the volume of inspired truth, and to me, together with those last words, they seem with "the voice of a great multitude, and of many waters, and of mighty thunderings," from the very throne itself of the Most High, to proclaim to every inhabiter of the earth, Fall down before no created being; adore no created being; pray to, invoke, call upon no created being, whether saint or angel: worship {57} and adore God only; pray to God only. Trust to his mercy; seek no other mediator or intercessor than his own only and blessed Son. "He who testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." [Rev. xxii. 20, 21.]

Thus the New Testament, so far from mitigating the stringency of the former law, so far from countenancing any departure from the obligation of that code which limits religious worship to God alone, so far from suggesting to us invocation to sainted men, and to angels as intercessors with the eternal Giver of all good, reiterates the injunction, and declares, that invocation in order to be Christian must be addressed to God alone; and that there is one and only one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of his Father, a merciful High Priest sympathizing with us in our infirmities, ever making intercession for us, able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God through Him.

The present seems to be a convenient place for observing, that however the distinction is strongly insisted upon, or rather implicitly acquiesced in by many, which would admit of a worship or service called dulia (the Greek [Greek: douleia]) to saints and angels, and would limit the worship or service called latria ([Greek: latreia]) to the supreme God only, yet that such distinction has no ground whatever to rest upon beyond the will and the imagination of those who draw it. The two words are used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, and in the original Greek of the {58} New promiscuously, without any such distinction whatever. The word which this distinction would limit to the supreme worship of the Most High, is used to express the bodily service paid by the vanquished to their conquerors, as well as the religious service paid by idolaters to their fabled deities, and by the true worshippers to the Most High. The word which this distinction would reserve for the secondary worship paid to saints and angels, is employed to express not only the service paid by man to man, but also the service and worship paid to God alone, even when mentioned in contradistinction to other worship. It will be necessary to establish this by one or two instances; and first as to "latria." One single chapter in the Book of Deuteronomy supplies us with instances of the word used in the three senses, of service to men, service to idols, and service to God, xxviii. 36. 47, 48: "Because thou servedst [Greek: elatreusas] not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and gladness of heart; Therefore thou shalt serve [Greek: latreuseis] thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee in hunger and in thirst and nakedness." "The Lord shall bring thee unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve [Greek: latreuseis] other gods, wood and stone." Next as to the word "dulia." The First Book of Samuel (called also the First of Kings) alone supplies us with instances of this word being used in each of the same three senses of service from man to man, from man to idols, and from man to his Maker and God. 1 Sam. xvii. 9. "Ye shall be our servants and serve [Greek: douleusite haemin] us." xii. 24. "Only fear the Lord, and serve [Greek: douleusate] him in truth with all your heart." xxvi. 19. {59} "They have driven me out from the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve15 other gods."

Footnote 15:(return)

[Greek: douleue]. In this case also the Vulgate translates all the three passages alike by the same verb, "servire."

It is worthy of remark, that the same word "dulia16" is employed, when the Lord by his prophet speaks of the most solemn acts of religious worship; not in general obedience only, but in the offerings and oblations of their holy things. Ezek. xx. 40. "In mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me [Greek: douleusousi. Vulg: serviet.]; there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first-fruits of your oblations, with all your holy things." St. Matthew also uses the same word when he records the saying of our blessed Lord, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." [Matt. vi. 24.; Greek: douleuein. Vulg: servire.]

Footnote 16:(return)

It is also remarkable that in all these cases, whether the Septuagint employs the word "dulia," or "latria," the word in the Hebrew is precisely the same, [Hebrew: avad]. That in the fifth century the words were synonymous is evident from Theodoret. I. 319. See Edit. Halle.—Index.

I will only detain you by one more example, drawn from two passages, which seems the more striking because each of the two words "dulia" and "latria" is used to imply the true worship of God in a person, who was changed from a state of alienation to a state of holiness. The first is in St. Paul's 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians, i. 9. "How ye turned to God from idols, to serve [Greek: douleuein theo zonti] the living and true God." The second is in Heb. ix. 14. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself {60} without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve17 the living God."

Footnote 17:(return)

[Greek: latoeuein theo zonti.] In each of these two cases the Vulgate uses "servire."

The word "hyperdulia," now used to signify the worship proper to the Virgin Mary, as being a worship of a more exalted character than the worship offered to saints and angels, archangels, and cherubim and seraphim, will not require a similar examination. The word was invented in later times, and has been used chiefly to signify the worship of the Virgin, and is of course found neither in the Scriptures, nor in any ancient classical or ecclesiastical author.




Before we enter upon the next branch of our proposed inquiry, allow me to premise that I am induced to examine into the evidence of Christian antiquity not by any misgiving, lest the testimony of Scripture might appear defective or doubtful; far less by any unworthy notion that God's word needs the additional support of the suffrages of man18. On the contrary, the voice of God in his revealed word is clear, certain, and indisputable, commanding the invocation of Himself alone in acts of religious worship, and condemning any such departure from that singleness of adoration, as they are {62} seduced into, who invoke saints and angels. And it is a fixed principle in our creed, that where God's written word is clear and certain, human evidence cannot be weighed against it in the balance of the sanctuary. When the Lord hath spoken, well does it become the whole earth to be silent before him; when the eternal Judge Himself hath decided, the witness of man bears on its very face the stamp of incompetency and presumption.

Footnote 18:(return)

While some authors seem to go far towards the substitution of the fathers for the written word of God, others in their abhorrence of that excess have run into the opposite, fancying, as it would seem, that they exalt the Divine oracles just in the same proportion as they disparage the uninspired writers of the Church. The great body of the Church of England adhere to a middle course, and adopt that golden mean, which ascribes to the written Word its paramount authority, from which is no appeal, and yet honours Catholic tradition as the handmaid of the truth.

For myself I can say (what I have good hope these pages will of themselves evince) that no one can value the testimony of Christian tradition within its own legitimate sphere more sincerely, or more highly, than the individual who is now soliciting your attention to the conclusions which he has himself drawn from it. When Scripture is silent, or where its meaning is doubtful, Catholic tradition is to me a guide, which I feel myself bound to follow with watchful care and submissive reverence.

Now let it be for the present supposed, that instead of the oracles of God having spoken, as we believe them to have spoken, with a voice clear, strong, and uniform against the doctrine and practice of the invocation of saints and angels, their voices had been weak, doubtful, and vague; in other words, suppose in this case the question had been left by the Holy Scriptures an open question, then what evidence would have been deducible from the writings of the primitive Church? What testimony do the first years and the first ages after the canon of Scripture was closed, bear upon this point? And here I would repeat the principle of inquiry, proposed above for our adoption in the more important and solemn examination of the Holy Volume itself.—We ought to endeavour to ascertain what may {63} fairly and honestly be regarded as the real bearing of each author's remains, and not suffer the general tone and spirit of a writer to be counterbalanced by single expressions, which may be so interpreted as to convey an opposite meaning. Rather we should endeavour to reconcile with that general spirit and pervading tendency of a writer's sentiments any casual expressions which may admit of two acceptations. We adopt this principle in our researches into the remains of classical antiquity; we adopt the same principle in estimating the testimony of a living witness. In the latter case, indeed, the ingenuity of the adverse advocate is often exercised in magnifying the discrepancies between some minor facts or incidental expressions with the broad and leading assertions of the witness, with a view to invalidate his testimony altogether, or at least to weaken the impression made by it. But then a wise and upright judge, assured of the truth of the evidence in the main, and of the integrity of the individual, will not suffer unessential, apparent inconsistencies to stifle and bury the body of testimony at large, but will either extract from the witness what may account for them, or show them to be immaterial. Inviting, therefore, your best thoughts to this branch of our subject, I ask you to ascertain, by a full and candid process of induction, this important and interesting point,—Whether we of the Anglican Church, by religiously abstaining from the presentation, in word or in thought, of any thing approaching prayer or supplication, entreaty, request, or any invocation whatever, to any other being except God alone, do or do not tread in the steps of the first Christians, and adhere to the very pattern which they set; and whether members of the Church of Rome by addressing angel or saint in any form of invocation seeking {64} their aid, either by their intercession or otherwise, have not unhappily swerved decidedly and far from those same footsteps, and departed widely from that pattern?

In one point of view it might perhaps be preferable to enter at once upon our investigation, without previously stating the conclusions to which my own inquiries have led; but, on the whole, I think it more fair to make that statement, in order, that having the inferences already drawn placed before the mind, the inquirer may in each case weigh the several items of evidence bearing upon them separately, and more justly estimate its whole weight collectively at the last.

After then having examined the passages collected by the most celebrated Roman Catholic writers, and after having searched the undisputed original works of the primitive writers of the Greek and Latin Churches, the conclusion to which I came, and in which every day of further inquiry and deliberation confirms me more and more in this:—

In the first place, negatively, that the Christian writers, through the first three centuries and more, never refer to the invocation of saints and angels as a practice with which they were familiar: that they have not recorded or alluded to any forms of invocation of the kind used by themselves or by the Church in their days; and that no services of the earliest times contain hymns, litanies, or collects to angels, or to the spirits of the faithful departed.

In the second place, positively, that the principles which they habitually maintain and advocate are irreconcileable with such a practice.

In tracing the history of the worship of saints and angels, we proceed (gradually, indeed, though by no {65} means at all periods, and through every stage, with equal rapidity,) from the earliest custom established and practised in the Church,—of addressing prayers to Almighty God alone for the sake of the merits of his blessed Son, the only Mediator and Intercessor between God and man,—to the lamentable innovation both of praying to God for the sake of the merits, and through the mediation of departed mortals, and of invoking those mortals themselves as the actual dispensers of the spiritual blessings which the suppliant seeks from above. It is not only a necessary part of our inquiry for ascertaining the very truth of the case; it is also curious and painfully interesting, to trace the several steps, one after another, beginning with the doctrine maintained by various early writers, both Greek and Latin, that the souls of the saints are not yet reigning with Christ in heaven, and ending with the anathema of the Council of Trent, against all who should maintain that doctrine; beginning with prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God alone, and ending with daily prayers both to saints and angels; one deviation from the strict line of religious duty, and the pure singleness of Christian worship, successively gliding into another, till at length the whole of Christendom, with a few remarkable exceptions, was seen to acquiesce in public and private devotions, which, if proposed, the whole of Christendom would once with unanimity have rejected.

Before I offer to you the result of my inquiries as to the progressive stages of degeneracy and innovation in the worship of Almighty God, I would premise two considerations:

First, I would observe, that the soundness of my conclusion on the general points at issue does not depend at all on the accuracy of the arrangement of those stages {66} which I have adopted. Should any one, for example, think there is evidence that two or more of those progressive steps, which I have regarded as consecutive, were simultaneous changes, or that any one which I have ranked as subsequent took rather the lead in order of time, such an opinion would not tend in the least to invalidate my argument; the substantial and essential point at issue being this: Is the invocation of saints and angels, as now practised in the Church of Rome, agreeable to the primitive usage of the earliest Christians?

Secondly, I would observe, that the places and occasions most favourable for witnessing and correctly estimating the changes and gradual innovations in the worship of those early times, are the tombs of the martyrs, and the Churches in which their remains were deposited; and at the periods of the annual celebration of their martyrdom, or in some instances at what was called their translation,—the removal, that is, of their mortal remains from their former resting-place to a church, for the most part dedicated to their memory. On these occasions the most extraordinary enthusiasm prevailed; sometimes the ardour of the worshippers, as St. Chrysostom [St. Chrys. Paris, 1718. Vol. xii. p. 330.] tells us, approaching madness. But even at times of less excitement, by contemplating, immediately after his death, the acts and sufferings of the martyr, and recalling his words, and looks, and stedfast bearing, and exhorting each other to picture to themselves his holy countenance then fixed on them, his tongue addressing them, his sufferings before their eyes, encouraging all to follow his example, they began habitually to consider him as actually himself one of the faithful assembled round {67} his tomb. Hence they believed that he was praying with them as well as for them; that he heard their eulogy on his merits, and was pleased with the honours paid to his memory: hence they felt sure of his goodwill towards them, and his ability, as when on earth, to promote their welfare. Hence they proceeded, by a fatal step, first, to implore him to give them bodily relief from some present sufferings; then invoking him to plead their cause with God, and to intercede for the supply of their spiritual wants, and the ultimate salvation of their souls; and, lastly, they prayed to him generally as himself the dispenser of temporal and spiritual blessings.

The following then is the order in which the innovations in Christian worship seem to have taken place, being chiefly introduced at the annual celebrations of the martyrs:—

1st. In the first ages confession and prayer and praise were offered to the Supreme Being alone, and that for the sake of his Son our only Saviour and Advocate: when mention was made of saint or martyr, it was to thank God for the graces bestowed on his departed holy ones when on earth, and to pray to God for grace that we might follow their good examples, and attain, through Christ, to the same end and crown of our earthly struggles. This act of worship was usually accompanied by a homily setting forth the Christian excellences of the saint, and encouraging the survivors so to follow him, as he followed Christ.

2nd. The second stage seems to have been a prayer to Almighty God, that He would suffer the supplications and intercessions19 of angels and saints to prevail {68} with him, and bring down a blessing on their fellow-petitioners on earth; the idea having spread among enthusiastic worshippers, as I have already observed, that the spirits of the saints were suffered to be present around their tombs, and to join with the faithful in their addresses to the throne of grace.

Footnote 19:(return)

The Greek word [Greek: presbeia], "embassy," employed on such occasions, is still used in some eastern Churches in the same sense.

3rd. The third stage seems to have owed its origin to orators constantly dwelling upon the excellences of the saints in the panegyrics delivered over their remains, representing their constancy and Christian virtues as superhuman and divine, and as having conferred lasting benefits on the Church. By these benefits at first was meant the comfort and encouragement of their good example, and the honour procured to the religion of the cross by their bearing witness to its truth even unto death; but in process of time the habit grew of attaching a sort of mysterious efficacy to their merits; hence this third gradation in religious worship, namely, prayers to God that "He would hear his suppliants, and grant their requests for the sake of his martyred servant, and by the efficacy of that martyr's merits."

4th. Hitherto, unauthorized and objectionable as the two last forms of prayer are, still the petitions in each case were directed to God alone. The next step swerved lamentably from that principle of worship, and the petitioners addressed their requests to angels and sainted men in heaven; at first, however, confining their petitions to the asking for their prayers and intercessions with Almighty God.

5th. The last stage in this progressive degeneracy of Christian worship was to petition the saints and angels, directly and immediately themselves, at first for the temporal, and afterwards for the spiritual benefits which the petitioners desired to obtain from heaven. For it {69} is very curious, but not more curious than evident, that the worshippers seem for some time to have petitioned their saints for temporal and bodily benefits, before they proceeded to ask for spiritual blessings at their hands, or by their prayers. (See Basil. Oral. in Mamanta Martyrem.)

Of these several gradations and stages we find traces in the records of Christian antiquity, after superstition and corruption had spread through Christian worship, and leavened the whole. Of all of them we have lamentable instances in the present ritual of the Church of Rome, as we shall see somewhat at large when we reach that division of our inquiry. But from the beginning it was not so. In the earliest ages we find only the first of these forms of worship exemplified, and it is the only form now retained in the Anglican Ritual; of which, among other examples, the following passage in the prayer for Christ's Church militant on earth supplies a beautiful specimen: "We bless Thy holy name for all Thy servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear; beseeching Thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of Thy heavenly kingdom: Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen."

We now proceed to examine the invaluable remains of Christian antiquity, not for the purpose of testing the accuracy of the above catalogue of gradations seriatim and in order of time; but to satisfy ourselves on the question, whether the invocation of saints and angels prevailed from the first in the Christian Church; or whether it was an innovation introduced after pagan superstition had begun to mingle its poisonous corruptions with the pure worship of {70} Almighty God. And here, I conceive, few persons will be disposed to doubt, that if the primitive believers were taught by the Apostles to address the saints reigning in heaven and the holy angels, and the Virgin Mother of our Lord, with adoration and prayers, the earliest Christian records must have contained clear and indisputable references to the fact, and that undesigned allusions to the custom would inevitably be found offering themselves to our notice here and there. I do not mean that we should expect to meet with full and explicit statements either of the doctrine or the practice of the primitive Church in this particular; much less such apologies and elaborate defences of the practice as abound to the overflow in later times. But, what is more satisfactory in proof of the general and established prevalence of any opinions or customs, we should surely find expressions incidentally occurring, which implied an habitual familiarity with such opinions or customs. In every record, for example, of primitive antiquity, from the very earliest of all, expressions are constantly meeting us which involve the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, the atoning sacrifice of Christ's death, the influences of the Holy Spirit; habitual prayer and praise offered to the Saviour of the world, as very and eternal God; the holy Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper; with other tenets and practices of the Apostolic Church. It is impossible to study the remains of Christian antiquity without being assured beyond the reach of doubt, that such were the doctrines and practice of the universal Church from the days of the Apostles. Is the invocation of saints and angels and the blessed Virgin to be made an exception to this rule? Can it stand this test? The great anxiety and labour of Roman Catholic {71} writers to press the authors of every age to bear witness on their side in this behalf, proves that in their judgment no such exception is admissible. It is clearly beyond gainsaying, that if the present doctrine of the Church of Rome, with respect to the worship of angels and saints, as propounded by the Council of Trent; and if her present practice as set forth in her authorized liturgies and devotional services, and professed by her popes, bishops, clergy, and people, had been the doctrine and practice of the primitive Church, we should have found evident and indisputable traces of it in the earliest works of primitive antiquity, in the earliest liturgies, and in the forms of prayer and exhortations to prayer with which those works abound. It by no means follows that if some such allusions were partially discoverable, therefore the doctrines and practice must forthwith be pronounced to be apostolical; but if no such traces can be found, their absence bears witness that neither did those doctrines nor that practice exist. If, for example, through the remains of the first three centuries we could have discovered no trace of the doctrine or practice of holy Baptism and the Eucharist, we must have concluded that the doctrine and the practice were the offspring of later years. But when we read every where, in those remains, exhortations to approach those holy mysteries with a pure heart and faith unfeigned; when we find rules prescribed for the more orderly administration of the rites; in a word, when we perceive throughout as familiar references to these ordinances as could be now made by Catholics either of Rome or of England, while this would not of itself necessarily prove their divine origin, we should with equal plausibility question the existence of Jerusalem or Constantinople, or of David or Constantine, as we {72} should doubt the prevalence both of the doctrine and practice of the Church in these particulars, even from the Apostles' days.

With these principles present to our minds, I now invite you to accompany me in a review of the testimonies of primitive Christian antiquity with regard to supplications and invocations of saints and angels, and of the blessed Virgin Mary.


It will be necessary for the satisfaction of all parties, that we examine, in the first place, those ancient writings which are ascribed to an Apostle, or to fellow-labourers of the Apostles; familiarly known as the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. They are five in number, Barnabas, Clement, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp. Many able writers, as well of the Roman as of the Anglican communion, have discussed at large the genuineness of these writings; and have come to very different results. Some critics are of opposite and extreme opinions, others ranging between them with every degree and shade of variation. Some of these works have been considered spurious; others have been pronounced genuine; though, even these have been thought to be, in many parts, interpolated. The question, however, of their genuineness, though deeply interesting in itself, will not affect their testimony with {73} regard to the subject before us20. They were all in existence before the Council of Nicæa; and we shall probably not be wrong in assigning to the first two a date at the very lowest computation not less remote than the middle of the second century; somewhere, it may be, at the furthest, about one hundred years after the death of our Lord. (A.D. 130-150.) With all their errors and blemishes and interpolations taken at the worst, after every reasonable deduction for defects in matter, taste, and style, the writings which are ascribed to the Apostolic Fathers are too venerable for their antiquity, too often quoted with reverence and affection by some who have been the brightest ornaments of the Christian Church, and possess too copious a store of genuine evangelical truth, sound principle, primitive simplicity, and pious sentiment, to be passed over with neglect by any Catholic Christian. The few extracts {74} made here will, I am assured, be not unacceptable to any one, who holds dear the religion of Christ21.

Footnote 20:(return)

I do not think it suitable in this address to enter upon the difficult field of inquiry, whether all or which of these works were the genuine productions of those whose names they bear; and whether the Barnabas, Clement, and Hermas to which three of them are ascribed, were the Barnabas, Clement, and Hermas of whom express mention is made in the pages of Holy Scripture. I have determined, in conducting my argument, to affix to them in each case the lowest proposed antiquity. The edition of Archbishop Wake, (who maintains the highest antiquity for these works, though I have not here adopted his translation,) may be consulted with much profit.

Did the question before us relate to the genuineness and dates of these works, they could not, with any approach to fairness, be all five placed without distinction under the same category. The evidence for the genuineness of Clement, Ignatius in the shorter copy, and Polycarp, is too valuable to be confounded with that of the others, which are indisputably subject to much greater doubt. But this question has only an incidental bearing on our present inquiry, and will be well spared.

Footnote 21:(return)

The edition of the works of these Apostolic Fathers used here is that of Cotelerius as revised by Le Clerc, Antwerp, 1698.


In the work entitled The Catholic Epistle of Barnabas, which was written probably by a Jew converted to the Christian faith, about the close of the first century, or certainly before the middle of the second22, I have searched in vain for any thing like the faintest trace of the invocation of saint or angel. The writer gives directions on the subject of prayer; he speaks of angels as the ministers of God; he speaks of the reward of the righteous at the day of judgment; but he suggests not the shadow of a supposition, that he either held the doctrine himself which the Church of Rome now holds, or was aware of its existence among Christians. In his very beautiful but incomplete summary of Christian duty [Sect. 18, 19. p. 50, 51, 52.], which he calls "The Way of Light," we perceive more than one most natural opening for reference to that doctrine, had it been familiar to his mind. In the midst indeed of his brief precepts of religious and moral obligation, he directs the Christian to seek out every day "the persons of the saints," but they are our fellow-believers on earth; those saints or holy ones, for administering to whose necessities, the Scripture assures us that God will not forget our work and labour of love [Heb. vi. 10.]: these the author bids the Christians {75} search out daily, for the purposes of religious intercourse, and of encouragement by the word.

Footnote 22:(return)

Archbishop Wake considers this Epistle to have been written by St. Barnabas to the Jews, soon after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The following interesting extracts shall conclude our reference to this work:—

"There are two ways of doctrine and authority, one of light, the other of darkness; and the difference between the two ways is great. Over the one are appointed angels of God, conductors of the light; over the other, angels of Satan: and the one (God) is Lord from everlasting to everlasting; the other (Satan) is ruler of the age of iniquity. The way of light is this ... Thou shalt love Him that made thee; thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death. Thou shalt be single in heart, and rich in spirit. Thou shalt not join thyself to those who are walking in the path of death. Thou shalt hate to do what is displeasing to God; thou shalt hate all hypocrisy. Thou shalt entertain no evil counsel against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not take away thy hand from thy son or thy daughter, but shalt teach them the fear of the Lord from their youth. Thou shalt communicate with thy neighbour in all things, and call not things thine own. Thou shalt not be of a froward tongue, for the mouth is the snare of death. To the very utmost of thy power keep thy soul chaste. Do not open thine hand to receive, and close it against giving. Thou shalt love as the apple of thine eye every one who speaketh to thee the word of the Lord. Call to remembrance the day of judgment, night and day. Thou shalt search out every day the persons of the saints23; both meditating by the word, {76} and proceeding to exhort them, and anxiously caring to save a soul by the word. Thou shalt preserve what thou hast received, neither adding thereto, nor taking therefrom. Thou shalt not come with a bad conscience to thy prayer."

Footnote 23:(return)

There is much obscurity in the phraseology of this passage: [Greek: ekzaetaeseis kath hekastaen haemeran ta prosopa ton hagion kai dia logou skopion kai poreuomenos eis to parakalesai, kai meleton eis sosai psuchaen to logo]. In the corresponding exhortation among the Apostolical Constitutions (book vii. ch. 9), the expression is, "Thou shalt seek the person ([Greek: prosopon]) of the saints, that thou mayest find rest (or find refreshment, or refresh thyself) ([Greek: in epanapanae tois logois auton]) in their words." The author seems evidently to allude to the reciprocal advantage derived by Christians from religious intercourse.

The closing sentences contain this blessing: "Now God, who is the Lord of all the world, give to you wisdom, skill, understanding, knowledge of his judgments, with patience. And be ye taught of God; seeking what the Lord requires of you, and do it, that ye may be saved in the day of judgment.... The Lord of glory and of all grace be with your spirit. Amen."


This work, which derives its title from the circumstance of an angelic teacher being represented as a shepherd, is now considered by many to have been the production of Hermas, a brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome24 though others are persuaded that the work is of a much earlier date25. The author speaks of guardian angels and of evil angels, and he speaks much of prayer; but not the faintest hint shows itself throughout the three books, of which the work consists, that he had {77} any idea of prayer being addressed to any created being, whether saint or angel. On the evidence of this writer I will not detain you much longer than by the translation of a passage as it is found in the Greek quotation from Hermas, made by Antiochus (Homil. 85), on a point the most nearly, of all that I can find, connected with the immediate subject of our inquiry. The Latin is found in the second book, ninth mandate. It contains sound spiritual advice, of universal application.

Footnote 24:(return)

Ecclesiastical writers refer the appointment of Pius, as Bishop of Rome, to the year 153.

Footnote 25:(return)

Archbishop Wake thinks it not improbable that this book was written by the same Hermas, of whom mention is made by St. Paul.

"Let us then remove from us double-heartedness and faint-heartedness, and never at all doubt of supplicating any thing from God; saying within ourselves, 'How can I, who have been guilty of so many sins against Him, ask of the Lord and receive?' But with thine whole heart turn to the Lord, and ask of Him without doubting; and thou shalt know his great mercy, that He will not forsake thee, but will fulfil the desire of thy soul. For God is not as men are, a rememberer of evil, but is Himself one who remembers not evil, and is moved with compassion towards his creature. Do thou, therefore, cleanse thy heart of doubt, and ask of Him, and thou shalt receive thy request. But when thou doubtest, thou shalt not receive. For they who doubt towards God are the double-hearted, and shall receive nothing whatever of their desires. For those who are whole in the faith, ask every thing, trusting in the Lord, and they receive because they ask nothing doubting. [See St. James i. 6.] And if thou shouldest be tardy in receiving, do not doubt in thy mind because thou dost not receive soon the request of thy soul. For the cause of the tardiness of thy receiving is some trial, or some transgression which thou knowest not of. Do thou then {78} not cease to offer the request of thy soul, and thou shalt receive it. But if thou grow faint in asking, accuse thyself, and not the Giver. For double-heartedness is a daughter of the devil, and works much mischief towards the servants of God. Do thou, therefore, take to thyself the faith that is strong."

In the twelfth section of the ninth Similitude, in the third book, in the midst of much to the same import, and of much, too, which is strange and altogether unworthy of the pen from which the previous quotation proceeded, he thus writes, as the Latin records his words, the Greek of this passage having been lost.

"These all are messengers to be reverenced for their dignity. By these, therefore, as it were by a wall, the Lord is girded round. But the gate is the Son of God, who is the only way to God. For no one shall enter in to God except by his Son." [Book iii. Simil. 2.]

On the subject of prayer, I cannot refrain from referring you to a beautiful similitude, illustrative of the powerful and beneficial effects of the intercession of Christians for each other. The author compares a rich man, abounding in deeds of charity, to a vine full of fruit supported by an elm. The elm seems not to bear fruit at all; but by supporting the vine, which, without that support, would bear no fruit to perfection, it may be said to bear fruit itself. So the poor man, who has nothing to give in return for the rich man's fruits of charity, beyond the support which his prayers and praises ascending to God in his behalf will obtain, confers a far more substantial benefit on the rich man than the most liberal outpouring of alms from the rich can confer on the poor. [Ibid.] Yet the writer, who {79} had formed such strong notions of the benefits mutually obtained by the prayers of Christians for each other, says not a word about the intercession of saints and angels, nor of our invoking them. He will not suffer us to be deterred by any consciousness of our own transgressions from approaching God Himself, directly and immediately ourselves; but He bids us draw near ourselves to the throne and mercy seat of our heavenly Father.


It is impossible to read the testimony borne by Eusebius, and other most ancient writers, to the character and circumstances of Clement, without feeling a deep interest in whatever production of his pen may have escaped the ravages of time. "Third from the Apostles," says Eusebius, "Clement obtained the bishopric of Rome; one who had seen the Apostles and conversed with them, and had still the sound of their preaching in his ears, and their tradition before his eyes;—and not he alone, for many others26 at that time were still living, who had been taught by the Apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small schism having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a most important letter to the Corinthians, urging them to return to peace, renewing {80} their faith, and [reminding them of] the tradition which had been so lately received from the Apostles." [Euseb. Eccl. Hist. v. c. 6.]

Footnote 26:(return)

See St. Paul to the Philippians, iv. 3. "And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life."

Of the many works which have been attributed to Clement, it is now generally agreed, that one, and only one, can be safely received as genuine, whilst some maintain that even that one is not altogether free from interpolations, if not itself spurious27. But though we must believe the other works to have been assigned improperly to Clement; yet I have not thought it safe to pass them by unexamined, both because some of them are held in high estimation by writers of the Church of Rome, and especially because whatever pen first composed them, of their very great antiquity there can be entertained no reasonable doubt. Indeed, the Apostolical Canons, and the Apostolical Constitutions, both ascribed to Clement as their author, acting under the direction of the Apostolic Council, stand first among the records of the Councils received by the Church of Rome.

Footnote 27:(return)

Archbishop Wake concludes that this first Epistle was written shortly after the end of Nero's persecution, and before A.D. 70.

To Clement's first Epistle to the Corinthians, now regarded by many as the only genuine work of that primitive writer, the date of which is considered by many to be about A.D. 90, Jerome bears this very interesting testimony in his book on illustrious men:

"He, Clement, wrote in the person of the Church of Rome, to the Church in Corinth, a very useful epistle, which is publicly read in some places; in its character agreeing with St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, not only in the sense, but even in the words: and indeed the resemblance is very striking in each." [Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, Jeron., vol. iv, part ii. p. 107, edit. Benedict. Paris, 1706.]


It is impossible to read this Epistle of one of the earliest bishops of Christ's flock in the proper frame of mind, without spiritual edification. A tone of primitive simplicity pervades it, which is quite delightful. His witness to the redemption by the atoning sacrifice of Christ's death, and to the life-giving influences of the Spirit of grace, is clear, repeated, and direct. His familiar acquaintance with the ancient Scriptures is very remarkable; though we might not always acquiesce in the critical accuracy of his application. His reference to the Epistles written by St. Paul to the same Church at Corinth that he was then addressing, affords one of those unobtrusive and undesigned collateral evidences to the Holy Scriptures, which are as abundant in the primitive writings, as they are invaluable. No one can read this Epistle of Clement, without acquiescing in the expression of Jerome, that it is "very admirable."

Perhaps in the present work the Epistle of Clement becomes even more interesting from the circumstance of his having been a bishop of the Church founded by the Apostles themselves in the very place where that Church exists, to whose members this inquiry is more especially addressed. In his writings I have searched diligently for every expression which might throw light upon the opinions and practice either of the author or of the Church in whose name he wrote; of the Church which he addressed, or of the Catholic Church at large to which he refers, on the subject of our inquiry. So far, however, from any word occurring, which could be brought to bear in favour of the adoration of saints and angels, or of any supplication to them for their succour or their prayers, the peculiar turn and character of his Epistle in many parts seems to supply {82} more than negative evidence against the prevalence of any such belief or practice. Clement speaks of angels; he speaks of the holy men of old, who pleased God, and were blessed, and were taken to their reward; he speaks of prayer; he urges to prayer; he specifies the object of our prayers; he particularizes the subjects of our prayers; but there is not the most distant allusion to the saints and angels as persons to whom supplications could be addressed. Pray for yourselves (such are the sentiments of this holy man); pray for your brethren who have fallen from their integrity; pray to God Almighty, for the sake of his Son, and your prayer will be heard and granted. Of any other intercessor or advocate, angel, saint, or Virgin Mother; of any other being to whom the invocations of the faithful should be offered, Clement seems to have had no knowledge. Could this have been so, if those who received the Gospel from the very fountain-head had been accustomed to pray to those holy men who had finished their course on earth, and were gone to their reward in heaven? Clement invites us to contemplate Enoch, and Abraham, and David, and Elijah, and Job, with many of their brethren in faith and holiness; he bids us look to them with reverence and gratitude, but it is only to imitate their good examples. He tells us to think of St. Paul and St. Peter and their brethren in faith and holiness; but it is in order to listen to their godly admonitions, and to follow them in all pious obedience to the will of our heavenly Father, as they followed Christ. I must content myself with a very few brief extracts from this Epistle28:

Footnote 28:(return)

I am induced to mention here that two Epistles, ascribed to St. Clement, written in Arabic, and now appended to Wetstein's Greek Testament (Amsterdam, 1751), are believed by many to be genuine, whilst others say they are spurious. At all events they are productions of the earliest times. The manuscript was procured at Constantinople. I have examined the Latin translation carefully, and in some points submitted my doubts to a very learned Syriac scholar. The general subject is the conduct of those who have professed celibacy, whilst of the invocation of saints no trace whatever is to be found. The passages most closely bearing on the point before us are to the following effect:

The writer urges Christians to be careful to maintain good works, especially in the cause of charity, visiting the sick and afflicted, praying with them, and praying for them, and persevering always in prayer; asking and seeking of God in joy and watchfulness, without hatred or malice. In the Lord's husbandry, he says, it well becomes us to be good workmen, who are like the Apostles, imitating the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are ever anxious for the salvation of men.

"Therefore (he adds, at the close of the first of these Epistles) let us look to and imitate those faithful ones, that we may behave ourselves as is meet in the Lord. So shall we serve the Lord, and please him, in righteousness and justice without a stain. Finally, farewell in the Lord, and rejoice in the Lord, all ye holy ones. Peace and joy be with you from God the Father, by Jesus Christ our Lord."


Ch. 21. "Take heed, beloved, lest the many loving-kindnesses of the Lord prove our condemnation, if we do not live as is worthy of him, nor do with one accord what is good and well-pleasing in his sight.... Let us consider how nigh to us he is, and that nothing of our thoughts or reasonings is concealed from him. Justice it is that we should not become deserters from his will.... Let us venerate the Lord Jesus, whose blood was given for us."

Ch. 29. "Let us then approach him in holiness of soul, lifting up holy and undefiled hands towards him; loving our merciful and tender Father who hath made us a portion of his elect."


Ch. 36. "This is the way, beloved, in which we find Jesus Christ our salvation, the chief-priest of our offerings, our protector, and the succourer of our weakness. By him let us look stedfastly to the heights of heaven; by him let us behold his most high and spotless face: by him the eyes of our heart are opened; by him our ignorant and darkened minds shoot forth into his marvellous light; by him the Supreme Governor willed that we should taste immortal knowledge: who, being the brightness of his magnificence, is so much greater than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

Ch. 49. "He who hath love in Christ, let him keep the commandments of Christ. Who can tell of the bond of the love of God? The greatness of his goodness who can adequately express?... Love unites us to God.... By love the Lord took us; by the love which he had for us Christ our Lord gave his blood for us by the will of God, and his flesh for our flesh, and his life for our lives."

Ch. 56. "Let us pray for those who are in any transgression, that meekness and humility may be granted to them; that they may submit, not to us, but to the will of God; for thus to them will the remembrance towards God and the saints, with mercies, be fruitful and perfect29."

Footnote 29:(return)

The original is obscure, and has been variously rendered, [Greek: outos gar estai autois egkarpos kai teleia hae pros ton theon kai tous hagious met oiktirmon mneia.] The Editor refers his readers to Rom. xii. 13. "Distributing to the necessity of saints." The received translation is this, "Sic enim erit ipsis fructuosa et perfecta quæ est apud Deum et sanctos cum misericordia recordatio."

Ch. 58. "The all-seeing God, the Sovereign Ruler {85} of spirits, and the Lord of all flesh, who hath chosen the Lord Jesus, and us through him, to be a peculiar people; grant to every soul that calleth on his glorious and holy name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and temperance, to the good pleasure of his name, through our high-priest and protector Jesus Christ; through whom to him be glory and majesty, dominion and honour, now and for ever and ever, world without end. Amen."


This martyr to the truth as it is in Jesus sealed that truth with his blood about seventy years after the death of our Lord. From Antioch in Syria, of which place he was bishop, he was sent to the imperial city, Rome; and there he ended his mortal career by a death which he had long expected, and which he was prepared to meet not only with resignation to the Divine will, but even with joy and gladness. His Epistles are written with much of the florid colouring of Asiatic eloquence; but they have all the raciness of originality, and they glow with that Christian fervour and charity which compels us to love him as a father and a friend, a father and friend in Christ. The remains of this apostolic father I have carefully studied, with the single view of ascertaining whether any vestige, however faint, might be traced in him of the invocation of saints and angels; but I can find none. Neither here, nor in the case of any of the apostolical fathers, whose remains we are examining, have I contented myself with merely ascertaining that they bear no direct and palpable evidence; I have always endeavoured to find, and then thoroughly to sift, any expressions which might with {86} the slightest plea of justification be urged in testimony of primitive belief and practice sanctioning the invocation of saints. I find none. Brethren of the Church of Rome, search diligently for yourselves; "I speak as to wise men: Judge ye what I say."

The remains of Ignatius offer to us many a passage on which a Christian pastor would delight to dwell: but my province here is not to recommend his works to the notice of Christians; I am only to report the result of my inquiries touching the matter in question; and as bearing on that question, the following extracts will not be deemed burdensome in this place:—

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, exhorting Christians to united prayer, he says, "For if the prayer of one or two possesses such strength, how much more shall the prayer both of the bishop and of the whole Church?" [Page 13. § 5-7.] "For there is one physician of a corporeal and a spiritual nature, begotten and not begotten; become God in the flesh, true life in death, both from Mary and from God; first liable to suffering, and then incapable of suffering." [In the majority of the manuscripts the reading is, "in an immortal true life."]

Here we must observe that these Epistles of Ignatius have come down to us also in an interpolated form, abounding indeed with substitutions and additions, but generally resembling paraphrases of the original text. Of the general character of that supposititious work, two passages corresponding with our quotations from the genuine productions of Ignatius may give a sufficiently accurate idea. The first passage above quoted is thus paraphrased: "For if the prayer of one or two possesses {87} such strength that Christ stands among them, how much more shall the prayer both of the bishop and of the whole Church, ascending with one voice to God, induce him to grant all their requests made in Jesus Christ?" [Page 47. c. 5.] The paraphrase of the second is more full: "Our physician is the only true God, ungenerated and unapproachable; the Lord of all things, but the Father and Generator of the only-begotten Son. We have also as our physician our Lord God, Jesus Christ, who was before the world, the only-begotten Son and the Word, but also afterwards man of the Virgin Mary; 'for the Word was made flesh.' He who was incorporeal, now in a body; he who could not suffer, now in a body capable of suffering; he who was immortal in a mortal body, life in corruption—in order that he might free our immortal souls from death and corruption, and heal them, diseased with ungodliness and evil desires as they were." [Page 48. c. 7.]

It must here be observed, that though these are indisputably not the genuine works of Ignatius, but were the productions of a later age, yet no trace is to be found in them of the doctrine, or practice, of the invocation of saints. In this point of view their testimony is nothing more nor less than that of an anonymous paraphrast, who certainly had many opportunities of referring to that doctrine and practice; but who by his total silence seems to have been as ignorant of them as the author himself whose works he is paraphrasing.

To return to his genuine works: In his Epistle to the Magnesians we find these expressions: "For as the Lord did nothing without the Father, being one with {88} him, neither by himself, nor by his Apostles; so neither do ye any thing without the bishop and priests, nor attempt to make any thing appear reasonable to yourselves individually. But at one place be there one prayer, and one supplication, one mind, one hope in love, in blameless rejoicing: Jesus Christ is one; than which nothing is better. All, then, throng as to one temple, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who proceeded from one Father, and is in one, and returned to one." [Page 19. § 7.] Again he says, "Remember me in your prayers, that I may attain to God. I am in need of your united prayer in God, and of your love."

In his Epistle to the Trallians, he expresses himself in words to which no Anglican Catholic would hesitate to respond: "Ye ought to comfort the bishop, to the honour of God, and of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles." [Page 25. § 12.] He speaks in this Epistle with humility and reverence of the powers and hosts of heaven; but he makes no allusion to any religious worship or invocation of them.

The following extract is from his Epistle to the Philadelphians: "My brethren, I am altogether poured forth in love for you; and in exceeding joy I make you secure; yet not I, but Jesus Christ, bound in whom I am the more afraid, as being already seized30; but your prayer to God will perfect me, that I may obtain the lot mercifully assigned to me. Betaking myself to the Gospel as to the flesh of Jesus, and to the Apostles as the presbytery of the Church; let us also love the prophets, because they also have proclaimed the Gospel, and hoped in him, and waited for him; in whom also {89} trusting, they were saved in the unity of Jesus Christ, being holy ones worthy of love and admiration, who have received testimony from Jesus Christ, and are numbered together in the Gospel of our common hope." [Page 32. § 5.]

Footnote 30:(return)

This clause is very obscure, and perhaps imperfect.

I am induced to add the paraphrase on this passage also. "My brethren, I am very much poured out in loving you, and with exceeding joy I make you secure; not I, but by me, Jesus Christ, in whom bound I am the more afraid. For I am yet not perfected, but your prayer to God will perfect me; so that I may obtain that to which I was called, flying to the Gospel as the flesh of Jesus Christ, and to the Apostles as the presbytery of the Church. And the prophets also I love, as persons who announce Christ, as partaking of the same spirit with the Apostles. For just as the false prophets and false apostles have drawn one and the same wicked and deceitful and seducing spirit, so also the prophets and the apostles, one and the same holy spirit, good, leading, true, and instructing. For one is the God of the Old and the New Testament. One is Mediator between God and man, for the production of the creatures endued with reason and perception, and for the provision of what is useful, and adapted to them: and one is the Comforter who wrought in Moses and the prophets and the apostles. All the saints therefore were saved in Christ, hoping in him, and waiting for him; and through him they obtained salvation, being saints worthy of love and of admiration, having obtained a testimony from Jesus Christ in the Gospel of our common hope." [Page 81. § 5.]

In his Epistle to the Romans he speaks to them of his own prayer to God, and repeatedly implores them {90} to pray for him. "Pray to Christ for me, that by these instruments [the teeth of the wild beasts] I may become a sacrifice of God. I do not, as Peter and Paul, command you: they were Apostles, I am a condemned man. They were free; but I am still a servant. Yet if I suffer, I shall become the freedman of Jesus Christ, and shall rise again free: and now in my bonds I learn to covet nothing." [Page 28. § 4.] Again he says, "Remember the Church in Syria in your prayers." [Page 30. § 9.] He prays for his fellow-labourers in the Lord: he implores them to approach the throne of grace with supplications for mercy on his own soul. Of prayer to saint or angel he says nothing. Of any invocation offered to them by himself or his fellow-believers, Ignatius appears entirely ignorant.


The only remaining name among those, whom the Church has reverenced as apostolical fathers, is the venerable Polycarp. He suffered martyrdom by fire, at a very advanced age, in Smyrna, about one hundred and thirty years after his Saviour's death. Of Polycarp, the apostolical bishop of the Catholic Church of Smyrna, only one Epistle has survived. It is addressed to the Philippians. In it he speaks to his brother Christians of prayer, constant, incessant prayer; but the prayer of which he speaks is supplication addressed only to God31. He marks out for our imitation the good example of St. Paul and the other Apostles; assuring us that they had not run in vain, {91} but were gone to the place prepared for them by the Lord, as the reward of their labours. But not one word does he utter bearing upon the invocation of saints in prayer; he makes no allusion to the Virgin Mary.

Footnote 31:(return)

[Greek: deaesesin aitoumenoi ton pantepoptaen Theon.] Sect 7.

Before we close our examination of the recorded sentiments of the apostolical fathers on the immediate subject of our inquiry, we must refer, though briefly, to the Epistle generally received as the genuine letter from the Church of Smyrna to the neighbouring Churches, narrating the martyrdom of Polycarp. It belongs, perhaps, more strictly to this place than to the remains of Eusebius, because, together with the sentiments of his contemporaries who witnessed his death and dictated the letter, it purports to contain the very words of the martyr himself in the last prayer which he ever offered upon earth. With some variations from the copy generally circulated, this letter is preserved in the works of Eusebius. [Euseb. Paris, 1628, dedicated to the Archbishop by Franciscus Vigerus.] On the subject of our present research the evidence of this letter is not merely negative. So far from countenancing any invocation of saint or martyr, it contains a remarkable and very interesting passage, the plain common-sense rendering of which bears decidedly against all exaltation of mortals into objects of religious worship. The letter, however, is too well known to need any further preliminary remarks; and we must content ourselves with such references and extracts as may appear to bear most directly on our subject.

"The Church of God, which is in Smyrna, to the Church in Philomela, and to all the branches [Greek: paroikais] {92} of the holy Catholic Church dwelling in any place, mercy, peace, and love of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied." [Book i. Hist. iv. c. xv. p. 163.]

"The Proconsul, in astonishment, caused it to be proclaimed thrice, Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian. On this they all shouted, that the Proconsul should let a lion loose on Polycarp. But the games were over, and that could not be done: they then with one accord insisted on his being burnt alive."

Polycarp, before his death, offered this prayer, or rather perhaps we should call it this thanksgiving, to God for his mercy in thus deeming him worthy to suffer death for the truth, "Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received our knowledge concerning thee, the God of angels and power, and of the whole creation, and of the whole family of the just, who live before thee; I bless thee because thou hast deemed me worthy of this day and this hour to receive my portion among the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Christ, to the resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruption of the Holy Ghost; among whom may I be received before thee this day in a rich and acceptable sacrifice, even as thou, the true God, who canst not lie, foreshowing and fulfilling, hast beforehand prepared. For this, and for all I praise thee, I bless thee; I glorify thee, through the eternal high-priest Jesus Christ thy beloved Son, through whom to thee, with him in the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and for future ages. Amen."

(I cannot help suggesting a comparison between the prayer of this primitive martyr bound to the stake, with the prayer of Thomas Becket, of Canterbury, as stated in the ancient services for his day, when he was murdered in his own cathedral, to which we shall hereafter refer at length. The comparison will impress us with the difference between religion and superstition, between the purity of primitive Christian worship, and the unhappy corruptions of a degenerate age. "To God and the Blessed Mary, and Saint Dionysius, and the holy patrons of this Church, I commend myself and the Church.")


After his death, the narrative proceeds, "But the envious adversary of the just observed the honour put upon the greatness of his testimony, [or of his martyrdom [Greek: to megethos autou taes marturias],] and his blameless life from the first, and knowing that he was now crowned with immortality, and the prize of undoubted victory, resisted, though many of us desired to take his body, and have fellowship with his holy flesh. Some then suggested to Nicetes, the father of Herod, and brother of Dalce, to entreat the governor not to give his body, 'Lest,' said he, 'leaving the crucified One they should begin to worship this man [Greek: sebein];' and this they said at the suggestion and importunity of the Jews, who also watched us when we would take the body from the fire. This they did, not knowing that we can never either leave Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all who will be saved in all the world, or worship any other." [The Paris translation adds "ut Deum."] "For him being the Son of God we worship [Greek: proskunumen], but the martyrs, as disciples and imitators of our Lord, we worthily love32, because of their pre-eminent [Greek: anuperblaeton] good-will towards their {94} own king and teacher, with whom may we become partakers and fellow-disciples."

Footnote 32:(return)

[Greek: axios agapomen]. Ruffinus translates it by "diligimus et veneramur," and it is so quoted by Bellarmin.

"The centurion, seeing the determination of the Jews, placed him in the midst, and burnt him as their manner is. And thus we collecting his bones, more valuable than precious stones, and more esteemed than gold, we deposited them where it was meet. There, as we are able, collecting ourselves together in rejoicing and gladness, the Lord will grant to us to observe the birth-day of his martyrdom, for the remembrance of those who have before undergone the conflict, and for exercise and preparation of those who are to come." [Greek: hos dunaton haemin sunagomenois en agalliasei kai chara parexei ho Kurios epitelein taen tou martyriou autou haemeran genethlion, eis te ton proaethlaekoton mnaemaen, kai ton mellonton askaesin te kai hetoimasian.]

In this relic of primitive antiquity, we have the prayer of a holy martyr, at his last hour, offered to God alone, through Christ alone. Here we find no allusion to any other intercessor; no commending of the dying Christian's soul to saint or angel. Here also we find an explicit declaration, that Christians offered religious worship to no one but Christ, whilst they loved the martyrs, and kept their names in grateful remembrance, and honoured even their ashes when the spirit had fled. Polycarp pleads no other merits; he seeks no intercession; he prays for no aid, save only his Redeemer's. Here too we find, that the place of a martyr's burial was the place which the early Christians loved to frequent; but then we are expressly told with what intent they met there,—not, as in later times, to invoke the departed spirit of the martyr, but to call to mind, in grateful remembrance, the sufferings of those who had already endured the awful struggle; and by {95} their example to encourage and prepare other soldiers of the cross thereafter to fight the good fight of faith; assured that they would be more than conquerors through Him who loved them.

We have now examined those works which are regarded by us all, whether of the Roman or Anglican Church, as the remains of apostolical fathers,—Christians who, at the very lowest calculation, lived close upon the Apostles' time, and who, according to the firm conviction of many, had all of them conversed with the Apostles, and heard the word of truth from their mouths. I do from my heart rejoice with you, that these holy men bear direct, clear, and irrefragable testimony to those fundamental truths which the Church of Rome and the Church of England both hold inviolate—the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, with its essential and inseparable concomitants, the atonement by the blood of a crucified Redeemer, and the vivifying and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.

Supposing for a moment no trace of such fundamental doctrines could be discovered in these writings, would not the absence of such vestige have been urged by those who differ from us, as a strong argument that the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity was an innovation of a later date; and would not such an argument have been urged with reason? How, in plain honesty, can we avoid coming to the same conclusion on the subject of the invocation of saints? If the doctrine and the practice of praying to saints, or to angels, for their succour, or even their intercession, had been known {96} and recognised, and approved and acted upon by the Apostles, and those who were the very disciples of the Apostles, not only deriving the truth from their written works, but having heard it from their own living tongue,—in the nature of things would not some plain, palpable, intelligible, and unequivocal indications of it have appeared in such writings as these; writings in which much is said of prayer, of intercessory prayer, of the one object of prayer, of the subjects of prayer, of the nature of prayer, the time and place of prayer, the spirit in which we are to offer prayer, and the persons for whom we ought to pray? Does it accord with common sense, and common experience, with what we should expect in other cases, with the analogy of history, and the analogy of faith, that we should find a profound and total silence on the subject of any prayer or invocation to saints and angels, if prayer or invocation of saints and angels had been recognised, approved, and practised by the primitive Church?

At the risk of repetition, or surplusage, I would beg to call your attention to one point in this argument. I am far from saying that no practice is apostolical which cannot be proved from the writings of these apostolical fathers: that would be a fallacy of an opposite kind. I ground my inference specifically and directly on the fact, that these writers are full, and copious, and explicit, and cogent on the nature and duty of prayer and supplications, as well for public as for private blessings; and of intercessions by one Christian for another, and for the whole race of mankind no less than for mercy on himself; and yet though openings of every kind palpably offered themselves for a natural introduction of the subject, there is in no one single instance any reference or allusion to the {97} invocation of saint or angel, as a practice either approved or even known.

When indeed I call to mind the general tendency of the natural man to multiply to himself the objects of religious worship, and to create, by the help of superstition, and the delusive workings of the imagination, a variety of unearthly beings whose wrath he must appease, or whose favour he may conciliate; when I reflect how great is the temptation in unenlightened or fraudulent teachers to accommodate the dictates of truth to the prejudices and desires of those whom they instruct, my wonder is rather that Christianity was so long preserved pure and uncontaminated in this respect, than that corruptions should gradually and stealthily have mingled themselves with the simplicity of Gospel worship. That tendency is plainly evinced by the history of every nation under heaven: Greek and Barbarian, Egyptian and Scythian, would have their gods many, and their lords many. From one they would look for one good; on another they would depend for a different benefit, in mind, body, and estate. Some were of the highest grade, and to be worshipped with supreme honours; others were of a lower rank, to whom an inferior homage was addressed; whilst a third class held a sort of middle place, and were approached with reverence as much above the least, as it fell short of the greatest. In the heathen world you will find exact types of the dulia, the hyperdulia, and the latria, with which unhappily the practical theology of modern Christian Rome is burdened. Indeed, my wonder is, that under the Christian dispensation, when the household and local gods, the heathen's tutelary deities, and the genii, had been dislodged by the light of the Gospel, saints and angels had not at a much {98} earlier period been forced by superstition to occupy their room.

We shall be led to refer to some passages in the earliest Christian writers, especially in Origen, which bear immediately on this point, representing in strong but true colours the futility of deeming a multitude of inferior divinities necessary for the dispensation of benefits throughout the universe, whose good offices we must secure by acts of attention and worship. I anticipate the circumstance in this place merely to show that the tendency of the human mind, clinging to a variety of preternatural protectors and benefactors, was among the obstacles with which the first preachers of the Gospel had to struggle. In the proper place I shall beg you to observe how hardly possible it would have been for those early Christian writers, to whom I have referred above, to express themselves in so strong, so sweeping, and so unqualified a manner, had the practice of applying by invocation to saints and angels then been prevalent among the disciples of the Cross.

We may, I believe, safely conclude, that in these primitive writings, which are called the works of the Apostolical Fathers, there is no intimation that the present belief and practice of the Church of Rome were received, or even known by Christians. The evidence is all the other way. Indeed, Bellarmin, though he appeals to these remains for other purposes, and boldly asserts that "all the fathers, Greek and Latin, with unanimous consent, sanction and teach the adoration of saints and angels," yet does not refer to a single passage in any one of these remains for establishing this point. He cites a clause from the spurious work strangely ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite, which was the forged production, as the learned are all {99} agreed, of some centuries later; and he cites a pious sentiment of Ignatius, expressing his hope that by martyrdom he might go to Christ, and thence he infers that Ignatius believed in the immediate transfer of the soul from this life to glory and happiness in heaven, though Ignatius refers there distinctly to the resurrection. [Epist. ad Rom. c. iv. See above, p. 90.] But Bellarmin cites no passage whatever from these remains to countenance the doctrine and practice of the adoration of saints and angels.




Justin, who flourished about the year 150, was trained from his early youth in all the learning of Greece and of Egypt. He was born in Palestine, of heathen parents; and after a patient examination of the evidences of Christianity, and a close comparison of them with the systems of philosophy with which he had long been familiar, he became a disciple of the Cross. In those systems he found nothing solid, or satisfactory; nothing on which his mind could rest. In the Gospel he gained all that his soul yearned for, as a being destined for immortal life, conscious of that destiny, and longing for its accomplishment. His understanding was convinced, and his heart was touched; and regardless of every worldly consideration, and devoted to the cause of truth, he openly embraced Christianity; and before kings and people, Jews and Gentiles, he pleaded the religion of the crucified One with unquenchable zeal and astonishing power. The evidence of such a man on any doctrine {101} connected with our Christian faith must be looked to with great interest.

In the volumes which contain Justin's works we find "Books of Questions," in which many inquiries, doubts, and objections, as well of Jews as of Gentiles, are stated and answered. It is agreed on all sides that these are not the genuine productions of Justin, but the work of a later hand. Bellarmin appeals to them, acknowledging at the same time their less remote origin. The evidence, indeed, appears very strong, which would lead us to regard them as the composition of a Syrian Christian, and assign to them the date of the fifth century; and as offering indications of the opinions of Christians at the time of their being put together, they are certainly interesting documents. When fairly quoted, the passages alleged in defence of the invocation of saints, so far from countenancing the practice, assail irresistibly that principle, which, with other writers, Bellarmin himself confesses to be the foundation of that doctrine. For these Books of Questions assert that the souls of the faithful are not yet in glory with God, but are reserved in a separate state, apart from the wicked, awaiting the great day of final and universal doom. In answer to Question 60, the author distinctly says:—"Before the resurrection the recompense is not made for the things done in this life by each individual." [Quæstiones et Responsiones ad Orthodoxos, p. 464.]

In reply to the 75th Question, inquiring into the condition of man after death, this very remarkable answer is returned:—

"The same relative condition which souls have with the body now, they have not after the departure from the body. For here all the circumstances of the union {102} are in common to the just and the unjust, and no difference is in them in this respect,—as to be born and to die, to be in health and to be in sickness, to be rich and to be poor, and the other points of this nature. But after the departure from the body, forthwith takes place the distinction of the just and the unjust: for they are conducted by the angels to places corresponding with their deserts: the souls of the just to paradise, where is the company and the sight of angels and archangels, and also, by vision, of the Saviour Christ, according to what is said, 'Being absent from the body, and present with the Lord;' and the souls of the unjust to the places in hades, according to what is said of Nebucodonosor king of Babylon, 'Hades from beneath hath been embittered, meeting thee.'—And in the places corresponding with their deserts they are kept in ward unto the day of the resurrection and of retribution." [Page 469.]

I much regret to observe that Bellarmin omits to quote the latter part of this passage, stopping short with an "&c." at the words hades, or inferorum loca, although the whole of the writer's testimony in it turns upon the very last clause. [Bellarmin, c. iv. p. 851. "Improborum autem ad inferorum loca."]

The next question (76) runs thus: "If the retribution of our deeds does not take place before the resurrection, what advantage accrued to the thief that his soul was introduced into paradise; especially since paradise is an object of sense, and the substance of the soul is not an object of sense?

"Answer. It was an advantage to the thief entering into paradise to learn by fact the benefits of the faith by which he was deemed worthy of the assembly of the {103} saints, in which he is kept till the day of judgment and restitution; and he has the perception of paradise by that which is called intellectual perception, by which souls see both themselves and the things under them, and moreover also the angels and demons. For a soul doth not perceive or see a soul, nor an angel an angel, nor a demon a demon; except that according to the said intellectual perception they see both themselves and each other, and moreover also all corporeal objects." [Page 470.]

On this same point I must here subjoin a passage from one of Justin's own undisputed works. In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, sect. 5, he says, "Nevertheless I do not say that souls all die; for that were in truth a boon to the wicked. But what? That the souls of the pious remain somewhere in a better place, and the unjust and wicked in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment, when it shall be: thus the one appearing worthy of God do not die any more; and the others are punished as long as God wills them both to exist and to be punished." [Page 107.]

Not only so; Justin classes among renouncers of the faith those who maintain the doctrine which is now acknowledged to be the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and to be indispensable as the groundwork of the adoration of saints. In his Trypho, sect. 80, he states his sentiment thus strongly: "If you should meet with any persons called Christians, who confess not this, but dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and say there is no resurrection of the dead ([Greek: nekron]), but that their souls, at the very time of their death, are taken up into heaven; do not regard them as Christians." [Page 178.]


This, according to Bellarmin's own principle, is fatal evidence: if the redeemed and the saints departed are not in glory with God already, they cannot intercede with him for men. On the subject, however, of worship and prayer, Justin Martyr has left us some testimonies as to the primitive practice, full of interest in themselves, independently of their bearing on the points at issue. At the same time I am not aware of a single expression which can be so construed as to imply the doctrine or practice among Christians of invoking the souls of the faithful. He speaks of public and private prayer; he offers prayer, but the prayer of which he speaks, and the prayer which he offers are to God alone; and he alludes to no advocate or intercessor in heaven, except only the eternal Son of God himself. In his first Apologia (or Defence addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius) he thus describes the proceedings at the baptism of a convert:—

"Now, we will explain to you how we dedicate ourselves to God, being made new by Christ.... As many as are persuaded, and believe the things which by us are taught and declared to be true, and who promise that they can so live, are taught to pray and implore, with fasting, forgiveness of God for their former sins, we ourselves joining with them in fasting and prayer; and then they are taken by us to a place where there is water, and by the same manner of regeneration as we ourselves were regenerated, they are regenerated; for they undergo this washing in the water in the name of God the Father and Lord of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost." [Apol. i. sect 61, page 79.]

The following is his description of the Christian {105} Eucharist, subsequently to the baptism of a convert: "Afterwards we conduct him to those who are called brethren, where they are assembled together to offer earnestly our united prayers for ourselves and for the enlightened one [the newly baptized convert], and for all others every where, that we, having learned the truth, may be thought worthy to be found in our deeds good livers, and keepers of the commandments, that we may be saved with the everlasting salvation. Having ceased from prayers, we salute each other with a kiss; and then bread is brought to him who presides over the brethren, and a cup of water and wine; and he taking it, sends up prayer and praise to the Father of all, through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit; and offers much thanksgiving for our being thought by him worthy of these things. When he has finished the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present respond, saying, 'Amen.' Now, Amen in the Hebrew tongue means, 'So be it.' And when the presider has given thanks, and all the people have responded, those who are called Deacons among us give to every one present to partake of the bread and wine and water that has been blessed, and take some away for those who were not present." [Sect. 65. p. 82.]

The following is Justin's account of their worship on the Lord's day: "In all our oblations we bless the Creator of all things, through his Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. And upon the day called Sunday, there is an assembly of all who dwell in the several cities or in the country, in one place where the records of the apostles, or the writings of the prophets are read, as time allows. When the reader has ceased, {106} the presider makes a discourse for the edification of the people, and to animate them to the practice of such excellent things [or the imitation of such excellent persons]. At the conclusion we all rise up together and pray; and, as we have said, when we have ceased from prayer, the bread and wine and water are brought forward, and the presider sends up prayer and thanksgiving alike, to the utmost of his power. And the people respond, saying, Amen. And then is made to each the distribution and participation of the consecrated elements ([Greek: eucharistauthenton]). And of those who have the means and will, each according to his disposition gives what he will; and the collected sum is deposited with the presider, and he aids the orphans and widows, and those who through sickness or other cause are in need, and those in bonds, and strangers; and, in a word, he becomes the reliever of all who are in want." [Sect. 67. p. 83.]

In Justin Martyr I am unable to find even a single vestige of the invocation of Saints. With regard to Angels, however, there is a very celebrated passage, to which Bellarmin and others appeal, as conclusive evidence that the worship of them prevailed among Christians in his time, and was professed by Justin himself.

Justin, in his first Apology, having stated that the Christians could never be induced to worship the demons, whom the heathen worshipped and invoked, proceeds thus33: "Whence also we are called Atheists, {107} [men without God]; and we confess that with regard to such supposed gods we are atheists, but not so with regard to the most true God, the Father of justice and temperance, and of the other virtues without any mixture of evil. But both HIM and the SON, who came from Him, and taught these things to us, and THE HOST OF THE OTHER GOOD ANGELS ACCOMPANYING AND MADE LIKE, and THE PROPHETIC SPIRIT, we reverence and worship, honouring them in reason and truth; and without grudging, delivering the doctrine to every one who is willing to learn as we were taught." [Page 47.] Governing the words "the host of the other good angels," as much as the words "Him" and "His Son," and "the prophetic Spirit," by the verbs "we reverence and worship," Bellarmin and others34 maintain, that Justin bears testimony in this passage to the worship of angels. That this cannot be the true interpretation of Justin's words will be acknowledged, I think, by every Catholic, whether Anglican or Roman, when he contemplates it in all its naked plainness; all will revolt from it as impious and contrary to the principles professed by the most celebrated and honoured among Roman Catholic writers. This interpretation of the passage, when analysed, implies the awful thought, that we Christians pay to the host of angels, God's ministers and our own fellow-servants, the same reverence, worship, and honour which we pay to the supreme Father, and his ever-blessed Son, and the Holy Spirit, without any difference or inequality. No principles of interpretation can avoid that inference.

Footnote 33:(return)

The genuineness of this passage has been doubted. But I see no ground for suspicion that it is spurious. It is found in the manuscripts of Justin's works; of which the most ancient perhaps are in the King's Library in Paris. I examined one there of a remote date.

Footnote 34:(return)

The Benedictine Editor puts this note in the margin, "Justin teaches that angels following the Son are worshipped by Christians."—Preface, p. xxi.


"Him the most true Father of righteousness we reverence and worship, honouring him in reason and truth."

"The Son who came from him, and taught us these things, we reverence and worship, honouring him in reason and truth."

"The army of the other good angels accompanying and assimilated, we reverence and worship, honouring them in reason and truth."

"The Prophetic Spirit we reverence and worship, honouring him in reason and truth."

Is it possible to conceive that any Christian would thus ascribe the same religious worship to a host of God's creatures, which he would ascribe to God, as GOD? "We are accused," said Justin, "of being atheists, of having no God. How can this be? We do not worship your false gods, but we have our own most true God. We are not without a God. We have the Father, and the Son, and the Good Angels, and the Holy Spirit." If Justin meant that they honoured the good angels, but not as GOD, that would be no answer to those who called the Christians atheists. The charge was, that "they had no God." The answer is, "We have a God;" and then Justin describes the God of Christians. Can the army of angels be included in that description? If they are, then they are made to share in the adoration, worship, homage, and reverence of the one only God Most High; if they are not, then Justin does not answer the objectors35.

Footnote 35:(return)

And surely if Justin had intended to represent the holy angels as objects of religious worship, he would not so violently have thrust the mention of them among the Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, assigning to them a place between the second and third Persons of the eternal hypostatic union.


To evade this charge of impiety, some writers (among others, M. Maran, the Benedictine editor of Justin,) have attempted to draw a distinction between the two verbs in this passage, alleging that the lower degree of reverence expressed by the latter applies to the angels; whilst the former verb, implying the higher degree of worship, alone relates to the Godhead. But this distinction rests on a false assumption; the two words being used equally to convey the idea, of the highest religious worship36.

Footnote 36:(return)

For example, the first word ([Greek: sebometha]), "we reverence," is used to mean the whole of religious worship, as well with regard to the true God, as with reference to Diana [Acts xviii. 7. 13; xix. 27.]; whilst the second word ([Greek: proskunoumen]), "we worship," is constantly employed in the same sense of divine worship, throughout the Septuagint [Exod. xxxiv. 14. Ps. xciv. (xcv.) 6. I Sam. (1 Kings) xv. 25. 2 Kings (4 Kings) xvii. 36. Heb. i. 6.], (with which Justin was most familiar,) and is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews to signify the worship due from the angels themselves to God, "Let all the angels of God worship him." The very same word is also soon after employed by Justin himself (sect. xvi. p. 53) to mean the whole entire worship of the Most High God: "That we ought to worship ([Greek: proskumein]) God alone, Christ thus proves," &c. Moreover, the word which Justin uses at the close of the sentence, "honouring them" ([Greek: timontes]), is the identical word four times employed by St. John [John v. 23.], in the same verse, to record our Saviour's saying, "That all men might honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; he that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him."

But in determining the true meaning of an obscure passage, grammatically susceptible of different acceptations, the author himself is often his own best interpreter. If he has expressed in another place the same leading sentiment, yet without the same obscurity, and free from all doubt, the light borrowed from that passage {110} will frequently fix the sense of the ambiguous expression, and establish the author's consistency. On this acknowledged principle of criticism, I would call your attention to a passage in the very same treatise of Justin, a few pages further on, in which he again defends the Christians against the same charge of being atheists, and on the self-same ground, "that they worship the Father who is maker of all; secondly, the Son proceeding from Him; and thirdly, the Holy Spirit." In both cases he refers to the same attributes of the Son as the teacher of Christian truth, and of the Holy Ghost, as the Prophetic Spirit. His language throughout the two passages is remarkably similar, and in the expressions on the true meaning of which we have already dwelt, it is most strikingly identical; but by omitting all allusion to the angels after the Son, his own words proving that the introduction of them could have no place there, (for he specifies that the third in order was the Holy Spirit,) Justin has left us a comment on the passage under consideration conclusive as to the object of religious worship in his creed. The whole passage is well worth the attention of the reader. The following extracts are the only parts necessary for our present purpose:—

"Who of sound mind will not confess that we are not Atheists, reverencing as we do the Maker of the Universe.... and Him, who taught us these things, and who was born for this purpose, Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius Pilate.... instructed, as we are, that He is the Son of the True God, and holding Him in the second place; and the Prophetic Spirit in the third order, we with reason honour." [Sect. xiii. p. 50.]


The impiety apparently inseparable from Bellarmin's interpretation has induced many, even among Roman Catholic writers, to discard that acceptation altogether, and to substitute others, which, though involving no grammatical inaccuracy, are still not free from difficulty.37 After weighing the passage with all the means in my power, and after testing the various interpretations offered by writers, whether of the Church of Rome or not, by the sentiments of Justin himself, and others of the same early age, I am fully persuaded that the following is the only true rendering of Justin's words:

"Honouring in reason and truth, we reverence and worship HIM, the Father of Righteousness, and the Son (who proceeded from Him, and instructed in these things both ourselves and the host of the other good angels following Him and being made like unto Him), and the Prophetic Spirit."

Footnote 37:(return)

Le Nourry (Apparatus ad Bibliothecam Maximam Veterum Patrum. Paris, 1697. vol. ii. p. 305), himself a Benedictine, rejects Bellarmin's and his brother Benedictine Maran's interpretation, and conceives Justin to mean, that the Son of God not only taught us those truths to which he was referring, with regard to the being and attributes of God, but also taught us that there were hosts of spiritual beings, called Angels; good beings, opposed to the demons of paganism. Bishop Kaye, in his excellent work on Justin Martyr, which the reader will do well to consult (p. 53), tells us he was sometimes inclined to think that Justin referred to the host of good angels who should surround the Son of God when he should come to judge the world. The view adopted by myself here was recommended by Grabe and by Langus, called The Interpreter of Justin; whilst Petavius, a Jesuit, though he does not adopt it, yet acknowledges that the Greek admits of our interpretation. Any one who would pursue the subject further may with advantage consult the preface to the Benedictine edition referred to in this work. Lumper Hist. Part ii. p. 225. Augustæ Vindelicorum, 1784. Petavius, Theologicorum Dogmatum tom. vi. p. 298. lib. xv. c. v. s. 5. Antwerp, 1700.

The whole passage is thus rendered by Langus (as read in Lumper), "Verum hunc ipsum, et qui ab eo venit, atque ista nos et aliorum obsequentium exæquatorumque ad ejus voluntatem bonorum Angelorum exercitura docuit, Filium, et Spiritum ejus propheticum, colimus et adoramus."

This interpretation is strongly confirmed by the professed sentiments both of Justin and of his contemporaries, {112} with regard to the Son of God and the holy angels.

It was a principle generally received among the early Christians, that whatever the Almighty did, either by creation or by the communication of his will, on earth or in heaven, was done by the Eternal Word. It was God the Son, the Logos, who created the angels38, as well as ourselves; it was He who spoke to Moses, to Abraham, and to Lot; and it was He who conveyed the Supreme will, and the knowledge of the only true God, to the inhabitants of the world of spirits. Agreeably to this principle, in the passage under consideration, Justin affirms (not that Christians revered and worshipped the angels, but), that God the Son, whom Christians worshipped as the eternal Prophet, Angel, and Apostle, of the Most High, instructed not only us men on earth, but also the host of heavenly angels39, in these eternal verities, {113} which embrace God's nature and the duty of his creatures. [Trypho, § 141. p. 231.]

Footnote 38:(return)

Thus Tatian (p. 249 in the same edition of Justin), "Before men were prepared, the Word was the Maker of angels."

Footnote 39:(return)

"The OTHER good angels." Justin (Apol. i. sect. lxiii. p. 81.) reminds us that Christ, the first-begotten of the Father, Himself God, was also an Angel (or Messenger), and an Apostle; and here Christ, as the Angel of the Covenant and the chief Apostle, is represented as instructing THE OTHER ANGELS in the truths of the economy of grace, just as he instructed his Apostles on earth,—"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."

It is evident that Justin himself considered the host of angels to be equally with ourselves in a state of probation, requiring divine instruction, and partaking of it. It is also evident that many of his contemporaries entertained the same views; among others, Irenæus and Origen. [Irenæus, book ii. c. 30. p. 163. Origen, Hom. xxxii. in Joann. § 10. vol. iv. p. 430.] I will not swell this dissertation by quoting the passages at length; though the passages referred to in the margin will well repay any one's careful examination. But I cannot refrain from extracting the words in which each of those writers confirms the view here taken of Justin's sentiments.

Irenæus, for example, says distinctly, "The Son ever, anciently and from the beginning co-existing with the Father, always reveals the Father both to angels and archangels, and powers, and excellencies, and to all to whom God wishes to make a revelation40." And not less distinctly does Origen assert the same thing,—"Our Saviour therefore teaches, and the Holy Spirit, {114} who spake in the prophets, teaches not only men, but also angels and invisible excellencies."

Footnote 40:(return)

So far did some of the early Christians include the hosts of angels within the covenant of the Gospel, that Ignatius (Epist. ad Smyrn. § 6. p. 36.) does not hesitate to pronounce that the angels incur the Divine judgment, if they do not receive the doctrine of the atonement: "Let no one be deceived. The things in heaven, and the glory of angels, and the powers visible and invisible, if they do not believe on the blood of Christ—for them is judgment." They seem to have founded their opinion on the declaration of St. Paul (Eph. iii. 10): "That now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God."

I will only add one more ancient authority, in confirmation of the view here taken of Justin's words. The passage is from Athenagoras41 and seems to be the exact counterpart of Justin's paragraph.

Footnote 41:(return)

Athenagoras presented his defence, in which these words occur, to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and his son Commodus, in the year 177.

"Who would not wonder on hearing us called Atheists? we who call the Father God, and the Son God, and the Holy Ghost, showing both their power in the unity, and their distinction in order. Nor does our theology rest here; but we say, moreover, that there is a multitude of angels and ministers whom God, the Maker and Creator of the world, BY THE WORD PROCEEDING FROM HIM, distributed and appointed, both about the elements, and the heavens, and the world, and the things therein, and the good order thereof." [Sect. 10. p. 287. edit. Just. Mart.]

I have already stated my inability to discover a single word in Justin Martyr which could be brought to sanction the invocation of saints; but his testimony is far from being merely negative. He admonishes us strongly against our looking to any other being for help or assistance, than to God only. Even when speaking of those who confide in their own strength, and fortune, and other sources of good, he says, in perfect unison with the pervading principles and associations of his whole mind, as far as we can read them in his works, without any modification or any exception in favour of saint or angel: "In that Christ {115} said, 'Thou art my God, go not far from me,' He at the same time taught, that all persons ought to hope in God, who made all things, and seek for safety and health from Him alone" [Trypho, § 102, p. 197.]


Justin sealed his faith by his blood about the year 165; and next to him, in the noble army of martyrs, we must examine the evidence of Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons. Of this writer's works a very small proportion survives in the original Greek; but that little is such as might well make every scholar and divine lament the calamity which theology and literature have sustained by the loss of the author's own language. It is not perhaps beyond the range of hope that future researches may yet recover at least some part of the treasure. Meanwhile we must avail ourselves with thankfulness of the nervous though inelegant copy of that original, which the Latin translation affords; imperfect and corrupt in many parts, as that copy evidently is. This, however, is not the place for recommending a study of the remains of Irenæus; and every one at all acquainted with the literature of the early Church, knows well how valuable a store of ancient Christian learning is preserved even in the wreck of his works.

On the subject of the invocation of saints, an appeal {116} has been made only to a few passages in Irenæus. With regard, indeed, to one section, I would gladly have been spared the duty of commenting upon the unjustifiable mode of citing his evidence adopted by Bellarmin. It forces upon our notice an example either of such inaccuracy of quotation as would shake our confidence in him as an author, or of such misrepresentation as must lower him in our estimation as a man of integrity.

Bellarmin asserts, building upon it as the very foundation-stone of his argument for the invocation of saints, that the souls of the saints are removed immediately on their dissolution by death, without waiting for the day of judgment, into the presence of God, and the enjoyment of HIM in heaven. This point, he says, must first be established; for if they are not already in the presence of God, they cannot pray for us, and prayer to them would be preposterous. [Bell. lib. i. c. 4. vol. ii. p. 851.] Among the authorities cited by him to establish this point is the evidence of Irenæus (book i. c. 2). [See Benedictine ed, Paris, 1710. book i. c. 10. p. 48.] Bellarmin quotes that passage in these words: "To the just and righteous, and to those who keep his commandments, and persevere in his love, some indeed from the beginning but some from repentance, he giving life CONFERS by way of gift incorruption, and CLOTHES them with eternal glory." To the quotation he appends this note "Mark 'to some' that is, to those who presently after baptism die, or who lay down their life for Christ; or finally to the perfect is given immediately life and eternal glory; to others not, except after repentance, that is, satisfaction made in another world42."

Footnote 42:(return)

Agreeably to the principles laid down in my preface, I will not here allude to the doctrine of purgatory, on which Bellarmin considers this passage to bear; nor will I say one word on the intermediate state of the soul between death and the resurrection, on which I am now showing that the words of Irenæus cannot at all be made to bear.


Here I am compelled to confess that I never found a more palpable misquotation of an author than this. I will readily grant that Bellarmin may have quoted from memory, or have borrowed from some corrupt version of the passage; and that he has unintentionally changed the moods of two verbs from the subjunctive to the indicative, and inadvertently changed the entire construction and the sense of the passage. But then what becomes of his authority as a writer citing testimony?

Irenæus in this passage is speaking not of what our Lord does now, but what he will do at the last day; he refers only to the second coming of Christ to judgment at the final consummation of all things, not using a single expression which can be made by fair criticism to have any reference whatever to the condition of souls on their separation from the body. I have consulted the old editions, some at least published before the date of Bellarmin's work; the suggestion offering itself to my mind, that perhaps the ancient translation was in error, from which he might have quoted. But I cannot find that to have been the case. The old Latin version of this passage agreeing very closely with the Greek still preserved in Epiphanius, and quoted by Roman Catholic writers as authentic, conveys this magnificent though brief summary of the Christian faith:

"The Church spread throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, received both from the Apostles and their disciples that faith which is in one {118} God omnipotent, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all things therein, and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our salvation made flesh, and in the Holy Ghost, who by the prophets announced the dispensations (of God43), and the Advent, and the being born of a Virgin, and the suffering, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Jesus Christ our Lord, and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father for the consummation of all things, and for raising again all flesh of the human race, THAT, in order that ([Greek: ina]), to Christ Jesus our Lord and God, and Saviour and King, according to the good pleasure of the invisible Father, every knee should bow of things in heaven and in earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess to Him, and that he should execute just judgment on all: that he should send the spirits of wickedness, and the transgressing and rebel angels, and the impious and unjust, and wicked and blaspheming men into eternal fire; but to the just and righteous, and to those who keep his commandments, and persevere in his love,—some indeed from the beginning, and some from their repentance,—he granting life, by way of gift, SHOULD CONFER incorruption, and SHOULD CLOTHE them with eternal glory." [Hæres. xxxi. c. 30.]

Footnote 43:(return)

The words "of God" are in the Latin, but not in the Greek.

The words, "some from the beginning," "others from their repentance," can refer only to the two conditions of believers; some of whom have grace to keep the commandments, and persevere in the love of God from the beginning of their Christian course, whilst others, for a time, transgress and wax cold in love, but by repentance, through God's grace, are renewed and {119} restored to their former state of obedience and love. On both these classes of Christians, according to the faith as here summed up by Irenæus, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, when He comes in glory for the consummation of all things, and for the resurrection of the dead, will confer glory and immortality. No ingenuity of criticism can extract from this passage any allusion to the intercession of saints, or to their being with God before the end of the world44. But I am not {120} here condemning Bellarmin's untenable criticism: what I lament is the negligence or the disingenuousness with which he misquotes the words of Irenæus, and makes him say what he never did say. To extract from an author's words, correctly reported, a meaning which he did not intend to convey, however reprehensible and unworthy a follower of truth, is one act of injustice: to report him, whether wilfully or carelessly, as using words which he never did use, is far worse.

Footnote 44:(return)

It will be well to see the words of Bellarmin and those of the translation side by side:

(Transcriber's note: They are shown here one after the other.)

Bellarmin lib. i. c. iv. p. 851.

"Quartus Irenæus, lib. i. c. 2. 'Justis, inquit, et æquis, et præcepta ejus servantibus et in dilectione perseverantibus, quibusdam quidem ab initio, quibusdam autem ex poenitentia, vitam donans, incorruptelam loco muneris CONFERT, et claritatem æternam CIRCUMDAT.' Nota 'quibusdam,' id est, iis qui mox a Baptismo moriuntur, vel qui pro Christo vitam ponunt; vel denique perfectis statim donari vitam et claritatem æternam; aliis non nisi post poenitentiam, id est, satisfactionem in futuro sæculo actam."

Latin Translation.

"Et de coelis in gloria Patris adventum ejus ad recapitulanda universa et resuscitandam omnem carnem humani generis, UT Christo Jesu Domino nostro et Deo, et Salvatori, et Regi, secundum placitum Patris invisibilis, 'omne genu curvet coelestium, et terrestrium, et infernorum, et omnis lingua confiteatur ei,' et judicium justum in omnibus faciat; spiritalia quidem nequitiæ, et angelos transgresses, atque apostatas factos, et impios et injustos et iniquos, et blasphemos homines in æternum ignem mittat;—Justis autem et æquis et præcepta ejus servantibus et in dilectione ejus perseverantibus, quibusdam quidem ab initio, quibusdam autem ex poenitentia, vitam donans, incorruptelam loco muneris CONFERAT, et claritatem æternam CIRCUMDET."—Irenæi liber i. cap. x. p. 48. Interpretatio Vetus.

Another expression of Irenæus is appealed to by Bellarmin, and continues to be cited at the present day in defence of the invocation of saints; the precise bearing of which upon the subject I confess myself unable to see, whilst I am very far from understanding the passage from which it is an extract. Bellarmin cites the passage not to show that the saints in glory pray for us,—that argument he had dismissed before,—but to prove that they are to be invoked by us. The insulated passage as quoted by him is this: "And as she (Eve) was induced to fly from God, so she (Mary) was persuaded to obey God, that of the Virgin Eve the Virgin Mary might become the advocate." After the quotation he says, "What can be clearer?" [Benedict, lib. v. cap. xix. p. 316.]

In whatever sense we may suppose Irenæus to have employed the word here translated "advocata," it is difficult to see how the circumstance of Mary becoming the advocate of Eve, who lived so many generations before her, can bear upon the question, Is it lawful and right for us, now dwelling on the earth, to invoke those saints whom we believe to be in heaven? I will not dwell on the argument urged very cogently by some critics on this passage, that the word "advocata," found {121} in the Latin version of Irenæus, is the translation of the original word, now lost [[Greek: paraklaetos]—paraclete], which, by the early writers, was used for "comforter and consoler," or "restorer;" because, as I have above intimated, whatever may have been the word employed by Irenæus, the passage proves nothing as to the lawfulness of our praying to the saints. If the angels at God's bidding minister unto the heirs of salvation; or further, if they plead our cause with God, that would be no reason why we should invoke them and pray to them. This distinction between what they may do for us, and what we ought to do with regard to them, is an essential distinction, and must not be lost sight of. We shall have occasion hereafter to refer to it repeatedly, especially in the instances of Origen and Cyprian. I will now do no more than copy in a note the entire passage from which the sentence now under consideration has been extracted, that the reader may judge whether on such a passage, the original of which, in whatever words Irenæus may have expressed himself, is utterly lost, any reliance can satisfactorily be placed.

("Manifeste itaque in sua propria venientem Dominum et sua propria eum bajulantem conditione quæ bajulatur ab ipso, et recapitulationem ejus quæ in ligno fuit inobedientiæ per eam quæ in ligno est obedientiam facientem, et seductionem illam solutam qua seducta est male illa, quæ jam viro destinata erat virgo Eva, per veritatem evangelizata est bene ab angelo jam sub viro virgo Maria. Quemadmodum enim illa per angeli sermonem seducta est ut effugeret Deum prævaricata verbum ejus, ita et hæc per angelicum sermonem evangelizata est ut portaret Deum obediens ejus verbo. Et si ea inobedierat Deo, sed hæc suasa est obedire Deo, uti virginis Evæ virgo Maria fieret advocata. Et quemadmodum astrictum est morti genus humanum per virginem, salvatur per virginem, æqua lance disposita virginalis inobedientia per virginalem obedientiam. Adhuc enim protoplasti peccatum per correptionem primogeniti emendationem accipiens, et serpentis prudentia devicta in columbæ simplicitate, vinculis autem illis resolutis, per quæ alligati eramus morti." St. Augustin (Paris, 1690. vol. x. p. 500.) refers to the latter part of this passage, as implying the doctrine of original sin; but since his quotation does not embrace any portion of the clause at present under our consideration, no additional light from him is thrown on the meaning of Irenæus.)


But passages occur in Irenæus, which seem to leave doubt, that neither in faith nor in practice would he countenance in the very lowest degree the adoration of saints and angels, or any invocation of them.

For example, in one part of his works we read, "Nor does it [the Church] do any thing by invocations of angels, nor by incantations, nor other depraved and curious means, but with cleanliness, purity, and openness, directing prayers to the Lord who made all things, and calling upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, it exercises its powers for the benefit, and not for the seducing, of mankind." [Benedictine Ed. lib. ii. c. 32. § 5. p. 166.] It has been said that, by angelic invocations, Irenæus means the addresses to evil angels and genii, such as the heathen superstitiously made. Be it so; though that is a mere assumption, not warranted by the passage or its context. But, surely, had Irenæus known that Christians prayed to angels, as well as to their Maker and their Saviour, he would not have used such an unguarded expression; he would have cautioned his readers against so serious, but so natural, a misapprehension of his meaning.

With one more reference, we must bring our inquiry into the testimony of Irenæus to a close. The passage occurs in the fifth book, chapter 31. [Benedict. lib. v. c. 32. § 2. p, 331.] The principal and most important, though not the longest, part of {123} the passage is happily still found in the original Greek, preserved in the "Parallels" of Damascenus. In its plain, natural, and unforced sense, this passage is so decidedly conclusive on the question at issue, that various attempts have been made to explain away its meaning, so as not to represent Irenæus as believing that the souls of departed saints, between their death and the day of judgment, exist otherwise than in bliss and glory in heaven. But those attempts have been altogether unsuccessful. I believe the view here presented to us by the plain and obvious sense of the words of Irenæus, is the view at present acquiesced in by a large proportion of our fellow-believers. The Anglican Church has made no article of faith whatever on the subject. The clause within brackets is found both in the Latin and the Greek.

"Since the Lord45 in the midst of the shadow of death went where the souls of the dead were, and then afterwards rose bodily, and after his resurrection was taken up, it is evident that of his disciples also, for whom the Lord wrought these things, [the souls go into the unseen46 place assigned to them by God, and there remain till the resurrection, waiting for the resurrection; afterwards receiving again their bodies and rising perfectly [[Greek: holoklaeros], perfecte], that is, bodily, even as the Lord also rose again, so will they come into the presence of God.] {124} For no disciple is above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. As, therefore, our Master did not immediately flee away and depart, but waited for the time of his resurrection appointed by his Father (which is evident, even by the case of Jonah); after the third day, rising again, he was taken up; so we too must wait for the time of our resurrection appointed by God, and fore-announced by the prophets; and thus rising again, be taken up, as many as the Lord shall have deemed worthy of this."

Footnote 45:(return)

Bellarmin, rather than allow the testimony of Irenæus to weigh at all against the doctrine which he is defending, seems determined to combat and challenge that father himself. "Non ausus est dicere," "He has not dared to say, that the souls go to the regions below," &c.

Footnote 46:(return)

There is no word in the Greek copy corresponding with the Latin "invisibilem."


Contemporary with Irenæus, and probably less than twenty years his junior, was Clement, the celebrated Christian philosopher of Alexandria. I am not aware that any Roman Catholic writer has appealed to the testimony of Clement in favour of the invocation of saints, nor have I found a single passage which the defenders of that practice would be likely to quote; and yet there are many passages which no one, anxious to trace the Catholic faith, would willingly neglect. The tendency of Clement's mind to blend with the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ the philosophy in which he so fully abounded, renders him far less valuable as a Christian teacher; but his evidence as to the matter of fact, is even rendered more cogent and pointed by this tendency of his mind. I would {125} willingly have transferred to these pages whole passages of Clement, but the very nature of my address forbids it. Some sentences bearing on the subject immediately before us, we must not omit.

Clement has left on record many of his meditations upon the efficacy, the duty, and the blessed comfort of prayer. When he speaks of God, and of the Christian in prayer, (for prayer he defines to be "communion or intercourse with God,") his language becomes often exquisitely beautiful, and sometimes sublime. It is impossible by a few detached passages to convey an adequate estimate of the original; and yet a few sentences may show that Clement is a man whose testimony should not be slighted.

"Therefore, keeping the whole of our life as a feast every where, and on every part persuaded that God is present, we praise him as we till our lands; we sing hymns as we are sailing. The Christian is persuaded that God hears every thing; not the voice only, but the thoughts.... Suppose any one should say, that the voice does not reach God, revolving as it does in the air below; yet the thoughts of the saints cut not only through the air, but the whole world. And the divine power like the light is beforehand in seeing through the soul.... He" (the Christian whom he speaks of throughout as the man of divine knowledge) "prays for things essentially good.

"Wherefore it best becomes those to pray who have an adequate knowledge of God, and possess virtue in accordance with Him—who know what are real goods, and what we should petition for, and when, and how in each case. But it is the extreme of ignorance to ask {126} from those who are not gods as though they were gods.... Whence since there is one only good God, both we ourselves and the angels supplicate from Him alone, that some good things might be given to us, and others might remain with us. In this way he (the Christian) is always in a state of purity fit for prayer. He prays with angels, as being himself equal with angels; and as one who is never beyond the holy protecting guard. And if he pray alone he has the whole choir of angels with him." [Stromata, lib. vii. § 7. p. 851, &c.; Section xii. p. 879.]

Clement has alluded to instances alleged by the Greeks of the effects of prayer, and he adds, "Our whole Scripture is full of instances of God hearing and granting every request according to the prayers of the just." [Lib. vi. § iii. p. 753.]

Having in the same section referred to the opinion of some Greeks as to the power of demons over the affairs of mortals, he adds, "But they think it matters nothing whether we speak of these as gods or as angels, calling the spirits of such 'demons,' and teaching that they should be worshipped by men, as having, by divine providence, on account of the purity of their lives, received authority to be conversant about earthly places, in order that they may minister to mortals." [Lib. vi. § iii. p. 755.]

Is it possible to suppose that this teacher in Christ's school had any idea of a Christian praying to saints or angels? In the last passage, the language in which he quotes the errors of heathen superstition to refute them, so nearly approaches the language of the Church of Rome when speaking of the powers of saints and angels to assist the suppliant, that if Clement had entertained {127} any thought whatever of a Christian praying for aid and intercession to saint or angel, he must have mentioned it, especially after the previous passage on the absurdity and gross ignorance of praying for any good at the hands of any other than the one true God.

In common with his contemporaries, Clement considered the angels to be, as we mortals are, in a state requiring all the protection and help to be obtained by prayer; he believed that the angels pray with us, and carry our prayers to God: but the thought of addressing them by invocation does not appear to have occurred to his mind. At the close of his Pædagogus he has left on record a form of prayer to God alone very peculiar and interesting. He closes it by an ascription of glory to the blessed Trinity. But there is no allusion to saint, or angel, or virgin mother.


Tertullian, of Carthage, was a contemporary of Clement of Alexandria, and so nearly of the same age, that doubts have existed, which of the two should take priority in point of time. There is a very wide difference in the character and tone of their works, as there was in the frame and constitution of their minds. The lenient and liberal views of the erudite and accomplished master of the school of Alexandria, stand out in prominent and broad contrast with the harsh and austere doctrines of Tertullian.

Tertullian fell into errors of a very serious kind by joining himself to the heretic Montanus; still on his {128} mind is discoverable the working of that spirit which animated the early converts of Christianity; and his whole soul seems to have been filled with a desire to promote the practical influence of the Gospel.

Jerome, the oracle on such subjects, from whom the Roman Catholic Church is unwilling to allow any appeal, expressly tells us that Cyprian47, who called Tertullian the Master, never passed a single day without studying his works; and that after Tertullian had remained a presbyter of the Church to middle age, he was driven, by the envy and revilings of the members of the Roman Church, to fall from its unity, and espouse Montanism. Bellarmin calls him a heretic, and says he is the first heretic who denied that the saints went at once and forthwith to glory. [Hieron. edit. 1684. tom. i. p. 183.]

Footnote 47:(return)

The words of Jerome, who refers to the circumstance more than once, are very striking: "I saw one Paulus, who said that he had seen the secretary (notarium) of Cyprian at Rome, who used to tell him that Cyprian never passed a single day without reading Tertullian; and that he often said to him, 'Give me the Master,' meaning Tertullian."—Hieron. vol. iv. part ii. p. 115.

A decided line of distinction is drawn by Roman Catholic writers between the works of Tertullian written before he espoused the errors of Montanus, and his works written after that unhappy step. The former they hold in great estimation, the latter are by many considered of far less authority. I do not see how such a distinction ought to affect his testimony on the historical point immediately before us. If indeed he had held the doctrine of the invocation of saints whilst he continued in the full communion of the Church, and rejected it afterwards, no honest and sensible writer would quote his later opinions against the practice. But we are only seeking in his works for evidence of the {129} matter of fact,—Is there any proof in the works of Tertullian that the invocation of saints formed a part of the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in his time48? His works will be found in the note, arranged under those two heads, as nearly as I can ascertain the preponderating sentiments of critics49.

Footnote 48:(return)

The reader, who may be induced to consult the work of the present Bishop of Lincoln, entitled, "The Ecclesiastical History of the second and third Centuries, illustrated from the writings of Tertullian," will there find, in the examination and application of Tertullian's remains, the union of sound judgment, diligence in research, clearness of perception, acuteness in discovery, and great erudition mingled with charity.

Footnote 49:(return)

Works of Tertullian before he became a Montanist:—

Adversus Judæos.

The Tract ad Martyres.

The two Books ad Nationes.

The Apology, and the Tract de Præscriptione Hæreticorum.

The Tract de Testimonio Animæ.

The Tracts de Patientia, de Oratione, de Baptismo, de Poenitentia.

The two books ad Uxorem.

Works written after he espoused Montanism:—

The Tracts de Spectaculis and de Idololatria, though others say these should be ranked among the first class.

The Tracts de Corona, and de Fuga in persecutione, Scorpiace, and ad Scapulam.

The Tracts de Exhortatione Castitatis, de Monogamia, de Pudicitia, de Jejuniis, de Virginibus Velandis, de Pallio, the five books against Marcion, the Tracts adversus Valentinianos, de Carne Christi, de Resurrectione Carnis, adversus Hermogenem, de Anima, adversus Praxeam, de Cultu Foeminarum.

I will detain you only by a very few quotations from this father.

In his Apology, sect. 30, we read this very remarkable passage, "We invoke the eternal God, the true God, the living God, for the safety of the emperor.... {130} Thither (heavenward) looking up, with hands extended, because they are innocent; with our head bare, because we are not ashamed; in fine, without a prompter, because it is from the heart; we Christians pray for all rulers a long life, a secure government, a safe home, brave armies, a faithful senate, a good people, a quiet world.... For these things I cannot ask in prayer from any other except Him from whom I know that I shall obtain; because both He is the one who alone grants, and I am the one whom it behoveth to obtain by prayer;—his servant, who looks to him alone, who for the sake of his religion am put to death, who offer to him a rich and a greater victim, which He has commanded; prayer from a chaste frame, from a harmless soul, from a holy spirit.... So, let hoofs dig into us, thus stretched forward to God, let crosses suspend us, let fires embrace us, let swords sever our necks from the body, let beasts rush upon us,—the very frame of mind of a praying Christian is prepared for every torment. This do, ye good presidents; tear ye away the soul that is praying for the emperor." [Page 27.]

In the opening of his reflections on the Lord's Prayer, he says,—

"Let us consider therefore, beloved, in the first place, the heavenly wisdom in the precept of praying in secret, by which he required, in a man, faith to believe that both the sight and the hearing of the Omnipotent God is present under our roofs and in our secret places; and desired the lowliness of faith, that to Him alone, whom he believed to hear and to see every where, he would offer his worship." [Page 129.]

The only other reference which I will make, is to {131} the solemn declaration of Tertullian's Creed; the last clause of which, though in perfect accordance with the sentiments of his contemporaries, seems to have been regarded with hostile eyes by modern writers of the Church of Rome, because it decidedly bids us look to the day of judgment for the saints being taken to the enjoyment of heaven; and consequently implies that they cannot be properly invoked now.

"To profess now what we defend: By the rule of our faith we believe that God is altogether one, and no other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing by his Word first of all sent down. That that Word, called his Son, was variously seen by the patriarchs in the name of God; was always heard in the prophets; at length, borne by the spirit and power of God the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, was born of her, and was Jesus Christ. Afterwards He preached a new law and a new promise of the kingdom of heaven; wrought miracles, was crucified, rose again the third day, and, being taken up into heaven, sat on the right hand of the Father; and He sent in his own stead the power of the Holy Ghost, to guide believers; that He shall come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of eternal life and the heavenly promises, and to condemn the impious to eternal fire, making a reviving of both classes with the restoration of the body." [De Præscriptione Hæreticorum, § 13. p. 206.]

Some notice must here be taken of METHODIUS, a pious Christian, of the third century. A work (Methodius, Gl. Combes. Paris, 1644) {132} formerly attributed to him has been quoted in proof of the early invocation of saints; but the work, among many others, has been long ago allowed by the best Roman Catholic critics to be the production of a later age. (Fabricius, vol. vii. p. 268, and vol. x. p. 241.) Many homilies, purporting to have been delivered on the festival of our Lord's presentation in the temple, at so early a period, must be received as the works of a later age, because that feast began to be observed in the Church so late as the fifteenth year of Justinian, in the sixth century. Evidently, moreover, the theological language of the homily is of a period long subsequent to the date assigned to Methodius. In speaking of our blessed Saviour, for example, he employs expressions to guard against the Arian heresy, and makes extracts apparently from the Nicene creed, "God of himself, and not by grace," "Very God of very God, very light of very light, who for us men and our salvation, &c." The general opinion indeed seems to be that this, and many other writings formerly ascribed to the first Methodius, were written by persons of a subsequent age, who either were of the same name or assumed his. Even were the work genuine, it would afford just as strong a demonstration that Methodius believed that the city of Jerusalem could hear his salutation, as that the saints could hear his prayer; for he addresses the same "Hail" to Mary, Symeon, and the Holy City alike, calling it the "earthly heaven." [Greek: Chairois hae polis, ho epigeios ouranos.]



Jerome informs us that Tertullian, whose remains we have last examined, lived to a very advanced age. Long, therefore, before his death flourished Origen, one of the most celebrated lights of the primitive Church. He was educated a Christian. Indeed his father is said to have suffered martyrdom about the year 202. Origen was a pupil of Clement of Alexandria. His virtues and his labours have called forth the admiration of all ages; and though he cannot be implicitly followed as a teacher, what still remains of his works will be delivered down as a rich treasure to succeeding times. He was a most voluminous writer; and Jerome asked the members of his church, "Who is there among us that can read as many books as Origen has composed?" [Vol. iv. epist. xli. p. 346.] A large proportion of his works are lost; and of those which remain, few are preserved in the original Greek. We are often obliged to study Origen through the medium of a translation, the accuracy of which we have no means of verifying. A difficult and delicate duty also devolves upon the theological student to determine which of the works attributed to Origen are genuine and which are spurious; and what parts, moreover, of the works received on the whole as genuine came from his pen. Of {134} the spurious works, some are so palpably written in a much later age, and by authors of different religious views, that no one, after weighing the evidence, can be at a loss what decision to make concerning them; in the case of others, claims and objections may appear to be more evenly balanced. I trust on the one hand to refer to no works for Origen's testimony which are not confessedly his, nor on the other to exclude any passage which is not decidedly spurious; whilst in one particular case more immediately connected with our subject, I am induced to enter further in detail into a critical examination of the genuineness and value of a passage than the character of this work generally requires. The great importance attached to the testimony of that passage by some defenders of the worship paid to angels, may be admitted to justify the fulness of the criticism. Lest, however, its insertion in the body of the work might seem inconveniently to interfere with the reader's progress in our argument, I have thought it best to include it in a supplementary section at the close of our inquiry into the evidence of Origen.

Coccius, in his elaborate work, quotes the two following passages as Origen's, without expressing any hesitation or doubt respecting their genuineness, in which he is followed by writers of the present day. The passages are alleged in proof that Origen held and put in practice the doctrine of the invocation of saints; and they form the first quotations made by Coccius under the section headed by this title: "That the saints are to be invoked, proved by the testimony of the Greek Fathers."

The first passage is couched in these words: "I will {135} begin to throw myself upon my knees, and pray to all the saints to come to my aid; for I do not dare, in consequence of my excess of wickedness, to call upon God. O Saints of God, you I pray with weeping full of grief, that ye would propitiate his mercies for me miserable. Alas me! Father Abraham, pray for me, that I be not driven from thy bosom, which I greatly long for, and yet not worthily, because of the greatness of my sins."

Coccius cites this passage as from "Origen in Lament," and it has been recently appealed to under the title of "Origen on the Lamentations." Here, however, is a very great mistake. Origen's work on the Lamentations, called also "Selecta in Threnos," and inserted in the Benedictine edition (Vol. iii. p. 321.), is entirely a different production from the work which contains the above extract. This apocryphal work, on the other hand, does not profess to be the comment of Origen on the Lamentations, but the Lament or Wailing of Origen himself; or, as it used to be called, the Penitence of Origen. (In the Paris edition of 1519 it is called "Planctus, seu Lamentum Origenis." Pope Gelasius refers to it as "Poenitentia Origenis.") That this work has no pretensions whatever to be regarded as Origen's, has been long placed beyond doubt. Even in the edition of 1545, this treatise is prefaced by Erasmus in these words, "This Lamentation was neither written by Origen nor translated by Jerome, but is the fiction of some unlearned man, who attempted, under colour of this, to throw disgrace upon Origen." [Basil, 1545. vol. i. p. 498.] In the Benedictine edition (Paris, 1733.) no trace of this work is to be found. They do not admit it among the doubtful, or even the spurious works; they do not so {136} much as give room for it in the appendix; on the contrary, they drop it altogether as utterly unworthy of being any longer preserved. Instead, however, of admitting the work itself, these editors have supplied abundant reason for its exclusion, by inserting the sentiments of Huetius, or Huet, the very learned bishop of Avranches. He tells us, that formerly to Origen's work on Principles used to be appended a treatise called, the Lament of Origen, the Latin translation of which Guido referred to Jerome. After quoting the passage of Erasmus (as above cited from the edition of 1545) in proof of its having been "neither written by Origen nor translated by Jerome, but the fabrication of some unlearned man, who attempted, under colour of this, to throw disgrace on Origen, just as they forged a letter in Jerome's name, lamenting that he had ever thought with Origen," Huet proceeds thus: "And Gelasius in the Roman Council writes, 'The book which is called The Repentance of Origen, apocryphal.' It is wonderful, therefore, that without any mark of its false character, it should be sometimes cited by some theologians in evidence. Here we may smile at the supineness of a certain heterodox man of the present age, who thought the 'Lament,' ascribed to Origen, to be something different from the Book of Repentance." [Vol. iv. part ii. p. 326.]

The Decree here referred to of Pope Gelasius, made in the Roman Council, A.D. 494, by that pontiff, in conjunction with seventy bishops, contains these strong expressions, before enumerating some few of the books then condemned: "Other works written by heretics and schismatics, the Catholic and Apostolic Church by {137} no means receives; of them we think it right to subjoin a few which have occurred to our memory, and are to be avoided by Catholics." [Conc. Labb. vol. iv. p. 1265.] Then follows a list of prohibited works, among which we read, "the book called The Repentance of Origen, apocryphal," the very book which Huet identifies with the "Lament of Origen," still cited as evidence even in the present day. (See Appendix A.)

The second passage cited by Coccius, and also by writers of the present time, as Origen's, without any allusion to its spurious and apocryphal character, is from the second book of the work called Origen on Job. The words cited run thus: "O blessed Job, who art living for ever with God, and remainest conqueror in the sight of the Lord the King, pray for us wretched, that the mercy of the terrible God may protect us in all our afflictions, and deliver us from all oppressions of the wicked one; and number us with the just, and enrol us among those who are saved, and make us rest with them in his kingdom, where for ever with the saints we may magnify him."

This work, like the former, has no claim whatever to be regarded as Origen's. It has long been discarded by the learned. Indeed so far back as 1545, Erasmus, in his Censura, proved that it was written long after the time of Origen by an Arian. (Basil, 1545. vol. i. p. 408; and "Censura.") By the Benedictine editors it is transferred to an appendix as the Commentary of an anonymous writer on Job; and they thus express their judgment as to its being a forgery: "The Commentary of an anonymous writer on Job, in previous editions, is ascribed to Origen; {138} but that it is not his, Huet proves by unconquerable arguments. This translation is assigned to Hilary, the bishop; but although it is clear from various proofs of Jerome, that St. Hilary translated the tracts or homilies of Origen on Job, yet there is no reason why that man who wrote with the highest praise against the Arians, should be considered as the translator of this work, which is infected with the corruption of Arianism, and which is not Origen's." [Vol. ii. p. 894.] Erasmus calls the prologue to this treatise on Job "the production of a silly talkative man, neither learned nor modest."

It is impossible not to feel, with regard to these two works, the sentiments which, as we have already seen, the Bishop of Avranches has so strongly expressed on one. "It is wonderful, that they should be sometimes cited in evidence by some theologians, without any mark of their being forgeries."

Proceeding with our examination of the sentiments of Origen, I would here premise, that not the smallest doubt can be entertained that Origen believed the angels to be ministering spirits, real, active, zealous workmen and fellow-labourers with us in the momentous and awful business of our eternal salvation. He represents the angels as members of the same family with ourselves, as worshippers of the same God, as servants of the same master, as children of the same father, as disciples of the same heavenly teacher, as learners of one and the same heavenly doctrine. He contemplates them as members of our Christian congregations, as joining with us in prayer to our heavenly Benefactor, as taking pleasure when they hear in our {139} assemblies what is agreeable to the will of God, and as being present too not only generally in the Christian Church, but also with individual members of it50. But does Origen, therefore, countenance any invocation of them? Let us appeal to himself.

Footnote 50:(return)

One or two references will supply abundant proof of this: "I do not doubt that in our congregation angels are present, not only in general to the whole Church, but also individually with those of whom it is said, 'Their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.' A twofold Church is here: one of men, the other of angels. If we say any thing agreeably to reason and the mind of Scripture, the angels rejoice to pray with us." And a little above, "Our Saviour, therefore, as well as the Holy Spirit, who spoke by the prophets, instructs not only men, but angels and invisible powers."—Hom, xxiii. in Luc. vol. iii. p. 961.

"Whoever, therefore, confessing his sins, repents, or confesses Christ before men in persecutions, is applauded by his brethren. For there is joy and gladness to the angels in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. By them, therefore, as by brethren (for both men and angels are sons of the same Creator and Father) they are praised."—In Genes. Hom. xvii. p. 110.

Celsus accused the Christians of being atheists, godless, men without God, because they would not worship those gods many and lords many, and those secondary, subordinate, auxiliary, and ministering divinities with which the heathen mythology abounded: Origen answers, we are not godless, we are not without an object of our prayer; we pray to God Almighty alone through the mediation only of his Son.

"We must pray to God alone ([Greek: Mono gar proseukteon to epi pasi Theo]), who is over all things; and we must pray also to the only-begotten and first-born of every creature, the Word of God; and we must implore him as our High Priest to carry our prayer, first coming to him, to his God and our {140} God, to his Father and the Father of those who live agreeably to the word of God." [Cont. Cels. § 8. c. xxvi. vol. i. p. 761.]

But Celsus, in this well representing the weakness and failings of human nature, still urged on the Christian the necessity, or at all events the expediency, of conciliating those intermediate beings who executed the will of the Supreme Being, and might haply have much left at their own will and discretion to give or to withhold; and therefore the desirableness of securing their good offices by prayer. To this Origen answers:

"The one God ([Greek: Hena oun ton epi pasi theon haemin exenmenisteon])—the God who is over all, is to be propitiated by us, and to be appeased by prayer; the God who is rendered favourable by piety and all virtue. But if he (Celsus) is desirous, after the supreme God, to propitiate some others also, let him bear in mind, that just as a body in motion is accompanied by the motion of its shadow, so also by rendering the supreme God favourable, it follows that the person has all his (God's) friends, angels, souls, spirits, favourable also; for they sympathize with those who are worthy of God's favour; and not only do they become kindly affected towards the worthy, but they also join in their work with those who desire to worship the supreme God; and they propitiate him, and they pray with us, and supplicate with us; so that we boldly say, that together with men who on principle prefer the better part, and pray to God, ten thousands of holy powers join in prayer UNASKED ([Greek: aklaetoi])," [UNBIDDEN, UNCALLED upon.] [Cont. Cels. lib. viii. § 64. vol. i. p. 789.]

What an opportunity was here for Origen to have stated, that though Christians do not call upon demons and the subordinate divinities of heathenism to aid {141} them, yet that they do call upon the ministering spirits, the true holy angels, messengers and servants of the most High God! But whilst speaking of them, and magnifying the blessings derived to man through their ministry, so far from encouraging us to ask them for their good offices, his testimony on the contrary is not merely negative; he positively asserts that when they assist mankind, it is without any request or prayer from man. Could this come from one who invoked angels?

Another passage, although it adds little to the evidence of the above extract, I am unwilling to pass by, because it beautifully illustrates by the doctrine and practice of Origen the prayer, the only one adopted by the Anglican Church, offered by the Church to God for the succour and defence of the holy angels. Speaking of the unsatisfactory slippery road which they tread, who either depend upon the agency of demons for good, or are distressed by the fear of evil from them, Origen adds, "How far better ([Greek: poso Beltion]) were it to commit oneself to God who is over all, through Him who instructed us in this doctrine, Jesus Christ, and OF HIM to ask for every aid from the holy angels and the just, that they may rescue us from the earthly demons." [Cont. Cels. lib. viii. § 60. vol. i. p. 786.]

In the following passage Origen answers the question of Celsus: "If you Christians admit the existence of angels, tell us what you consider their nature to be?" [Cont. Cels. lib. v. § 4. p. 579.]

"Come," replies Origen, "let us consider these points. Now we confessedly say, that the angels are ministering spirits, and sent to minister on account of those who are to be heirs of salvation; that they ascend, bearing with them the supplications of men into the most pure {142} heavenly places of the world; and that they again descend from thence, bearing to each in proportion to what is appointed by God for them to minister to the well-doers. And learning that these are, from their work, called angels ([Greek: aggeloi], messengers, ministers sent to execute some commission), we find them, because they are divine, sometimes called even gods in the Holy Scriptures; but not so, as for any injunction to be given to us to worship and adore, instead of God, those who minister, and bring to us the things of God. For every request and prayer, and supplication and thanksgiving, must be sent up to Him who is God above all, through the High Priest, who is above all angels, even the living Word of God. And we also make our requests to the Word, and supplicate Him, and moreover offer our prayer to Him; if we can understand the difference between the right use and the abuse of prayer. For it is not reasonable for us to call upon angels, without receiving a knowledge concerning them which is above man. But supposing the knowledge concerning them, wonderful and unutterable as it is, had been received; that very knowledge describing their nature, and those to whom they are respectively assigned, would not give confidence in praying to any other than to Him who is sufficient for every thing, God who is above all, through our Saviour, the Son of God, who is the word, and wisdom, and the truth, and whatsoever else the writings of the prophets of God, and the Apostles of Jesus say concerning Him. But for the angels of God to be favourable to us, and to do all things for us, our disposition towards God is sufficient; we copy them to the utmost of human strength, {143} as they copy God. And our conception concerning his Son, the Word, according to what is come to us, is not opposed to the more clear conception of the holy angels concerning Him, but is daily approximating towards it in clearness and perspicuity."

Again, he thus writes: "But Celsus wishes us to dedicate the first-fruits unto the demons; but we to Him who said, Let the earth bring forth grass, &c. But to whom we give the first-fruits, to him we send up also our prayers; having a great High Priest who is entered into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; and this confession we hold fast as long as we live, having God favourable unto us, and his only-begotten Son being manifested among us, Jesus Christ. But if we wish to have a multitude favourable unto us, we learn that thousand thousands stand by Him, and ten thousand thousands minister unto Him; who, regarding those as kinsfolks and friends who imitate their piety to God, work together for the salvation of them who call upon God and pray sincerely; appearing also, and thinking that they ought to listen to them, and as if upon one watchword to go forth for the benefit and salvation of those who pray to God, to whom they also pray." [Cont. Cels. lib. viii. § 34. (Benedict, p. 766.)]

After these multiplied declarations of Origen, not only confessing that Christians did not pray to the angels, but vindicating them from the charge of impiety brought against them by their enemies for their neglect of the worship of angels, is it possible to regard him as a witness in favour of prayer to angels?

But it has been said that Origen in another passage (Cont. Cels. lib. viii. § 13. p. 751.) {144} plainly implies, that he would not be unwilling to discuss the question of some worship being due to angels and archangels, provided the idea of that worship, and the acts of the worshippers, were first cleared of all misapprehension. And I would not that any Catholic, whether in communion with the Church of England or of Rome, should make any other answer than Origen here gave to Celsus. Let me speak freely on this point. I should not respect the memory of Origen as I do, had he taught differently. The word which he uses is the Greek word "therapeusis," precisely the same word with that which the learned in medicine now use to describe the means of healing diseases. It is a word of very wide import. It signifies the care which a physician takes of his patient; the service paid to a master; the attention given to a superior; the affectionate attendance of a friend; the allegiance of a subject; the worship of the Supreme Being. Origen says, Provided Celsus will specify what kind of "therapeusis" he would wish to be paid to those angels and archangels whose existence we acknowledge, I am ready to enter upon the subject with him. This is all he says. And we of the Anglican Church are ready from our hearts to join him. Call it by what name we may, we are never backward in acknowledging ourselves bound to render it. We pay to the angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, the homage of respect, and veneration, and love. They are indeed our fellow-servants; they are, like ourselves, creatures of God's hand; but they are exalted far above us in nature and in office. By the grace of God, we would daily endeavour to become less distant from {145} them in purity, in zeal, in obedience. Origen here speaks not one word of adoration, of invocation, of prayer. He speaks of a feeling and a behaviour, which the Greeks called "therapeusis," and which we best render by "respect, veneration, and love." Far from us be the thought of lowering the holy angels in the eyes of our fellow-creatures; equally far from us be the thought of invoking them, of asking them even for their prayers. They are holy creatures and holy messengers: we will think and speak of them with reverence, and gratitude, and affection; but they are creatures and messengers still, and when we think or speak of the object of prayer, we think and speak solely and exclusively of God.

With regard to Origen's opinion, as to the invocation of the souls of saints departed, a very few words will suffice. He clearly records his opinion that the faithful are still waiting for us, and that till we all rejoice together, their joy will not be full: he leaves among the mysteries not to be solved now the question whether the departed can benefit the human race at all; and he has added reflections, full of edifying and solemn admonition, which would dissuade his fellow-believers from placing their confidence in any virtues, or intercessions, or merits of saints, and in any thing except the mere mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and our own individual labour in the work of the Lord.

In his seventh homily on Leviticus, in a passage partly quoted by Bellarmin, we read51—"Not even the Apostles have yet received their joy, but even they are waiting, in order that I also may become a partaker of {146} their joy. For the saints departing hence do not immediately receive all the rewards of their deserts; but they wait even for us, though we be delaying and dilatory52. For they have not perfect joy as long as they grieve for our errors, and mourn for our sins." Then, having quoted the Epistle to the Hebrews, he proceeds,—"You see, therefore, that Abraham is yet waiting to obtain those things that are perfect; so is Isaac and Jacob; and so all the prophets are waiting for us, that they might obtain eternal blessedness with us. Wherefore, even this mystery is kept, to the last day of delayed judgment."

Footnote 51:(return)

Vol. ii. p. 222. Nondum enim receperunt lætitiam suam, ne apostoli quidem, &c. But see Huetius on Origen, lib. ii. q. 11. No. 10.

Footnote 52:(return)

He thinks it probable, that the saints departed feel an interest in the welfare of men on earth. See vol. iv. p. 273.

Modern Roman Catholic writers tell us, that we must consider Origen here as only referring to the reunion of the soul with the body; but his words cannot be so interpreted. The cause of the saints still waiting for their consummation of bliss, is stated to be the will of God, that all the faithful should enter upon their full enjoyment of blessedness together.

Again: it may be asked, whether the following passage could have come from the pen of one who prayed to the saints, as already reigning with Christ in heaven.

"But now whether the saints who are removed from the body and are with Christ, act at all, and labour for us, like the angels who minister to our salvation; or whether, again, the wicked removed from the body act at all according to the purpose of their own mind, like the bad angels, with whom, it is said by Christ, that they will be sent into eternal fires;—let this too be {147} considered among the secret things of God, mysteries not to be committed to writing." [Epist. ad Rom. lib. ii. (Benedict. vol. iv. p. 479.) "Jam vero si etiam," &c.]

In a passage found in Origen's Comment on Ezekiel's text, "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver neither son nor daughter, they should deliver only their own souls by their righteousness," [Hom. iii. vol. iii. p. 372.] independently of the testimony borne to the point before us, we read a very interesting and awakening lesson of general application:—

"First, let us expound the passage agreeably to its plain sense, in consequence of the ignorance of some who maintain the ideas of their own mind to be the truth of God, and often say, 'Every one of us will be able by his prayers to snatch whomsoever he will from hell,' and introduce iniquity to the Lord; not seeing that the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him; so that each shall die in his own sin, and each live in his own person. My father being a martyr profits me nothing, if I shall not live well, and adorn the nobleness of my race,—that is, his testimony and confession, by which he was glorified in Christ. It profiteth not the Jews to say, 'We were not born of fornication, we have one father, the Lord;' and, a little after, 'Abraham is our father.' Whatever they may say, whatever they will assume, if they have not the faith of Abraham they make their boast in vain; for they will not be saved on account of their being children of Abraham. Since, therefore, some have formed incorrect notions, we have necessarily brought in the plain sense of the passage as to the letter, saying, Noah, Daniel, and Job will not rescue sons or daughters; they only will be saved. Let no {148} one of us put his trust in a just father, a holy mother, chaste brethren. Blessed is the man who hath his hope in himself, and in the right way. But to those who place confident trust in the saints, we bring forward no improper example,—'Cursed is the man whose hope is in man;' and again, 'Trust ye not in man.' And this also, 'It is good to trust in the Lord rather than in princes53.' If we must hope in some object, leaving all others, let us hope in the Lord, saying, 'Though a host of men were set against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid.'"

Footnote 53:(return)

These observations may perhaps refer more especially to the saints still on earth; but they apply to all helpers, save God alone.

He finishes the homily thus: "The righteous see three periods; the present, the period of change when the Lord will judge, and that which will be after the resurrection,—that is, the eternity of life in heaven in Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Can this confessor of the Christian faith have ever taught his fellow-believers to plead the merits of the saints, or to pray for their intercessions? How strongly are the above sentiments contrasted with a passage in the third of the spurious homilies called In Diversos; the first clause of which is referred to by Bellarmin, as containing Origen's approbation of giving honour to the saints54.

Footnote 54:(return)

I hardly need detain the reader by any proof of the spuriousness of this passage; the whole work from which it is taken is rejected altogether by the Benedictine editors: "Reliqua ejusmodi spuria omittenda censuimus, qualia sunt ... Homiliæ in diversos;" and they have not allowed a single line of it to appear in their volumes, not even in the small character.—Vol. iv. p. 1.

"The memory of these (the Innocents) is always {149} celebrated, as is right, in the Churches. These, therefore, since they were unjustly or impiously put to death in peace and rest, having suffered much for the name of the Lord, were taken from this world, to remain in the eternal Church for ever in Christ. But their parents for the merits of their suffering will receive a worthy recompense of reward from the just and eternal Lord God." Here we have strongly marked indeed the difference between Origen himself, and the errors fastened upon him by the design or ignorance of subsequent times.

Were not his testimony a subject of great moment, I should plead guilty to having detained my readers too long on Origen; and yet I cannot dismiss him without first refreshing our minds with the remembrance of some of his beautiful reflections on a Christian's prayer. We need not read them with a controversial eye, and they may be profitable to us all.

"I think, then, (says this early teacher in Christ's school) that when proceeding to prayer, a Christian will be more readily disposed, and be in a better tone for the general work of prayer, if he will first tarry a little, and put himself into the right frame, casting off every distracting and disturbing thought, and with his best endeavour recalling to mind the vastness of HIM to whom he is drawing near, and how unholy a thing it is to approach him with a carelessness and indifference, and, as it were, contempt; laying aside also every thing foreign to the subject;—so to come to prayer as one who stretcheth forth his soul first, before his hands; and lifts up his mind first, before his eyes, to God; and before he stands up, raising from the ground the leading {150} principle of his nature, and lifting that up to the Lord of all. So far casting away all remembrance of evil towards any of those who may seem to have injured him, as he wishes God not to remember evil against him, who has himself been guilty, and has trespassed against many of his neighbours, or in whatever he is conscious to have done contrary to right reason." [De Oratione, vol. i. § 31. p. 267.]

"Having divided prayer into its several parts" (he continues), "I may bring my work to a close. There are then four parts of prayer requiring description, which I have found scattered in the Scriptures, all of which every one should embody in his prayer:—

"First, we must offer glory (doxologies) to the best of our ability in the opening and commencement of our prayer, to God through Christ who is glorified with Him in the Holy Spirit, who is praised together. After this each person should offer general thanksgivings both for the blessings granted to all, and for those which he has individually obtained from God. After the thanksgiving, it appears to me right, that becoming, as it were, a bitter accuser of his own sins to God, he should petition first of all for a remedy to release him from the habit which impels him to transgress, and then for remission of the past. And after the confession, I think he ought in the fourth place, to add a supplication for great and heavenly things, both individual and universal, and for his relations and friends. After all, he should close his prayer with an ascription of glory to God through Christ in the Holy Ghost." [Sect. 33. p. 271.]



I have above intimated my intention of reserving for a separate section our examination of a passage ascribed to Origen, in which he is represented as having invoked an angel to come down from heaven, to succour him and his fellow-creatures on earth. The passage purports to be part of Origen's comment on the opening verse of the prophecy of Ezekiel, "The heavens were opened." After the fullest investigation, and patient weighing of the whole section, I am fully persuaded, first, that the passage is an interpolation, never having come from the pen of Origen; and secondly, that, whoever were its author, it can be regarded only as an instance of those impassioned apostrophes, which are found in great variety in the addresses of ancient Christian orators. But since some of the most respected writers of the Church of Rome have regarded it as genuine, and deemed it worthy of being cited in evidence, I feel it incumbent to state at length, for those readers who may desire to enter at once fully into the question, the reasons on which my judgment is founded; whilst others, who may perhaps consider the discussion of the several points here as too great an interruption to the general argument, may for the present pass this section, and reserve it for subsequent inquiry.

It will be, in the first place, necessary to quote the whole passage entire, however long; for the mere extract of that portion which is cited as Origen's prayer to an {152} angel, might leave a false impression as to the real merits of the case.

"The heavens are opened. The heavens were closed, and at the coming of Christ they were opened, IN ORDER THAT THEY BEING LAID OPEN THE HOLY GHOST MIGHT COME UPON HIM in the appearance of a dove. For he could not come to us unless he had first descended on one who partook of his own nature. Jesus ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, he received gifts for men. He who descended is the same who ascended above all heavens, that he might fill all things; and he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and masters, for the perfecting of the saints." [Vol. iii. p. 358. Hom. i. in Ezek.]

"[The heavens were opened. It is not enough for one heaven to be opened: very many are opened, that not from one, but from all, angels may descend to those who are to be saved; angels who ascended and descended upon the Son of man, and came to him, and ministered to him. Now the angels descended because Christ first descended, fearing to descend before the Lord of all powers and things commanded. But when they saw the chieftain of the army of heaven dwelling in earthly places, then they entered through the opened road, following their Lord, and obeying his will, who distributes them as guardians of those that believe on his name. Thou yesterday wast under a devil, to-day thou art under an angel. Do not ye, saith the Lord, despise one of the least of those who are in the Church? Verily, I say unto you, that their angels through all things see the face of the Father who is in heaven. The angels attend on thy salvation; they were granted for the ministry of the Son of God, and {153} they say among themselves, If he descended, and descended into a body, if he is clothed in mortal flesh, and endured the cross, and died for man, why are we resting idle? Why do we spare ourselves? Haste away! Let all of us angels descend from heaven! Thus also was there a multitude of the heavenly host praising and blessing God when Christ was born. All things are full of angels. COME, ANGEL, take up one who by the word is converted from former error, from the doctrine of demons, from iniquity speaking on high, and taking him up like a good physician, cherish him, and instruct him. He is a little child, to-day he is born, an old man again growing young; and undertake him, granting him the baptism of the second regeneration; and summon to thyself other companions of thy ministry, that you all may together train for the faith those who have been sometime deceived. For there is greater joy in heaven over one sinner repenting, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance. Every creature exults, rejoices with, and with applause addresses those who are to be saved; for the expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. And although those who have interpolated the apostolical writings are unwilling that such passages should be in their books as may prove Christ to be the Creator, yet every creature waiteth for the sons of God when they shall be freed from sin, when they shall be taken away from the hand of Zabulon55, when they shall be regenerated by Christ. But now it is time that we touch somewhat on the present place. The Prophet sees not a vision, but visions of God. {154} Why did he see not one, but many visions? Hear the Lord promising and saying, I have multiplied visions. 8. 'The fifth month.' This was the fifth year of the captivity of king Joachim. In the thirtieth year of Ezekiel's age, and the fifth of the captivity of Joachim, the prophet is sent to the Jews. The most merciful Father did not despise the people, nor leave them a long time unadmonished. It is the fifth year. How much time intervened? Five years elapsed since they were captives in bondage.]

(The portion between brackets is what I regard as an interpolation.)

Footnote 55:(return)

This word is frequently used for "Diabolum." Thus in a hymn used in the Roman ritual on Michaelmas-day we read, "Michaelem in virtute conterentem Zabulum."

"Immediately the Holy Spirit descends. He opened the heavens, that they who were oppressed by the yoke of bondage might see those things which were seen by the prophet. For when he says, The heavens were opened, in some measure they see with the eyes of their heart what he had seen even with the eyes of his flesh."

Now the question is, Can this apostrophe to an angel be admitted as evidence that Origen held, and in his own person acted upon the doctrine of the Invocation of Angels?

The nature of the present work precludes us from entering at length on the broad question, how far we can with safety regard the several writings which now purport to be translations of Origen's compositions, as on the whole the works of that early Christian writer. A multitude of those works which, until almost the middle of the sixteenth century, were circulated as Origen's, have long been by common consent excluded from the catalogue of his works56. On this subject I {155} would refer any one, who desires to enter upon the inquiry, to the several prefaces of the Benedictine editors, who point out many sources of information, as well from among their friends as from those with whom they differ. Our inquiry must be limited within far narrower bounds, though I trust our arguments may assist somewhat in establishing the principles on which the student may at first guide himself in the wider range of investigation.

Footnote 56:(return)

See preface to vol. iv. of the Benedictine edition.

We will first look to the external evidence bearing on the passage in question, and then to the internal character of the passage itself.

Origen's Commentaries on Ezekiel were divided into no fewer than twenty-five volumes, which he is said to have begun in Cæsarea of Palestine, and to have finished in Athens. Of these only one single fragment remains, namely, part of the twenty-first volume57. Jerome says that he translated fourteen of Origen's homilies on Ezekiel. Of these not one passage in the original language of Origen is known to be in existence. We must now, therefore, either receive the existing translations generally as Origen's, (whether they are Jerome's translations or not,) or we must consider Origen's homilies on Ezekiel as altogether lost to us. But supposing that we receive these works as containing, on the whole, traditionary translations of Origen, the genuineness of any one passage may yet become the subject of fair criticism. And whilst some persons reject whole masses of them altogether, the history of his works cannot but suggest some very perplexing points of suspicion and doubt.

Footnote 57:(return)

See Benedictine edition, vol. iii. p. 351. and Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 6. there referred to.


The great body of his homilies, Origen probably delivered extempore in the early part of his ministry to the Christians of Cæsarea. Eusebius tells us, that not before Origen had reached his sixtieth year did he sanction the notaries (persons well known to history and corresponding to the short-hand writers58 of the present day) in publishing any of his homilies. [Eccles. Hist. lib. vi. c. 36.] But the Benedictine editor, De la Rue, conceives that those men might surreptitiously and against the preacher's wishes have published some of Origen's homilies. Be this as it may. Suppose that the homilies on Ezekiel were published by Origen himself, and were translated by Jerome himself, our doubts are not removed even by that supposition. The same editor in the same preface tells us, "It is known to the learned that it was Jerome's habit, in translating Greek, sometimes to insert some things of his own59." Not that I for a moment conceive the passage under consideration to have come in its Latin dress from the pen of Jerome; for my conviction being that it is an interpolation of a much later date, I mention the circumstance to show, that even when Jerome, with his professed accuracy, is the translator, we can in no case feel sure that we are reading the exact and precise sentiments of Origen.

Footnote 58:(return)

The Latin word "notarius" (notary) does not come so near as our own English expression, "short-hand writer," to the Greek word used by Eusebius,—"tachygraphus," "quick-writer." The report of Eusebius as to the homilies of Origen having been delivered extempore, and taken down by these "quick-writers," is confirmed by Pamphilus the martyr, as quoted by Valesius, in the annotations on this passage of Eusebius.—Apol. Orig. lib. i.

Footnote 59:(return)

Cui in vertendis Græcis sciunt eruditi solemne esse nonnulla interdum de suo inserere.


Ruffinus, his celebrated contemporary, accused Jerome of many inaccuracies in his translations; and yet what were the principles of translation adopted by Ruffinus himself, as his own, we are not left to infer; for we learn it from his own pen. His voluntary acknowledgment in the peroration which he added to Origen's Comment on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, strongly and painfully exhibits to us how little dependence can safely be placed on such translations whenever the original is lost; how utterly insufficient and unsatisfactory is any evidence drawn from them, as to the real genuine sentiments and expressions of the author. Ruffinus informs us, that with regard to many of the various works of Origen, he changed the preacher's extemporary addresses, as delivered in the Church, into a more explanatory form, "adding, supplying, filling up what he thought wanting60."

Footnote 60:(return)

Dum supplere cupimus ea quæ ab Origene in auditorio Ecclesiæ extempore (non tam explanationis quam ædificationis intentione) perorata sunt.... Si addere quod videar, et explere quæ desunt.—Orig. vol. iv. p. 688.

Moreover, he proceeds so far as to tell us61 that his false {158} friends had remonstrated with him for not publishing the works under his own name, instead of retaining Origen's, his changes having been so great; a point, which he was far from unwilling to acknowledge. This must appear to every one unsatisfactory in the extreme, and to shake one's confidence in any evidence drawn from such a source. Indeed, the Benedictine editor, with great cause and candour, laments this course of proceeding on the part of Ruffinus, as throwing a doubt and uncertainty, and suspicion, over all the works so tampered with. "This one thing (observes that honest editor) would the learned desire, that Ruffinus had spared himself the labour of filling up what he thought deficient. For since the Greek text has perished, it can scarcely with certainty be distinguished, where Origen himself speaks, or where Ruffinus obtrudes his own merchandise upon us." This is more than enough to justify our remarks. I must, however, refer to the conduct of another editor and translator of Origen, of a similar tendency. It unhappily shows the disposition to sacrifice every thing to the received opinions of the Church of Rome, rather than place the whole evidence of antiquity before the world, and abide by the result. How many works this principle, in worse hands, may have mutilated, or utterly buried in oblivion, and left to perish, it is impossible to conjecture; that the principle is unworthy the spirit of Christianity will not now be questioned. That editor and translator, in his advertisement on the Commentary upon St. John, thus professes the principles which he had adopted: "Know, moreover, that I have found nothing in this book which {159} seemed to be inconsistent with the decrees of holy Mother Church: for had I found any, I would not have translated the book, or would have marked the suspected place." [Quoted by the Benedictine, vol. iv. p. viii.] The Benedictine proceeds to say, that the writer had not kept his word, but had allowed many heterodox passages to escape, whilst he had deliberately withdrawn others.

Footnote 61:(return)

His words, as indicative of his principles of translation, and bearing immediately on the question, as to the degree of authority which should be assigned to the remains of Origen, when the original is lost, deserve a place here: "I am exposed to a new sort of charge at their hands; for thus they address me,—In your writings, since very many parts in them (plurima in eis) are considered to be of your own production, give the title of your own name, and write, for example, The Books of Explanations of Ruffinus on the Epistle to the Romans,—but the whole of this they offer me, not from any love of me, but from hatred to the author. But I, who consult my conscience more than my fame, even if I am seen to add some things, and to fill up what are wanting, or to shorten what are too long, yet I do not think it right to steal the title of him, who laid the foundations of the works, and supplied the materials for the buildings. Yet, in truth, it may be at the option of the reader, when he shall have approved of the work, to ascribe the merits to whom he will."

Many works probably, of the earliest ages, have been wholly or in part lost to us from the working of the same principle in its excess. Rather than perpetuate any sentiments at variance with the received doctrines of the Church, it was considered the duty of the faithful to let works, in themselves valuable, but containing such sentiments, altogether perish, or to exclude the objectionable passages.

I would now invite you to examine the passage itself, and determine whether it does not bear within it internal evidence of its having been altogether interpolated.

In the first place, on the words upon which it professes to be a comment, the author had already given his comment, and assigned to them another meaning. "The heavens were opened," he says: "Before the time of Christ the heavens were shut; but at his advent they were opened, THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT MIGHT DESCEND FIRST ON HIM;" quoting also among others the passage which speaks of Christ taking captivity captive. And then after the passage in question, in which he assigns a totally different reason for the opening of the heavens; without any allusion to the intervening ideas, he carries on, and concludes the comment which he had begun,—in words which fit on well with the close of that comment, but which, as they stand now at the close of the intervening passage about the angels, are abrupt and incoherent—"Forthwith the Holy Spirit {160} descended;" recurring also again to the idea which he had before introduced of Christ benefiting those who were in captivity. A passage which affixes to the words commented upon, a different interpretation from one already given in the same paragraph; and which forces itself abruptly and incoherently in the middle of a brief comment, must offer itself to our examination under strong grounds of suspicion, that it has been interpolated. But when we examine the substance of the passage, its sentiments, the ideas conveyed, and the associations suggested, and then think of the author to whom it is ascribed, few probably will be disposed to regard it as a faithful mirror in which to contemplate the real sentiments of Origen.

How utterly unworthy of the sublime burst of Christian eloquence which now delights us in undoubted works of Origen, is this strange and degrading fiction! The true Origen THERE represents the tens of thousands of angelic spirits ten thousand times told, as ever surrounding the throne of God, and ministering for the blessing of those in whose behalf God himself wills them to serve. [Vol. i. p. 767. Contr. Cels. viii. 34.] Here he represents the revelation of the holiest of holies as a throwing open of the various divisions or compartments of the celestial kingdom for all the angels to hasten forth together, from their several places of indolence and carelessness and self-indulgence, (for such he represents their state to have been,) to visit this earth. Surely such a comment would better suit the mythology of the cave and dens of Æolus and his imprisoned winds (velut agmine facto qua data porta ruunt) than the awfully sublime revelation vouchsafed to the prophet Ezekiel. And how unworthy and degrading is that representation of the {161} heavenly host, resting inactive, and sparing themselves from toil, until they witnessed Christ's descent and humiliation; and then when chid and put to shame and rebuke, and mutually roused to action by their fellows, coming down to visit this earth, and rushing through the opened portals of heaven.

Again, we see how incoherent is the whole section which contains the alleged prayer to angels: "Thou wast yesterday under a demon, to-day thou art under an angel: the angels minister to thy salvation; they are granted for the ministry of the Son of God, &c. All things are full of angels. Come, Angel, take up one who is converted from his ancient error, &c. And call to thee other companions of thy ministry, that all of you alike may train up to the faith those who were once deceived." Indeed the passage seems to carry within itself its own condemnation so entirely, that what we have before alleged, both of internal and external evidence, may appear superfluous. Surely the conceit of a preacher of God's word addressing an angel, (which of them he thus individually addresses does not appear; for he says not "My Angel," as though he were appealing to one whom he regarded as his guardian, the view gratuitously suggested in the marginal note of the Benedictine editor, "the invocation of a guardian angel,") and bidding some one angel, as a sort of summoner, to go and call to himself all the angels of heaven to come in one body, and instruct those who are in error, is, even as a rhetorical apostrophe, as unworthy the mind of a Christian philosopher, as it is in the light of a prayer totally inconsistent with the plain sentiments of Origen on the very subject of angelic invocation. Even had Origen not left us his deliberate opinions in works of undoubted genuineness, such a {162} strange, incoherent, and childish rhapsody could never be relied upon by sober and upright men as a precedent sanctioning a Christian's prayer to angels; no one would rely upon such evidence in points of far less moment, even were it uncontradicted by the same witness.


In the middle of the third century, Cyprian [Jerom, vol. iv. p. 342.], a man of substance and a rhetorician of Carthage, was converted to Christianity. He was then fifty years of age; and his learning, virtues, and devotedness to the cause which he had espoused, very soon raised him to the dignity, the responsibility, and, in those days, the great danger, of the Episcopate. (Cyprian is said to have been converted about A.D. 246, to have been consecrated A.D. 248, and to have suffered martyrdom A.D. 258.) Many of his writings of undoubted genuineness are preserved, and they have been appealed to in every age as the works of a faithful son of the Catholic Church. On the subject of prayer he has written very powerfully and affectingly; but I find no expression which can by possibility imply that he practised or countenanced the invocation of saints and angels. I have carefully examined every sentence alleged by its most strenuous defenders, and I cannot extract from them one single grain of evidence which can bear the test of inquiry. Even did the passages quoted require to be taken in the sense affixed to them {163} by those advocates, they prove nothing; they do not bear even remotely upon the subject, whilst I am persuaded that to every unprejudiced mind a meaning will appear to have been attached to them which the author did not intend to convey.

The first quotation to which our attention is called is from the close of his treatise De Habitu Virginum, which contains some very edifying reflections. In the last clause of that treatise the advocates for the invocation of saints represent Cyprian as requesting the virgins to remember him in their prayers at the throne of grace when they shall have been taken to heaven. "As we have borne the image of Him who is of the earth, let us also bear the image of him who is from heaven. This image the virgin-state bears,—integrity bears it, holiness and truth bear it; rules of discipline mindful of God bear it, retaining justice with religion, firm in the faith, humble in fear, strong to endure all things, gentle to receive an injury, readily disposed to pity, with one mind and with one heart in brotherly peace. All which ye ought, O good virgins, to observe, to love and fulfil; ye who, retired for the service of God and Christ, with your greater and better part are going before towards the Lord to whom you have devoted yourselves. Let those who are advanced in age exercise rule over the younger; ye younger, offer to your equals a stimulus; encourage yourselves by mutual exhortations; by examples emulous of virtue invite each other to glory; remain firm; conduct yourselves spiritually; gain the end happily. Only remember us then, when your virgin-state shall begin to be honoured." [Tantum mementote tunc nostri, cum incipiet in vobis virginitas honorari.—Page 180.]


The second instance, from the close of his letter to Cornelius, puts before us a beautiful act of friendship and brotherly affection worthy of every Christian brother's and friend's imitation. But how it can be applied in supporting the cause of the invocation of saints, I cannot see. The supporters of that doctrine say that Cyprian suggests to his friend, still living on earth, that whichever of the two should be first called away, he should continue when in heaven to pray for the survivor on earth. Suppose it to be so. That has not any approximation to our praying to one who is already dead and gone to his reward. But Cyprian surely intended to convey a very different meaning, namely this, that the two friends should continue to pray, each in his place, mutually for each other and for their friends, and relieve each other's wants and necessities whilst both survived; and whenever death should remove the one from earth to happiness, the survivor should not forget their bond of friendship, but should still continue to pray to God for their brothers and sisters. The passage translated to the letter, runs thus: "Let us be mutually mindful of each other, with one mind and one heart. On both sides, let us always pray for each other; let us by mutual love relieve each other's pressures and distresses; and if either of us from hence, by the speed of the Divine favour, go on before the {165} other, let our love persevere before the Lord; for our brothers and sisters with the Father's mercy let not prayer cease. My desire, most dear brother, is that you may always prosper." [Epist. 57. Benedict, p. 96.—Memores nostri invicem simus concordes atque unanimes: utrobique pro nobis semper oremus, pressuras et angustias mutua caritate relevemus, et si quis istinc nostrum prior divinæ dignationis celeritate præcesserit, perseveret apud Dominum nostra dilectio; pro fratribus et sororibus nostris apud misericordiam Patris non cesset oratio. Opto te, frater carissime, semper bene valere.—This epistle is by some editors numbered as the 60th, by others as the 61st, the 7th, and the 69th, &c.]

Whether the above view of this passage be founded in reason or not, it matters little to the point at issue. Let both these passages be accepted in the sense assigned to them by some Roman Catholic writers, yet there is not a shadow of analogy between the language and conduct of Cyprian, and the language and conduct of those who now invoke saints departed. In each case Cyprian, still in the body, was addressing fellow-creatures still sojourning on earth. The very utmost which these passages could be forced to countenance would be, that the righteous, when in heaven, may be mindful in their prayers of their friends, who are still exposed to the dangers from which they have themselves finally escaped, and who, when both were on earth, requested them to remember the survivors in their prayers. But this is a question totally different from our addressing them in supplication and prayer; a difference which I am most anxious that both myself and my readers should keep in mind throughout.

In the extract from Cyprian's letter, a modern author having rendered the single word "utrobique," by the words "in this world and the next" I am induced to add a few further observations on the passage. (The Latin original and the version here referred to, will be placed side by side in the Appendix.) It will, I think, appear to most readers on a careful examination of the passage, that the expression "utrobique62" "on both sides," or "on both parts," whatever be its precise {166} meaning, so far from referring to "this world and the next," must evidently be confined to the condition of both parties now in this life, because it stands in direct contradistinction to what follows, the supposed case of the death of either of the two; and because it applies no less to the mutual relief of each other's sufferings and afflictions during their joint lives, than to their mutual prayers: it cannot mean that all the mutual benefits to be derived from their mutual remembrance of each other, were to come solely through the means of their prayers. They were doubtless mutually to pray for each other; but, in addition to their prayers, they were also to relieve each other's pressures and difficulties with mutual love, and that too before the event afterwards contemplated, namely, the removal of one of them by death.

Footnote 62:(return)

Utrobique is rendered by Facciolati [Greek: hekaterothi]—"in utraque parte, utrimque."

Bishop Fell thus comments on the passage: "The sense seems to be, When either of us shall die; whether I, who preside at Carthage, or you, who are presiding at Rome, shall be the survivor, let the prayer to God of him whose lot shall be to remain the longest among the living, persevere, and continue." "Meanwhile," continues the Bishop63, "we by no means doubt that souls admitted into heaven apply to God, the best and greatest of Beings, that he would have compassion on those who are dwelling on the earth. But it does not thence follow, that prayers should be offered to the saints. THE MAN WHO PETITIONS THEM MAKES THEM GODS (Deos qui rogat ille facit)." [Oxford, 1682, p. 143.] Rigaltius, himself {167} a Roman Catholic, doubts whether, when Cyprian wrote this letter, he had any idea before his mind of saints departed praying for the living. He translates "utrobique" very much as I have done, "with reciprocal love, with mutual charity." His last observations on this passage are very remarkable. After having confessed the sentiments to be worthy of a Christian, that the saints pray for us, and having argued that Cyprian could not have thought it necessary to ask a saint to retain his brotherly kindness in heaven, for he could not be a saint if he did not continue to love his brethren, he thus concludes: "In truth it is a pious and faithful saying, That of those who having already put off mortality are made joint-heirs with Christ, and of those who surviving on earth will hereafter be joint-heirs with Christ, the Church is one, and is by the Holy Spirit so well joined together as not to be torn asunder by the dissolution of the body. They pray to God for us, and we praise God for them, and thus with mutual affection (utrobique) we always pray for each other." [Paris, 1666. p. 92.]

Footnote 63:(return)

See the note of the Benedictine editors on this passage (p. 467), in which they refer to the sentiments of Rigaltius, Pamelius, and Bishop Fell, whom they call "the most illustrious Bishop of Oxford."

I will detain you only by one or two more extracts from Cyprian; one forming part of the introduction to his Comment on the Lord's Prayer, which is fitted for the edification of Christians in every age; the other closing his treatise on Mortality, one of those beautiful productions by which, during the plague which raged at Carthage in the year 252, he comforted and exhorted the Christians, that they might meet death without fear or amazement, in sure and certain hope of eternal blessedness in heaven. The sentiments in the latter passage will be responded to by every good Catholic, whether in communion with the Church of Rome or {168} with the Church of England; whilst in the former we are reminded, that to pray as Cyprian prayed, we must address ourselves to God alone in the name and trusting to the merits only of his blessed Son.

"He who caused us to live, taught us also to pray, with that kindness evidently by which He deigns to give and confer on us every other blessing; that when we speak to the Father in the prayer and supplication which his Son taught, we might the more readily be heard. He had already foretold, that the hour was coming when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth; and He fulfilled what He before promised, that we, who have received the spirit and truth from his sanctification, may from his instruction offer adoration truly and spiritually. For what prayer can be more spiritual than that which is given to us by Christ, by whom even the Holy Spirit is sent to us? What can be a more true prayer with the Father than that which came from the lips of the Son, who is Truth? So that to pray otherwise than He taught, is not only ignorance, but a fault; since He has himself laid it down and said, Ye reject the Commandment of God to establish your own traditions. Let us pray then, most beloved brethren, as our teacher, God, has instructed us. It is a welcome and friendly prayer to petition God from his own, to mount up to his ears by the prayer of Christ. Let the Father recognize the words of his Son. When we offer a prayer let Him who dwelleth inwardly in our breast, Himself be in our voice; and since we have Him as our advocate with the Father for our sins, when as sinners we are petitioning for our sins let us put forth the words of our Advocate." [De Orat. Dom. p. 204.]

"We must consider, (he says at the close of his {169} treatise on the Mortality [Page 236.],) most beloved brethren, and frequently reflect that we have renounced the world, and are meanwhile living here as strangers and pilgrims. Let us embrace the day which assigns each to his own home ... which restores us to paradise and the kingdom of heaven, snatched from hence and liberated from the entanglements of the world. What man, when he is in a foreign country, would not hasten to return to his native land?... We regard paradise as our country.... We have begun already to have the patriarchs for our parents. Why do we not hasten and run that we may see our country, and salute our parents? There a large number of dear ones are waiting for us, of parents, brothers, children; a numerous and full crowd are longing for us; already secure of their own immortality, and still anxious for our safety. To come to the sight and the embrace of these, how great will be the mutual joy to them and to us! What a pleasure of the kingdom of heaven is there without the fear of dying, and with an eternity of living! How consummate and never-ending a happiness! There is the glorious company of the apostles; there is the assembly of exulting prophets; there is the unnumbered family of martyrs crowned for the victory of their struggles and suffering; there are virgins triumphing, who, by the power of chastity, have subdued the lusts of the flesh and the body; there are the merciful recompensed, who with food and bounty to the poor have done the works of righteousness, who keeping the Lord's commands have transferred their earthly inheritance into heavenly treasures. To these, O most dearly beloved brethren, let us hasten with most eager longing; {170} let us desire that our lot may be to be with these speedily; to come speedily to Christ. Let God see this to be our thought; let our Lord Christ behold this to be the purpose of our mind and faith, who will give more abundant rewards of his glory to them, whose desires for himself have been the greater."

Such is the evidence of St. Cyprian.


Cyprian suffered martyrdom about the year 260. Towards the close of this century, and at the beginning of the fourth, flourished Lactantius. He was deeply imbued with classical learning and philosophy. Before he became a writer (as Jerome informs us [Jerom, vol. iv. part ii. p. 119. Paris, 1706]) he taught rhetoric at Nicomedia; and afterwards in extreme old age he was the tutor of Cæsar Crispus, son of Constantine, in Gaul. Among many other writings which Jerome enumerates, he specifies the book, "On the Anger of God," as a most beautiful work. Bellarmin, however, speaks of him disparagingly, as one who had fallen into many errors, and was better versed in Cicero than in the Holy Scriptures. His testimony is allowed by the supporters of the adoration of spirits and angels to be decidedly against them; they do not refer to a single passage likely to aid their cause; and they are chiefly anxious to depreciate his evidence. I will call your attention only to two passages in his works. The {171} one is in his first book on False Religion: "God hath created ministers, whom we call messengers (angels);... but neither are these gods, nor do they wish to be called gods, nor to be worshipped, as being those who do nothing beyond the command and will of God." [Vol. i. p. 31.]

The other passage is from his work on a Happy Life: "Nor let any one think that souls are judged immediately after death. For all are kept in one common place of guard, until the time come when the great Judge will institute an inquiry into their deserts. Then those whose righteousness shall be approved, will receive the reward of immortality; and those whose sins and crimes are laid open shall not rise again, but shall be hidden in the same darkness with the wicked—appointed to fixed punishments." [Chap. xxi. p. 574.]

This composition is generally believed to have been written about the year 317.


The evidence of Eusebius, on any subject connected with primitive faith and practice, cannot be looked to without feelings of deep interest. He flourished about the beginning of the fourth century, and was Bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine. His testimony has always been appealed to in the Catholic Church, as an authority not likely to be gainsaid. He was a voluminous writer, and his writings were very diversified in their character. {172} Whatever be our previous sentiments we cannot too carefully examine the remains of this learned man. But in his writings, historical, biographical, controversial, or by whatever name they may be called, overflowing as they are with learning, philosophical and scriptural, I can find no one single passage which countenances the decrees of the Council of Trent; not one passage which would encourage me to hope that I prayed as the primitive Church was wont to pray, if by invocation I requested an angel or a saint to procure me any favour, or to pray for me. The testimony of Eusebius has a directly contrary tendency.

Among the authorities quoted by the champions of the invocation of saints, I can find only three from Eusebius; and I sincerely lament the observations which truth and justice require me to make here, in consequence of the manner in which his evidence has been cited. The first passage to which I refer is quoted by Bellarmin from the history of Eusebius, to prove that the spirit of a holy one goes direct from earth to heaven. This passage is not from the pen of Eusebius; and if it were, it would not bear on our inquiry. The second is quoted by the same author, from the Evangelica Præparatio, to prove that the primitive Christians offered prayers to the saints. Neither is this from the pen of Eusebius. The third Extract, from the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, is intended to prove that the martyrs were worshipped. Even this, one of the most beautiful passages in ancient history, as it is represented by Bellarmin and others, is interpolated.

The first passage, which follows a description of the {173} martyr Potamiæna's sufferings, is thus quoted by Bellarmin: "In this manner the blessed virgin, Potamniæna, emigrated from earth to heaven." [Hoc modo beata Virgo emigravit e terris ad coelum. Vol. ii. p. 854.] And such, doubtless, is the passage in the translation of Eusebius, ascribed to Ruffinus [Basil, 1535. p. 134]; but the original is, "And such a struggle was thus accomplished by this celebrated virgin;" ([Greek: kai ho men taes aoidimou koraes toioutos kataegoisisto athlos]; Tale certamen ab hac percelebri et gloriosa virgine confectum fait.); and such is the Parisian translation of 1581.

The second misquotation is far more serious. Bellarmin thus quotes Eusebius: "These things we do daily, who honouring the soldiers of true religion as the friends of God, approach to their respective monuments, and make OUR PRAYERS TO THEM, as holy men, by whose intercession to God, we profess to be not a little aided." [Hæc nos, inquit, quotidie factitamus qui veras pietatis milites ut Dei amicos honorantes, ad monumenta quoque eorum accedimus, votaque ipsis facimus tanquam viris sanctis quorum intercessione ad Deum non parum juvari profitemur.—p. 902. He quotes it as c. 7.]

By one who has not by experience become familiar with these things it would scarcely be believed, that whilst the readers of Bellarmin have been taught to regard these as the words of Eusebius, in the original there is no mention whatever made of the intercession of the saints; that there is no allusion to prayer to them; that there is no admission even of any benefit derived from them at all. This quotation Bellarmin makes from the Latin version, published in Paris in 1581, or from some common source: it is word for word the same. We must either allow him to be ignorant of the truth, or to have designedly preferred error. {174} The copy which I have before me of the "Evangelica Præparatio," in Greek and Latin, was printed in 1628, and dedicated by Viger Franciscus, a priest of the order of Jesuits, to the Archbishop of Paris.

Eusebius, marking the resemblance in many points between Plato's doctrine and the tenets of Christianity, on the reverence which, according to Plato, ought to be paid to the good departed, makes this observation: "And this corresponds with what takes place on the death of those lovers of God, whom you would not be wrong in calling the soldiers of the true religion. Whence also it is our custom to proceed to their tombs, and AT THEM [the tombs] to make our prayers, and to honour their blessed souls, inasmuch as these things are with reason done by us." [Greek: kai tauta de armozei epi tae ton theophilon teleutae ous stratiotas taes alaethous eusebeius ouk an hamartois eipon paralambanesthai othen kai epi tas thaekas auton ethos haemin parienai kai tas euchas para tautais poieisthai, timan te tas makarias auton psychas, os eulogos kai touton uph haemon giguomenon.] This translation agrees to a certain extent with the Latin of Viger's edition ("Quæ quidem in hominum Deo carissimorum obitus egregie conveniunt, quos veræ pietatis milites jure appellaris. Nam et eorum sepulchra celebrare et preces ibi votaque nuncupare et beatas illorum animas venerari consuevimus, idque a nobis merito fieri statuimus"); though the translator there has employed words more favourable to the doctrine of the saints' adoration, than he could in strictness justify.

The celebrated letter from the Church of Smyrna (Euseb. Cantab. 1720. vol. i. p. 163), relating the martyrdom of Polycarp, one of the most precious relics of Christian antiquity, has already been examined by us, when we were inquiring into the recorded {175} sentiments of Polycarp; and to our reflections in that place we have little to add. The interpolations to which we have now referred, are intended to take off the edge of the evidence borne by this passage of Eusebius against the invocation of saints. First, whereas the Christians of Smyrna are recorded by Eusebius to have declared, without any limitation or qualification whatever, that they could never worship any fellow-mortal however honoured and beloved, the Parisian edition limits and qualifies their declaration by interpolating the word "as God," implying that they would offer a secondary worship to a saint. Again, whereas Eusebius in contrasting the worship paid to Christ, with the feelings of the Christians towards a martyr, employs only the word "love," Bellarmin, following Ruffinus, interpolates the word "veneramur" after "diligimus," a word which may be innocently used with reference to the holy saints and servants of God, though it is often in ancient writers employed to mean the religious worship of man to God. Still how lamentable is it to attempt by such tampering with ancient documents to maintain a cause, whatever be our feelings with regard to it!

With two more brief quotations we will close our report of Eusebius. They occur in the third chapter of the third book of his Demonstratio Evangelica, and give the same view of the feelings and sentiments of the primitive Christians towards the holy angels, which we have found Origen and all the other fathers to have acknowledged.

"In the doctrine of his word we have learned that there exists, after the most high God, certain powers, {176} in their nature incorporeal and intellectual, rational and purely virtuous, who ([Greek: choreuousas]) keep their station around the sovereign King,—the greater part of whom, by certain dispensations of salvation, are sent at the will of the Father even as far as to men; whom, indeed, we have been taught to know and to honour, according to the measure of their dignity, rendering to God alone, the sovereign King, the honour of worship." ([Greek: gnorizein kai timain kata to metron taes axias edidachthaemen, mono toi pambasilei Theoi taen sebasmion timaen aponemontes]) Again: "Knowing the divine, the serving and ministering powers of the sovereign God, and honouring them to the extent of propriety; but confessing God alone, and Him alone worshipping." ([Greek: theias men dynameis hypaeretikas tou pambasileos Theou kai leitourgikas eidotes, kai kata to prosaekon timontes monon de Theon homologountes, kai monon ekeinon sebontes]) [Demonst. Evang. Paris, 1628. p. 106.; Præpar. Evang. lib. vii. c. 15. p. 237.]


The works known by the name of the Apostolical Constitutions and Apostolical Canons, though confessedly not the genuine productions of the Apostles, or of their age, have been always held in much veneration by the Church of Rome. The most learned writers fix their date at a period not more remote than the beginning of the fourth century. (See Cotelerius; vol. i. p. 194 and 424. Beveridge, in the same vol. p. 427. Conc. Gen. Florence, 1759, tom. i. p. 29 and 254.) I invite the reader {177} to examine both these documents, but especially the Constitutions, and to decide whether they do not contain strong and convincing evidence, that the invocation of saints was not practised or known in the Church when they were written. Minute rules are given for the conducting of public worship; forms of prayer are prescribed to be used in the Church, by the bishops and clergy, and by the people; forms of prayer and of thanksgiving are recommended for the use of the faithful in private, in the morning, at night, and at their meals; forms, too, there are of creeds and confessions;—but not one single allusion to any religious address to angel or saint; whilst occasions most opportune for the introduction of such doctrine and practice repeatedly occur, and are uniformly passed by. Again and again prayer is directed to be made to the one only living and true God, exclusively through the mediation and intercession of the one only Saviour Jesus Christ. Honourable mention is made of the saints of the Old Testament, and the apostles and martyrs of the New; directions are also given for the observance of their festivals [Book viii. p. 415]; but not the shadow of a thought appears that their good offices could benefit us; much less the most distant intimation that Christians might invoke them for their prayers and intercessions. There is indeed very much in these early productions of the Christian world to interest every Catholic Christian; and although a general admiration of the principles for the most part pervading them does not involve an entire approbation of them all, yet perhaps few would think the time misapplied which they should devote to the examination of these documents.


In book v. c. 6. of the Constitutions, the martyr is represented as "trusting in the one only true God and Father, through Jesus Christ, the great High Priest, the Redeemer of souls, the Dispenser of rewards; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." [Cotel. vol. i. p. 304.]

In the same book and in the following chapter we find an exceedingly interesting dissertation on the general resurrection, but not one word of saint or martyr being beforehand admitted to glory; on the contrary, the declaration is distinct, that not the martyrs only, but all men will rise. Surely such an opportunity would not have been lost of stating the doctrine of martyrs being now reigning with Christ, had such been the doctrine of the Church at that early period.

In the eighth chapter is contained an injunction to honour the martyrs in these words: "We say that they should be in all honour with you, as the blessed James the bishop and our holy fellow-minister Stephen were honoured with us. For they are blessed by God and honoured by holy men, pure from all blame, never bent towards sins, never turned away from good,—undoubtedly to be praised. Of whom David spake, 'Honourable before God is the death of his saints;' and Solomon, 'The memory of the just is with praise.' Of whom the prophet also said, 'Just men are taken away.'" [p. 309.]

And in book viii. c. 13. we read this exhortation,—"Let us remember the holy martyrs, that we may be counted worthy to be partakers of their conflict." [p. 404.]

Does this sound any thing at all like adoration or invocation? The word which is used in the above {179} passage, honour [[Greek: timê] p. 241], is employed when (book ii. c. 28.) the respect is prescribed which the laity ought to show to the clergy.

To the very marked silence as to any invocation or honour, to be shown to the Virgin Mary, I shall call your attention in our separate dissertation on the worship now offered to her.


The renowned and undaunted defender of the Catholic faith against the errors which in his day threatened to overwhelm Gospel-truth, Athanasius (the last of those ante-Nicene writers into whose testimony we have instituted this inquiry), was born about the year 296, and, after having presided in the Church as Bishop for more than forty-six years, died in 373, on the verge of his eightieth year. It is impossible for any one interested in the question of primitive truth to look upon the belief and practice of this Christian champion with indifference. When I first read Bellarmin's quotations from Athanasius, in justification of the Roman Catholic worship in the adoration of saints, I was made not a little anxious to ascertain the accuracy of his allegations. The inquiry amply repaid me for my anxiety and the labour of research; not merely by proving the unsoundness of Bellarmin's representation, but also by directing my thoughts more especially, as my acquaintance with his {180} works increased, to the true and scriptural views taken by Athanasius of the Christian's hope and confidence in God alone; the glowing fervour of his piety centering only in the Lord; his sure and certain hope in life and in death anchored only in the mercies of God, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ alone.

Bellarmin, in his appeal to Athanasius as a witness in behalf of the invocation of saints, cites two passages; the one of which, though appearing in the edition of the Benedictines, amongst the works called doubtful, has been adjudged by those editors [Vol. ii. p. 110 and 122] to be not genuine; the other is placed by them among the confessedly spurious works, and is treated as a forgery.

The first passage is from a treatise called De Virginitate, and even were that work the genuine production of Athanasius, would make against the religious worship of the saints rather than in its favour, for it would show, that the respect which the author intended to be paid to them, was precisely the same with what he would have us pay to holy men in this life, who might come to visit us. "If a just man enter into thine house, thou shalt meet him with fear and trembling, and shalt worship before his feet to the ground: for thou wilt not worship him, but God who sent him."

The other passage would have been decisive as to the belief of Athanasius, had it come from his pen. "Incline thine ear, O Mary, to our prayers, and forget not thy people. We cry to thee. Remember us, O Holy Virgin. Intercede for us, O mistress, lady, queen, and mother of God." [Vol. ii. p. 390-401.]

Had Bellarmin been the only writer, or the last who cited this passage as the testimony of St. Athanasius, {181} it would have been enough for us to refer to the judgment of the Benedictine editors, who have classed the homily containing these words among the spurious works ascribed to Athanasius; or rather we might have appealed to Bellarmin himself. For it is very remarkable, that though in his anxiety to enlist every able writer to defend the cause of the invocation of saints, he has cited this passage in his Church Triumphant as containing the words of Athanasius, without any allusion to its decided spuriousness, or even to its suspicious character; yet when he is pronouncing his judgment on the different works assigned to Athanasius, declaring the evidence against this treatise to be irresistible, he condemns it as a forgery. [Bellarm. de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis, Cologne, 1617, vol. vii. p. 50.]

Since, however, this passage has been cited in different Roman Catholic writers of our own time as containing the words of Athanasius, and in evidence of his genuine belief and practice, and that without an allusion even to any thing doubtful and questionable in its character, it becomes necessary to enter more in detail into the circumstances under which the passage is offered to our notice.

The passage is found in a homily called The Annunciation of the Mother of God. How long this homily has been discarded as spurious, or how long its genuineness had been suspected before the time of Baronius, I have not discovered; but certainly two centuries and a half ago, and repeatedly since, it has been condemned as totally and indisputably spurious, and has been excluded from the works of Athanasius as a forgery, not by members of the Reformed Church, but {182} by most zealous and steady adherents to the Church of Rome, and the most strenuous defenders of her doctrines and practice.

The Benedictine editors64, who published the remains of St. Athanasius in 1698, class the works contained in the second volume under two heads, the doubtful and the spurious; and the homily under consideration is ranked, without hesitation, among the spurious. In the middle of that volume they not only declare the work to be unquestionably a forgery, assigning the reasons for their decision, but they fortify their judgment by quoting at length the letter written by the celebrated Baronius, more than a century before, to our countryman, Stapleton. Both these documents are very interesting.

Footnote 64:(return)

Here I would observe, that though the Benedictine editors differ widely from each other in talent, and learning, and candour, yet, as a body, they have conferred on Christendom, and on literature, benefits for which every impartial and right-minded man will feel gratitude. In the works of some of these editors, far more than in others, we perceive the same reigning principle—a principle which some will regard as an uncompromising adherence to the faith of the Church; but which others can regard only in the light of a prejudice, and a rooted habit of viewing all things through the eyes of Rome.

The Benedictine editors begin their preface thus: "That this discourse is spurious, there is NO LEARNED MAN WHO DOES NOT NOW ADJUDGE ... The style proves itself more clear than the sun, to be different from that of Athanasius. Besides this, very many trifles show themselves here unworthy of any sensible man whatever, not to say Athanasius ... and a great number of expressions unknown to Athanasius ... so that it savours of inferior Greek. And truly his subtle disputation {183} on the hypostasis of Christ, and on the two natures in Christ, persuades us, that he lived after the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon; of which councils moreover he uses the identical words, whereas his dissertation on the two wills in Christ seems to argue, that he lived after the spreading of the error of the Monothelites. But (continue these Benedictine editors) we would add here the dissertation of Baronius on this subject, sent to us by our brethren from Rome. That illustrious annotator, indeed, having read only the Latin version of Nannius, which is clearer than the Greek, did not observe the astonishing perplexity of the style65."

Footnote 65:(return)

Even in the Bibliotheca Patrum Concionatoria the homily is declared to be not the work of Athanasius, but to have been written after the sixth general council. "It is evident," say the editors, "that it is the monument of a very learned man, though he has his own blemishes, on which, for the most part, we have remarked in the margin." Paris, 1662. p. 336.

The dissertation which the Benedictine editors append, was contained in a letter written by Baronius to Stapleton, in consequence of some animadversions which Stapleton had communicated to Cardinal Allen on the judgment of Baronius. The letter is dated Rome, November, 1592. The judgment of Baronius on the spurious character of this homily had been published to the world some time previously; for after some preliminary words of kindness and respect to his correspondent, Baronius proceeds to say, that when he previously published his sentiments on this homily, it was only cursorily and by the way, his work then being on another subject. Nevertheless he conceived, {184} that the little he had then stated would be sufficient to show, that the homily was not the production of Athanasius, and that all persons of learning, WHO WERE DESIROUS OF THE TRUTH, would freely agree with him; nor was he in this expectation disappointed; for very many persons expressed their agreement with him, congratulating him on separating legitimate from spurious children. He then states the arguments which the Benedictine editors adopted after him, and which we need not repeat. But he also urges this fact, that though Cyril had the works of Athanasius in his custody, and though both the disputing parties ransacked every place for sentiments of Athanasius countenancing their tenets, yet neither at Ephesus nor at Chalcedon was this homily quoted, though it must have altogether driven Eutyches and Nestorius from the field, so exact are its definitions and statements on the points then at issue. Baronius then adds, that so far from reversing the judgment which he had before passed against the genuineness of this homily, he was compelled in justice to declare his conviction, that it could not have been written till after the heresy of the Monothelites had been spread abroad. This we know would fix its date, at the very earliest, subsequently to the commencement of the SEVENTH century, three hundred years after Athanasius attended the Council of Nice. Among the last sentiments of Baronius in this letter, is one which implies a principle worthy of Christian wisdom, and which can never be neglected without injury to the cause of truth. "These sentiments concerning Athanasius I do not think are affirmed with any detriment to the Church; for the Church does not suffer a loss on this account; who being the pillar {185} and ground of the truth, very far shrinks from seeking, like Æsop's Jackdaw, helps and ornaments which are not her own: the bare truth shines more beautiful in her own naked simplicity." Were this principle acted upon uniformly in our discussions on religious points of faith or practice, controversy would soon be drawn within far narrower limits; and would gradually be softened into a friendly interchange of sentiments, and would well-nigh be banished from the world. No person does the cause of truth so much injury, as one who attempts to support it by arguments which will not bear the test of full and enlightened investigation. And however an unsound principle may be for a while maintained by unsound arguments, the momentary triumph must ultimately end in disappointment.

Coccius also cites two passages as conveying the evidence of Athanasius on this same point; one from the spurious letter addressed to Felix, the pope; the other from the treatise to Marcellus, on the interpretation of the Psalms. On the former, I need not detain you by any observation; it would be fighting with a shadow. The latter, which only recognises what I have never affirmed or denied here,—the interest in our welfare taken by holy souls departed, and their co-operation with us when we are working out our own salvation,—contains a valuable suggestion on the principles of devotion.

"Let no one, however, set about to adorn these Psalms for the sake of effect with words from without, [artificial and secular phrases,] nor transpose, nor alter the expressions. But let every one inartificially read and repeat what is written, that those holy persons who employed themselves in their production, recognising their own works, may join with us in prayer; or {186} rather that the Holy Spirit, who spake in those holy men, observing the words with which his voice inspired them, may assist us. For just as much as the life of those holy men is more pure than ours, so far are their words preferable to any production of our own."

But whilst there is not found a single passage in Athanasius to give the faintest countenance to the invocation of saints, there are various arguments and expressions which go far to demonstrate that such a belief and such practices as are now acknowledged and insisted upon by the Church of Rome, were neither adopted nor sanctioned by him. Had he adopted that belief and practice for his own, he would scarcely have spoken, as he repeatedly has, of the exclusion of angels and men from any share in the work of man's restoration, without any expressions to qualify it, and to protect his assertions from being misunderstood. Again, he bids us look to the holy men and holy fathers as our examples, in whose footsteps we should tread, if we would be safe; but not a hint escapes him that they are to be invoked.

I must detain you by rather a long quotation from this father, and will, therefore, now do nothing more than refer you to two passages expressive of those sentiments to which I have above alluded. In the thirteenth section of his Treatise on the Incarnation of the Word of God, he argues, that neither could men restore us to the image of God, nor could angels, but the word of God, Jesus Christ, &c. [Vol. i. part i. p. 58.] In his Epistle to Dracontius, he says, "We ought to conduct ourselves agreeably to the principles of the saints and fathers, and to imitate them,—assured that if we {187} swerve from them, we become alienated also from their communion." [Vol. i. part i, p. 265.]

The passage, however, to which I would invite the reader's patient and impartial thoughts, occurs in the third oration against the Arians, when he is proving the unity of the Father and the Son, from the expression of St. Paul in the eleventh verse of the third chapter of his first Epistle to the Thessalonians.

"Thus then again ([Greek: outo g' oun palin]), when he is praying for the Thessalonians, and saying, 'Now our God and Father himself and the Lord Jesus Christ direct our way to you,' he preserves the unity of the Father and the Son. For he says not 'may THEY direct ([Greek: kateuthunoien]),' as though a twofold grace were given from Him AND Him, but 'may HE direct ([Greek: katenthunai]),' to show that the Father giveth this through the Son. For if there was not an unity, and the Word was not the proper offspring of the Father's substance, as the eradiation of the light, but the Son was distinct in nature from the Father,—it had sufficed for the Father alone to have made the gift, no generated being partaking with the Maker in the gifts. But now such a giving proves the unity of the Father and the Son. Consequently, no one would pray to receive any thing from God AND the angels, or from any other created being; nor would any one say 'May God AND the angels give it thee;' but from the Father and the Son, because of their unity and the oneness of the gift. For whatever is given, is given through the Son,—nor is there any thing which the Father works except through the Son; for thus the receiver has the gracious favour without fail. But if the patriarch Jacob, blessing his descendants Ephraim and Manasseh, said, 'The God who nourished {188} me from my youth unto this day, the Angel who delivered me from all the evils, bless these lads;' he does not join one of created beings, and by nature angels, with God who created them; nor dismissing Him who nourished him, God, does he ask the blessing for his descendants from an angel, but by saying 'He who delivered me from all the evils,' he showed that it was not one of created angels, but the WORD OF GOD; and joining him with the Father, he supplicated him through whom also God delivers whom he will. For he used the expression, knowing him who is called the Messenger of the great counsel of the Father to be no other than the very one who blessed and delivered from evil. For surely he did not aspire to be blessed himself by God, and was willing for his descendants to be blessed by an angel. But the same whom he addressed, saying, I will not let Thee go, except thou bless me (and this was God, as he says, 'I saw God face to face'), Him he prayed to bless the sons of Joseph. The peculiar office of an angel is to minister at the appointment of God; and often he went onwards to cast out the Amorite, and is sent to guard the people in the way; but these are not the doings of him, but of God, who appointed him and sent him,—whose also it is to deliver whom he will." [Vol i. p. 561.]

"For this cause David addressed no other on the subject of deliverance but God Himself. But if it belongs to no other than God to bless and deliver, and it was no other who delivered Jacob than the Lord Himself, and the patriarch invoked for his descendants Him who delivered him, it is evident that he connected no one in his prayer except His Word, whom for this reason he called an angel, because he alone reveals the Father."


"But this no one would say of beings produced and created; for neither when the Father worketh does any one of the angels, or any other of created beings, work the things; for no one of such beings is an effective cause, but they themselves belong to things produced. The angels then, as it is written, are ministering spirits sent to minister; and the gifts given by Him through the Word they announce to those who receive them."

Now if the invocation of angels had been practised by the Church at that time, can it be for a moment believed, that a man of such a mind as was the mind of Athanasius, a mind strong, clear, logical, cultivated with ardent zeal for the doctrines of the Church, and fervent piety, would have suffered such passages as these to fall from him, without one saving clause in favour of the invocation of angels? He tells us in the most unqualified manner, that they act merely as ministers; ready indeed, and rejoicing to be employed on errands of mercy, but not going one step without the commands of the Lord, or doing one thing beyond his word. Had the idea been familiar to the mind of Athanasius, of the lawfulness, the duty, the privilege, the benefit of invoking them, would he have avoided the introduction of some words to prevent his expressions from being misunderstood and misapplied, as subsequent writers did long before the time when the denial of the doctrine might seem to have made such precaution more necessary?

I close then the catalogue of our witnesses before the Council of Nicæa with the testimony of St. Athanasius; whose genuine and acknowledged works afford not one jot or tittle in support of the doctrine and practice of the invocation of angels and saints, as now insisted upon by the Church of Rome; and the direct {190} tendency of whose evidence is decidedly hostile both to that doctrine and that practice.

I have seen it observed by some who are satisfied, that the records of primitive antiquity do not contain such references to the invocation of saints and angels, as we might have expected to find had the custom then prevailed, that the earliest Christians kept back the doctrine and concealed it, though they held it; fearing lest their heathen neighbours should upbraid them with being as much polytheists as themselves66. This is altogether a gratuitous assumption, directly contrary to evidence, and totally inconsistent with their conduct. Had those first Christians acted upon such a debasing principle, they would have kept back and concealed their worship of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, as exposing them to a similar charge. They were constantly upbraided with worshipping a crucified {191} mortal; but instead of either meeting that charge by denying that they worshipped Jesus as their God, or of concealing the worship of Him, lest they should expose themselves again to such upbraidings, they publicly professed, that He whom the Jews had murdered, they believed in as the Son of God, Himself their God. They gloried in the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, and did not fear what men might do to them, or say of them in consequence. Had they believed in the duty of invoking saints and angels, the high principle of Christian integrity would not have suffered them to be ashamed to confess it, or to practise openly what they believed.

Footnote 66:(return)

Bishop Morley, (London, 1683,) in a letter written whilst he was in exile at Breda, to J. Ulitius, refers to Cardinal Perron, "Réplique à la Resp. du Roy de la Grande Bret." p. 1402 and 4, for this sentiment: "The Fathers do not always speak what they think, but conceal their real sentiments, and say that which best serves the cause which they sustain, so as to protect it against the objections of the gentiles. The Fathers, as much as in them lies, and as far as they can, avoid and decline all occasions of speaking about the invocation of saints then practised in the Church, fearing lest to the gentiles there might appear a sort of similarity, although untrue and equivocal, between the worship paid to the saints by the Church, and by the Pagans to their false divinities; and lest the Pagans might thence seize a handle, however unfair, of retorting upon them that custom of the Church." Had a member of the Anglican Church thus spoken of the Fathers, and thus pleaded in their name guilty of subterfuge and duplicity, he would have been immediately charged with irreverence and wanton insult, and that with good reason. These sentiments of the Cardinal are in p. 982 of the Paris edition of 1620.





One of the points proposed for our inquiry was the state of religious worship, with reference to the invocation of saints, at the time immediately preceding the reformation. Very far from entertaining a wish to fasten upon the Church of Rome now, what then deformed religion among us, in any department where that Church has practically reformed her services, I would most thankfully have found her ritual in a more purified state than it is. My more especial object in referring to this period is twofold: first, to show, that consistently with Catholic and primitive principles, the Catholic Christians of England ought not to have continued to participate in the worship which at that time prevailed in our country; and, secondly, by that example both to illustrate the great danger of allowing ourselves to countenance the very first stages of superstition, and also to impress upon our minds the duty of checking in its germ any the least deviation from the primitive principles of faith and worship; convinced that by the general tendency of human nature, one wrong step will, though imperceptibly, yet almost inevitably lead to another; and that only whilst we adhere with uncompromising steadiness {193} to the Scripture as our foundation, and to the primitive Church, under God, as a guide, can we be saved from the danger of making shipwreck of our faith.

On this branch of our subject I propose to do no more than to lay before my readers the witness borne to the state of religion in England at that time, by two works, which have been in an especial manner forced upon my notice. Many other testimonies of a similar tendency might readily be adduced; but these will probably appear sufficient for the purposes above mentioned; and to dwell longer than is necessary on this point would be neither pleasant nor profitable.


The first book to which I shall refer is called The Hours of the most blessed Virgin Mary, according to the legitimate use of the Church of Salisbury. This book was printed in Paris in the year 1526. The prayers in this volume relate chiefly to the Virgin: and I should, under other circumstances, have reserved all allusion to it for our separate inquiry into the faith and practice of the Church of Rome with regard to her. But its historical position and general character seemed to recommend our reference to it here. Without anticipating, therefore, the facts or the arguments, which will hereafter be submitted to the reader's consideration on the worship of the Virgin, I refer to this work now solely as illustrative of the lamentable state of superstition which three centuries ago overran our country.

The volume abounds with forms of prayer to the Virgin, many of them prefaced by extraordinary notifications of indulgences promised to those who duly utter {194} the prayers. These indulgences are granted by Popes and by Bishops; some on their own mere motion, others at the request of influential persons. They guarantee remission of punishment for different spaces of time, varying from forty days to ninety thousand years; they undertake to secure freedom from hell; they promise pardon for deadly sins, and for venial sins to the same person for the same act; they assure to those who comply with their directions a change of the pain of eternal damnation into the pain of purgatory, and the pain of purgatory into a free and full pardon.

It may be said that the Church of Rome is not responsible for all these things. But we need not tarry here to discuss the question how far it was then competent for a church or nation to have any service-book or manual of devotion for the faithful, without first obtaining the papal sanction. For clear it is beyond all question, that such frightful corruptions as these, of which we are now to give instances, were spread throughout the land; that such was the religion then imposed on the people of England; and it was from such dreadful enormities, that our Reformation, to whatever secondary cause that reformation is to be attributed—by the providence of Almighty God rescued us. No one laments more than I do, the extremes into which many opponents of papal Rome have allowed themselves to run; but no one can feel a more anxious desire than myself to preserve our Church and people from a return of such spiritual degradation and wretchedness; and to keep far from us the most distant approaches of such lamentable and ensnaring superstitions. In this feeling moreover I am assured that I am joined by many of the most respected and influential members of the Roman Catholic Church among us. {195} Still what has been may be; and it is the bounden duty of all members of Christ's Catholic Church, to whatever branch of it they belong, to join in guarding his sanctuary against such enemies to the truth as it is in HIM.

At the same time it would not be honest and candid in me, were I to abstain from urging those, who, with ourselves, deprecate these excesses, to carry their reflections further; and determine whether the spirit of the Gospel does not require a total rejection, even in its less startling forms, of every departure from the principle of invoking God alone; and of looking for acceptance with Him solely to the mediation of his Son, without the intervention of any other merits. As we regard it, it is not a question of degree; it is a question of principle: one degree may be less revolting to our sense of right than another, but it is not on that account justifiable.

The following specimens, a few selected from an overabundant supply, will justify the several particulars in the summary which I have above given:

1. "The Right Reverend Father in God, Laurence67, Bishop of Assaven, hath granted forty days of pardon to all them that devoutly say this prayer in the worship of our blessed Lady, being penitent, and truly confessed of all their sins. Oratio, 'Gaude Virgo, Mater Christi,' &c. Rejoice, Virgin, Mother of Christ. [Fol. 35.]

Footnote 67:(return)

This was Laurence Child, who, by papal provision, was made Bishop of St. Asaph, June 18, 1382. He is called also Penitentiary to the Pope. Le Neve, p. 21. Beatson, vol. i. p. 115.

2. "To all them that be in the state of grace, that daily say devoutly this prayer before our blessed Lady of Pity, she will show them her blessed visage, and warn them the day and the hour of death; and in their last {196} end the angels of God shall yield their souls to heaven; and68 he shall obtain five hundred years, and so many Lents of pardon, granted by five holy fathers, Popes of Rome. [Fol. 38.]

Footnote 68:(return)

The language in many of these passages is very imperfect; but I have thought it right to copy them verbatim.

3. "This prayer showed our Lady to a devout person, saying, that this golden prayer is the most sweetest and acceptablest to me: and in her appearing she had this salutation and prayer written with letters of gold in her breast, 'Ave Rosa sine spinis'—Hail Rose without thorns. [Fol. 41.]

4. "Our holy Father, Sixtus the fourth, pope, hath granted to all them that devoutly say this prayer before the image of our Lady the sum of XI.M. [eleven thousand] years of pardon. 'Ave Sanctissima Maria, Mater Dei, Regina Coeli,' &c. Hail most holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven. [Fol. 42.]

5. "Our holy Father, Pope Sixtus, hath granted at the instance of the highmost and excellent Princess Elizabeth, late Queen of England, and wife to our sovereign liege Lord, King Henry the Seventh, (God have mercy on her sweet soul, and on all Christian souls,) that every day in the morning, after three tollings of the Ave bell, say three times the whole salutation of our Lady Ave Maria gratia; that is to say, at 6 the clock in the morning 3 Ave Maria, at 12 the clock at noon 3 Ave M., and at 6 the clock at even, for every time so doing is granted of the SPIRITUAL TREASURE OF HOLY CHURCH 300 days of pardon totiens quotiens; and also our holy father, the Archbishop of Canterbury and York, with other nine Bishops of this realm, have {197} granted 3 times in the day 40 days of pardon to all them that be in the state of grace able to receive pardon: the which begun the 26th day of March, Anno MCCCCXCII. Anno Henrici VII.69 And the sum of the indulgence and pardon for every Ave Maria VIII hondred days an LX totiens quotiens, this prayer shall be said at the tolling of the Ave Bell, 'Suscipe,' &c. Receive the word, O Virgin Mary, which was sent to thee from the Lord by an angel. Hail, Mary, full of grace: the Lord with thee, &c. Say this 3 times, &c. [Fol. 42.]

Footnote 69:(return)

Henry VII. began to reign in 1485.

6. "This prayer was showed to St. Bernard by the messenger of God, saying, that as gold is the most precious of all other metals, so exceedeth this prayer all other prayers, and who that devoutly sayeth it shall have a singular reward of our blessed Lady, and her sweet Son Jesus. 'Ave,' &c. Hail, Mary, most humble handmaid of the Trinity, &c. Hail, Mary, most prompt Comforter of the living and the dead. Be thou with me in all my tribulations and distresses with maternal pity, and at the hour of my death take my soul, and offer it to thy most beloved Son Jesus, with all them who have commended themselves to our prayers. [Fol. 46.]

7. "Our holy father, the Pope Bonifacius, hath granted to all them that devoutly say this lamentable contemplation of our blessed Lady, standing under the Cross weeping, and having compassion with her sweet Son Jesus, 7 years of pardon and forty Lents, and also Pope John the 22 hath granted three hondred days of pardon. 'Stabat Mater dolorosa.' [Fol. 47.]

8. "To all them that before this image of Pity devoutly say 5 Pat. Nos., and 5 Aves, and a Credo, piteously beholding these arms of Christ's passion, are {198} granted XXXII.M.VII hondred, and LV (32755) years of pardon; and Sixtus the 4th, Pope of Rome hath made the 4 and the 5 prayer, and hath doubled his aforesaid pardon. [Fol. 54.]

9. "Our holy Father the Pope John 22 hath granted to all them that devoutly say this prayer, after the elevation of our Lord Jesu Christ, 3000 days of pardon for deadly sins. [Fol. 58.]

10. "This prayer was showed to Saint Augustine by revelation of the Holy Ghost, and who that devoutly say this prayer, or hear read, or beareth about them, shall not perish in fire or water, nother in battle or judgment, and he shall not die of sudden death, and no venom shall poison him that day, and what he asketh of God he shall obtain if it be to the salvation of his soul; and when thy soul shall depart from thy body it shall not enter hell." This prayer ends with three invocations of the Cross, thus: "O Cross of Christ [cross] save us, O Cross of Christ [cross] protect us, O Cross of Christ [cross] defend us. In the name of the [cross] Father, [cross] Son, and Holy [cross] Ghost. Amen." [Fol. 62.]

11. "Our holy Father Pope Innocent III. hath granted to all them that say these III prayers following devoutly, remission of all their sins confessed and contrite. [Fol. 63.]

12. "These 3 prayers be written in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, in Rome, otherwise called Sacellum Sanctæ Crucis septem Romanorum; who that devoutly say them shall obtain X.C.M. [ninety thousand] years of pardon for deadly sins granted of our holy Father, John 22, Pope of Rome. [Fol. 66.]

13. "Who that devoutly beholdeth these arms of {199} our Lord Jesus Christ, shall obtain six thousand years of pardon of our holy Father Saint Peter, the first pope of Rome, and of XXX [thirty] other popes of the Church of Rome, successors after him; and our holy Father, Pope John 22, hath granted unto all them very contrite and truly confessed, that say these devout prayers following in the commemoration of the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, 3000 years of pardon for DEADLY SINS, and other 3000 for venial sins." [Fol. 68.]

I will only add one more instance. The following announcement accompanies a prayer of St. Bernard: "Who that devoutly with a contrite heart daily say this orison, if he be that day in a state of eternal damnation, then this eternal pain shall be changed him in temporal pain of purgatory; then if he hath deserved the pain of purgatory it shall be forgotten and forgiven through the infinite mercy of God."

It is indeed very melancholy to reflect that our country has witnessed the time, when the bread of life had been taken from the children, and such husks as these substituted in its stead. Accredited ministers of the Roman Catholic Church have lately assured us that the pardons and indulgences granted now, relate only to the remission of the penances imposed by the Church in this life, and presume not to interfere with the province of the Most High in the rewards and punishments of the next. But, I repeat it, what has been in former days may be again; and whenever Christians depart from the doctrine and practice of prayer to God alone, through Christ alone, a door is opened to superstitions and abuses of every kind; and we cannot too anxiously and too jealously guard and fence about, with all our power and skill, the fundamental principle, one God and one Mediator.



The other instance by which I propose to illustrate the state of religion in England before the reformation, is the service of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, a canonized saint and martyr of the Church of Rome. The interest attaching to so remarkable a period in ecclesiastical history, and to an event so intimately interwoven with the former state of our native land, appears to justify the introduction of the entire service, rather than extracts from it, in this place. Whilst it bears throughout immediately on the subject of our present inquiry, it supplies us at the same time with the strong views entertained by the authors of the service, on points which gave rise to great and repeated discussion, not only in England, but in various parts also of continental Europe, with regard to the moral and spiritual merits or demerits of Becket, as a subject of the realm and a Christian minister. It is, moreover, only by becoming familiar in all their details with some such remains of past times, that we can form any adequate idea of the great and deplorable extent to which the legends had banished the reading and expounding of Holy Scriptures from our churches; and also how much the praises of mortal man had encroached upon those hours of public worship, which should be devoted to meditations on our Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; to the exclusive praises of his holy name; and to supplications {201} to Him alone for blessings at his hand, and for his mercy through Christ.

There is much obscurity in the few first paragraphs. The historical or biographical part begins at Lesson the First, and continues throughout, only interspersed with canticles in general referring to the incidents in the narrative preceding each.


Footnote 70:(return)

The copies which I have chiefly consulted for the purposes of the present inquiry, are two large folio manuscripts, in good preservation, No. 1512 and No. 2785 of the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum. The service commences about the 49th page, B. of No. 2785. This MS. is considered to be of a date somewhere about 1430. The first parts of the service are preserved also in a Breviary printed in Paris in 1556, with some variations and omissions. There are various other copies in the British Museum, as well printed as in manuscript.

Let them without change of vestments and without tapers in their hands, proceed to the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr, chanting the requiem, the chanter beginning,

Req. The grain lies buried beneath the straw;

The just man is slain by the spear of the wicked;

The guardian of the vine falls in the vineyard,

The chieftain in the camp, the husbandman in the threshing-floor.

Then the prose is said by all who choose, in surplices before the altar.

"Let the Shepherd sound his trumpet of horn."

Let the choir respond to the chant of the prose after every verse, upon the letter [super litteram].


That the vineyard of Christ might be free,

Which he assumed under a robe of flesh,

He liberated it by the purple cross.

The adversary, the erring sheep,

Becomes bloodstained by the slaughter of the shepherd.

The marble pavements of Christ

Are wetted, ruddy with sacred gore;

The martyr presented with the laurel of life.

Like a grain cleansed from the straw,

Is translated to the divine garners.

But whilst the prose is being sung, let the priest incense the altar, and then the image of the blessed Thomas the Martyr; and afterwards shall be said with an humble voice: Pray for us, Blessed Thomas.

The Prayer71. O God for whose Church the glorious {203} high-priest and martyr Thomas fell beneath the swords of the wicked, grant, we beseech thee, that all who implore his aid may obtain the salutary effect of their petition, through Christ.

Footnote 71:(return)

This Collect is still preserved in the Roman ritual, and is offered on the anniversary of Becket's death. In a very ancient pontifical, preserved in the chapter-house of Bangor, and which belonged to Anianus, who was Bishop of that see (1268), among the "Proper Benedictions for the circuit of the year," are two relating to Thomas Becket; one on the anniversary of his death, the other on the day of his translation. The former is couched in these words: "O God, who hast not without reason mingled the birthday of the glorious high-priest, Thomas, with the joys of thy nativity, by the intervention of his merits" (ipsius mentis intervenientibus), "make these thy servants venerate thy majesty with the reverence of due honour. Amen. And as he, according to the rule of a good shepherd, gave his life for his sheep, so grant thou to thy faithful ones, to fear no tyrannical madness to the prejudice of Catholic truth. Amen. We ask that they, by his example, for obedience to the holy laws, may learn to despise persons, and by suffering manfully to triumph over tyrannical madness. Amen." The latter runs thus: "May God, by whose pity the bodies of saints rest in the sabbath of peace, turn your hearts to the desire of the resurrection to come. Amen. And may he who orders us to bury with honour due the members of the saints whose death is precious, by the merits of the glorious martyr, Thomas, vouchsafe to raise you from the dust of vanity. Amen. Where at length by the power of his benediction ye may be clothed with doubled festive robes of body and soul. Amen."

The shepherd slain in the midst of the flock,

Purchased peace at the price of his blood.

O joyous grief, in mournful gladness!

The flock breathes when the shepherd is dead;

The mother wailing, sings for joy in her son,

Because he lives under the sword a conqueror.

The solemnities of Thomas the Martyr are come.

Let the Virgin Mother, the Church, rejoice;

Thomas being raised to the highest priesthood,

Is suddenly changed into another man.

A monk, under [the garb of?] a clerk, secretly clothed with haircloth,

More strong than the flesh subdues the attempts of the flesh;

Whilst the tiller of the Lord's field pulls up the thistles,

And drives away and banishes the foxes from the vineyard.

The First Lesson.

Dearest Brethren, celebrating now the birth-day of the martyr Thomas, because we have not power to recount his whole life and conversation, let our brief discourse run through the manner and cause of his passion. The blessed Thomas, therefore, as in the office of Chancellor, or Archdeacon, he proved incomparably strenuous {204} in the conduct of affairs, so after he had undertaken the office of pastor, he became devoted to God beyond man's estimation. For, when consecrated, he suddenly is changed into another man: he secretly put on the hair shirt, and wore also hair drawers down to the knee. And under the respectable appearance of the clerical garb, concealing the monk's dress, he entirely compelled the flesh to obey the spirit; studying by the exercise of every virtue without intermission to please God. Knowing, therefore, that he was placed a husbandman in the field of the Lord, a shepherd in the fold, he carefully discharged the ministry entrusted to him. The rights and dignities of the Church, which the public authority had usurped, he deemed it right to restore, and to recall to their proper state. Whence a grave question on the ecclesiastical law and the customs of the realm, having arisen between him and the king of the English, a council being convened, those customs were proposed which the king pertinaciously required to be confirmed by the signatures as well of the archbishop as of his suffragans. The archbishop with constancy refused, asserting that in them was manifest the subversion of the freedom of the Church. He was in consequence treated with immense insults, oppressed with severe losses, and provoked with innumerable injuries. At length, being threatened with death, (because the case of the Church had not yet become fully known, and the persecution seemed to be personal,) he determined that he ought to give place to malice. Being driven, therefore, into exile, he was honourably received by our lord the pope Alexander72 at Senon, and recommended {205} with especial care to the Monastery of Pontinea (Pontigny).

Footnote 72:(return)

Pope Alexander III. was at this time residing as a refugee at Sens, having been driven from Italy a few years before by Frederick Barbarossa.

Malice, bent on the punishment of Thomas,

Condemns to banishment the race of Thomas.

The whole family goes forth together.

No order, sex, age, or condition

Here enjoys any privilege.

Lesson the Second.

Meanwhile in England all the revenues of the archbishop are confiscated, his estates are laid waste, his possessions are plundered, and by the invention of a new kind of punishment, the whole kin of Thomas is proscribed together. For all his friends or acquaintance, or whoever was connected with him, by whatever title, without distinction of state or fortune, dignity or rank, age or sex, were alike exiled. For as well the old and decrepit, as infants in the cradle and women lying in childbirth, were driven into banishment; whilst as many as had reached the years of discretion were compelled to swear upon the holy [Gospels]73 that immediately on crossing the sea they would present themselves to the Archbishop of Canterbury; in order that being so oftentimes pierced even by the sword of sympathy, he would bend his strength of mind to the king's pleasure. But the man of God, putting his hand to deeds of fortitude, with constancy bore exile, reproaches, insults, the proscription of parents and friends, for the name of Christ; he was never, by any injury, at all broken or changed. For so great was the firmness of this confessor of Christ, that he seemed to teach all his fellow exiles, that every soil is the brave man's country.

Footnote 73:(return)

Tactis sacrosanctis. It may mean reliques, or other sacred things.


Thomas put his hands to deeds of fortitude,

He despised losses, he despised reproaches,

No injury breaks down Thomas:

The firmness of Thomas exclaimed to all,

"Every soil is the brave man's country."

Third Lesson.

The king therefore hearing of his immoveable constancy, having directed commendatory letters by some abbots of the Cistertian order to the General Chapter, caused him to be driven from Pontinea. But the blessed Thomas fearing that, by occasion of his right, injury would befal the saints, retired of his own accord. Yet before he set out from thence he was comforted by a divine revelation: a declaration being made to him from heaven, that he should return to his Church with glory, and by the palm of martyrdom depart to the Lord. When he was disturbed and sent from his retreat at Pontinea, Louis, the most Christian king of the French, received him with the greatest honour, and supported him most courteously till peace was restored. But even he too was often, though in vain, urged not to show any grace of kindness towards a traitor to the king of England. The hand of fury proceeded further, and a cruelty dreadful for pious ears to hear. For whereas the Catholic Church prays even for heretics, and schismatics, and faithless Jews, it was forbidden that any one should assist him by the supplications of prayer. Exiled, then, for six continuous years, afflicted with varied and unnumbered injuries, and like a living stone squared by various cuttings and pressures for the building of the heavenly edifice, the more he was thrust at that he might fall, the more firm and immoveable was he enabled to stand. {207} For neither could gold so carefully tried be burned away, nor a house, founded on a firm rock, be torn down. Neither does he suffer the wolves to rage against the lambs, nor the vineyard to pass into a garden of herbs.

The best of men, holy, and renowned is banished,

Lest the dignity of the Church should yield to the unworthy.

The estates of the exiled man are the spoil of the malignant,

But when placed in the fire, the fire burns him not.

Fourth Lesson.

At length by the exertions, as well of the aforesaid pontiff as of the king of the French, many days were appointed for re-establishing peace: and because the servant of God would not accept of peace, unless with safety to the honour of God, and the character of the Church, they departed in discord from each other. At length the supreme Pontiff, pitying the desolation of the Anglican Church, with difficulty at the last extorted by threatening measures, that peace should be restored to the Church. The realms indeed rejoiced, that the King had been reconciled to the Archbishop, whilst some believed that the affair was carried on in good faith, and others formed different conjectures. Consequently in the seventh year of his exile the noble pastor returned into England, that he might either rescue the sheep of Christ from the jaws of the wolves, or sacrifice himself for the flock intrusted to his care. He is received by the clergy and the people with incalculable joy; all shedding tears, and saying, Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord. But after a few days he was again afflicted by losses and miseries beyond measure and number. Whoever offered to him, {208} or to any one connected with him, a cheerful countenance was reckoned a public enemy. In all these things his mind was unbroken; but his hand was still stretched out for the liberation of the Church. For this he incessantly sighed; for this he persevered in watchings, fastings, and prayers; to obtain this he ardently desired to sacrifice himself.

From the greatest joy of affairs,

The greatest wailing is in the Church,

For the absence of so great a patron.

But when the miracles return,

Joy to the people returns.

The crowd of sick flock together,

And obtain the grace of benefits.

Fifth Lesson.

Now on the fifth day after the birth-day of our Lord, four persons of the palace came to Canterbury, men indeed of high birth, but famous for their wicked deeds; and having entered, they attack the archbishop with reproachful words, provoke him with insults, and at length assail him with threats. The man of God modestly answered, to every thing, whatever reason required, adding that many injuries had been inflicted upon him and the Church of God, since the re-establishment of peace, and there was no one to correct what was wrong; that he neither could nor would dissemble thereafter, so as not to exercise the duties of his function. The men, foolish in heart, were disturbed by this, and having loudly given utterance to their iniquity they forthwith went out. On their retiring, the prelate proceeded to the Church, to offer the evening praises to Christ. The mail-clad satellites of Satan followed him from behind with drawn swords, a {209} large band of armed men accompanying them. On the monks barring the entrance to the Church, the priest of God, destined soon to become a victim of Christ, running up re-opened the door to the enemy; "For," said he, "a Church must not be barricaded like a castle." As they burst in, and some shouted with a voice of phrenzy, "Where is the traitor?" others, "Where is the Archbishop?" the fearless confessor of Christ went to meet them. When they pressed on to murder him, he said, "For myself I cheerfully meet death for the Church of God; but on the part of God I charge you to do no hurt to any of mine"—imitating Christ in his passion, when he said, "If ye seek me, let these go their way." Then rush the ravening wolves on the pious shepherd, degenerate sons on their own father, cruel lictors on the victim of Christ, and with fatal swords cut off the consecrated crown of his head; and hurling down to the ground the Christ [the anointed] of the Lord, in savage manner, horrible to be said, scattered the brains with the blood over the pavement.

Thus does the straw press down the grain of corn;

Thus is slain the guard of the vineyard in the vineyard;

Thus the general in the camp, the shepherd in the fold, the

husbandman in the threshing-floor.

Thus the just, slain by the unjust, has changed his house of

clay for a heavenly palace.

Rachel, weeping, now cease thou to mourn

That the flower of the world is bruised by the world.

When the slain Thomas is borne to his funeral,

A new Abel succeeds to the old.

The voice of blood, the voice of his scattered brains,

Fills heaven with a marvellous cry.


Sixth Lesson.

But the last words of the martyr, which from the confused clamour could scarcely be distinguished, according to the testimony of those who stood near, were these,—"To God, and the blessed Mary, and Saint Dionysius, and the holy patrons of this Church, I commend myself and the cause of the Church74." Moreover, in all the torments which this unvanquished champion of God endured, he sent forth no cry, he uttered no groan, he opposed neither his arm nor his garment to the man who struck him, but held his head, which he had bent towards the swords, unmoved till the consummation came; prostrated as if for prayer, he fell asleep in the Lord. The perpetrators of the crime, returning into the palace of the holy prelate, that they might make the passion of the servant more fully resemble the passion of his Lord, divided among them his garments, the gold and silver and precious vessels, choice horses, and whatever of value they could find, allotting what each should take. These things therefore the soldiers did. Who, without weeping, can relate the rest? So great was the sorrow of all, so great the laments of each, that you would think the prophecy were a second time fulfilled, "A voice is heard in Rama, lamentation and great mourning." Nevertheless the divine mercy, when temptation was multiplied, made a way to escape; and by certain visions, giving as it were a prelude to the future miracles, [declared that] the martyr was thereafter to be glorified by wonders, that joy would return after sorrow, {211} and a crowd of sick would obtain the grace of benefits.

Footnote 74:(return)

I have already suggested a comparison between this prayer and the commendatory prayer of the Martyr Polycarp, page 92.


Loosen the sins which bind us;

Lest the enemy, the world, or the works of the flesh.

Bear us captive to hell.

By76 THEE, O Thomas ...

Let the right hand of God embrace us.

The satellites of Satan rushing into the temple

Perpetrate an unexampled, unheard-of, crime.

Thomas proceeds to meet their drawn swords:

He yields not to threats, to swords, nor even to death.

Happy place! Happy Church,

In which the memory of Thomas lives!

Happy the land which gave the prelate!

Happy the land which supported him in exile!

Happy Father! succour us miserable,

That we may be happy, and joined with those above!

Footnote 75:(return)

Christe Jesu per Thomæ vulnera,

Quæ nos ligant relaxa scelera

Ne captivos ferant ad infera

Hostis, mundus, vel carnis opera.

Footnote 76:(return)

Per te, Thoma, post lævæ munera

Amplexetur nos Dei dextera.

Seventh Lesson.

Jesus said unto his disciples, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.


Ye have heard, most dear brethren, from the reading of the Gospel, your instruction; ye have heard also {212} your danger. For behold! he who is not from any gift happening to him, but who is essentially good, says, I am the good shepherd; and he adds the character of the same goodness, which we may imitate, saying, The good shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep. He did what he taught; he showed what he commanded. The good shepherd laid down his life for his sheep; that in our sacrament he might change his body and blood, and satisfy, by the nourishment of his flesh, the sheep which he had redeemed. Here is shown to us the way, concerning the contempt of death, which we should follow; the character is placed before us to which we should conform. [In the first place, we should of our pity sacrifice our external good for his sheep; and at last, if it be necessary, give up our own life for the same sheep. From that smallest point we proceed to this last and greater. But since the soul by which we live is incomparably better than the earthly substance which we outwardly possess, who would not give for the sheep his substance, when he would give his life for them? And there are some who, whilst they love their earthly substance more than the sheep, deservedly lose the name of shepherd: of whom it is immediately added, But the hireling who is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth. He is called not a shepherd, but a hireling, who feeds the Lord's sheep not for inward love, but with a view to temporal wages. He is a mercenary who seeks indeed the place of shepherd, but seeks not the gain of souls.]

(The sentences between brackets are not in MS. No. 1512.)

To Thomas all things yield and are obedient:

Plagues, diseases, death, and devils,


Fire, air, land, and seas.

Thomas filled the world with glory.

The world offers obeisance to Thomas77.

Footnote 77:(return)

Thomæ cedunt et parent omnia:

Pestes, morbi, mors, et dæmonia,

Ignis, aer, tellus, et maria.

Thomas mundum replevit gloria.

Thomæ mundus præstat obsequia.

Eighth Lesson.

In good truth, the holy Thomas, the precious champion of God, was to be worthily glorified. For if the cause, yea, forasmuch as the cause makes the martyr, did ever a title of holy martyrs exist more glorious? Contending for the Church, in the Church he suffered; in a holy place, at the holy time of the Lord's nativity, in the midst of his fellow-priests and the companies of the religious: since in the agony of the prelate all the circumstances seemed so to concur, as perpetually to illustrate the title of the sufferer, and reveal the wickedness of his persecutors, and stain their name with never-ending infamy. But so did the divine vengeance rage against the persecutors of the martyr, that in a short time, being carried away from the midst, they nowhere appeared. And some, without confession, or the viaticum, were suddenly snatched away; others tearing piecemeal their own fingers or tongues; others pining with hunger, and corrupting in their whole body, and racked with unheard-of tortures before their death, and broken up by paralysis; others bereft of their intellects; others expiring with madness;—left manifest proofs that they were suffering the penalty of unjust persecution and premeditated murder. Let, therefore, the Virgin Mother, the Church, rejoice that the new martyr has borne away the triumph over the {214} enemies. Let her rejoice that a new Zacharias has been for her freedom sacrificed in the temple. Let her rejoice that a new Abel's blood hath cried unto God for her against the men of blood. For the voice of his blood shed, the-voice of his brain scattered by the swords of those deadly satellites, hath filled heaven at once and the world with its far-famed cry.

Thomas shines with new miracles;

He adorns with sight those who had lost their eyes;

He cleanses those who were stained with the spots of leprosy;

He looses those that were bound with the bonds of death.

Ninth Lesson.

For at the cry of this blood the earth was moved and trembled. Nay, moreover, the powers of the heavens were moved; so that, as if for the avenging of innocent blood, nation rose against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; nay, a kingdom was divided against itself, and terrors from heaven and great signs took place. Yet, from the first period of his martyrdom, the martyr began to shine forth with miracles, restoring sight to the blind, walking to the lame, hearing to the deaf, language to the dumb. Afterwards, cleansing the lepers, making the paralytic sound, healing the dropsy, and all kinds of incurable diseases; restoring the dead to life; in a wonderful manner commanding the devils and all the elements: he also put forth his hand to unwonted and unheard-of signs of his own power; for persons deprived of their eyes merited by his merits to obtain new members. But some {215} who presumed to disparage his miracles, struck on a sudden, were compelled to publish them even unwillingly. At length, against all his enemies the martyr so far prevailed, that almost every day you might see that to be repeated in the servant which is read of the Only-begotten: "They who spoke evil of thee shall come unto thee, and adore the traces of thy feet." Now the celebrated champion and martyr of God, Thomas, suffered in the year from the incarnation of the Lord, according to Dionysius, 1171, on the fourth of the kalends of January, on the third day of the week, about the eleventh hour, that the birth-day of the Lord might be for labour, and his for rest; to which rest the same our God and Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafe to bring us; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Forgive us our debts;

Visit the house, the gate, the grave;

And raise us from the threefold death.

What has been lost by act, in mind, or use,

Restore with thy wonted pity.

Pray for us, O blessed Thomas.

N.B. This appears to be the end of the first service in honour of Thomas Becket78; and at this point {216} another service seems to commence, with a kind of new heading, "In the commemoration of St. Thomas79."

Footnote 78:(return)

All the Lessons between this passage and "In Lauds," are wanting in MS. 1512.

Footnote 79:(return)

Another Feast was kept in honour of his translation, on the 7th of July.

The First Lesson.

When Archbishop Theobald, of happy memory, in a good old age, slept with his fathers, Thomas, archdeacon of the Church of Canterbury, is solemnly chosen, in the name of the Holy Trinity, to be archbishop and primate of all England, and afterwards is consecrated. Then pious minds entertained firm hope and confidence in the Lord80.

Footnote 80:(return)

There is much of obscurity in the next paragraph. Reference seems to be made to his twofold character of a regular and a secular clergyman, and to his improved state morally. The Latin is this: "Erat autem piis mentibus spes firma et fiducia in Domino, quod idem consecratus utriusque hominis, habitu mutato moribus melioratus præsideret. Probatissimum siquidem tenebatur sedem illam sedem sanctorum esse sanctam recipere aut facere, vel citius et facile indignum abicere, quod et in beato Thoma Martyre misericorditer impletum est."

Second Lesson.

Therefore the chosen prelate of God being elected, and anointed with the sanctifying of the sacred oil, immediately obtained a most hallowed thing, and was filled with manifold grace of the Holy Spirit. For walking in newness of life, a new man, he was changed into another man, all things belonging to whom were changed for the better; and with so great grace did he consecrate the commencement of his bishopric, that clothing himself with a monk's form secretly, he fulfilled the work and merit of a monk.


Third Lesson.

But he, who after the example of the Baptist, with constancy had conceived in a perfect heart that the zeal of righteousness should be purified, studied also to imitate him in the garb of penitence. For casting off the fine linen which hitherto he had been accustomed to use, whilst the soft delicacies of kings pleased him, he was clothed on his naked body with a most rough hair shirt. He added, moreover, hair drawers, that he might the more effectually mortify the flesh, and make the spirit live. But these, as also the other exercises of his spiritual life, very few indeed being aware of it, he removed from the eyes and knowledge of men by superadding other garments, because he sought glory not from man, but from God. Even then the man of virtue entering upon the justifications of God, began to be more complete in abstinence, more frequent in watching, longer in prayer, more anxious in preaching. The pastoral office intrusted to him by God, he executed with so great diligence, as to suffer the rights neither of the clergy nor of the Church to be in any degree curtailed.

There seems here also to be another commencement, for the next lesson is called the First.

Lesson First.

So large a grace of compunction was he wont to possess, between the secrets of prayer or the solemnities of masses, that with eyes trained to weeping he would be wholly dissolved in tears; and in the office {218} of the altar his appearance was as though he was witnessing the Lord's passion in the flesh. Knowing also that mercy softens justice, and that pity hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, therefore towards the poor and the afflicted did he bear the bowels of mercy piteously, and was anxious to reach the poor by the blessings of his alms.

Lesson Second.

The more humble of those whom a character for religion raised high, he made his acquaintance and intimates; and that he might learn from them to hunger and thirst after righteousness, he enjoyed more frequently their secret conversation. Towards such servants and soldiers of Christ this merciful man preferred to be liberal and abundant in food and raiment, he who determined in himself to be moderate and sparing. For what would he deny to Christ, who for Christ was about to shed his blood? He who owed his coat or cloak to one who asked it, desired to add, moreover, his own flesh. For he knew that the man would never freely give his own flesh, who showed himself greedy of any temporal thing.

Lesson Third.

Hitherto the merciful Lord, who maketh poor and enricheth, bringeth low and lifteth up, wished to load his servant with riches, and exalt him with honours; and afterwards he was pleased to try him with adversity. By trying whether he loved Him, He proved it the more certainly; but He supplied grace more abundantly. For with the temptation He made a way to escape, that he might be able to bear it. Therefore, the envious enemy, considering that the new prelate {219} and the new man was flourishing with so manifold a grace of virtues, devised to send a burning blight of temptation, which might suffocate the germ of his merits already put forth. Nor was there any delay. He who severs a man from his God, and one friend from his neighbour, sowed irreconcileable quarrels between the king and the archbishop.

Pray for us, O blessed Thomas.

In Lauds.

A grain falls and gives birth to an abundance of corn.

The alabaster-box is broken, and the odour of the

ointment is powerful.

The whole world vies in love to the martyr,

Whose wonderful signs strike all with astonishment.

The water for Thomas five times changing colour,

Once was turned into milk, four times into blood.

At the shrine81 of Thomas four times the light

came down,

And to the glory of the saint kindled the wax-tapers.




Whither Thomas has ascended.

Extend83 succour to us, O Thomas,

Guide those who stand,


Raise up those who fall,

Correct our morals, actions, and life;

And guide us into the way of peace.

Footnote 81:(return)

Ad Thomæ memoriam.

Footnote 82:(return)

Tu per Thomæ sanguinem quem pro te impendit, Fac nos, Christe, scandere, quo Thomas ascendit.

Footnote 83:(return)

Opem nobis, O Thoma, porrige,

Rege stantes, jacentes erige,

Mores, actus, et vitam corrige,

Et in pacis nos viam dirige.

Final Anthem.

Hail, O Thomas, the Rod of Justice;84

The Brightness of the World;

The Strength of the Church;

The Love of the People;

The Delight of the Clergy.

Hail, glorious Guardian of the Flock;

Save those who rejoice in thy glory.

Footnote 84:(return)

Salve, Thomas, Virga Justitiæ, Mundi Jubar, Robur Ecclesiæ, Plebis Amor, Cleri Delicia. Salve Gregis Tutor egregie, Salva tuæ gaudentes gloriæ.

The end of the service of Thomas of Canterbury.

Now for a few moments only let us meditate on this service. I have already referred to the lamentable practice of substituting biographical legends for the word of God. And what is the tendency of this service? What impression was it likely to make, and to leave on minds of ordinary powers and instruction? Must it not, of necessity, tend to withdraw them from contemplating Christ, and to fix their thoughts on the powers, the glory, the exaltation, the merits of a fellow-sinner? It will be said, that they will look beyond the martyr, and trace the blessings, here enumerated, to Christ, as their primary cause, and will think of the merits of Thomas as efficacious only through the merits of their Saviour; that in their invocation of Thomas they will implore him only to pray for them. But can this be so? Does not the ascription of miracles to him {221} and to his power; does not the very form of enumerating those miracles tend much to exalt the servant to an equality with the Master?

Whilst Thomas by being thus, in words at least, presented to the people as working those miracles by his own power, (for there is throughout a lamentable absence of immediate ascription of glory to God,) is raised to an equality with Christ our Lord; many passages in this service have the tendency also of withdrawing the minds of the worshippers from an implicit and exclusive dependence on the merits of Christ alone, and of tempting them to admit the merits of Thomas to share at least with Christ in the work of grace and salvation. Let us place some texts of Scripture and some passages of this service side by side.

[Transcriber's note: They are shown here one after the other.]


But after that the kindness and love of God towards man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.—Titus iii. 4, 5.

He who spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?—Rom. viii. 32.

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.—1 John i. 7.

One Mediator.—1 Tim. ii. 5.

Who also maketh intercession for us.—Rom. viii. 34.

He ever liveth to make intercession for them.—Heb. vii. 25.

Service of Thomas Becket.

O Christ Jesus, by the wounds of Thomas loosen the sins which bind us.

O blessed Jesus, BY THE MERITS OF THOMAS, forgive us our debts, raise us from the threefold death, and restore what has been lost with thy accustomed pity.

Do thou, O Christ, by the blood of Thomas, which he shed for thee, make us ascend whither Thomas has ascended.

Holy Thomas, pray for us.

And if this service thus seems to mingle the merits of Christ, the merits of his blood and of his death, with {222} the merits of a mortal man, the immediate address to that mortal as the giver of good things temporal and spiritual, very awfully trespasses on that high, exclusive, and incommunicable prerogative of the one Lord God Omnipotent, which his Spirit hath proclaimed solemnly and repeatedly, and which he has fenced around against all invasion with so many warnings and denunciations.

Scripture.    Service of Becket
1. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.— Ps. lxv. [vulg. lxiv.] 2. 1. For they sake, O Thomas, let the right hand of God embrace us.
By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.—Phil. iv. 6.
2. Lord, be thou my helper.—Ps. xxx. [xxix.] 10. 2. Send help to us, O Thomas;
3. Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel.—Ps. lxxiii. [lxxii.] 24. 3. Guide thou those who stand;
He, The Holy Spirit, shall guide you into all truth.—John xvi. 13.
4. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.—Psalm cxlv. [cxliv.] 14. 4. Raise up those who fall;
5. Create in me a clean heart, O God.—Ps. li. [l.] 10. 5. Correct our morals, actions and life;
6. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him.—Ps. xxxvii. [xxxvi.] 23. 6. And guide us into the way of peace.
The day-spring from on high hath visited us, to guide our feet into the way of peace.—Luke i. 78, 79.

And then again, in celebrating the praises of a mortal {223} man, recourse is had to language which can fitly be used only in our hymns and praises to the supreme Lord of our destinies, the eternal Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, the only wise God our Saviour.

Address to Thomas. Language of Scripture.
1. Hail, Thomas, Rod of Justice! 1. There shall come a rod out of the stem of Jesse. Ye denied the Holy One, and the Just—Isaiah xi. 1. Acts iii. 14.
2. The brightness of the world. 2. The brightness of his glory. I am the light of the world—Heb. i. 3. John viii. 12.
3. The strength of the Church. 3. I can do all things through Christ, that strengthened me. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it.—Phil. iv. 13. Eph. v. 25.
4. The love of the people: the delight of the Clergy. 4. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Delight thyself in the Lord.—Eph. vi. 24. Ps. xxxvii. 4.
5. Hail, glorious Guardian of the Flock. Save those who rejoice in thy glory. 5. Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel; come and save us. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.—Heb. xiii. 20. Psalm lxxx. [lxxix.] 1. 1 Cor. i. 31.

Can that worship become the disciples of the Gospel and the Cross, which addresses such prayers and such praises to the spirit of a mortal man? Every prayer, and every form of praise here used in honour of Thomas Becket, it would well become Christians to offer to the Giver of all good, trusting solely and exclusively to the mediation of Christ Jesus our Lord for acceptance; and pleading-only the merits of his most precious blood. {224} And yet I am bound to confess, that in principle, in spirit, and in fact, I can find no substantial difference between this service of Thomas of Canterbury, and the service which all in communion with the Church of Rome are under an obligation to use even at the present hour.

This point remains next for our inquiry, and we will draw from the well-head. I would, however, first suggest the application of a general test for ascertaining the real bona-fide nature of these prayers and praises. The test I would apply is, to try with the change only of the name, substituting the holiest name ever named in heaven or in earth for the name of Thomas of Canterbury—whether these prayers and praises should not be offered to the Supreme Being alone through the atoning merits of his Blessed Son; whether they are not exclusively appropriate to HIM.

To (Thomas/God Almighty) all things bow and are obedient.

Plagues, diseases, death, and devils, Fire, air, land, and sea. (Thomas/The Almighty) fills the world with glory.

The world offers obeisance to (Thomas/Almighty God).

(The Martyr Thomas/Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) began to shine forth with miracles [John ii. 11]; restoring sight to the blind [Luke vii. 21]; walking to the lame; hearing to the deaf; speech to the dumb; cleansing to the lepers [Matt. xi. 5]; making the paralytic sound [Matt. iv. 24]; healing the dropsy [Luke xiv. 4]; and all kinds of incurable diseases [Luke iv. 40]; restoring the dead to {225} life [Luke viii. 43. 55]; in a wonderful manner commanding the devils [Matt. viii. 16], and all the elements [Luke viii. 25]. He put forth his hand to unwonted and unheard-of signs of his own power [Mark ii. 12. John ix. 30].

Do thou, O Lord, by the blood of (Thomas/Christ) cause us to ascend whither (Thomas/Christ) has ascended. (O Thomas/O God), send help to us. Guide those who stand; raise up those who fall; correct our morals, actions, and life; and guide us into the way of peace.

Hail, (Thomas!/Jesus!) Rod of Justice, the Brightness of the world, the Strength of the Church, the Love of the people, the Delight of the Clergy. Hail, Glorious Guardian of the flock! Save Thou those who delight in Thy glory.

We shall apply this same test to many of the collects and prayers used, and of necessity to be used, because they are authorized and appointed, even at the present day, in the ministrations of the Church of Rome. The impiety in many of those instances is not couched in such startling language; but it is not the less real. God forbid that we should charge our fellow-creatures with idolatry, who declare that they offer divine worship to the Supreme Being only; or that we should pronounce any professed Christian to have cast off his {226} dependence on the merits of Christ alone, who assures us that he looks for mercy only through those merits. But I know and feel, that according to the standard of Christian truth, and of the pure worship of Almighty God, which the Scriptures and primitive antiquity compel me to adopt, I should stain my own soul with the guilt of idolatry, and with the sin of relying on other merits than Christ's, were I myself to offer those prayers.

That this service excited much disgust among the early reformers, we learn from various writers85. On the merits of the struggle between Becket and his king; on the question of Becket's moral and religious worth, (a question long and often discussed among the exercises of the masters of Paris in the full assembly of the Sorbonne86,) or on the motives which influenced Henry the Eighth, I intend not to say one word: those points belong not to our present inquiry. It may not, however, be thought irrelevant here to quote a passage {227} from the ordinance of this latter monarch for erasing Becket's service out of the books, and his name from the calendar of the saints.

Footnote 85:(return)

See Mornay "De la Messe," Saumur, 1604. p. 826. Becon, in his "New Year's Gift," London, 1564, p. 183, thus speaks: "What saint at any time thought himself so pure, immaculate, and without all spot of sin, that he durst presume to die for us, and to avouch his death to be an oblation and sacrifice for our lives to God the Father, except peradventure we will admit for good payment these and such like blasphemies, which were wont full solemnly to be sung in the temples unto the great ignominy of the glorious name of God, and the dishonour of Christ's most precious blood." Then quoting the lines from the service of Thomas Becket, on which we have above commented, he adds, "I will let pass many more which are easy to be searched and found out." Becon preached and wrote in the reign of Henry VIII. and was then persecuted for his religion, as he was afterwards in the reign of Mary.

Footnote 86:(return)

We are told that forty-eight years after his death, the masters of Paris disputed whether Thomas was a condemned sinner, or admitted into heaven.

In Henry the Eighth's proclamation, dated Westminster, 16th November, in the thirtieth year of his reign, printed by Bertholet, is the following very curious passage:—

"ITEM, for as moche as it appereth now clerely, that Thomas Becket, sometyme Archbyshop of Canterburie, stubburnly to withstand the holsome lawes establyshed agaynste the enormities of the clergie, by the kynges highness mooste noble progenitour, kynge HENRY the Seconde, for the common welthe, reste, and tranquillitie of this realme, of his frowarde mynde fledde the realme into Fraunce, and to the bishop of Rome, mayntenour of those enormities, to procure the abrogation of the sayd lawes, whereby arose moch trouble in this said realme, and that his dethe, which they untruely called martyrdome, happened upon a reskewe by him made, and that, as it is written, he gave opprobrious wordes to the gentyllmen, whiche than counsayled hym to leave his stubbernesse, and to avoyde the commocion of the people, rysen up for that rescue. And he not only callyd the one of them bawde, but also toke Tracy by the bosome, and violently shoke and plucked hym in suche maner, that he had almoste overthrowen hym to the pavement of the Churche; so that upon this fray one of their company, perceivynge the same, strake hym, and so in the thronge Becket was slayne. And further that his canonization was made onely by the bysshop of Rome, bycause he had ben a champion of maynteyne his usurped auctoritie, and a bearer of the iniquitie of the clergie, for these and for other great and urgent causes, longe to recyte, the Kynge's {228} Maiestie, by the advyse of his counsayle, hath thought expedient to declare to his lovynge subjectes, that notwithstandynge the sayde canonization, there appereth nothynge in his lyfe and exteriour conversation, wherby he shuld be callyd a sainct, but rather estemed to have ben a rebell and traytour to his prynce. Therefore his Grace strayghtly chargeth and commandeth that from henseforth the sayde Thomas Becket shall not be estemed, named, reputed, nor called a sayncte, but bysshop Becket; and that his ymages and pictures, through the hole realme, shall be putte downe, and avoyded out of all churches, chapelles, and other places; and that from henseforthe, the dayes used to be festivall in his name shall not be observed, nor the service, office, antiphoners, colletes, and prayers, in his name redde, but rased and put out of all the bokes87."

Footnote 87:(return)

In the Roman Breviary, adapted to England, several biographical lessons are appointed for the Anniversary of "St. Thomas, bishop and martyr," interspersed with canticles. In one of these we read, "This is truly a martyr, who, for the name of Christ, shed blood; who feared not the threats of judges, nor sought the glory of earthly dignity. But he reached the heavenly kingdom."—Norwich, 1830. Hiem. p. 251.




In the process of ascertaining the real state of doctrine and practice in the worship of the Church of Rome at the present day, we must first gain as clear and accurate a knowledge of the decree of the Council of Trent, as its words will enable us to form. Into the character of that Council, and of those who constituted it, our present investigation does not lead us to inquire. It is now, I believe, generally understood, that its decrees are binding on all who profess allegiance to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff; and that the man would be considered to have renounced the Roman Catholic Communion, who should professedly withhold his assent from the doctrines there promulgated as vital, or against the oppugners of which the Council itself pronounced an anathema.

Ecclesiastical writers88 assure us, that the wording of the decrees of that Council was in many cases on purpose framed ambiguously and vaguely. The latitude, however, of the expressions employed, does not in itself {230} of necessity imply any of those sinister and unworthy motives to which it has been usual with many writers to attribute it. In charity, and without any improbable assumption, it may be referred to an honest and laudable desire of making the terms of communion as wide as might be, with a view of comprehending within what was regarded the pale of the Catholic Church, the greatest number of those who professed and called themselves Christians. Be this as it may, the vagueness and uncertainty of the terms employed, compel us in many instances to have recourse to the actual practice of the Church of Rome, as the best interpreter of doubtful expressions in the articles of that Council. The decree which bears on the subject of this volume is drawn up in the following words:—

Footnote 88:(return)

See Mosheim, xvi. Cent. c. i. vol. iv. p. 196. London, 1811.


"On the invocation, veneration, and reliques of saints, and of sacred images.

"The Holy Council commands all bishops and others bearing the office and care of instruction, that according to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and the consent of holy fathers, and decrees of sacred councils, they in the first place should instruct the faithful concerning the intercession and invocation of saints, the honour of reliques, and the lawful use of images, teaching them, that the SAINTS REIGNING TOGETHER WITH CHRIST, offer their own {231} prayers for men to God: that it is good and profitable SUPPLIANTLY TO INVOKE THEM: and to fly to their PRAYERS, HELP, and ASSISTANCE, for obtaining benefits from God, by his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour. But that those who deny that the saints, enjoying everlasting happiness in heaven, are to be invoked; or who assert either that they do not pray for us; or that the invocation of them to pray for us even as individuals is idolatry, or is repugnant to the word of God, and is opposed to the honour of the one Mediator of God and man, Jesus Christ; or that it is folly, by voice or mentally, to supplicate those who reign in heaven, hold impious sentiments.

"That the bodies also of the holy martyrs and others living with Christ, which were living members of Christ, and a temple of the Holy Ghost to be raised by Him to eternal life, and to be glorified, are to be worshipped by the faithful; by means of which many benefits are conferred on men by God; so that those who affirm that worship and honour are not due to the reliques of the saints, or that they and other sacred monuments are unprofitably honoured by the faithful; and that the shrines of the saints are frequented in vain for the purpose of obtaining their succour, are altogether to be condemned, as the Church has long ago condemned them, and now also condemns them."

Footnote 89:(return)

The Latin, which will be found in the Appendix, is a transcript from a printed copy of the Acts of the Council of Trent, preserved in the British Museum, to which are annexed the autograph signatures of the secretaries (notarii), and their seals.

An examination of this decree, in comparison with the form and language of other decrees of the same Council, forces the remark upon us, That the Council does not assert that the practice of invoking saints has any foundation in Holy Scripture. The absence of all such declaration is the more striking and important, because in the very decree immediately preceding this, {232} which establishes Purgatory as a doctrine of the Church of Rome, the Council declares that doctrine to be drawn from the Holy Scriptures. In the present instance the Council proceeds no further than to charge with impiety those who maintain the invocation of saints to be contrary to the word of God. Many a doctrine or practice, not found in Scripture, may nevertheless be not contrary to the word of God; but here the Council abstains from affirming any thing whatever as to the scriptural origin of the doctrine and practice which it authoritatively enforces. In this respect the framers of the decree acted with far more caution and wisdom than they had shown in wording the decree on Purgatory; and with far more caution and wisdom too than they exercised in this decree, when they affirmed that the doctrine of the invocation of saints was to be taught the people according to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and the consent of the holy fathers. I have good hope that these pages have already proved beyond gainsaying, that the invocation of saints is a manifest departure from the usage of the Primitive Church, and contrary to the testimony of "the holy fathers." However, the fact of the Council not having professed to trace the doctrine, or its promulgation, to any authority of Holy Scripture, is of very serious import, and deserves to be well weighed in all its bearings.

With regard to the condemnatory clauses of this decree, I would for myself observe, that I should never have engaged in preparing this volume, had I not believed, "that it was neither good nor profitable to invoke the saints, or to fly to their prayers, their assistance, and succour." I am bound, with this decree {233} before me, to pronounce, that it is a vain thing to offer supplications, either by the voice or in the mind, to the saints, even if they be reigning in heaven; and that it is also in vain for Christians to frequent the shrines of the saints for the purpose of obtaining their succour.

I am, moreover, under a deep conviction, that the invocation of them is both at variance with the word of God, and contrary to the honour of the one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.

On this last point, indeed, I am aware of an anxious desire prevailing on the part of many Roman Catholics, to establish a distinction between a mediation of Redemption, and a mediation of Intercession: and thus by limiting the mediation of the saints and angels to intercession, and reserving the mediation of redemption to Christ only, to avoid the setting up of another to share the office of Mediator with Him, who is so solemnly declared in Scripture to be the one Mediator between God and man. But this distinction has no foundation in the revealed will of God; on the contrary, it is directly at variance with the words and with the spirit of many portions of the sacred volume. There we find the two offices of redemption and mediation joined together in Christ. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins." [1 John ii. 1, 2. Heb. ix. 12. vii. 25.] In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the same Saviour who is declared "by his own blood to have obtained eternal redemption," is announced also as the Mediator of Intercession. "Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The {234} redemption wrought by Christ, and the intercession still made in our behalf by Christ, are both equally declared to us by the most sure warrant of Holy Scripture; of any other intercession by saints in glory, by angels, or Virgin, to be sought by our suppliant invocations to them, the covenant of God speaks not.

It may be observed, that the enactment of this decree by the Council of Trent, has been chiefly lamented by some persons on the ground of its presenting the most formidable barrier against any reconciliation between the Church of Rome, and those who hold the unlawfulness of the invocation of saints. Indeed persons of erudition, judgment, piety, and charity, in communion with Rome, have not been wanting to express openly their regret, that decrees so positive, peremptory, and exclusive, should have been adopted. They would have been better satisfied with the terms of communion in the Church to which they still adhered, had individuals been left to their own responsibility on questions of disputable origin and doubtful antiquity, involving rather the subtilty of metaphysical disquisitions, than agreeable to the simplicity of Gospel truth, and essential Christian doctrine. On this point I would content myself with quoting the sentiments of a Roman Catholic author. Many of the facts alleged in his interesting comments deserve the patient consideration of every Christian. Here (observes the commentator on Paoli Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent90) the Council makes it a duty to pray to saints, though the ancient Church never regarded it as necessary. The practice cannot be proved to be introduced into public worship {235} before the sixth century; and it is certain, that in the ancient liturgies and sacramentaries no direct invocation is found. Even in our modern missals, being those of our ecclesiastical books in which the ancient form has been longest retained, scarcely is there a collect [those he means in which mention is made of the saints] where the address is not offered directly to God, imploring Him to hear the prayers of the saints for us; and this is the ancient form of invocation. It is true, that in the Breviaries and other ecclesiastical books, direct prayers to the saints have been subsequently introduced, as in litanies, hymns, and even some collects. But the usage is more modern, and cannot be evidence for ancient tradition. For this [ancient tradition] only some invocations addressed to saints in public harangues are alleged, but which ought to be regarded as figures of rhetoric, apostrophes, rather than real invocations; though at the same time some fathers laid the foundation for such a practice by asserting that one could address himself to the saints, and hope for succour from them.

Footnote 90:(return)

Histoire du Conc. de Trent, par Fra. Paoli Sarpi, traduit par Pierre François de Courayer. Amsterdam, note 31. 1751. vol. iii. p. 182.

We have already alluded to the very great latitude of interpretation which the words of this Council admit. The expressions indeed are most remarkably elastic; capable of being expanded widely enough to justify those of the Church of Rome who allow themselves in the practice of asking for aid and assistance, temporal and spiritual, to be expected from the saints themselves; and at the same time, the words of the decree admit of being so far contracted as not in appearance palpably to contradict those who allege, that the Church of Rome never addresses a saint with any other petition, than purely and simply that the saint would by prayer intercede for the worshippers. The words "suppliantly {236} to invoke them," and "to fly to their prayers, HELP, and SUCCOUR," are sufficiently comprehensive to cover all kinds of prayer for all kinds of benefits, whilst "the invocation of them to pray for us even individually," will countenance those who would restrict the faithful to an entreaty for their prayers only.

Whatever may be the advantage of this latitude of interpretation, in one point of view it must be a subject of regret. Complaints had long been made in Christendom, that other prayers were offered to the saints, besides those which petitioned only for their intercession; and if the Council of Trent had intended it to be a rule of universal application, that in whatever words the invocations of the saints might be couched, they should be taken to mean only requests for their prayers, it may be lamented, that no declaration to that effect was given.

The manner in which writers of the Church of Rome have attempted to reconcile the prayers actually offered in her ritual, with the principle of invoking the saints only for their prayers, is indeed most unsatisfactory. Whilst to some minds the expedient to which those writers have had recourse carries with it the stamp of mental reservation, and spiritual subterfuge, and moral obliquity; others under the influence of the purest charity will regret in it the absence of that simplicity, and direct openness in word and deed, which we regard as characteristic of the religion of the Gospel; and will deprecate its adoption as tending, in many cases inevitably, to become a most dangerous snare to the conscience. I will here refer only to the profession of that principle as made by Bellarmin. Subsequent writers seem to have adopted his sentiments, and to have expressed themselves very much in his words.


Bellarmin unreservedly asserts that Christians are to invoke the saints solely and exclusively for their prayers, and not for any benefits as from the saints themselves. But then he seems to paralyse that declaration by this refinement: "It must nevertheless be observed that we have not to do with words, but with the meaning of words; for as far as concerns the words, it is lawful to say, 'Saint Peter, have mercy on me! Save me! Open to me the entrance of heaven!' So also, 'Give to me health of body, Give me patience, Give me fortitude!' Whilst only we understand 'Save me, and have mercy upon me BY PRAYING for me: Give me this and that, BY THY PRAYERS AND MERITS.' For thus Gregory of Nazianzen, in his Oratio in Cyprianum; and the Universal Church, when in the hymn to the Virgin she says,

Mary, Mother of Grace,

Mother of Mercy,

Do thou protect us from the enemy,

And take us in the hour of death.

"And in that of the Apostles,

'To whose command is subject'

The health and weakness of all:

Heal us who are morally diseased;

Restore us to virtue.

"And as the Apostle says of himself 'that I might save some,' [Rom. xi.] and 'that he might save all,' [I Cor. ix.] not as God, but Thy prayer and counsel."

I wish not to enter upon the question how far this distinction is consistent with that openness and straightforward undisguised dealing which is alone allowable when we are contending for the truth; nor how far the {238} charge of moral obliquity and double dealing, often brought against it, can be satisfactorily met. But suppose for a moment that we grant (what is not the case) that in the metaphysical disquisitions of the experienced casuist such a distinction might be maintained, how can we expect it to be recognized, and felt, and acted upon by the large body of Christians? Abstractedly considered, such an interpretation in a religious act of daily recurrence by the mass of unlearned believers would, I conceive, appear to reflecting minds most improbable, if not utterly impossible. And as to its actual bona-fide result in practice, a very brief sojourn in countries where the religion of Rome is dominant, will suffice to convince us, that such subtilties of the casuist are neither received nor understood by the great body of worshippers; and that the large majority of them, when they pray to an individual saint to deliver them from any evil, or to put them in possession of some good, do in very deed look to the saint himself for the fulfilment of their wishes. It is a snare to the conscience only too evidently successful.

And I regret to add, that in the errors into which such language of their prayers may unhappily betray them, they cannot be otherwise than confirmed as well by the recorded sentiments of men in past years, whom they have been taught to reverence, as by the sentiments which are circulated through the world now, even by what they are accustomed to regard as the highest authority on earth91.

Footnote 91:(return)

See in subsequent parts of this work the references to Bonaventura, Bernardin Sen., Bernardin de Bust., &c.; and also the encyclical letter of the present (A.D. 1840) reigning pontiff.

To this point, however, we must repeatedly revert {239} hereafter; at present, I will only add one further consideration. If, as we are now repeatedly told, the utmost sought by the invocation of saints is that they would intercede for the supplicants; that no more is meant than we of the Anglican Church mean when we earnestly entreat our fellow-Christians on earth to pray for us,—why should not the prayers to the saints be confined exclusively to that form of words which would convey the meaning intended? why should other forms of supplicating them be adopted, whose obvious and direct meaning implies a different thing? If we request a Christian friend to pray for us, that we may be strengthened and supported under a trial and struggle in our spiritual warfare, we do not say, "Friend, strengthen me; Friend, support me." That entreaty would imply our desire to be, that he would visit us himself, and comfort and strengthen us by his own kind words and cheering offices of consolation and encouragement. To convey our meaning, our words would be, "Pray for me; remember me in your supplications to the throne of grace. Implore God, of his mercy, to give me the strength and comfort of his Holy Spirit." If nothing more is ever intended to be conveyed, than a similar request for their prayers, when the saints are "suppliantly invoked," in a case of such delicacy, and where there is so much danger of words misleading, why have other expressions of every variety been employed in the Roman Liturgies, as well as in the devotions of individuals, which in words appeal to the saints, not for their prayers, but for their own immediate exertion in our behalf, their assistance, succour, defence, and comfort,—"Protect us from our enemies—Heal the diseases of our minds—Release us from our sin—Receive us at the hour of death?"


In the present work, however, were it not for the example and warning set us by this still greater departure from Scripture and the primitive Church, we need not have dwelt on this immediate point; because we maintain that any invocation of saint or angel, even if it were confined to a petitioning for their prayers and intercessions, is contrary both to God's word and to the faith and practice of the primitive, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We now proceed to the next portion of our proposed inquiry,—the present state of Roman Catholic worship, with respect to the invocation of saints and angels.




In submitting to the reader's consideration the actual state of Roman Catholic worship at the present hour, I disclaim all desire to fasten upon the Church of Rome any of the follies and extravagancies of individual superstition. Probably many English Roman Catholics have been themselves shocked and scandalized by the scenes which their own eyes have witnessed in various parts of continental Europe. It would be no less unfair in us to represent the excesses of superstition there forced on our notice as the genuine legitimate fruits of the religion of Rome, than it would be in Roman Catholics to affiliate on the Catholics of the Anglican Church the wild theories and revolting tenets of all who assume the name of opponents to Rome. Well indeed does it become us of both Churches to watch jealously and adversely as against ourselves the errors into which our doctrines, if not preserved and guarded in their purity and simplicity, might have a tendency to seduce the unwary. And whilst I am fully alive to the necessity of us Anglican Catholics prescribing to ourselves a {242} practical application of the same rule in various points of faith and discipline, I would with all delicacy and respect invite Roman Catholics to do likewise. Especially would I entreat them to reflect with more than ordinary scrutiny and solicitude on the vast evils into which the practice of praying to saints and angels, and of pleading their merits at the throne of grace, has a tendency to betray those who are unenlightened and off their guard; and unless my eyes and my ears and my powers of discernment have altogether often deceived and failed me, I must add, actually betrays thousands. Often when I have witnessed abroad multitudes of pilgrims prostrate before an image of the Virgin, their arms extended, their eyes fixed on her countenance, their words in their native language pouring forth her praises and imploring her aid, I have asked myself, If this be not religious worship, what is? If I could transport myself into the midst of pagans in some distant part of the world at the present day; or could I have mingled with the crowd of worshippers surrounding the image of Minerva in Athens, or of Diana in Ephesus, when the servants of the only God called their fellow-creatures from such vanities, should I have seen or heard more unequivocal proofs that the worshippers were addressing their prayers to the idols as representations of their deities? Would any difference have appeared in their external worship? When the Ephesians worshipped their "great goddess Diana and the image which fell down from Jupiter," could their attitude, their eyes, or their words more clearly have indicated an assurance in the worshipper, that the Spirit of the Deity was especially present in that image, than the attitude, the eyes, the words of the pilgrims at Einsiedlin for example, are indications of the same {243} belief and assurance with regard to the statue of the Virgin Mary? These thoughts would force themselves again and again on my mind; and though since I first witnessed such things many years have intervened, chequered with various events of life, yet whilst I am writing, the scenes are brought again fresh to my remembrance; the same train of thought is awakened; and the lapse of time has not in the least diminished the estimate then formed of the danger, the awful peril, to which the practice of addressing saints and angels in prayer, even in its most modified and mitigated form, exposes those who are in communion with Rome. I am unwilling to dwell on this point longer, or to paint in deeper or more vivid colours the scenes which I have witnessed, than the necessity of the case requires. But it would have been the fruit of a morbid delicacy rather than of brotherly love, had I disguised, in this part of my address, the full extent of the awful dread with which I contemplate any approximation to prayers, of whatever kind, uttered by the lips or mentally conceived, to any spiritual existence in heaven above, save only to the one God exclusively. It is indeed a dread suggested by the highest and purest feelings of which I believe my frame of mind to be susceptible; it is sanctioned and enforced by my reason; and it is confirmed and strengthened more and more by every year's additional reflection and experience. Ardently as I long and pray for Christian unity, I could not join in communion with a Church, one of whose fundamental articles accuses of impiety those who deny the lawfulness of the invocations of saints.

But I return from this digression on the peril of idolatry, to which as well the theory as the practice of {244} the Roman Catholic Church exposes her members; and willingly repeat my disclaimer of any wish or intention whatever to fasten and filiate upon the Church of Rome the doctrines or the practice of individuals, or even of different sections of her communion. Still, in the same manner as I have referred to the extravagancies which offend us in many parts of Christendom now, I would recall some of the excesses into which renowned and approved authors of her communion have been betrayed. I seek not to fix on those members of the Roman Church who disclaim any participation in such excesses, the folly or guilt of others; but when we find many of the most celebrated among her sons tempted into such lamentable departures from primitive Christian worship, we are naturally led to ascertain whether the doctrine be not itself the genuine cause and source of the mischief;—whether the malady be not the immediate and natural effect of the tenet and practice operating generally, and not to be referred to the idiosyncrasy of the patient. A voice seems to address us from every side, when such excesses are witnessed, Firmly resist the beginnings of the evil; oppose its very commencement; it is not a question of degree, exclude the principle itself from your worship; give utterance to no invocation; mentally conceive no prayer to any being, save God alone; plead no other merits with Him than the merits of his only Son. Then, and then only, are you safe. Then, and then only, is your prayer catholic, primitive, apostolic, and scriptural.

The92 most satisfactory method of conducting this {245} branch of our inquiry seems to be, that we should examine the Roman Ritual with reference to those several and progressive stages to which I have before generally referred; from the mere rhetorical apostrophe to the direct prayer for spiritual blessings petitioned for immediately from the person addressed. I am neither anxious to establish the progress historically, nor do I wish to tie myself down in all cases to the exact order of those successive stages, in my present citation of testimonies from the Roman Ritual. My anxiety is to give a fair view of what is now the real character of Roman Catholic worship, rather than to draw fine distinctions. I shall therefore survey within the same field of view the two fatal errors by which, as we believe, the worship of the Church of Rome is rendered unfit for the family of Christ to acknowledge it generally as their own: I mean the adoration of saints, and the pleading of their merits at the throne of grace, instead of trusting to the alone exclusive merits of the one only Mediator Jesus Christ our Lord, and addressing God Almighty alone.

Footnote 92:(return)

I believe the method best calculated to supply us with the very truth is, as I have before observed, to trace the conduct of Christians at the shrines of the martyrs, and follow them in their successive departures further and further from primitive purity and simplicity, on the anniversaries of those servants of God. What was hailed there first in the full warmth of admiration and zeal for the honour and glory of a national or favourite martyr, crept stealthily, and step by step, into the regular and stated services of the Church.

I. In the original form of those prayers in which mention was made of the saints departed, Christians addressed the Supreme Being alone, either in praise for the mercies shown to the saints themselves, and to the Church through their means; or else in supplication, that the worshippers might have grace to follow their example, and profit by their instruction. Such, for instance, is the prayer in the Roman ritual93 on St. {246} John's day94 which is evidently the foundation of the beautiful Collect now used in the Anglican Church,—"Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it being enlightened by the doctrine of thy Apostle and Evangelist St. John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life, through Jesus our Lord. Amen." Such too is the close of the Prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth, offered in our Anglican service,—"We bless thy holy name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear, beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen."

Footnote 93:(return)

The references will generally be given to the Roman Breviary as edited by F.C. Husenbeth, Norwich, 1830. That work consists of four volumes, corresponding with the four quarters of the ecclesiastical year—Winter, Hiem.; Spring, Vern.; Summer, Æstiv.; Autumn, Aut.; and the volumes will be designated by the corresponding initials, H. V. Æ. A.

Footnote 94:(return)

"Ecclesiam, tuam, Domine, benignus illustra, ut beati Johannis Apostoli tui et evangelistæ illuminata doctrinis, ad dona perveniat sempiterna. Per Dominum."—Husen. H. p. 243.

II. The second stage supplies examples of a kind of rhetorical apostrophe; the speaker addressing one who was departed as though he had ears to hear. Were not this the foundation stone on which the rest of the edifice seems to have been built, we might have passed it by unnoticed. Of this we have an instance in the address to the Shepherds on Christmas-day. "Whom have ye seen, ye shepherds? Say ye, tell ye, who hath appeared on the earth? Say ye, what saw ye? Announce to us the nativity of Christ95."

Footnote 95:(return)

Quem vidistis, Pastores? Dicite, Annunciate nobis. In terris quis apparuit? Dicite quidnam vidistis? Et annunciate Christi nativitatem.—H. 219.


Another instance is seen in that beautiful song ascribed to Prudentius and used on the day of Holy Innocents:

"Hail! ye flowers of Martyrs." [Salvete flores martyrum. H. 249.]

It is of the same character with other songs, said to be from the same pen, in which the town of Bethlehem is addressed, and even the Cross.

"O Thou of mighty cities." [O sola magnarum urbium. H. 306.]

"Bend thy boughs, thou lofty tree...." [Flecte ramos arbor alta, &c. Aut. 344.]

"Worthy wast thou alone

To bear the victim of the world."

Thus, on the feast of the exaltation of the Cross, this anthem is sung,—"O blessed Cross, who wast alone worthy to bear the King of the heavens and the Lord." [O crux benedicta, quæ sola fuisti digna portare Regem coelorum et Dominum. Alleluia. A. 345.] Though unhappily, in an anthem on St. Andrew's day, this apostrophe becomes painful and distressing, in which not only is the cross thus apostrophised, but it is prayed to, as though it had ears to hear, and a mind to understand, and power to act,—"Hail, precious Cross! do thou receive the disciple of Him who hung upon thee, my master, Christ." [Salve, crux pretiosa suscipe discipulum ejus, qui pependit in te, magister meus Christus. A. 547.] The Church of Rome, in this instance, gives us a vivid example of the ease with which exclamations and apostrophes are made the ground-work of invocations. In the legend of the day similar, though not the same, words form a part of the salutation, which St. Andrew is there said to have addressed {248} to the cross of wood prepared for his own martyrdom, and then bodily before his eyes. There are many such addresses to the Cross, in various parts of the Roman ritual. (See A. 344.)

In such apostrophes the whole of the Song of the Three Children abounds; and we meet with many such in the early writers.

III. The third stage supplies instances of prayer to God, imploring him to allow the supplication of his saints to be offered for us. Of this we find examples in the Collects for St. Andrew's Eve and Anniversary, for the feast of St. Anthony, and various others.

"We beseech thee, Almighty God, that he whose feast we are about to celebrate may implore thy aid for us," &c. [Quæsumus omnipotens Deus, ut beatus Andreas Apostolus cujus prævenimus festivitatem, tuum pro nobis imploret auxilium. A. 545.]

"That he may be for us a perpetual intercessor." [Ut apud te sit pro nobis perpetuus intercessor. A. 551.]

"We beseech thee, O Lord, let the intercession of the blessed Anthony the Abbot commend us, that what we cannot effect by our own merits, we may obtain by his patronage [Ejus patrocinio assequamur. H. 490.]: through the Lord."

These prayers I could not offer in faith. I am taught in the written word to look for no other intercessor in heaven, than one who is eternal and divine, therefore I can need no other. Had God, by his revealed word, told me that the intercessions of his servants departed should prevail with Him, provided I sought that benefit by prayer, I should, without any misgiving, have implored Him to receive their {249} prayers in my behalf; but I can find no such an intimation in the covenant. In that covenant the word of the God of truth and mercy is pledged to receive those, and to grant the prayers of those who come to him through his blessed Son. In that covenant, I am strictly commanded and most lovingly invited to approach boldly the Supreme Giver of all good things myself, and to ask in faith nothing wavering, with an assurance that He who spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will, with Him, also freely give us all things. In this assurance I place implicit trust; and as long as I have my being in this earthly tabernacle, I will, by his gracious permission and help, pray for whatever is needful for the soul and the body; I will pray not for myself only, but for all, individually and collectively, who are near and dear to me, and all who are far from me; for my friends, and for those who wish me ill; for my fellow Christians, and for those who are walking still in darkness and sin;—I will pray for mercy on all mankind. And I will, as occasion offers, desire others among the faithful on earth to pray for me; and will take comfort and encouragement and holy hope from the reflection that their prayers are presented to God in my behalf, and that they will continue to pray for me when my own strength shall fail and the hour of my departure shall draw nigh. But for the acceptance of my own prayers and of theirs I can depend on no other Mediator in the world of spirits, than on HIM, whom his own Word declares to be the one Mediator between God and men, who prayed for me when He was on earth, who is ever making intercession for me in heaven. I know of no other in the unseen world, by whom I can have access to the Father; I find no other offered to me, I seek no {250} other, I want no other. I trust my cause,—the cause of my present life, the cause of my soul's eternal happiness,—to HIM and to his intercession. I thank God for the blessing. I am satisfied; and in the assurance of the omnipotence of his intercession, and the perfect fulness of his mediation, I am happy.

On this point it were well to compare two prayers both offered to God; the one pleading with Him the intercession of the passion of his only Son, the other pleading the prayers of a mortal man. The first prayer is a collect in Holy Week, the second is a collect on St. Gregory's Day.

We beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who among so many adversities from our own infirmity fail, the passion of thy only begotten Son interceding for us, may revive. V. 243.

O God, who hast granted the rewards of eternal blessedness96 to the soul of thy servant Gregory, mercifully grant that we who are pressed down by the weight of our sins, may, by his prayers with Thee, be raised up. V. 480.

Footnote 96:(return)

I can never read this, and such passages as this, without asking myself, can such an assertion be in accordance with the inspired teaching?—"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." I Cor. iv. 5.

IV. The next form of prayer to which I would invite your serious attention, is one from which my judgment and my feelings revolt far more decidedly even than from the last-mentioned; and I have the most clear denouncement of my conscience, that by offering it I should do a wrong to my Saviour, and ungratefully disparage his inestimable merits, and the full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction of his omnipotent {251} atonement: I mean those prayers, still addressed to God, which supplicate that our present and future good may be advanced by the merits of departed mortals, that by their merits our sins may be forgiven, and our salvation secured; that by their merits our souls may be made fit for celestial joys, and be finally admitted into heaven.

Of these prayers the Roman Breviary contains a great variety of examples, some exceeding others very much in their apparent forgetfulness and disregard of the merits of the only Saviour, and consequently far more shocking to the reason and affections of us who hold it a point of conscience to make the merits of Christ alone, all in all, exclusive of any other to be joined with them, the only ground of our acceptance with God.

We find an example of this prayer in the collect on the day of St. Saturnine. "O God, who grantest us to enjoy the birth-day of the blessed Saturnine, thy martyr, grant that we may be aided by his merits, through the Lord." [Ejus nos tribue meritis adjuvari per Dominum. A. 544.]

Another example, in which the supplicants plead for deliverance from hell, to be obtained by the merits and prayers of the saint together, is the Collect for December 6th, the day of St. Nicolas.

"O God, who didst adorn the blessed Pontiff Nicolas with unnumbered miracles, grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be set free from the fires of hell, through," &c. [Ut ejus meritis et precibus à gehennæ incendiis liberemur. H. 436.]

Another example, in like manner specifying both the merits and intercession of the departed saint, contains {252} expressions very unacceptable to many of those who are accustomed to make the Bible their study. It is a prayer to Joseph, the espoused husband of the Virgin Mary. Of him mention is made by name in the Gospel just before and just after the birth of Christ, as an upright, merciful man, to whom God on three several occasions made a direct revelation of his will, by the medium of a dream, with reference to the incarnate Saviour. Again, on the holy family visiting Jerusalem, when our Lord was twelve years of age, Mary, his mother, in her remonstrance with her Son, speaks to Him of Joseph thus: "Why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." Upon which not one word was uttered by our Saviour that would enable us to form an opinion as to his own will with regard to Joseph. Our Lord seems purposely to have drawn their thoughts from his earthly connexion with them, and to have raised their minds to a contemplation of his unearthly, his heavenly, and eternal origin. "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" After this time, though the writings of the Holy Book, either historical, doctrinal, or prophetic, at the lowest calculation embrace a period of fourscore years, no allusion is made to Joseph as a man still living, or to his memory as one already dead. And yet he is one of those for the benefit of whose intercession the Church of Rome teaches her members to pray to God, and from whose merits they are taught to hope for succour.

On the 19th of March the following Collect is offered to the Saviour of the world:—

"We beseech thee, O Lord, that we may be succoured by the merits of the husband of thy most holy mother, {253} so that what we cannot obtain by our own power, may be granted to us by his intercession. Who livest," &c. [V. 486.]

It is anticipating our instances of the different stages observable in the invocation of saints, to quote here direct addresses to Joseph himself; still it may be well to bring at once to a close our remarks with regard to the worship paid to him. We find that in the Litany of the Saints, "St. Joseph, pray for us," is one of the supplications; but on his day (March 19) there are three hymns addressed to Joseph, which appear to be full of lamentable superstition, assigning, as they do, to him a share at least in the work of our salvation, and solemnly stating, as a truth, what, whether true or not, depends upon a groundless tradition, namely, that our blessed Lord and Mary watched by him at his death; ascribing to Joseph also that honour and praise, which the Church was wont to offer to God alone. The following are extracts from those hymns:

First hymn. "Thee, Joseph, let the companies of heaven celebrate; thee let all the choirs of Christian people resound; who, bright in merits, wast joined in chaste covenant with the renowned Virgin. Others their pious death consecrates after death; and glory awaits those who deserve the palm. Thou alive, equal to those above, enjoyest God, more blessed by wondrous lot. O Trinity, most High, spare us who pray; grant us to reach heaven [to scale the stars] BY THE MERITS OF JOSEPH, that at length we may perpetually offer to thee a grateful song." [Te Joseph celebrent agmina coelitum. V. 485.]

Second hymn. "O, Joseph, the glory of those in heaven, and the sure hope of our life, and the safeguard {254} of the world, benignly ACCEPT THE PRAISES WHICH WE joyfully sing TO THEE.... Perpetual praise to the most High Trinity, who granting to thee honours on high, give to us, BY THY MERITS, the joys of a blessed life." [Coelitum, Joseph, Decus. V. 486.]

Third hymn. "He whom we, the faithful, worship with joy, whose exalted triumphs we celebrate, Joseph, on this day obtained by merit the joys of eternal life. O too happy! O too blessed! at whose last hour Christ and the Virgin together, with serene countenance, stood watching. Hence, conqueror of hell, freed from the bands of the flesh, he removes in placid sleep to the everlasting seats, and binds his temples with bright chaplets. Him, therefore, reigning, let us all importune, that he would be present with us, and that he obtaining pardon for our transgressions, would assign to us the rewards of peace on high. Be praises to thee, be honours to thee, O Trine God, who reignest, and assignest golden crowns to thy faithful servant for ever. Amen." [Iste, quem læti colimus fideles. V. 490.]

It is painful to remark, that in these last clauses the very same word is employed when the Church of Rome applies to Joseph to assign to the faithful the rewards of peace, and when she ascribes glory to God for assigning to his faithful servants crowns of gold. Indeed these hymns contain many expressions which ought to be addressed to the Saviour alone, whose "glory is in the heavens," who is "the hope of us on earth," and "the safeguard of the world."

Under this fourth head I will add only one more specimen. Would it were not to be found in the Roman {255} Liturgies since the Council of Trent: God grant it may ere long be wiped out of the book of Christian worship! It is a collect in which the Church of Rome offers this prayer to God the Son:—

"O God, whose right hand raised the blessed Peter when walking on the waves, that he sank not; and rescued his fellow-apostle Paul, for the third time suffering shipwreck, from the depth of the sea; mercifully hear us, and grant that by the merits of both we may obtain the glory of eternity." [H. 149.]

Now suppose for a moment it had been intended in any one prayer negatively to exclude the merits of Christ from the great work of our eternal salvation, and to limit our hopes of everlasting glory to the merits of St. Peter and St. Paul, could that object have been more effectually and fully secured than by this prayer? Not one word alluding to the redemption which is in Christ can be found in this prayer. The sentiment in the first member of the prayer refers us to the power exercised by the Son of God, and Son of man, when he was intabernacled in our flesh; and the second expression teaches us to contemplate the providence of our Almighty Saviour in his deeds of beneficence. But no reference, even by allusion, is here made to the merits of Christ's death—none to his merits as our great Redeemer; none to his merits as our never-ceasing and never-failing Intercessor. We are led to approach the throne of grace only with the merits of the two Apostles on our tongue. If those who offer it hope for acceptance through THE MEDIATION of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of his merits, that hope is neither suggested nor fostered by this prayer. The truth, as it is in Jesus, would compel us in addressing {256} Him, the Saviour of the world, to think of the merits of neither Peter nor Paul, of neither angel nor spirit. Instead of praying to him that we may obtain the glories of eternity for their merits, true faith in Christ would bid us throw ourselves implicitly on his omnipotent merits alone, and implore so great a blessing for his own mercy's sake. If we receive the whole truth, can it appear otherwise than a disparagement of his perfect and omnipotent merits, to plead with Him the merits of one, whom the Saviour himself rebuked with as severe a sentence as ever fell from his lips, "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men;" [Matt. xvi. 23.] and of another who after his conversion, when speaking of the salvation wrought by Christ, in profound humility confesses himself to be a chief of those sinners for whom the Saviour died, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief?" [1 Tim. i. 15.] We feel, indeed, a sure and certain hope that these two fellow-creatures, once sinners, but by God's grace afterwards saints, have found mercy with God, and will live with Christ for ever; but to pray for the same mercy at his gracious hands for the sake of their merits is repugnant to our first principles of Christian faith. When we think of merits, for which to plead for mercy, we can think of Christ's, and of Christ's alone.

V. Our thoughts are next invited to that class of prayers which the Church of Rome authorizes and directs to be addressed immediately to the Saints themselves. {257} Of these there are different kinds, some far more objectionable than others, though all are directly at variance with that one single and simple principle, to which, as we believe, a disciple of the cross can alone safely adhere—prayer to God, and only to God. The words of the Council of Trent are, as we have already observed, very comprehensive on this subject. They not only declare it to be a good and useful thing supplicantly to invoke the saints reigning with Christ: but also for the obtaining of benefits from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour, to fly to their prayers, HELP, and ASSISTANCE. Whether these last words can be interpreted as merely words of surplusage, or whether they must be understood to mean that the faithful must have recourse to some help and assistance of the saints beyond their intercession, is a question to which we need not again revert. If it had been intended to embrace other kinds of beneficial succour, and other help and assistance, perhaps it would be difficult to find words more expressive of such general aid and support as a human being might hope to derive, in answer to prayer from the Giver of all good. And certainly they are words employed by the Church, when addressing prayers directly to God. Be this as it may, the public service-books of the Church of Rome unquestionably, by no means adhere exclusively to such addresses to the saints, as supplicate them to pray for the faithful on earth. Many a prayer is couched in language which can be interpreted only as conveying a petition to them immediately for their assistance, temporal and spiritual.

But let us calmly review some of the prayers, supplications, invocations, or by whatever name religious addresses now offered to the saints may be called; and {258} first, we will examine that class in which the petitioners ask merely for the intercession of the saints.

We have an example of this class in an invocation addressed to St. Ambrose on his day, December 7; the very servant of Christ in whose hymns and prayers no address of prayer or invocation to any saint or martyr can be found.

"O thou most excellent teacher, the light of the Holy Church, O blessed Ambrose, thou lover of the divine law, deprecate for us [or intercede for us with] the Son of God97."

Footnote 97:(return)

H. 438. "Deprecare pro nobis Filium Dei." This invocation to Ambrose is instantly followed by this prayer to God: "O God, who didst assign to thy people the blessed Ambrose as a minister of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven, whom we had as a teacher of life on earth."

The Church of Rome has wisely availed herself of the pious labours of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan; and has introduced into her public worship many of the hymns usually ascribed to him. Would she had followed his example, and addressed her invocations to no one but our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier! Could that holy man hear the supplications now offered to him, and could be make his voice heard in return among those who now invoke him, that voice, we believe, would only convey a prohibitory monition like that of the Angel to St. John when he fell down before him, See thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant; worship God.

It is needless to multiply instances of this fifth kind of invocation. In the "Litany of the Saints" more than fifty different saints are enumerated by name, and are invoked to pray and intercede for those who join in {259} it. Among the persons invoked are Raphael [Æ. cxcii.], Gervasius, Protasius, and Mary Magdalene; whilst in the Litany [Æ. cxcvi.] for the recommendation of the soul of the sick and dying, the names of Abel, and Abraham, are specified.

Under this head I will call your attention only to one more example. Indeed I scarcely know whether this hymn would more properly be classed under this head, or reserved for the next; since it appears to partake of the nature of each. It supplicates the martyr to obtain by his prayers spiritual blessings, and yet addresses him as the person who is to grant those blessings. It implores him to liberate us by the love of Christ; but so should we implore the Father of mercies himself. Still, as the more safe course, I would regard it as a prayer to St. Stephen only to intercede for us. But it may be well to derive from it a lesson on this point; how easily the transition glides from one false step to a worse; how infinitely wiser and safer it is to avoid evil in its very lowest and least noxious appearance:

"Martyr of God [or Unconquered Martyr], who, by following the only Son of the Father, triumphest over thy conquered enemies, and, as conqueror, enjoyest heavenly things; by the office of thy prayer wash out our guilt; driving away the contagion of evil; removing the weariness of life. The bands of thy hallowed body are already loosed; loose thou us from the bands of the world, by the love of the Son of God [or by the gift of God Most High]." [H. 237.]

In the above hymn the words included within brackets are the readings adopted in the last English edition of the Roman Breviary; and in this place, when we are about to refer to many hymns now in use, it may be well to observe, that in the present day we find {260} various readings in the hymns as they are still printed for the use of Roman Catholics in different countries. In some instances the changes are curious and striking. Grancolas, in his historical commentary on the Roman Breviary (Venice, 1734, p. 84), furnishes us with interesting information as to the chief cause of this diversity. He tells us that Pope Urban VIII., who filled the papal throne from 1623 to 1644, a man well versed in literature, especially in Latin poetry, and himself one of the distinguished poets of his time, took measures for the emendation of the hymns in the Roman Breviary. He was offended by the many defects in their metrical composition, and it is said that upwards of nine hundred and fifty faults in metre were corrected, which gave to Urban occasion to say that the Fathers had begun rather than completed the hymns. These, as corrected, he caused to be inserted in the Breviary. Grancolas proceeds to tell us that many complained of these changes, alleging that the primitive simplicity and piety which breathed in the hymns had been sacrificed to the niceties of poetry. "Accessit Latinitas, et recessit pietas." The verse was neater, but the thought was chilled.

VI. But the Roman Church by no means limits herself to this kind of invocation; prayers are addressed to saints, imploring them to hear, and, as of themselves, to grant the prayers of the faithful on earth, and to release them from the bands of sin, without any allusion to prayers to be made by those saints. It grieves me to copy out the invocation made to St. Peter on the 18th of January, called the anniversary of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome; the words of our Blessed Lord himself, and of his beloved and inspired Apostle, seem to rise up in judgment against that prayer, and condemn it. It {261} will be well to place that hymn addressed to St. Peter, side by side with the very word of God, and then ask, Can this prayer be safe?

1. Now, O good Shepherd, 1. Jesus saith, I am the good merciful Peter, Shepherd. John x. 11.

2. Accept the prayers of us 2. Whatsoever ye shall ask in who supplicate, my name, that will I do. That whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you. John xiv. 13; xv. 16.

3. And loose the bands of our 3. The blood of Jesus Christ sins, by the power committed to his Son cleanseth us from all sin. thee, 1 John i. 7.

4. By which thou shuttest 4. These things saith he that heaven against all by a word, is holy, he that is true, he that and openest it98. openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth. Rev. iii. 7.

I am he that liveth and was dead, and am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death. Rev. i. 18.

Footnote 98:(return)

This hymn is variously read. In the edition of Mr. Husenbeth (H. 497.) it is: "O Peter, blessed shepherd, of thy mercy receive the prayers of us who supplicate, and loose by thy word the bands of our sins, thou to whom is given the power of opening heaven to the earth, and of shutting it when open."—"Beate pastor, Petre, clemens accipe voces precantum, criminumque vincula verbo resolve, cui potestas tradita aperire terris coelum, apertum claudere." H. 497.

Let it not be answered that many a Christian minister is now called a good shepherd. Let it not be said that the very words of our ordination imply the conveyance of the power of loosing and binding, of opening and shutting the gates of heaven. When prayer is contemplated, we can think only of One, HIM, who has appropriated the title of Good Shepherd to {262} himself. And we must see that Peter cannot, by any latitude of interpretation, be reckoned now among those to whom the awful duty is assigned of binding and loosing upon earth.

The same unsatisfactory associations must be excited in the mind of every one who takes a similar view of Christian worship with myself, by the following supplication to various saints on St. John's day:

"Let the heaven exult with praises99,

Let the earth resound with joy;


The sacred solemnities sing

The glory of the Apostles.

O ye Just Judges of the age,

And true lights of the world,

We pray you with the vows of our hearts,

Hear the prayers of your suppliants.

Ye who shut the heaven by a word,

And loose its bars,

Loose us by command, we beseech you,

From all our sins.

Ye to whose word is subject

The health and weakness of all,

Cure us who are diseased in morals,

Restore us to virtues.

So that when Christ shall come,

The Judge at the end of the world,

He may make us partakers

Of eternal joy.

To God the Father be Glory,

And to his only Son,

With the Spirit the Comforter,

Now and for ever. Amen100."

Footnote 99:(return)

Having inserted in the text a translation of this hymn from a copy with which I had been long familiar, I think it right to insert here the two forms side by side. They supply an example of the changes to which we have already alluded.

Lille, 1823.


Exultet coelum laudibus,

Resultet terra gaudiis,

Apostolorum gloriam

Sacra canunt solemnia.

Vos sæcli justi judices

Et vera mundi lamina,

Votis precamur cordium

Audite preces supplicum.

Qui coelum verbo clauditis

Serasque ejus solvitis,

Nos a peccatis omnibus

Solvite jussu, quæsumus.

Quorum præcepto subditur

Salus et languor omnium,

Sanate ægros moribus,

Nos reddentes virtutibus.

Ut cum judex advenerit

Christus in fine sæculi,

Nos sempiterni gaudii

Faciat esse compotes.

Deo Patri sit gloria,

Ejusque soli Filio,

Cum Spiritu paracleto,

Et nunc et in perpetuum.



Norwich, 1830.


Exultet orbis gaudiis,

Coelum resultet laudibus,

Apostolorum gloriam

Tellus et astra concinunt.

Vos sæculorum judices

Et vera mundi lumina,

Votis precamur cordium

Audite voces supplicum.

Qui templa coeli clauditis

Serasque verbo solvitis,

Nos a reatu noxios

Solvi jubete quæsumus.

Præcepta quorum protinus

Languor salusque sentiunt,

Sanate mentes languidas,

Augete nos virtutibus.

Ut cum redibit arbiter

In fine Christus sæculi,

Nos sempiterni gaudii

Concedat esse compotes.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria

Qui natus es de virgine,

Cum Patre et Almo Spiritu,

In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen. (H. 243.)

Footnote 100:(return)

Or as in the present Roman Breviary:—

Let the world exult with joy,

Let the heaven resound with praise;

The earth and stars sing together

The glory of the Apostles.

Ye judges of the ages

And true lights of the world,

With the prayers of our hearts we implore,

Hear the voices of your suppliants.

Ye who shut the temples of heaven,

And loose its bars by a word,

Command ye us, who are guilty,

To be released from our sins; we pray.

Ye whose commands forthwith

Sickness and health feel,

Heal our languid minds,

Increase us in virtues,

That when Christ, the Judge, shall return,

In the end of the world,

He may grant us to be partakers

Of eternal joy.

Jesus, to thee be glory,

Who wast born of a virgin,

With the Father and the Benign Spirit,

Through eternal ages. Amen.


Many a pious and humble Catholic of the Roman Communion, I have no doubt, would regard these prayers as little more than an application to Peter and the rest of the Apostles for absolution, and would interpret its several clauses as an acknowledgment only of that power, which Christ himself delegated to them of binding and loosing sins on earth. But the gulf fixed between these prayers, and the lawful use of the power given to Christ's ordained ministers on earth, is great indeed. To satisfy the mind of this, it is not necessary to enter upon even the confines of the wide field of controversy, as to what was really conveyed by Christ to his Apostles. I would ask only two questions. Could any of us address these same words to one of Christ's ministers on earth? And could we address our blessed Saviour himself in stronger or more appropriate language, as the Lord of our destinies—the God who heareth prayer—the Physician of our souls?

Suppose for example we were celebrating the anniversary of Christ's Nativity, of his Resurrection, or his Ascension, what word in this hymn, expressive of {265} power, and honour, and justice, and mercy, would not be appropriate? What word would not apply to Him, in most perfect accordance with Scripture language? And can we without offence, without doing wrong to his great Name, address the same to our fellow-servants, even though we may believe them to be with Him in glory?

Let the heaven exult with praises—

Let the earth resound with joy;

The sacred solemnities sing

The glory of the Lord.

O Thou just Judge of the age,

And true light of the world,

We pray Thee with the supplications of our hearts

Hear the prayers of Thy suppliants,

Thou who shuttest the heavens by a word,

And loosest its bars.

Loose us by command, we beseech Thee,

From all our sins.

Thou to whose word is subject

The health and weakness of all,

Cure us who are diseased in morals,

Restoring us to virtue.

So that when Thou shalt come,

The Judge at the end of the world,

Thou mayest make us partakers

Of eternal joy.

Glory to Thee, O Lord,

Who wast born of a virgin,

With the Father and the Holy Spirit,

For ever and ever. Amen.

Only for a moment let us see how peculiarly all these expressions are fitting in a hymn of prayer and praise {266} to our God and Saviour, recalling to our minds the words of inspiration; and then again let us put the question to our conscience, Is this language fit for us to use to a fellow-creature?

Let the heaven exult with praises, Let the heavens rejoice, and Let the earth resound with joy: let the earth be glad ... (exultet is the very word used in the Vulgate translation of the Psalm)—before the Lord, for He cometh to judge the earth.—Ps. xcvi (xcv). 11.

The holy solemnities sing Ye shall have a song, as in the The glory of the Lord. night when a holy solemnity is kept ... And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice to be heard. Isa. xxx. 29. Let the heaven and earth praise Him. Ps. lxix (lxviii). 34.

Thou just Judge of mankind, All judgment is committed And true light of the world, unto the Son. John v. 22. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. John i. 9.

With the prayers of our hearts we With my whole heart have I pray Thee, sought Thee. Ps. cxix (cxviii). Hear the prayers of Thy suppliants. 10. Hear my prayer, O God. Ps. lxi (lx). 1. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? Ps. lxxiii (lxxii). 25. And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us. 1 John v. 14.

Thou who shuttest heaven by I have the keys of death and of Thy word, hell. These things saith He that And loosest its bars, is holy, He that is true: He that hath the key of David. He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man {267} openeth. I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. Rev. i. 18; iii. 7,8

Release us by command, we pray Thy sins be forgiven thee. Thee, Matt. ix. 22. Bless the Lord, O From all our sins. my soul ... who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Ps. ciii. 2. This is your blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matt. xxvi. 28. Have mercy upon me, O God ... according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Ps. li (l).

Thou to whose word is subject Bless the Lord, O my soul ... The health and weakness of all, who healeth all thy diseases. Ps. ciii (cii). 2, 3.

Do Thou heal us who are morally Create in me a clean heart, O diseased, God, and renew a right spirit Restoring us to virtue; within me. Ps. li. 10 (4.) That when Thou, the Judge, shalt appear in the end of the world, Thou mayest grant us to be partakers of eternal joy.

This would be a Christian prayer, a primitive prayer, a scriptural prayer, a prayer well fitting mortal man to utter by his tongue and from his heart, to the God who heareth prayer; and him who shall in sincere faith offer such a prayer, Christ will never send empty away. But if this prayer, fitted as it seems only to be addressed to God, be offered to the soul of a departed saint—I will not talk of blasphemy, and deadly sin, and idolatry,—I will only ask members of the Church of Rome to weigh all these things well, one by one. These are not subjects for crimination and recrimination.


We have had far too much of those unholy weapons on both sides. Speaking the truth in love, I should be verily guilty of a sin in my own conscience were I, with my views of Christian worship, to offer this prayer to the soul of a man however holy, however blessed, however exalted.

The next part of our work will be given exclusively to the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.





The worship of the blessed Virgin Mary is so highly exalted in the Church of Rome, as to require the formation of a new name to express its high character. Neither could the Latin language provide a word which would give an adequate idea of its excellence, nor could any word previously employed by the writers in Greek, meet the case satisfactorily. The newly invented term Hyperdulia, meaning "a service above others," seems to place the service of the Virgin on a footing peculiarly its own, as raised above the worship of the saints departed, and of the angels of God, cherubim and seraphim, with all the hosts of principalities and powers in heavenly places. The service of the Virgin Mary thus appears not only to justify, but even to require a separate and distinct examination in this volume. The general principles, however, which we have already endeavoured to establish and illustrate with regard as well to the study of the Holy Scriptures as to the evidence of primitive antiquity, are equally applicable here; and with those principles present to our minds, {270} we will endeavour now to ascertain the truth with regard to the worship of the Virgin as now witnessed in the Roman Catholic Church.

Of the Virgin Mary, think not, brethren of the Church of Rome, that a true member of the Anglican branch of the Catholic Church will speak disparagingly or irreverently. Were such an one found among us, we should say of him, he knows not what spirit he is of. Our church, in her Liturgy, her homilies, her articles, in the works too of the best and most approved among her divines and teachers, ever speaks of Saint Mary, the blessed Virgin, in the language of reverence, affection, and gratitude.

She was a holy virgin and a holy mother. She was highly favoured, blessed among women. The Lord was with her, and she was the mother of our only Saviour. She was herself blessed, and blessed was the fruit of her womb. We delight in the language of our ancestors, in which they were used to call her "Mary, the Blissful Maid." Should any one of those who profess and call themselves Christians and Catholics, entertain a wish to interrupt the testimony of every succeeding age, and to interpose a check to the fulfilment of her own recorded prophecy, "All generations shall call me blessed," certainly the Anglican Catholic Church will never acknowledge that wish to be the genuine desire of one of her own sons. The Lord hath blessed her; yea, and she shall be blessed.

But when we are required either to address our supplications to her, or else to sever ourselves from the communion of a large portion of our fellow-Christians, we have no room for hesitation; the case offers us no alternative. Our love of unity must yield to our love {271} of truth; we cannot join in that worship which in our conscience we believe to be a sin against God. Whether we are right or wrong in this matter, God will himself judge: and, compared with his acquittal and approval, the severity of man's judgment cannot turn us aside from our purpose. But before any one pronounces a sentence of condemnation against us, or of approval on himself, it well becomes him patiently and dispassionately to weigh the evidence; lest his decision may not be consistent with justice and truth.

In addition to what has been already said on the general subject of addressing our invocation to any created being—to any one among the principalities and thrones, dominions, powers, angels, archangels, and all the hosts of heaven, to any one among the saints, martyrs, confessors, and holy men departed hence in the Lord—I would submit to my brethren of the Roman Catholic Church some considerations specifically applicable to the case of the blessed Virgin, and to the practice of the Church of Rome in the religious worship paid to her.

First, it will be well for us to possess ourselves afresh of whatever light is thrown on this subject by the Scriptures themselves.


The first intimation given to us that a woman was in the providence of God appointed to be the instrument, or channel by which the Saviour of mankind should be brought into the world, was made immediately after the Fall, and at the very first dawn of the day of salvation. {272} I am fully aware how the various criticisms on the words in which that first promise of a Saviour is couched, have been the well-spring of angry controversy. I will not enter upon that field. The authorized English version thus renders the passage: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." [Gen. iii. 15.] The Roman Vulgate, instead of the word "it," reads "she." Surely such a point as this should be made a subject of calm and enlightened criticism, without warmth or heart-burnings on either side. But for our present purpose, it matters little what turn that controversy may take. I believe our own to be the true rendering: but whether the word dictated here by the Holy Spirit to Moses should be so translated as to refer to the seed of the woman generally, as in our authorized version, or to the male child, the descendant of the woman, as the Septuagint renders it, or to the word "woman" itself; and if the latter, whether it refer to Eve, the mother of every child of a mortal parent, or to Mary, the immediate mother of our Saviour: whatever view of that Hebrew word be taken, no Christian can doubt, that before the foundations of the world were laid, it was foreordained in the counsels of the Eternal Godhead, that the future Messiah, the Redeemer of Mankind, should be of the seed of Eve, and in the fulness of time be born of a Virgin of the name of Mary, and that in the mystery of that incarnation should the serpent's head be bruised. I wish not to dwell on this, because it bears but remotely and incidentally on the question at issue. I will, therefore, pass on, quoting {273} only the words of one of the most laborious among Roman Catholic commentators, De Sacy. "The sense is the same in the one and in the other, though the expression varies. The sense of the Hebrew is, The Son of the Woman, Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Son of a Virgin, shall bruise thy head, and by establishing the kingdom of God on earth, destroy thine. The sense of the Vulgate is, The woman, by whom thou hast conquered man, shall bruise thy head, not by herself, but by Jesus Christ." [Vol. i. p. 132.]

The only other passage in which reference appears to be made in the Old Testament to the Mother of our Lord, contains that celebrated prophecy in the seventh chapter of Isaiah, about which I am not aware that any difference exists between the Anglican and the Roman Churches. "A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel." [Isaiah vii. 4.]

I find no passage in the Old Testament which can by any inferential application be brought to bear on the question of Mary's being a proper object of invocation.

In the New Testament, mention by name is made of the Virgin Mary by St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, and by St. John in his Gospel, as the Mother of our Lord, but not by name; and by no other writer. Neither St. Paul in any one of his many Epistles, though he mentions the names of many of our Lord's disciples, nor St. James, nor St. Peter, who must often have seen her during our Lord's ministry, nor St. Jude, nor St. John in any of his three Epistles, or in the {274} Revelation (though, as we learn from his own Gospel, she had of especial trust been committed to his care)—no one of these either mentions her as living, or alludes to her memory as dead.

The first occasion on which any reference is made in the New Testament to the Virgin Mary is the salutation of the Angel, as recorded by St. Luke in the opening chapter of his Gospel. The last occasion is when she is mentioned by the same Evangelist, as "Mary the Mother of Jesus," in conjunction with his brethren and with the Apostles and the women all continuing in prayer and supplication, immediately after the ascension of our blessed Lord. Between these two occasions the name of Mary occurs under a variety of circumstances, on every one of which we shall do well to reflect.

The first occasion, we have already said, is the salutation of Mary by the angel, announcing to her that she should be the Mother of the Son of God. Surely no daughter of Eve was ever so distinguished among women; and well does it become us to cherish her memory with affectionate reverence. The words addressed to her when on earth by the angel in that announcement, with a little variation of expression, are daily addressed to her by the Roman Catholic Church, now that she is no longer seen, but is removed to the invisible world. "Hail, thou that art highly favoured!" (or as the Vulgate reads it, "full of grace") "the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women." [Luke i. 28.] On the substitution of the expression, "full of grace," for "highly favoured," or, as our margin suggests, "graciously accepted, or much graced," I am not desirous {275} of troubling you with any lengthened remark. I could have wished that since the Greek is different in this passage, and in the first chapter of St. John, where the words "full of grace" are applied to our Saviour, a similar distinction had been observed in the Roman translation. But the variation is unessential. The other expression, "Blessed art thou among women," is precisely and identically the same with the ascription of blessedness made by an inspired tongue, under the elder covenant, to another daughter of Eve. "Blessed above women," or (as both the Septuagint and the Vulgate render the word) "Blessed among women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be." [Judges v. 24.] We can see no ground in such ascription of blessedness for any posthumous adoration of the Virgin Mary.

The same observation applies with at least equal strictness to that affecting interview between Mary and Elizabeth, when, enlightened doubtless by an especial revelation, Elizabeth returned the salutation of her cousin by addressing her as the Mother of her Lord, and hailing her visit as an instance of most welcome and condescending kindness, "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?" [Luke i. 43.] Members of the Anglican Church are taught to refer to this event in Mary's life with feelings of delight and gratitude. On this occasion she uttered that beautiful hymn, "The Song of the blessed Virgin Mary," which our Church has selected for daily use at Evening Prayer. These incidents bring before our minds the image of a spotless Virgin, humble, pious, obedient, holy: a chosen servant of God—an exalted pattern for her fellow-creatures; but still a fellow-creature, and a fellow-servant: {276} a virgin pronounced by an angel blessed on earth. But further than this we cannot go. We read of no power, no authority, neither the power and influence of intercession, nor the authority or right of command being ever, even by implication, committed to her; and we dare not of our own minds venture to take for granted a statement of so vast magnitude, involving associations so awful. We reverence her memory as a blessed woman, the virgin mother of our Lord. We cannot supplicate any blessing at her hand; we cannot pray to her for her intercession.

The angel's announcement to Joseph, whether before or after the birth of Christ, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, and the return thence, in the record of all of which events by St. Matthew the name of Mary occurs, however interesting and important in themselves, seem to require no especial attention with reference to the immediate subject of our inquiry. To Joseph the angel speaks of the blessed Virgin as "Mary thy wife." [Matt. i. 20.] In every other instance she is called "The young child's mother," or "His mother."

In relating the circumstances of Christ's birth the Evangelist employs no words which seem to invite any particular examination. Joseph went up into the city of David to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife; and there she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. And the shepherds found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. [Luke ii. 19.]

Between the birth of Christ, and the flight into Egypt, St. Luke records an event to have happened by no means unimportant—the presentation of Christ in {277} the temple. "And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. And he (Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, &c. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign that shall be spoken against, (yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." [Luke ii. 28.] In this incident it is worthy of remark, that Joseph and Mary are both mentioned by name, that they are both called the parents of the young child; that both are equally blessed by Simeon; and that the good old Israelite, illumined by the spirit of prophecy, when he addresses himself immediately to Mary, speaks only of her future sorrow, and does not even most remotely or faintly allude to any exaltation of her above the other daughters of Abraham. "A sword shall pass through thine own soul also," a prophecy, as St. Augustine interprets it, accomplished when she witnessed the sufferings and death of her Son. (See De Sacy, vol. xxxii. p. 138.)

The next occasion on which the name of the Virgin Mary is found in Scripture, is the memorable visit of herself, her husband, and her Son, to Jerusalem, when he was twelve years old. And the manner in which this incident is related by the inspired Evangelist, so far from intimating that Mary was destined to be an object of worship to the believers in her Son, affords {278} evidence which exhibits strongly a bearing the direct contrary. Here again Joseph and Mary are both called his parents: Joseph is once mentioned by name, and so is Mary. If the language had been so framed as on purpose to take away all distinction of preference or superiority, it could not more successfully have effected its purpose. But not only so, of the three addresses recorded as having been made by our blessed Lord to his beloved mother (and only three are recorded in the New Testament), the first occurs during this visit to Jerusalem. It was in answer to the remonstrance made by Mary, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." [Luke ii. 48.] "How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"—[or in my Father's house, as some render it.] He lifts up their minds from earth to heaven, from his human to his eternal origin. He makes no distinction here,—"Wist YE not." Again, I would appeal to any dispassionate person to pronounce, whether this reproof, couched in these words, countenances the idea that our blessed Lord intended his human mother to receive such divine honour from his followers to the end of time as the Church of Rome now pays? and whether St. Luke, whose pen wrote this account, could have been made cognizant of any such right invested in the Virgin?

The next passage calling for our consideration is that which records the first miracle: "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there, and both Jesus was called and his disciples to the marriage. And when they wanted wine (when the wine failed), the mother of {279} Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." [John ii. 1.]

I have carefully read the comments on this passage, which different writers of the Roman Catholic communion have recommended for the adoption of the faithful, and I desire not to make any remarks upon them. Let the passage be interpreted in any way which enlightened criticism and the analogy of Scripture will sanction, and I would ask, after a careful weighing of this incident, the facts, and the words in all their bearings, would any unprejudiced mind expect that the holy and beloved person, towards whom the meek and tender and loving Jesus employed this address, was destined by that omniscient and omnipotent Saviour to be an object of those religious acts with which, as we shall soon be reminded, the Church of Rome now daily approaches her?

It is pain and grief to me thus to extract and to comment upon these passages of Holy Writ. The feelings of affection and of reverence approaching awe, with which I hold the memory of that blessed Virgin Mother of my Lord, raise in me a sincere repugnance against dwelling on this branch of our subject, beyond what the cause of the truth as it is in Jesus absolutely requires; and very little more of the same irksome task awaits us. You will of course expect me to refer to an incident recorded with little variety of expression, and with no essential difference, by the first three Evangelists. St. Matthew's is the most full account, and is this,—"While he yet talked to the people, behold his mother and his brethren stood without desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, {280} Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother." [Matt. xii. 46.] Or, as St. Luke expresses it,—"And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these, who hear the word of God and do it." [Luke viii. 21.]

Humanly speaking, could a more favourable opportunity have presented itself to our blessed Lord of referring to his beloved mother, in such a manner as to exalt her above her fellow daughters of Eve,—in such a manner too, as that Christians in after days, when the Saviour's bodily presence should have been taken away from them, and the extraordinary communications of the Spirit of truth should have been withdrawn, might have remembered that He had spoken these things, and have been countenanced by his words in doing her homage? But so far is this from the plain and natural tendency of the words of her blessed Son, that, had He of acknowledged purpose (and He has condescended to announce to us, in another place (John xiii. 19, &c.), the purpose of his words) wished to guard his disciples, whilst the world should last, against being seduced by any reverence and love which they might feel towards Himself into a belief that they ought to exalt his mother above all other created beings, and pay her holy worship, we know not what words He could have adopted more fitted for that purpose. There was nothing in the communication which seemed to call for {281} such a remark. A plain message announces to Him as a matter of fact one of the most common occurrences of daily life. And yet He fixes upon the circumstance as the groundwork not only of declaring the close union which it was his good pleasure should exist between obedient and true believers and Himself, but of cautioning all against any superstitious feelings towards those who were nearly allied to Him by the ties of his human nature. With reverence I would say, it is as though He desired to record his foreknowledge of the errors into which his disciples were likely to be seduced, and warned them beforehand to shun and resist the temptation. The evidence borne by this passage against our offering any religious worship to the Virgin, on the ground of her having been the mother of our Lord, seems clear, strong, direct, and inevitable. She was the mother of the Redeemer of the world, and blessed is she among women; but that very Redeemer Himself, with his own lips, assures us that every faithful servant of his heavenly Father shall be equally honoured with her, and possess all the privileges which so near and dear a relationship with Himself might be supposed to convey.—Who is my mother? Or, who are my brethren? Behold my mother and my brethren! Whosoever shall do the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother.

No less should we be expected in this place to take notice of that most remarkable passage of Holy Scripture, [Luke xi. 27.] in which our blessed Lord is recorded under different circumstances to have expressed the same sentiments, but in words which will appear to many even more strongly indicative of his desire to prevent any {282} undue exaltation of his mother. "As he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." On the truth or wisdom of that exclamation our Lord makes no remark; He refers not to his mother at all, not even to assure them (as St. Augustine in after-ages taught, see De Sacy, vol. xxxii. p. 35.), that however blessed Mary was in her corporeal conception of the Saviour, yet far more blessed was she because she had fully borne Him spiritually in her heart. He alludes not to his mother except for the purpose of instantly drawing the minds of his hearers from contemplating any supposed blessedness in her, and of fixing them on the sure and greater blessedness of his true, humble, faithful, and obedient disciples, to the end of time. "But he said, Yea, rather [or, as some prefer, yea, verily, and] blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Again, it must be asked, could such an exclamation have been met by such a reply, had our Lord's will been to exalt his mother, as she is now exalted by the Church of Rome? Rather, we would reverently ask, would He have given this turn to such an address, had He not desired to check any such feeling towards her?

That most truly affecting and edifying incident recorded by St. John as having taken place whilst Jesus was hanging in his agony on the cross, an incident which speaks to every one who has a mind to understand and a heart to feel, presents to us the last occasion on which the name of the Virgin Mother of our Lord occurs in the Gospels. No paraphrase could add force, or clearness, or beauty to the simple narrative of the Evangelist; no exposition could bring out its parts more prominently or {283} affectingly. The calmness and authority of our blessed Lord, his tenderness and affection, his filial love in the very midst of his agony, it is impossible to describe with more heart-stirring and heart-soothing pathos than is conveyed in the simple language of him whom the Saviour at that awful hour addressed, as He committed his mother to him of especial trust. But not one syllable falls from the lips of Christ, or from the pen of the beloved disciple, who records this act of his blessed Master's filial piety, which can by possibility be construed to imply, that our blessed Lord intended Mary to be held in such honour by his disciples, as would be shown in the offering of prayer and praise to her after her dissolution. He who could by a word, rather by the mere motion of his will, have bidden the whole course of nature and of providence, so to proceed as that all its operations should provide for the health and safety, the support and comfort of his mother—He, when He was on the cross, and when He was on the point of committing his soul into the hands of his Father, leaves her to the care of one whom He loved, and whose sincerity and devotedness to Him He had, humanly speaking, long experienced. He bids him treat Mary as his own mother, He bids Mary look to John as to her own son for support and solace: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son; then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother." [John xix. 25.] And He added no more. If Christ willed that his beloved mother should end her days in peace, removed equally {284} from want and the desolation of widowhood on the one hand, and from splendour and notoriety on the other, nothing could be more natural than such conduct in such a Being at such a time. But if his purpose was to exalt her into an object of religious adoration, that nations should kneel before her, and all people do her homage, then the words and the conduct of our Lord at this hour seem altogether unaccountable: and so would the words of the Evangelist also be, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."

After this not another word falls from the pen of St. John which can be made to bear on the station, the character, the person, or circumstances of Mary. After his resurrection our Saviour remained on earth forty days before He finally ascended into heaven. Many of his interviews and conversations with his disciples during that interval are recorded in the Gospel. Every one of the four Evangelists relates some act or some saying of our Lord on one or more of those occasions. Mention is made by name of Mary Magdalene, of Mary [the mother] of Joses, of Mary [the mother] of James, of Salome, of Joanna, of Peter, of Cleophas, of the disciple whom Jesus loved, at whose house the mother of our Lord then was; of Thomas, of Nathanael. The eleven also are mentioned generally. But by no one of the Evangelists is reference made at all to Mary the mother of our Lord, as having been present at any one of those interviews; her name is not alluded to throughout.

On one solitary occasion subsequently to the ascension of Christ, mention is made of Mary his mother, in company with many others, and without any further distinction to separate her from the rest: "And when {285} they were come in (from having witnessed the ascension of our Saviour), they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." [Acts i. 13.] Not one word is said of Mary having been present to witness even the ascension of her blessed Son; we read no command of our Lord, no wish expressed, no distant intimation to his disciples that they should even show to her marks of respect and honour; not an allusion is there made to any superiority or distinction and preeminence. Sixty years at the least are generally considered to be comprehended within the subsequent history of the New Testament before the Apocalypse was written; but neither in the narrative, nor in the Epistles, nor yet in the prophetic part of the Holy Book, is there the most distant allusion to Mary. Of him to whose loving care our dying Lord committed his beloved mother of especial trust, we hear much. John, we find, putting forth the miraculous power of Christ at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple; we find him imprisoned and arraigned before the Jewish authorities; but not one word is mentioned as to what meanwhile became of Mary. We find John confirming the Church in Samaria; we find him an exile in the island of Patmos; but no mention is made of Mary. Nay, though we have three of his epistles, and the second of them addressed to one "whom he loved in the truth," we find neither from the tongue nor from the pen of St. John, one single allusion to the mother of our Lord alive or dead. And then, whatever may have been the matter {286} of fact as to St. Paul, neither the many letters of that Apostle, nor the numerous biographical incidents recorded of him, intimate in the most remote degree that he knew any thing whatever concerning her individually. St. Paul does indeed refer to the human nature of Christ derived from his human mother, and had he been taught by his Lord to entertain towards her such sentiments as the Roman Church now professes to entertain, he could not have had a more inviting occasion to give utterance to them. But instead of thus speaking of the Virgin Mary, he does not even mention her name or state at all, but refers only in the most general way to her nature and her sex as a daughter of Adam: "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, MADE OF A WOMAN, made under the law; to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." [Gal. iv. 4.] From a time certainly within a few days of our Saviour's ascension the Scriptures are totally silent throughout as to Mary, whether in life or in death.

Here we might well proceed to contrast this view which the Scriptures of eternal truth give of the blessed Virgin Mary with the authorized and appointed worship of that branch of the Christian Church which is in communion with Rome. We must first, however, here also examine the treasures of Christian antiquity, and ascertain what witness the earliest uninspired records bear on this immediate point.



Closing the inspired volume, and seeking at the fountain-head for the evidence of Christian antiquity, what do we find? For upwards of three centuries and a half (the limit put to our present inquiry) we discover in no author, Christian or heathen, any trace whatever of the invocation of the Virgin Mary by Catholic Christians. I have examined every passage which I have found adduced by writers of the Church of Rome, and have searched for any other passages which might appear to deserve consideration as bearing favourably on their view of the subject; and the worship of the Virgin, such as is now insisted upon by the Council of Trent, prescribed by the Roman ritual, and practised in the Church of Rome, is proved by such an examination to have had neither name, nor place, nor existence among the early Christians. Forgive my importunity if I again and again urge you to join us in weighing these facts well; and to take your view of them from no advocate on the one side or the other. Search the Scriptures for yourselves, search the earliest writers for yourselves, and for yourselves search with all diligence into the authentic and authorized liturgies of your own Church, your missals, and breviaries, and formularies. Hearsay evidence, testimony {288} taken at second or third hand, vague rumours and surmises will probably expose us, on either side, to error. Let well-sifted genuine evidence be brought by an upright and an enlightened mind to bear on the point at issue, and let the issue joined be this, Is the practice of praying to the Virgin, and praising her, in the language of the prayers and praises now used in the prescribed formularies of the Roman Church, primitive. Catholic, Apostolical?

I am aware that among those who adhere to the Tridentine Confession of faith, there are many on whom this investigation will not be allowed to exercise any influence.

The sentiments of Huet, wherever they are adopted, would operate to the total rejection of such inquiries as we are instituting in this work. His words on the immaculate conception of the Virgin are of far wider application than the immediate occasion on which he used them, "That the blessed Mary never conceived any sin in herself is in the present day an established principle of the Church, and confirmed by the Council of Trent. In which it is our duty to acquiesce, rather than in the dicta of the ancients, if any seem to think otherwise, among whom must be numbered Origen." [Origen's Works, vol. iv. part 2, p. 156.]

In this address, however, we take for granted that the reader is open to conviction, desirous of arriving at the truth, and, with that view, ready to examine and sift the evidence of primitive antiquity.

In that investigation our attention is very soon called to the remarkable fact, that, whereas in the case of the invocation of saints and angels, the defenders of that doctrine and practice bring forward a great variety of passages, in which mention is supposed to be made of {289} those beings as objects of honour and reverential and grateful remembrance, the passages quoted with a similar view, as regards the Virgin Mary, are very few indeed: whilst the passages which intimate that the early Christians paid her no extraordinary honour (certainly not more than we of the Anglican Church do now) are innumerable.

I have thought that it might be satisfactory here to refer to each separately of those earliest writers, whose testimony we have already examined on the general question of the invocation of saints and angels, and, as nearly as may be, in the same order.

In the former department of our investigation we first endeavoured to ascertain the evidence of those five primitive writers, who are called the Apostolical Fathers; and, with regard to the subject now before us, the result of our inquiry into the same works is this:

1. In the Epistle ascribed to BARNABAS we find no allusion to Mary.

2. The same must be affirmed of the book called The Shepherd of HERMAS.

3. In CLEMENT of Rome, who speaks of the Lord Jesus having descended from Abraham according to the flesh, no mention is made of that daughter of Abraham of whom he was born.

4. IGNATIUS in a passage already quoted (Ad Eph. vii. p. 13 and 16) speaks of Christ both in his divine and human nature as Son of God and man, and he mentions the name of Mary, but it is without any adjunct or observation whatever, "both of Mary and of God." In another place he speaks of her virgin state, and the fruit of her womb; and of her having borne our God Jesus the Christ; but he adds no {290} more; not even calling her "The blessed," or "The Virgin." In the interpolated Epistle to the Ephesians, the former passage adds "the Virgin" after "Mary," but nothing more.

5. In the Epistle of POLYCARP we find an admonition to virgins (Page 186), how they ought to walk with a spotless and chaste conscience, but there is no allusion to the Virgin Mary.

JUSTIN MARTYR. In this writer I do not find any passage so much in point as the following, in which we discover no epithet expressive of honour, or dignity, or exaltation, though it refers to Mary in her capacity of the Virgin mother of our Lord:—"He therefore calls Himself the Son of Man, either from his birth of a virgin, who was of the race of David, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, or because Abraham himself was the father of those persons enumerated, from whom Mary drew her origin." [Trypho, § 100. p. 195.] And a little below he adds, "For Eve being a virgin and incorrupt, having received the word from the serpent, brought forth transgression and death; but Mary the Virgin having received faith and joy (on the angel Gabriel announcing to her the glad tidings, that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her, and the power of the Highest overshadow her) answered, Be it unto me according to thy word. And of her was born He of whom we have shown that so many Scriptures have been spoken; He by whom God destroys the serpent, and angels and men resembling [the serpent]; but works a rescue from death for such as repent of evil and believe in Him." One more passage will suffice, "And according to the command of God, Joseph, taking Him with Mary, went into Egypt." [Trypho, § 102. p. 196.]


Among those "Questions" to which we have referred under the head of Justin Martyr's works, but which are confessedly of a much less remote date, probably of the fifth century, an inquiry is made, How could Christ be free from blame, who so often set at nought his parent? The answer is, that He did not set her at nought; that He honoured her in deed, and would not have hurt her by his words;—but then the respondent adds, that Christ chiefly honoured Mary in that view of her maternal character, under which all who heard the word of God and kept it, were his brothers and sisters and mother; and that she surpassed all women in virtue. [Qu. 136. p. 500.]

IRENÆUS. To the confused passage relied upon by Bellarmin, in which Irenæus is supposed to represent Mary as the advocate of Eve, we have already fully referred (page 120 of this work). In that passage there is no allusion to any honour paid, or to be paid to her, nor to any invocation of her. In every passage to which my attention has been drawn, Irenæus speaks of the mother of our Lord as Mary, or the Virgin, without any adjunct, or term of reverence.

CLEMENT of Alexandria speaks of the Virgin, and refers to an opinion relative to her virgin-state, but without one word of honour. [Stromat. vii. 16. p. 889.]

TERTULLIAN101. The passages in which this ancient writer refers to the mother of our Lord are very far from countenancing the religious worship now paid to her by Roman Catholics: "The brothers of the Lord had not believed on him, as it is contained in the Gospel published {292} before Marcion. His mother likewise is not shown to have adhered to him; whereas others, Marys and Marthas, were frequently in his company." (See Tert. De carne Christi, c. 7. (p. 364. De Sacy, 29. 439.)) And he tells us that Christ was brought forth by a virgin, who was also about to be married once after the birth, that the two titles of sanctity might be united in Christ by a mother who was both a virgin and also once married102.

Footnote 101:(return)

Paris, 1675. De carne Christi, vii. p. 315. De Monogamia, vii. p. 529. N.B. Both these treatises were probably written after he became a Montanist.

Footnote 102:(return)

On the works once ascribed to Methodius, but now pronounced to be spurious, see above, p. 131.

ORIGEN thus speaks: "Announcing to Zacharias the birth of John, and to Mary the advent of our Saviour among men." [Comment on John, § 24. vol. iv. p. 82.] In his eighth homily on Leviticus, he refers to Mary as a pure Virgin. [Vol. ii. p. 228.] In the forged work of later times, the writer, speaking of our Saviour, says, "He had on earth an immaculate and chaste mother, this much blessed Virgin Mary." [Hom. iii. in Diversos.]

In CYPRIAN we do not find one word expressive of honour or reverence towards the Virgin Mary. Nor is her name mentioned in the letter of his correspondent Firmilian, Bishop of Cappadocia.

LACTANTIUS speaks of "a holy virgin" [Vol. i. p. 299.] chosen for the work of Christ but not one other word of honour, or tending to adoration; though whilst dwelling on the incarnation of the Son of God, had he or his fellow-believers paid religious honour to her, he could scarcely have avoided all allusion to it.

EUSEBIUS speaks of the Virgin Mary, but is altogether silent as to any religious honour of any kind being due to her. In the Oration of the Emperor Constantine (as it is recorded by Eusebius), direct mention is made of the "chaste virginity," and of the maid who was mother {293} of God, and yet remained a virgin. But the object present to the author's mind was so exclusively God manifest in the flesh, that he does not throughout even mention the name of Mary, or allude to any honour paid or due to her. [Cantab. 1720. § 11. p. 689. and § 19. p. 703.]

ATHANASIUS, bent ever on establishing the perfect divinity and humanity of Christ, thus speaks: "The general scope of Holy Scripture is to make a twofold announcement concerning the Saviour, that He was always God, and is a Son; being the Word and the brightness and wisdom of the Father, and that He afterwards became man for us, taking flesh of the Virgin Mary, who bare God ([Greek: taes theotokou])." [Athan. Orat. iii. Cont. Arian. p. 579.]

The work which we have already examined, called The Apostolical Constitutions, compiled probably about the commencement of the fourth century, cannot be read without leaving an impression clear and powerful on the mind, that no religious honour was paid to the Virgin Mary at the time when they were written; certainly not more than is now cheerfully paid to her memory by us of the Anglican Church. Take, for example, the prayer prescribed to be used on the appointment of a Deaconess; the inference from it must be, that others with whom the Lord's Spirit had dwelt, were at least held in equal honour with Mary: "O Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of male and female, who didst fill with thy Spirit Miriam, and Hannah, and Holda, and didst not disdain that thy Son should be born of a woman," &c. [Book viii. c. 20.] Thus, {294} too, in another passage, Mary is spoken of just as other women who had the gift of prophecy; and of her equally and in conjunction with the others it is said, that they were not elated by the gift, nor lifted themselves up against the men. "But even have women prophesied; in ancient times Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses; after her Deborah; and afterwards Huldah and Judith; one under Josiah, the other under Darius; and the mother of the Lord also prophesied, and Elizabeth her kinswoman; and Anna; and in our day the daughters of Philip; yet they were not lifted up against the men, but observed their own measure. Therefore among you also should any man or woman have such a grace, let them be humble, that God may take pleasure in them." [Book viii. c. 2.]

In the Apostolical Canons I find no reference to Mary; nor indeed any passage bearing on our present inquiry, except the last clause of all, containing the benediction. In this passage not only is the prayer for spiritual blessings addressed to God alone, but it is offered exclusively through the mediation of Christ alone, without alluding to intercessions of angels saints, or the Virgin: "Now may God, the only unproduced Being, the Creator of all things, unite you all by peace in the Holy Ghost; make you perfect unto every good work, not to be turned aside, unblameable, not deserving reproof; and may He deem you worthy of eternal life with us, by the mediation of his beloved Son Jesus Christ our God and Saviour: with whom be glory to Him the Sovereign God and Father, in the Holy Ghost the Comforter, now and ever, world without end. Amen." [Vol. i. p. 450.]

I have not intentionally omitted any ancient author {295} falling within the limits of our present inquiry, nor have I neglected any one passage which I could find bearing testimony to any honour paid to the Virgin. The result of my research is, that I have not discovered one solitary expression which implies that religious invocation and honour, such as is now offered to Mary by the Church of Rome, was addressed to her by the members of the primitive Catholic Church.



By the Church of England, two festivals are observed in grateful commemoration of two events relating to Mary as the mother of our Lord:—the announcement of the Saviour's birth by the message of an angel, called, "The Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary," and "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple," called also, "The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin." In the service for the first of these solemnities, we are taught to pray that, as we have known the incarnation of the Son of God by the message of an angel, so by his Cross and Passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection. In the second, we humbly beseech the Divine Majesty that, as his only-begotten Son was presented in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto Him with pure and clean hearts by the same, his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. These days are observed to commemorate events declared to us on the most sure warrant of Holy Scripture; and these prayers are primitive and evangelical. They pray only to God for spiritual blessings through his Son. The second prayer was used in the Church {297} from very early times, and is still retained in the Roman Breviary (Hus. Brev. Rom. H. 536.); whereas, instead of the first103, we find there unhappily a prayer now supplicating that those who offer it, "believing Mary to be truly the Mother of God, might be aided by her intercessions with Him." [V. 496.]

Footnote 103:(return)

This collect also is found in the Roman Missal, as a Prayer at the Post Communion; though it does not appear in the Breviarium Romanum.

In the Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, feasts are observed to the honour of the Virgin Mary, in which the Anglican Church cannot join; such as the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and the immaculate conception of her by her mother. On the origin and nature of these feasts it is not my intention to dwell. I can only express my regret, that by appointing a service and a collect commemorative of the Conception of the Virgin104 in her mother's womb, and praying that the observance of that solemnity may procure the votaries an increase of peace, the Church of Rome has given countenance to a superstition, against which at its commencement, so late as the 12th century, St. Bernard strongly remonstrated, in an epistle to the monks of Lyons; a superstition which has been supported and explained by discussions in no way profitable to the head or the heart. [Epist. 174. Paris, 1632, p. 1538.]

Footnote 104:(return)

Ut quibus beatæ Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium, conceptionis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. H. 445.

Of all these institutions however in honour of the Virgin, the Feast of the ASSUMPTION appears to be as it were the crown and the consummation105. This festival {298} is kept to celebrate the miraculous taking up (assumptio) of the Virgin Mary into heaven. And its celebration, in Roman Catholic countries, is observed in a manner worthy a cause to which our judgment would give deliberately its sanction; in which our feelings would safely and with satisfaction rest on the firmness of our faith; from joining in which a truly pious mind would have no ground for inward misgiving, nor for the aspiration, Would it were founded in truth!

Footnote 105:(return)

"The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is the greatest of all the festivals which the Church celebrates in her honour. It is the consummation of all the other great mysteries by which her life was rendered most wonderful. It is the birthday of her true greatness and glory, and the crown of all the virtues of her whole life, which we admire single in her other festivals." Alban Butler, vol. viii. p. 175.

Before such a solemn office of praise and worship were ever admitted among the institutions of the religion of truth, its originators and compilers should have built upon sure grounds; careful too should they also be who now join in the service, and so lend it the countenance of their example; more especially should those sift the evidence well, who, by their doctrine and writings, uphold, and defend, and advance it; lest they prove at the last to love Rome rather than the truth as it is in Jesus. So solemn, so marked, a religious service in the temples and at the altar of HIM who is the truth, a service so exalted above his fellows, ought beyond question to be founded on the most sure warrant of Holy Scripture, or at the least on undisputed historical evidence, as to the alleged matter of fact on which it is built,—the certain, acknowledged, uninterrupted, and universal testimony of the Church Catholic from the very time. They incur a momentous responsibility who aid in propagating for religious truths the inventions of men106.

Footnote 106:(return)

Very different opinions are held by Roman Catholic writers as to the antiquity of this feast. All, indeed, maintain that it is of very ancient introduction; but whilst some, with Lambecius (lib. viii. p. 286), maintain the antiquity of the festival to be so remote, that its origin cannot be traced; and thence infer that it was instituted by a silent and unrecorded act of the Apostles themselves; others (among whom Kollarius, the learned annotator on the opinion of Lambecius) acknowledged, that it was introduced by an ordinance of the Church, though not at the same time in all countries of Christendom. That annotator assigns its introduction at Rome to the fourth century; at Constantinople to the sixth; in Germany and France to the ninth.


But what is the real state of the case with regard to the fact of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary? It rests (as we shall soon see) on no authentic history; it is supported by no primitive tradition. I profess my surprise to have been great, when I found the most celebrated defenders of the Roman Catholic cause, instead of citing such evidence as would bear with it even the appearance of probability, appealing to histories written more than a thousand years after the alleged event, to forged documents and vague rumours. I was willing to doubt the sufficiency of my research; till I found its defenders, instead of alleging and establishing by evidence what God was by them said to have done, contenting themselves with asserting his omnipotence, in proof that the doctrine implied no impossibility; dwelling on the fitness and reasonableness of his working such a miracle in the honour of her who was chosen to be the mother of his eternal Son; and whilst they took the fact as granted, substituting for argument glowing and fervent descriptions of what might have been the joy in heaven, and what ought to be the feelings of mortals on earth.

At every step of the inquiry into the merits of this case, the principle recurs to the mind, that, as men really and in earnest looking onward to a life after this, our duty is to ascertain to the utmost of our {300} power, not what God could do, not what we or others might pronounce it fit that God should do, but what He has done; not what would be agreeable to our feelings, were it true, but what, whether agreeably or adversely to our feelings or wishes, is proved to be true. The very moment a Christian writer refers me from evidence to possibilities, I feel that he knows not the nature of Christianity; he throws me back from the sure and certain hope of the Gospel to the "beautiful fable" of Socrates,—"It were better to be there than here, IF THESE THINGS ARE TRUE."

But let us inquire into the facts of the case.

First, I would observe that it is by no means agreed among all who have written upon the subject, what was the place, or what was the time of the Virgin's death. Whilst some have maintained that she breathed her last at Ephesus, the large majority assert that her departure from this world took place at Jerusalem. And as to the time of her death, some have assigned it to the year 48 of the Christian era, about the time at which Paul and Barnabas (as we read in Holy Scripture) returned to Antioch; whilst others refer it to a later date. I am not, however, aware of any supposition which fixes it at a period subsequent to that at which the canon of Scripture closes. Epiphanius indeed, towards the close of the fourth century, reminding us that Scripture is totally and purely silent on the subject as well of Mary's death and burial, as of her having accompanied St. John in his travels or not, without alluding to any tradition as to her assumption, thus sums up his sentiments: "I dare to say nothing; but considering it, I observe silence." [Epiph. vol. i. p. 1043.]


Should any of my readers have deliberately adopted as the rule of their faith the present practice of the Church of Rome, I cannot hope that they will take any interest in the following inquiry; but I have been assured, by most sensible and well-informed members of that Church, that there is a very general desire entertained to have this and other questions connected with our subject examined without prejudice, and calmly placed before them. To such persons I trust this chapter may not appear altogether unworthy of their consideration. Those who would turn from it on the principle to which we have here alluded, will find themselves very closely responding to the sentiments professed by St. Bernard, "Exalt her who is exalted above the choirs of angels to the heavenly kingdom. These things the Church sings to me of her, and has taught me to sing the same to others. For my part, what I have received from it, I am secure in holding and delivering; which also, I confess, I am not OVER-SCRUPULOUS in admitting. (Quod non scrupulosius fateor admiserim.) I have received in truth from the Church that that day is to be observed with the highest veneration on which she was TAKEN up (assumpta) from this wicked world, and carrying with her into heaven feasts of the most celebrated joys107."

Footnote 107:(return)

See Lambecius, book viii. p. 286. The letter of St. Bernard is addressed to the Canons of Lyons on the Conception of the holy Mary. Paris, 1632, p. 1538. His observations in that letter, with a view of discountenancing the rising superstition, in juxtaposition with these sentiments, are well deserving the serious consideration of every one.

Let us then, with the authorized and enjoined service of the Church of Rome for the 15th of August before us, examine the evidence on which that religious {302} service, the most solemn consummation of all the rest, is founded.

In the service of the Assumption, more than twice seven times is it reiterated in a very brief space, and with slight variations of expression, that Mary was taken up into heaven; and that, not on any general and indefinite idea of her beatific and glorified state, but with reference to one specific single act of divine favour, performed at a fixed time, effecting her assumption, as it is called, "to-day." [Æs. 595.] "To-day Mary the Virgin ascended the heavens. Rejoice, because she is reigning with Christ for ever." "Mary the Virgin is taken up into heaven, to the ethereal chamber in which the King of kings sits on his starry throne." "The holy mother of God hath been exalted above the choirs of angels to the heavenly realms." "Come, let us worship the King of kings, to whose ethereal heaven the Virgin Mother was taken up to-day." And that it is her bodily ascension, her corporeal assumption into heaven, and not merely the transit of her soul108 from mortal life to eternal bliss, which the Roman Church maintains and propagates by this service, is put beyond doubt by the service itself. In the fourth and sixth reading109, or lesson, for example, we find these {303} sentences:—"She returned not into the earth but is seated in the heavenly tabernacles." "How could death devour, how could those below receive, how could corruption invade, THAT BODY, in which life was received? For it a direct, plain, and easy path to heaven was prepared."

Footnote 108:(return)

Lambecius, indeed (book viii. p. 306), distinctly affirms, that one object which the Church had in view was to condemn the HERESY of those who maintain that the reception of the Virgin into heaven, was the reception of her soul only, and not also of her body. "Ut damnet eorum hæresin qui sanctissimæ Dei genetricis rcceptionem in coelum ad animam ipsius tantum, non vero simul etiam ad corpus pertinere existimant."

Footnote 109:(return)

Non reversa est in terram, sed ... in coelestibus tabernaculis collocatum. Quomodo mois devoraret, quomodo inferi susciperent, quomodo corruptio invaderit CORPUS ILLUD in quo vita suscepta est? Huic recta plana et facilis ad coelum parata est via. Æs. 603, 604.

Now, on what authority does this doctrine rest? On what foundation stone is this religious worship built? The holy Scriptures are totally and profoundly silent, as to the time, the place, the manner of Mary's death. Once after the ascension of our Lord, and that within eight days, we find mentioned the name of Mary promiscuously with others; after that, no allusion is made to her in life or in death; and no account, as far as I can find, places her death too late for mention to have been made of it in the Acts of the Apostles. The historian, Nicephorus Callistus, refers it to the 5th year of Claudius, that is about A.D. 47: after which period, events through more than fifteen years are recorded in that book of sacred Scripture.

But closing the holy volume, what light does primitive antiquity enable us to throw on this subject?

The earliest testimony quoted by the defenders of the doctrine, that Mary was at her death taken up bodily into heaven, is a supposed entry in the Chronicon of Eusebius, opposite the year of our Lord 48. This is cited by Coccius without any remark; and even Baronius rests the date of Mary's assumption upon this testimony. [Vol. i. 403.] The words referred to are these,—"Mary the Virgin, the mother of Jesus, was taken up into heaven; as some write that it had been revealed to them."


Now, suppose for one moment that this came from the pen of Eusebius himself, to what does it amount? A chronologist in the fourth century records that some persons, whom he does not name, not even stating when they lived, had written down, not what they had heard as matter of fact, or received by tradition, but that a revelation had been made to them of a fact alleged to have taken place nearly three centuries before the time of that writer. But instead of this passage deserving the name of Eusebius as its author, it is now on all sides acknowledged to be altogether a palpable interpolation. Suspicions, one would suppose, must have been at a very remote date suggested as to the genuineness of this sentence. Many manuscripts, especially the seven in the Vatican, were known to contain nothing of the kind; and the Roman Catholic editor of the Chronicon at Bordeaux, A.D. 1604, tells us that he was restrained from expunging it, only because nothing certain as to the assumption of the Virgin could be substituted in its stead. [P. 566.] Its spuriousness however can no longer be a question of dispute or doubt; it is excluded from the Milan edition of 1818, by Angelo Maio and John Zohrab; and no trace of it is to be found in the Armenian110 version, published by the monks of the Armenian convent at Venice, in 1818.

Footnote 110:(return)

The author visited that convent whilst this edition of the Chronicon of Eusebius was going through the press, and can testify to the apparent anxiety of the monks to make it worthy of the patronage of Christians.

The next authority, to which we are referred, is a letter111 said to have been written by Sophronius the {305} presbyter, about the commencement of the fifth century. The letter used to be ascribed to Jerome; Erasmus referred it to Sophronius; but Baronius says it was written "by an egregious forger of lies," ("egregius mendaciorum concinnator,") who lived after the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches had been condemned. I am not at all anxious to enter upon that point of criticism; that the letter is of very ancient origin cannot be doubted. This document would lead us to conclude, that so far from the tradition regarding the Virgin's assumption being general in the Church, it was a point of grave doubt and discussion among the faithful, many of whom thought it an act of pious forbearance to abstain altogether from pronouncing any opinion on the subject. Whoever penned the letter, and whether we look to the sensible and pious sentiments contained in it, or to its undisputed antiquity, the following extract cannot fail to be interesting112.

Footnote 111:(return)

The letter is entitled "Ad Paulam et Eustochium de Assumptione B.M. Virginis." It is found in the fifth volume of Jerome's works, p. 82. Edit. Jo. Martian.

Footnote 112:(return)

Baronius shows great anxiety (Cologne, 1609, vol. i. p. 408) to detract from the value of this author's testimony, whoever he was; sharply criticising him because he asserts, that the faithful in his time still expressed doubts as to the matter of fact of Mary's assumption. By assigning, however, to the letter a still later date than the works of Sophronius, Baronius adds strength to the arguments for the comparatively recent origin of the tradition of her assumption. See Fabricius (Hamburgh, 1804), vol. ix. p. 160.

"Many of our people doubt whether Mary was taken up together with her body, or went away, leaving the body. But how, or at what time, or by what persons her most holy body was taken hence, or whither removed, or whether it rose again, is not known; although some will maintain that she is already revived, and is clothed with a blessed immortality with Christ in heavenly places, which very many affirm also of the blessed {306} John, the Evangelist, his servant, to whom being a virgin, the virgin was intrusted by Christ, because in his sepulchre, as it is reported, nothing is found but manna, which also is seen to flow forth. Nevertheless which of these opinions should be thought the more true we doubt. Yet it is better to commit all to God, to whom nothing is impossible, than to wish to define rashly113 by our own authority any thing, which we do not approve of.... Because nothing is impossible with God, we do not deny that something of the kind was done with regard to the blessed Virgin Mary; although for caution's sake (salva fide) preserving our faith, we ought rather with pious desire to think, than inconsiderately to define, what without danger may remain unknown." This letter, at the earliest, was not written until the beginning of the fifth century.

Footnote 113:(return)

These last words, stamping the author's own opinion, "Which we do not approve of," are left out in the quotation of Coccius.

Subsequent writers were not wanting to fill up what this letter declares to have been at its own date unknown, as to the manner and time of Mary's assumption, and the persons employed in effecting it. The first authority appealed to in defence of the tradition relating to the assumption of the Virgin114, is usually cited as a well-known work written by Euthymius, who was contemporary with Juvenal, Archbishop of Jerusalem. And the testimony simply quoted as his, offers to us the following account of the miraculous transaction115:—

Footnote 114:(return)

Coccius heads the extract merely with these words: "Euthumius Eremita Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ, lib. iii. c. 40;" assigning the date A.D. 549.

Footnote 115:(return)

This version by Coccius differs in some points from the original. Jo. Dam. vol. ii. p. 879.

"It has been above said, that the holy Pulcheria {307} built many churches to Christ at Constantinople. Of these, however, there is one which was built in Blachernæ, in the beginning of Marcian I's reign of divine memory. These, therefore, namely, Marcian and Pulcheria, when they had built a venerable temple to the greatly to be celebrated and most holy mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, and had decked it with all ornaments, sought her most holy body, which had conceived God. And having sent for Juvenal, Archbishop of Jerusalem, and the bishops of Palestine, who were living in the royal city on account of the synod then held at Chalcedon, they say to them, 'We hear that there is in Jerusalem the first and famous Church of Mary, mother of God and ever Virgin, in the garden called Gethsemane, where her body which bore the Life was deposited in a coffin. We wish, therefore, her relics to be brought here for the protection of this royal city. But Juvenal answered, 'In the holy and divinely inspired Scripture, indeed, nothing is recorded of the departure of holy Mary, mother of God. But from an ancient and most true tradition we have received, that at the time of her glorious falling asleep, all the holy Apostles who were going through the world for the salvation of the nations, in a moment of time borne aloft, came together at Jerusalem. And when they were near her, they had a vision of angels, and divine melody of the highest powers was heard: and thus with divine and more than heavenly glory, she delivered her holy soul into the hands of God in an unspeakable manner. But that which had conceived God being borne with angelic and apostolic psalmody, with funeral rites, was deposited in a coffin in Gethsemane. In this place the chorus and singing of the angels continued for three whole days. But {308} after three days, on the angelic music ceasing, since one of the Apostles had been absent, and came after the third day, and wished to adore the body which had conceived God, the Apostles, who were present, opened the coffin; but the body, pure and every way to be praised, they could not at all find. And when they found only those things in which it had been laid out and placed there, and were filled with an ineffable fragrancy proceeding from those things, they shut the coffin. Being astounded at the miraculous mystery, they could form no other thought, but that He, who in his own person had vouchsafed to be clothed with flesh, and to be made man of the most holy Virgin, and to be born in the flesh, God the Word, and Lord of Glory, and who after birth had preserved her virginity immaculate, had seen it good after she had departed from among the living, to honour her uncontaminated and unpolluted body by a translation before the common and universal resurrection."

Such is the passage offered to us in its insulated form, as an extract from Euthymius. To be enabled, however, to estimate its worth, the inquirer must submit to the labour of considerable research. He will not have pursued his investigation far, before he will find, that a thick cloud of uncertainty and doubt hangs over this page of ecclesiastical history. Not that the evidence alleged in support of the reputed miracle can leave us in doubt as to the credibility of the tradition; for that tradition can scarcely be now countenanced by the most zealous and uncompromising maintainers of the assumption of the Virgin. What I would say is, that the question as to the genuineness and authenticity of the works by which the tradition is said to have been preserved, is far more difficult and complicated, than {309} those writers must have believed, who appeal to such testimony without any doubt or qualification. The result of my own inquiries I submit to your candid acceptance.

The earliest author in whose reputed writings I have found the tradition, is John Damascenus, a monk of Jerusalem, who flourished somewhat before the middle of the eighth century. The passage is found in the second of three homilies on the "Sleep of the Virgin," a term generally used by the Greeks as an equivalent for the Latin word "Assumptio." The original publication of these homilies in Greek and Latin is comparatively of a late date. Lambecius, whose work is dated 1665, says he was not aware that any one had so published them before his time116. But not to raise the question of their genuineness, the preacher's introduction of this passage into his homily is preceded by a very remarkable section, affording a striking example of the manner in which Christian orators used to indulge in addresses and appeals not only to the spirits of departed men, but even to things which never had life. The speaker here in his sermon addresses the tomb of Mary, as though it had ears to hear, and an understanding to comprehend; and then represents the tomb as having a tongue to answer, and as calling forth from the preacher and his congregation an address of admiration and reverence. Such apostrophes as these cannot be too steadily borne in mind, or too carefully weighed, when any argument is sought to be drawn from similar salutations offered by ancient Christian orators to saint, or angel, or the Virgin.

Footnote 116:(return)

Vol. viii. p. 281. Le Quien, who published them in 1712, refers to earlier homilies on the Dormitio Virginis. Jo. Damas. Paris, 1712. vol. ii. p. 857.


The following are among the expressions in which the preacher, in the passage under consideration, addresses the Virgin's tomb: "Thou, O Tomb, of holy things most holy (for I will address thee as a living being), where is the much desired and much beloved body of the mother of God?" [Vol. ii. p. 875.] The answer of the tomb begins thus, "Why seek ye her in a tomb, who has been taken up on high to the heavenly tabernacles?" In reply to this, the preacher first deliberating with his hearers what answer he should make, thus addresses the tomb: "Thy grace indeed is never-failing and eternal," &c. [P. 881.] By the maintainers of the invocation of saints, many a passage far less unequivocal and less cogent than this has been adduced to show, that saints and martyrs were invoked by primitive worshippers.

We find John Damascenus thus introducing the passage of Euthymius, "Ye see, beloved fathers and brethren, what answer the all-glorious tomb makes to us; and that these things are so, in the EUTHYMIAC HISTORY, the third book and fortieth chapter, is thus written word for word." [P. 877.]

Lambecius maintains, that the history here quoted by John Damascenus was not an ecclesiastical history, written by Euthymius, who died in A.D. 472, but a biographical history concerning Euthymius himself, written by an ecclesiastic, whom he supposes to be Cyril, the monk, who died in A.D. 531. This opinion of Lambecius is combated by Cotelerius; the discussion only adding to the denseness of the cloud which involves the whole tradition. But whether the work quoted had Euthymius for its author or its subject, the work itself is lost; and an epitome only of such a work has come down to {311} our time. In that abridgment the passage quoted by Damascenus is not found.

The editor of John Damascenus, Le Quien, in his annotations on this portion of his work, offers to us some very interesting remarks, which bear immediately on the agitated question as to the first observance of the feast of the Assumption, as well as on the tradition itself. Le Quien infers, from the words of Modestus, patriarch of Jerusalem, that scarcely any preachers before him had addressed their congregations on the departure of the Virgin out of this life; he thinks, moreover, that the Feast of the Assumption was at the commencement of the seventh century only recently instituted. Though all later writers affirm that the Virgin was buried in the valley of Jehoshaphat, in the garden of Gethsemane, the same editor says, that this could not have been known to Jerome, who passed a great part of his life in Bethlehem, and yet observes a total silence on the subject; though in his "Epitaph on Paula," [Jerome, Paris, 1706. Vol. iv. p. 670-688, ep. 86.] he enumerates all the places in Palestine consecrated by any remarkable event. Neither, he adds, could it have been known to Epiphanius, who, though he lived long in Palestine, yet declares that nothing was known as to the death or burial of the Virgin. [Vol. ii, p. 858.]

Again, in his remarks upon the writings falsely attributed to Melito, the same editor says, that since this Pseudo-Melito speaks many jejune things of the Virgin Mary, (such for example as at the approach of death her exceeding fear of being exposed to the wiles of Satan,) he concludes, from that circumstance, that the work was written before the Council of Ephesus; alleging this very remarkable reason, that "after that {312} time there BEGAN TO BE ENTERTAINED, as was right, not only in the East, but also in the West, a far better estimate of the parent of God." [P. 880.]

Many of the remarks of this editor would appear to savour of prejudice had they come from the pen of one who denied the reality of the assumption, or oppugned the honour and worship now paid by members of the Church of Rome to the Virgin. Nor could the suspicion of such prejudice be otherwise than increased by the insinuation which the same editor throws out against the honesty of Archbishop Juvenal, and on the possibility of his having invented the whole story, and so for sinister purposes deceived Marcian and Pulcheria; just as he fabricated the writings which he forged for the purpose of securing the primacy of Palestine; a crime laid to the charge of Juvenal by Leo the Great, in his letter to Maximus, Bishop of Antioch. [P. 879. See Leo. vol. i. p. 1215. Epist. cxix.]

It is moreover much to be regretted that in making the extract from John Damascenus those who employ it as evidence of primitive belief, have not presented it to their readers whole and entire. In the present case the system of quoting garbled extracts is particularly to be lamented, because the paragraphs omitted in the quotation carry in themselves clear proof that Juvenal's answer, as it now appears in John Damascenus, could not have been made by Juvenal to Marcian and Pulcheria. For in it is quoted from Dionysius the Areopagite by name, a passage still found in the works ascribed to him; whereas by the judgment of the most learned Roman Catholic writers, those spurious works did not make their appearance in Christendom till the beginning of the sixth century, fifty years after the Council of Chalcedon, to assist at which {313} Juvenal is said to have been present in Constantinople when the emperor and empress held the alleged conversation with him.

The remainder of the passage from the history of Euthymius, rehearsed in this oration of John Damascenus, is as follows: "There were present with the Apostles at that time both the most honoured Timothy the Apostle, and first bishop of the Ephesians, and Dionysius the Areopagite, himself, as the great Dionysius testifies in the laboured words concerning the blessed Hierotheus, himself also then being present, to the above-named apostle Timothy, saying thus, Since with the inspired hierarchs themselves, when we also as thou knowest, and yourself, and many of our holy brethren had come together to the sight of the body which gave the principle of life; and there was present too James the brother of the Lord ([Greek: adelphotheos]), and Peter the chief and the most revered head of the apostles ([Greek: theologon]); then it seemed right, after the spectacle, that all the hierarchs (as each was able) should sing of the boundless goodness of the divine power. After the apostles, as you know, he surpassed all the other sacred persons, wholly carried away, and altogether in an ecstasy, and feeling an entire sympathy with what was sung; and by all by whom he was heard, and seen, and known (and he117 knew it not), he was considered to be an inspired and divine hymnologist. And why should I speak to you about the things there divinely said, for unless I have even forgotten myself, I know that I have often heard from you some portions also of those inspired canticles? And the royal personages having heard this, requested of Juvenal the archbishop, that the holy coffin, with the {314} clothes of the glorious and all-holy Mary, mother of God, sealed up, might be sent to them. And this, when sent, they deposited in the venerable temple of the Mother of God, built in Blachernae; and these things were so."

Footnote 117:(return)

This seems confused in the original ([Greek: kai eginosketo, kai ouk eginoske]). The whole passage is involved in great obscurity.

It is a fact no less lamentable than remarkable, that out of the lessons appointed by the Church of Rome for the feast of the Assumption, to be read to believers assembled in God's house of prayer, three of those lessons are selected and taken entirely from this very oration of John Damascenus118.

Footnote 118:(return)

The Fourth Lesson begins "Hodie sacra et animata arca."

The Fifth " " "Hodie virgo immaculata."

The Sixth " " "Eva quæ serpentis," &c.—Æ. 603.

These contain the passages to which we have before referred as fixing the belief of the Church of Rome to be in the CORPOREAL assumption of Mary. "Quomodo corruptio invaderet CORPUS ILLUD in quo vita suscepta est? [Greek: pos diaphthora tou zoodochon katatolmaeseie somatos.]"

This, then, is the account nearest to the time of the supposed event; and yet can any thing be more vague, and by way of testimony, more worthless? A writer near the middle of the sixth century refers to a conversation, said to have taken place in the middle of the fifth century; in this reported conversation at Constantinople, the Bishop of Jerusalem is represented to have informed the Emperor and Empress of an ancient tradition, which was believed, concerning a miraculous event, said to have taken place nearly four hundred years before, that the body was taken out of a coffin without the knowledge of those who had deposited it there: Whilst the primitive and inspired account, recording most minutely the journeys and proceedings of some of those very persons, and the letters of others, makes no mention at all of any transaction of the kind; and of {315} all the intermediate historians and ecclesiastical writers not one gives the slightest intimation that any rumour of it had reached them119.

Footnote 119:(return)

Baronius appears not to have referred to this history of Euthymius, but he refers to Nicephorus, and also to a work ascribed to Melito, c. 4, 5. Nicephorus, Paris, 1630. vol. i. p. 168. lib. ii. c. 21. Baronius also refers to lib. 15. c. 14. This Nicephorus was Patriarch of Constantinople. He lived during the reign of our Edward the First, or Edward the Second, and cannot, therefore, be cited in any sense of the word as an ancient author writing on the events of the primitive ages; though the manner in which his testimony is appealed to would imply, that he was a man to whose authority on early ecclesiastical affairs we were now expected to defer.

Another authority to which the writers on the assumption of the Virgin appeal, is that of Nicephorus Callistus, who, at the end of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century, dedicated his work to Andronicus Palæologus. The account given by Nicephorus is this:

In the fifth year of Claudius, the Virgin at the age of fifty-nine, was made acquainted with her approaching death. Christ himself then descended from heaven with a countless multitude of angels, to take up the soul of his mother; He summoned his disciples by thunder and storm from all parts of the world. The Virgin then bade Peter first, and afterwards the rest of the Apostles, to come with burning torches120. The Apostles surrounded her bed, and "an outpouring of miracles flowed forth." The blind beheld the sun, the deaf heard, the lame walked, and every disease fled away. The Apostles and others sang, as the coffin was borne from Sion to Gethsemane, angels preceding, surrounding, and following it. {316} A wonderful thing then took place. The Jews were indignant and enraged, and one more desperately bold than the rest rushed forward, intending to throw down the holy corpse to the ground. Vengeance was not tardy; for his hands were cut off from his arms121. The procession stopped; and at the command of Peter, on the man shedding tears of penitence, his hands were joined on again and restored whole. At Gethsemane she was put into a tomb, but her Son transferred her to the divine habitation.

Footnote 120:(return)

This author here quotes the forged work ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite, to which we have before referred.

Footnote 121:(return)

This tradition seems to have been much referred to at a time just preceding our Reformation. In a volume called "The Hours of the most blessed Mary, according to the legitimate rite of the Church of Salisbury," printed in Paris in 1526, from which we have made many extracts in the second part of this work, the frontispiece gives an exact representation of the story at the moment of the Jew's hands being cut off. They are severed at the wrist, and are lying on the coffin, on which his arms also are resting. In the sky the Virgin appears between the Father and the Son, the Holy Dove being seen above her. The same print occurs also in another part of the volume.

Nicephorus then refers to Juvenal, Archbishop of Jerusalem, as the authority on which the tradition was received, that the Apostles opened the coffin to enable St. Thomas (the one stated to have been absent) to embrace the body; and then he proceeds to describe the personal appearance of the Virgin. [Vol. i. p. 171.]

I am unwilling to trespass upon the patience of my readers by any comment upon such evidence as this. Is it within the verge of credibility that had such an event as Mary's assumption taken place under the extraordinary circumstances which now invest the tradition, or under any circumstances whatever, there would have been a total silence respecting it in the Holy Scriptures? {317} That the writers of the first four centuries should never have referred to such a fact? That the first writer who alludes to it, should have lived in the middle of the fifth century, or later; and that he should have declared in a letter to his contemporaries that the subject was one on which many doubted; and that he himself would not deny it, not because it rested upon probable evidence, but because nothing was impossible with God; and that nothing was known as to the time, the manner, or the persons concerned, even had the assumption taken place? Can we place any confidence in the relation of a writer in the middle of the sixth century, as to a tradition of what an archbishop of Jerusalem attending the council of Chalcedon, had told the sovereigns at Constantinople of a tradition, as to what was said to have happened nearly four hundred years before, whilst in the "Acts" of that Council, not the faintest trace is found of any allusion to the supposed fact or the alleged tradition, though the transactions of that Council in many of its most minute circumstances are recorded, and though the discussions of that Council brought the name and circumstances of the Virgin Mary continually before the minds of all who attended it?

This, however, is a point of too great importance to be dismissed summarily; and seems to require us to examine, however briefly, into the circumstances of that Council.



The legend on which the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is founded professes to trace the tradition to Juvenal, Archbishop of Jerusalem, when he was sojourning in Constantinople for the purpose of attending the General Council of Chalcedon. To the Emperor and Empress, who presided at that council, Juvenal is said to have communicated the tradition, as received in Palestine, of the miraculous taking up of Mary's body into heaven. This circumstance seems, as we have already intimated, of itself, to require us to examine the records of that Council, with the view of ascertaining whether any traces may be found confirmatory of the tradition, or otherwise; and since that Council cannot be regarded as an insulated assembly, but as a continuation rather or resumption of the preceding minor Councils of Constantinople and Ephesus, we must briefly refer to the occasion and nature generally of that succession of Christian synods. I am not aware that in the previous Councils any thing had transpired {319} which could be brought as evidence on the subject of our inquiry. The questions which had disturbed the peace of Christendom, and which were agitated in these Councils, inseparable from a repeated mention of the Virgin Mary's name, afforded an opportunity at every turn for an expression of the sentiments of those who composed the Councils, and of all connected with them, including the Bishop of Rome himself, towards her. It would be altogether foreign from the purpose of this address to enter in any way at large upon the character and history of those or the preceding Councils, yet a few words seem necessary, to enable us to judge of the nature and weight of the evidence borne by them on the question immediately before us.

The source of all the disputes which then rent the Church of HIM who had bequeathed peace as his last and best gift to his followers, was the anxiety to define and explain the nature of the great Christian mystery, the Incarnation of the Son of God; a point on which it were well for all Christians to follow only so far as the Holy Scriptures lead them by the hand. All parties appealed to the Nicene Council; though there seems to have been, to say the least, much misunderstanding and unnecessary violence and party spirit on all sides. The celebrated Eutyches of Constantinople was charged with having espoused heterodox doctrine, by maintaining that in Christ was only one nature, the incarnate Word. On this charge he was accused before a Council held at Constantinople in A.D. 448. His doctrine was considered to involve a denial of the human nature of the Son of God. The Council condemned him of heresy, deposed, and excommunicated him. From this proceeding Eutyches appealed to a General Council. A council (the authority of which, however, {320} has been solemnly, but with what adequate reason we need not stop to examine, repudiated), was convened at Ephesus in the following year, by the Emperor Theodosius. The proceedings of this assembly were accompanied by lamentable unfairness and violence. Eutyches was acquitted, and restored by this council122; and his accusers were condemned and persecuted; Flavianus, Archbishop of Constantinople, who had summoned the preceding council, being even scourged and exiled. In his distress that patriarch sought the good offices of Leo, Bishop of Rome, who espoused his cause, but who failed nevertheless of inducing Theodosius to convene a General Council. His successor Marcian, however, consented; and in the year 451 the Council of Chalcedon was convened, first meeting at Nice, and by adjournment being removed to Chalcedon. In this council all the proceedings as well of the Council of Constantinople as of Ephesus, were rehearsed at length; and from a close examination of the proceedings of those three councils, only one inference seems deducible, namely, that the invocation and worship of saints and of the Virgin Mary had not then obtained that place in the Christian {321} Church, which the Church of Rome now assigns to it; a place, however, which the Church of England, among other branches of the Catholic Church, maintains that it has usurped, and cannot, without a sacrifice of the only sound principle of religious worship, be suffered to retain.

Footnote 122:(return)

The sentiments of Eutyches, even as they are recorded by the party who charged him with heresy, seem to imply so much of soundness in his principles, and of moderation in his maintenance of those principles, that one must feel sorrow on finding such a man maintaining error at any time. The following is among the records of transactions rehearsed at Chalcedon: "He, Eutyches, professed that he followed the expositions of the holy and blessed Fathers who formed the Councils of Nicæa and Ephesus, and was ready to subscribe to them. But if any where it might chance, as he said, that our fathers were deceived and led astray, that as for himself he neither accepted nor accused those things, but he only on such points investigated the divine Scriptures as more to be depended upon [Greek: os bebaioteras]."

The grand question then agitated with too much asperity, and too little charity, was, whether by the incarnation our blessed Saviour became possessed of two natures, the divine and human. Subordinate to this, and necessary for its decision, was involved the question, What part of his nature, if any, Christ derived from the Virgin Mary? Again and again does this question bring the name, the office, the circumstances, and the nature of that holy and blessed mother of our Lord before these Councils. The name of Mary is continually in the mouth of the accusers, the accused, the judges, and the witnesses; and had Christian pastors then entertained the same feelings of devotion towards her; had they professed the same belief as to her assumption into heaven, and her influence and authority in directing the destinies of man, and in protecting the Church on earth; had they habitually appealed to her with the same prayers for her intercession and good offices, and placed the same confidence in her as we find now exhibited in the authorized services of the Roman Ritual, it is impossible to conceive that no signs, no intimation of such views and feelings, would, either directly or incidentally, have shown themselves, somewhere or other, among the manifold and protracted proceedings of these Councils. I have searched diligently, but I can find no expression as to her nature and office, or as to our feelings and conduct towards Mary, in which, as a {322} Catholic of the Anglican Church, I should not heartily acquiesce. I can find no sentiment implying invocation, or religious worship of any kind, or in any degree; I find no allusion to her Assumption.

Pope Leo, who is frequently in these documents [Vol. v. p. 1418.] called Archbishop of Rome, in a letter to Julianus, Bishop of Cos, speaks of Christ as born of "A Virgin," "The blessed Virgin," "The pure, undefiled Virgin;" and in a letter to the empress Pulcheria, he calls Mary simply "The Virgin Mary." In his celebrated letter to Flavianus, not one iota of which (according to the decree of the Roman council under Pope Gelasius) was to be questioned by any man on pain of incurring an anathema, Pope Leo says that Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary his mother, who brought him forth with the same virgin purity as she had conceived him. Flavianus, Archbishop of Constantinople, in his Declaration of faith to the Emperor Theodosius, affirms, that Christ was born "of Mary, the Virgin—of the same substance with the Father according to his Godhead—of the same substance with his mother according to his manhood." [Vol. vi. p. 539.] He speaks of her afterwards as "The holy Virgin."

There is, indeed, one word used in a quotation from Cyril of Alexandria, and adopted in these transactions, which requires a few words of especial observation. The word is theotocos123, which the Latins were accustomed {323} to transfer into their works, substituting only Roman instead of Greek characters, but which afterwards the authors of the Church of Rome translated by Deipara, and in more recent ages by Dei Mater, Dei Genetrix, Creatoris Genetrix, &c. employing those terms not in explanation of the twofold nature of Christ's person, as was the case in these Councils, but in exaltation of Mary, his Virgin mother. This word was adopted by Christians in much earlier times than the Council of Chalcedon; but it was employed only to express more strongly the Catholic belief in the union of the divine and human nature in Him who was Son both of God and man; and by no means for the purpose of raising Mary into an object of religious adoration. The sense in which it was used was explained in the seventh Act of the Council of Constantinople, (repeated at Chalcedon) as given by Cyril of Alexandria. "According to this sense of an unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be theotocos, because that God the Word was made flesh, and became man, and from that very conception united with himself the temple received from her."

Footnote 123:(return)

[Greek: Theotokos.] To those who would depend upon this word theotocos as a proof of the exalted honour in which the early Christians held the Virgin, and not as indicative of an anxiety to preserve whole and entire the doctrine of the union of perfect God and perfect man in Christ, deriving his manhood through her, I would suggest the necessity of weighing well that argument with this fact before them; that to the Apostle James, called in Scripture the Lord's brother, was assigned the name of Adelphotheos, or God's brother. This name was given to James, not to exalt him above his fellow-apostles, but to declare the faith of those who gave it him in the union of the divine and human nature of Christ.—See Joan. Damascenus, Hom. ii. c. 18. In Dormit. Virg. vol. ii. p. 881. Le Quien, Paris, 1712. The Latin translation renders it Domini frater.

Nothing in our present inquiry turns upon the real {324} meaning of that word theotocos. Some who have been among the brightest ornaments of the Anglican Church have adopted the translation "mother of God," whilst many others among us believe that the original sense would be more correctly conveyed by the expression "mother of Him who was God."

I am induced here to lay side by side, with the second Article of our Anglican Church, the Confession of Faith from Cyril, first recited at Constantinople, then repeated at Ephesus, and afterwards again rehearsed at Chalcedon; in its last clause the expression occurs which gave rise to these remarks.

Ancient Confession.

We confess that our Lord Jesus, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, from a reasonable soul and body, begotten from everlasting of the Father according to his Godhead, and in these last days, He the same for us and for our salvation [was born] of Mary, the Virgin, according to his manhood—of the same substance with the Father according to his Godhead, of the same substance with us according to his manhood. For of two natures there became an union. Wherefore we confess one Christ, one Lord. According to this sense of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be theotocos, because that God the Word was made flesh, and became man, and from that very conception united with himself the temple received from her.

[Vol. vi. p. 736.]


Second Article of Anglican Church.

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.


But there are other points in the course of these important proceedings to which I would solicit your especial attention, with the view of comparing the sentiments of the Bishop of Rome at that day, and also the expressions employed by other Chief Pastors of Christ's flock, with the language of the appointed authorized services of the Roman Church now, and the sentiments of her reigning Pontiff, and of his accredited ministers.

The circumstances of the Church Catholic, as represented in Leo's letter in the fifth century, and the circumstances of the Church of Rome, as lamented by the present Pope in 1832124, are in many respects very similar. The end desired by Leo and Flavianus, his brother pastor and contemporary, Bishop of Constantinople, and by Gregory, now Bishop of Rome, is one and the same, namely, the suppression of heresy, the prevalence of the truth, and the unity of the Christian Church. But how widely and how strikingly different are the foundations on which they respectively build their hopes for the attainment of that end!

Footnote 124:(return)

"The encyclical letter of our most holy Father, Pope Gregory, by divine providence, the sixteenth of that name, to all patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops."

The present Roman Pontiff's hopes, and desires, and exhortations are thus expressed125:—

Footnote 125:(return)

This is the translation circulated in the Roman Catholic Annual, p. 15, called, The Laity's Directory for the year 1833; on the title page of which is this notice: "The Directory for the Church Service, printed by Messrs. Keating and Brown, is the only one which is published with the authority of the Vicars Apostolic in England.—London, Nov. 12, 1829." Signed "James, Bishop of Usula, Vic. Ap. Lond."

"That all may have a successful and happy issue, let us raise our eyes to the most blessed Virgin Mary, {326} WHO ALONE DESTROYS HERESIES, who is our GREATEST HOPE, yea, the ENTIRE GROUND OF OUR HOPE126. May she exert her patronage to draw down an efficacious blessing on our desires, our plans, and proceedings in the present straitened condition of the Lord's flock. We will also implore, in humble prayer, from Peter, the prince of the Apostles, and from his fellow-Apostle Paul, that you may all stand as a wall to prevent any other foundation than what hath been laid; and supported by this cheering hope, we have confidence that the author and finisher of faith, Jesus Christ, will at last console us all in the tribulations which have found us exceedingly."

Footnote 126:(return)

On this word there is a note of reference to S. Bern. Serm. de Nat. B.M.V. 7.

"To you, venerable brethren, and the flocks committed to your care, we most lovingly impart, as auspicious of celestial help, the Apostolic Benediction. Given at Rome from St. Mary Major's, August 15th, the Festival of the Assumption of the same blessed Virgin Mary, the year of our Lord 1832, of our Pontificate the Second."

How deplorable a change, how melancholy a degeneracy is here evinced from the faith, and hopes, and sentiments of Christian bishops in days of old! In the expressed hopes of Leo and Flavianus, you will seek in vain for any reference or allusion "to the blessed Virgin Mary, as the destroyer of heresies, the greatest hope, the entire ground of a Christian's hope;" you will in vain seek for any exhortation for the faithful "to raise their eyes to her in order to obtain a merciful and happy issue." Equally vain would be your search for any "imploring in humble prayer," of Peter and Paul, or any even distant allusion to help from them. {327} To God and God alone are the faithful exhorted to pray; on God and God alone do those Christians express that their hopes rely; God alone they regard as the destroyer of heresy, the restorer of peace, and the protector of the Church's unity. "Their greatest hope, yea, the entire ground of their hope," the Being to be "implored in humble prayer," is not Mary, nor Peter, nor Paul, but God alone, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier of Mary, and of Peter, and of Paul.

Thus Flavian writing to Leo says, "Wherefore (in consequence of those errors, and heresies, and distractions, which he had deplored) we must be sober and watch unto prayer, and draw nigh to God." [Vol. v. 1330.] And again, "Thus will the heresy which has arisen, and the consequent commotion, be easily destroyed by your holy letters with the assistance of God." [Vol. v. 1355.] Thus Leo in his turn writing to Julian, Bishop of Cos, utters this truly Christian sentiment. "May the mercy of God, as we trust, grant that without the loss of any soul, against the darts of the devil the sound parts may be entirely preserved, and the wounded parts may be healed. May God preserve you safe and sound, most honoured brother!" [Vol. v. 1423.] Thus the same Bishop of Rome writing to Flavian, expresses his hopes in these words: "Confidently trusting that the help of God will be present, so that one who has been misled, condemning the vanity of his own thoughts, may be saved. May God preserve you in health and strength, most beloved brother!" [Vol. v. 1390.]

I will detain you by only one more reference to these most interesting documents. The whole Council of Chalcedon, at the conclusion of all, and when the {328} triumph was considered to have been secured over Eutyches, and their gratitude was expressed that the heresies had been destroyed—instead of referring to Mary as the "sole destroyer of heresies," shout, as if with the voice of one man, from every side, "It is God alone who hath done this!" [Vol. vii. p. 174.] Neither antecedently did their chief pastors exhort them to raise their eyes to Mary, and promise to "implore" the blessing they needed, "in humble prayer from Peter and Paul." Neither "in the straitened condition of the Lord's flock" did they invoke any other than God. And when truth prevailed, and the victory was won, whilst they were lavish of their grateful thanks to the emperor and his queen, who were present and had succoured them; of help from the invisible world they make no mention, save only of the Lord's; they had implored neither angel, nor saints, nor Virgin to be their protector and patron; no angel, nor saint, nor virgin, shared their praises;—God alone was exalted in that day.

And, let not the answer, ever at hand when reference is thus made to the prayers or professions of individuals, whether popes or canonized saints, seduce any now from a pursuit of the very truth. These, it is said, "are the prayers and professions of individuals, it is unfair then to make the Church responsible for them; we appeal from them to the Church." But in this case the words of the Sovereign Pontiff are in good faith the words of the Church of Rome; not because I at all would identify the words of a Pope with the Church, but because the prayers of the Church of Rome in her authorized solemn services and acts of worship justify {329} Pope Gregory in every sentiment he utters, and every expression he employs. Does Gregory bid the faithful lift up their eyes to Mary the sole destroyer of heresies? The Roman ritual in the Lesser Office of the holy Virgin thus addresses her, "Rejoice, O Mary Virgin; thou alone hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world:" And again: "Under thy protection we take refuge, holy parent of God; despise not thou our prayers in our necessities, but from all dangers ever deliver us, O glorious and blessed Virgin." Does Gregory assure the faithful that he will implore in humble prayer of Peter and Paul? in doing so he is only treading in the very footsteps of the Roman Church itself. In an address, which we have already quoted (see p. 262), Peter is thus invoked. "Now O good shepherd, merciful Peter, accept the prayers of us who supplicate, and loose the bands of our sins, by the power committed to thee, by which thou shuttest heaven against all by a word, and openest it."

These things are now; but from the beginning it was not so.




When from examining the evidence of antiquity we turn to the present enjoined services of the Church of Rome, it is impossible not to be struck by the fact repeatedly forced upon our notice, that whereas the invocation of the Virgin seems to have been introduced at a period much later than those addresses to the martyrs which have already invited our attention, her worship now assumes so much higher a place, and claims so large a share in the public worship of the Roman Catholic portions of Christendom above martyrs, saints, and angels. The offices of the Virgin present instances of all those various and progressive stages of divine worship, which we have already exemplified in the case of the martyrs, from the first primitive and Christian practice of making the anniversary of the Saint a day either of especial praise and prayer to God for the mercies of redemption generally, or of returning thanks to God for the graces manifested in his holy servants now in peace, with prayers for light and strength to enable the worshippers to follow them, as they followed Christ—down to the last and worst stage, the consummation {331} of all, namely, prayer directly to saints and angels for protection, succour, and spiritual benefits at their hands.

I. Of the first class is the following collect, retained almost word for word in our Anglican service.

On the day of the Purification.

"Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech thy majesty, that as thy only begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldest cause us to be presented unto Thee with purified minds. Through the same."

(Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, majestatem tuam supplices exoramus, ut sicut unigenitus Filius tuus hodierna die cum nostræ carnis substantia est præsentatus, ita nos facias purificatis tibi mentibus præsentari. Per eundem Dominum.—H. 536.)

Such a prayer is founded on the facts of revelation, and is primitive, catholic, apostolic, and evangelical.

II. Of the second progressive stage towards the adoration of the saints, the offices of the Virgin supply us with various instances; the case, namely, of the Christian orator being led by the flow of his eloquence to apostrophize the spirit of the Saint, and address him as though he were present, witnessing the celebration of his day, hearing the panegyrics uttered for his honour, and partaking with the congregation in their religious acts of worship.

"O holy and spotless virginhood; with what praises to extol thee I know not: because Him, whom the heavens could not contain, thou didst bear in thy bosom. {332} Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Thou art blessed, O Virgin Mary, who didst carry the Lord, the Creator of the world. Thou didst give birth to Him who made thee, and remainest a virgin for ever. [Beata es Virgo Maria, quæ Dominum portasti Creatorem mundi: genuisti qui te fecit, et in æternum permanes virgo.—Vern. clxii.] Hail, holy parent, who didst in child-birth bring forth the King who ruleth heaven and earth for ever and ever. Amen." [Salve sacra parens enixa puerpera regem, qui coelum terramque regit in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.—Introit. at the mass on the Nativity of the Virgin.]

In apostrophes like these, the members of the Anglican Church see nothing in itself harmful, so long as they are kept within due bounds. Many of the passages cited from the ancient writers in proof of their having espoused the doctrine, and exemplified in themselves the practice of invoking saints, are nothing more than these glowing addresses. They have been responded to by one of the brightest ornaments, and sweetest minstrels of the Anglican Church, whose apostrophe at the same time by its own words would guard us against the abuses and excesses in which in the Roman Catholic Church this practice, followed without restraint and indulged in with less and less of caution and soberness, unhappily ended; abuses against which also we cannot ourselves now be too constantly and carefully on our guard.

"Ave Maria! Blessed maid,

Lily of Eden's fragrant shade,

Who can express the love,

That nurtured thee so pure and sweet;

Making thy heart a shelter meet

For Jesus' holy Dove?


Ave Maria! mother blest,

To whom, caressing and caress'd,

Clings the Eternal Child!

Favour'd beyond archangel's dream,

When first on thee with tenderest gleam

The newborn Saviour smiled.

Ave Maria! thou whose name,

ALL BUT ADORING love may claim,

Yet may we reach thy shrine;

For HE, thy Son and Saviour, vows,

To crown all lowly lofty brows

With love and joy like thine.

Bless'd is the womb that bare Him,—bless'd

The bosom where his lips were press'd;

But rather bless'd are they

Who hear his word and keep it well,

The living homes where Christ shall dwell,

And never pass away."

J. Keble's Christian Year. "The Annunciation."

Would that no branch of the Church Catholic had ever passed the boundary line drawn here so exquisitely by this Anglican Catholic, from whose lips or pen no syllable could ever fall in disparagement of the holy Virgin, as blessed among women, and the holy mother of our Lord. To bring about the re-union of Christians would in that case have been a far more hopeful task than it is now.

III. In the third stage, a prayer was offered to God, that He would permit the intercessions of the saints to help us; or the prayer contained the expression of a wish,—a desire not addressed either to God or to the saint, merely words expressive of the hope of the individual. The following are some of the many instances now contained in the Roman Breviary:


"May the Virgin of virgins herself intercede for us to the Lord. Amen." [Ipsa Virgo virginum intercedat pro nobis ad Dominum. Amen.—Vern. cxlviii.]

In the Post-communion, on the day of the Assumption, this prayer is offered:—"Partakers of the heavenly table, we implore thy clemency, O Lord our God, that we who celebrate the Assumption of the mother of God, may, by her intercession, be freed from all impending evils. Through," &c. [Mensæ coelestis participes effecti imploramus clementiam tuam, Domine Deus noster, ut qui Assumptionem Dei Genetricis colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus ejus intercessione liberemur. Per.—Miss. Rom.]

"We beseech Thee, O Lord, let the glorious intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary protect us and bring us to life eternal." [Beatæ et gloriosæ semper Virginia Mariæ, quæsumus, Domine, intercessio gloriosa nos protegat, et ad vitam producat æternam.—Vern. clv.]

"Pardon, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the offences of thy servants, that we, who cannot please Thee of our own act, may be saved by the intercession of the mother of thy Son, our Lord, who liveth with Thee." [Famulorum tuorum quæsumus, Domine, delictis ignosce, ut qui tibi placere de nostris actibus non valemus, Genetricis Filii tui, Domini nostri, intercessione salvemur, qui tecum vivit.—Vern. clxix.]

On the vigil of the Epiphany, this prayer is offered in the Post-communion at the mass,—"Let this communion, O Lord, purge us from guilt, and by the intercession of the blessed Virgin, mother of God, let it make us partakers of the heavenly cure. Through the same." [Hæc nos communio, Domine, purget a crimine, et intercedente beata Virgine Dei genetrice coelestis remedii faciat esse consortes. Per eundem.—Miss. Rom.]

"Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy {335} servants may enjoy perpetual health of body and mind, and be freed from present sorrow, and enjoy eternal gladness, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin. Through." [Concede nos famulos tuos, quæsumus, Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere, et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia. Per Dominum.—Vern. cxlvi.]

On the second Sunday after Easter, we find a further and more sad departure from the simplicity of Christian worship, in which the Church of Rome declares that the offerings made to God at the Lord's Supper were made for the honour of the Virgin.—"Having received, O Lord, the helps of our salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that by the patronage of Mary, ever Virgin, we may be every where protected; in veneration of whom we make these offerings to thy Majesty." [Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis, da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus Majestati.—Post Commun. Mis. Rom.]

On the octave of Easter, at the celebration of mass, in the Secret, the intercession of the Virgin is made to appear as essential a cause of our peace and blessedness as the propitiation of Christ; or rather, the two are represented as joint concurrent causes; as though the office of the Saviour was confined to propitiation, exclusive altogether of intercession, whilst the office of intercession was assigned to the Virgin.—"By thy propitiation, O Lord, and by the intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may this offering be profitable to us for perpetual and present prosperity and peace." [Tua, Domine, propitiatione et beatæ Marisæ semper Virginis intercessione ad perpetuam atque prsesentem hæc oblatio nobis profecerit prosperitatem et pacem.]


IV. A fourth station in this lamentable progress was evidenced when Christians at the tombs of martyrs implored, yet still in prayer to God, that He would, for the sake of the martyrs, and by their merits and good offices, grant to the petitioner some benefit temporal or spiritual. Of that practice, we have an example in this prayer: "O God, who didst deign to choose the blessed Virgin's womb in which to dwell, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to make us, defended by her protection, to take pleasure in her commemoration." [Deus qui virginalem aulam beatæ Mariæ in qua habitares eligerere dignatus es, da, quæsumus, ut sua nos defensione munitos jucundos facias suæ interesse commemorationi.—Æst. clvi.]

"By the Virgin mother, may the Lord grant us health and peace. Amen." [Per Virginem Matrem concedat nobis Dominus salutem et pacem. Amen.—Vern. cxliii.]

"By the prayers and merits of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, and of all saints, may the Lord bring us to the kingdom of heaven." [Precibus et meritis beatæ Mariæ Virginis et omnium sanctorum perducat nos Dominus ad regna coelorum.—Vern. cxlvii.]

"May the Virgin Mary bless us, together with a pious offspring." [Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.—Vern. cxlvii.]

V. The fifth grade involves a still more melancholy departure from Christian truth and primitive simplicity, when the prayer is no longer addressed to God, but is offered to the Virgin, imploring her to intercede with God for the supplicants, yet still asking nothing but her prayers.

"Blessed mother, Virgin undefiled, glorious Queen of the world, intercede for us with the Lord." [Beata Mater, et intacta Virgo, gloriosa regina mundi, intercede pro nobis ad Dominum.—Aut. cxliv.]


"Blessed mother of God, Mary, perpetual Virgin, the temple of the Lord, the holy place of the holy Spirit, thou alone without example hast pleased our Lord Jesus Christ: Pray for the people, mediate for the clergy, intercede for the female sex who are under a vow." [Beata Dei Genitrix, Maria Virgo perpetua, templum Domini, sacrarium Spiritus Sancti, sola sine exemplo placuisti Domino nostro Jesu Christo; ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu.—Vern. clxiii.]

"Holy Mary, pray for us!

Holy mother of God, pray for us!

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us!"

In the form of prayer called Litaniæ Lauretanæ, between the most solemn addresses to the ever blessed Trinity, and to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, are inserted more than forty addresses to the Virgin, invoking her under as many varieties of title. She is appealed to as—The Mirror of Justice, The Cause of our Joy, The mystical Rose, The Tower of David, The Tower of Ivory, The House of Gold, The Arc of the Covenant, The Gate of Heaven, The Refuge of Sinners, The Queen of Angels, the Queen of all Saints. [Vern. ccxxxix.]

In examining the case of the invocation of saints, we placed under this head, as the safer course, a kind of invocation which seemed to vacillate between this appeal to them merely for intercession, and the last consummation of all, direct prayer to them for blessings. We exemplified it by the hymn to St. Stephen. The following seems very much of the same character, addressed to the Virgin:—

"Hail, O Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, sweetness, and hope, Hail! To thee we cry, banished sons {338} of Eve. To thee we sigh, groaning and weeping in this valley of tears. Come then, our Advocate, turn those compassionate eyes of thine on us, and after this exile show to us Jesus, the blessed fruit of thy womb. O merciful! O pious! O sweet Virgin Mary! [Salve, Regina, Mater Misericordiæ, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus exules filii Evæ. Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lachrymarum valle. Eja ergo Advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte, et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exilium ostende. O clemens! O pia! O dulcis Virgo Maria!]

"Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ." [Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix, ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.—Æst. 151.]

VI. Unhappily, in the appointed religious services of the Roman ritual, we have too many examples of prayer for benefits spiritual and temporal, addressed directly to the Virgin. It is in vain to say that all that is meant is to ask her intercession; the people will not, cannot, do not, regard it in that light. It is affirmed that when the Church of Rome guides and directs her sons and daughters to pray for specific benefits at the hands of the Virgin mother, without any mention of her prayers, without specifying that her petitions are all that they ask; yet they are taught only to ask for her intercession, and are not encouraged to look for the blessings as her gift and at her hands. But, can this be right and safe? In an act of all human acts the most solemn and holy, can recourse be had to such refinements without great danger?

Among many others of a similar kind this invocation frequently recurs, "Deem me worthy to praise thee, {339} O sacred Virgin; give to me strength against thy enemies." [Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.—Æst. clvi.]

The following seems to be among the most favourite addresses to the Virgin:—"Hail, Star of the Sea, kind Mother of God, and ever Virgin! Happy Gate of Heaven, taking that 'Hail!' from the mouth of Gabriel, establish us in peace,—changing the name of Eve. For the guilty, loose their bonds; bring forth light for the blind; drive away our evils; demand for us all good things. SHOW THAT THOU ART A MOTHER. Let Him who endured for us to be thy Son, through thee receive our prayers. O excellent Virgin, meek among all, us, FREED FROM FAULT, MAKE MEEK AND CHASTE; make our life pure; prepare a safe journey; that, beholding Jesus, we may always rejoice. Praise be to God the Father, glory to Christ most high, and to the Holy Spirit; one honour to the three. Amen."

[Ave Man's Stella,

Dei Mater alma,

Atque semper Virgo!

Felix coeli porta,

Sumens illud Ave

Gabrielis ore,

Funda nos in pace,

Mutans Evæ nomen.

Solve vincla reis,

Profer lumen cæcis,

Mala nostra pelle,

Bona cuncta posce.


Sumat per te preces,

Qui pro nobis natus

Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,

Inter omnes mitis,

Nos culpa solutos,

Mites fac et castos,

Vitam præsta puram,

Iter para tutum,

Ut videntes Jesum

Semper collætemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri, summo Christo decus,

Spiritui Sancto, tribus honor unus. Amen.—Æst. 597.]

In the body of this hymn, there is undoubtedly reference to an application to be made to the Son, &c.; but can it be fitting that such language as is here suggested to the Virgin, for her to use, should be addressed by a {340} mortal to God? can such a call upon her to show her power and influence over the eternal Son of the eternal Father be fitting—"Show that thou art a mother?" I confess that against what is here implied, my understanding and my heart entirely revolt.127

Footnote 127:(return)

At the present day some versions, contrary to the whole drift and plain sense and meaning of the passage, have translated it, as though the prayer was, that Mary would, by her maternal good offices in our behalf, prove to us that she was our mother. An instance of what I mean occurs in a work called "Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques," p. 353.

"Monstra te esse Matrem: Faites voir que vous êtes véritablement notre mère." In an English manual, first printed in 1688, and then called "The Prince of Wales's Manual," the lines are thus rendered—

Shew us a Mother's care,

To Him convey our prayer,

Who for our sake put on

The title of thy Son.

I rejoice to see an indication of a feeling of impropriety in the sentiment in its plain, obvious meaning; still the change is inadmissible. She is addressed above, in the second line, as the mother of God; Jesus is immediately mentioned, in the very next line, and through the entire stanza, as her Son; and the prayer is, that through her that Being who endured to be her Son would hear the prayers of the worshippers.

Since I first prepared this note for the press, I have found a proof, that the obvious grammatical and logical meaning, "show thyself to be His mother," is the sense in which it was received and interpreted before the Reformation. In a work dedicated to the "Youth of England studious of good morals," and entitled "Expositio Sequentiarum," the only interpretation given to this passage is thus expressed: "Show thyself to be a MOTHER, namely BY APPEASING THY SON, and let thy Son take our prayers through thee, who (namely, the Son born of the Virgin Mary,) for us miserable sinners endured to be thy Son." "Monstra te esse MATREM (sc.) placando TILIUM TUUM, et filius tuus sumat precem, id est, deprecationes nostras per te qui (sc.) filius natus ex Virgine Maria pro nobis (sc.) miseris peccatoribus tulit, id est, sustinuit esse tuus filius." It must be observed, that this work was expressly written for the purpose of explaining these parts of the ritual according to the use of Sarum. It was printed by the famous W. de Worde, at the sign of the Sun in Fleet-street, 1508. The passage occurs in p. 33. b. This is by no means the only book of the kind. I have before me one printed at Basil, in 1504, and another at Cologne the same year. They are evidently all drawn from some common source, but are not reprints all of the same work, for there are in each some variations. The Cologne edition tells us, that it was the reprint of a familiar commentary long ago (jamdudum) published on the hymns. All these join in construing the passage so as to represent the prayer to the Virgin to be, that she would show and prove that she was mother by appeasing her Son, and causing him to hear our prayers. Nor can any other meaning be attached to the translation of the words as given by Cardinal Du Perron (Replique à la Rep. du Roy de la G. Bretagne. Paris, 1620, p. 970). "Et pourtant quand l'Eglise dit à la saincte Vierge, 'Defends nous de l'ennemy, et nous reçoy à l'heure delamort,' elle n'entend pas prier la Vierge qu'elle nous reçoive par sa propre virtu, mais par impetration de la grace de son Fils, comme l'Eglise le temoigne en ces mots: 'Monstre que tu es mère, reçoive par toy nos prieres celuy, qui né pour nous a eu agreeable d'être tien!'" This novel interpretation I have not found in any one book of former days.


Another prayer runs thus: "Under thy protection we take refuge, Holy Mother of God. Despise not our supplications in our necessities; but from all dangers ever deliver us, O glorious and Blessed Virgin." [Sub tuum præsidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix; nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.—Æst. cxlvi.]

Let us suppose the object of these addresses to be changed; and instead of the Virgin let us substitute the name of the ever-blessed God and Father of us all. The very words here addressed to the Virgin are offered to Him, and spoken of Him in some of the most affecting prayers and praises recorded in the Bible128.

Footnote 128:(return)

The identity of the prayers offered to the Virgin with those offered in the Book of inspiration, or in the Roman Ritual to the Almighty, becomes very striking, if we lay side by side the authorized language of the Roman Liturgy, and the only translation of the Scriptures authorized by the Roman Church.

Roman Ritual in addressing the Virgin   Roman Ritual, or Translation of the Bible, in addressing the Almighty.
Sub tuum præsidium confugimus. Dominus, firmamentum meum et refugium meum. Ad te confugi.—Ps. xvii. 1; cxlii. 11.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus. Ne despexeris deprecationem meam.—Ps. liv. 1.
Sed a periculis cunctis libera nos. Libera, Domine, animam servi tui ab omnibus periculis inferni. Hiem. ccvi.
Libera nos a malo. Orat. Dom.
A periculo mortis libera nos, Domine.—Hiem. cciv.
Tu nos ab hoste protege. Eripe me de inimicis meis, Domine.—Ps. cxlii. 11.
Et hora mortis SUSPICE. Suscipe, Domine, servum tuum.—Hiem.

But another hymn in the office of the Virgin, addressed in part to the blessed Saviour himself, and partly to the Virgin Mary, is still more revolting to all my feelings with regard to religious worship. The Redeemer is only asked to remember his mortal birth; no blessing is here supplicated for at his hands; his protection is not sought; no deliverance of our souls at the hour of death is implored from Him; these blessings, and these heavenly benefits, and these divine mercies, are sought for exclusively at the hands of the Virgin alone. Can such a mingled prayer, can such a contrast in prayer, be the genuine fruit of that Gospel which bids us ask for all we need in prayer to God in the name and for the sake of his blessed Son?

"Author of our salvation, remember that once, by {343} being born of a spotless virgin, thou didst take the form of our body! Mary, mother of grace, mother of mercy, do thou protect us from the enemy, and receive us at the hour of death. Glory to thee, O Lord, who wast born of a Virgin, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, through eternal ages. Amen129."

Footnote 129:(return)

Memento, Salutis Auctor, Tu nos ab hoste protege, Quod nostri quondam corporis, Et hora mortis suscipe. Ex illibata Virgine, Gloria tibi, Domine, Nascendo formam sumpseris. Qui natus es de Virgine, Maria mater gratiæ, Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu, Mater misericordiæ, In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

In the new version, (referred to in page 260 of the present work,) this hymn stands thus:—

Memento, rerum Conctitor, Maria mater gratiæ, Nostri quod olim corporis, Dulcis parens clementiæ, Sacrata ab alvo Virginis, Tu nos ab hoste protege, Nascendo forrnam sumpseris. In mortis hora suscipe, &c.

Æst. clv.

Could the beloved John, to whose kind and tender care our blessed Lord gave his mother of especial trust, have offered to her such a prayer as this? To God alone surely would he have prayed for deliverance from all evil and mischief. To God alone would he have prayed:—"In the hour of death, good Lord, deliver us, and all for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Saviour and Mediator."

To one other example of the practice of the Church of Rome I must refer. The rubric in our Book of Common Prayer directs that "at the end of every Psalm throughout the year, shall be repeated, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen." In the Roman Breviary also we find this rubric: "This verse, Gloria, is always said in the end of all psalms, EXCEPT IT BE OTHERWISE {344} NOTED." [Æst. 3.] Such notifications occur at the end of various psalms. On the Feast of the Assumption [Æst. 595.], fourteen psalms are appointed to be used. At the close of every one of these psalms, without however any note that the Gloria is not to be said, there is appended an anthem to the Virgin. In some cases, so intimately is the anthem interwoven with the closing words of the psalm, as that under other circumstances it would induce us to infer that the Gloria was intended to be left out, especially as in the Parvum Officium of the Virgin [Æst. clv.], though to the various psalms anthems in the same manner have been annexed, yet the words "Gloria Patri et Filio" are inserted in each case between the psalm and the anthem. Be this as it may, the annexation of the anthem has a lamentable tendency to withdraw the thoughts of the worshippers from the truths contained in the inspired psalm, and to fix them upon Mary and her Assumption; changing the Church's address from the Eternal Being, alone invoked by the Psalmist, to one, who though a virgin blessed among women, is a creature of God's hand. Thus, at the conclusion of the 8th psalm; "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the world," we find immediately annexed these two anthems, "The holy mother of God is exalted above the choirs of angels to the heavenly realms. The gates of paradise are opened to us by thee, [by thee, O Virgin [Quæ gloriosa]] who glorious triumphest with the angels." Thus again, an anthem is attached to the last verse of the 95th (in the Hebrew and English versions the 96th). "He shall judge the earth in equity, and the people with his truth. Rejoice, {345} O Virgin Mary; thou alone hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world. Deem me worthy to praise thee, hallowed Virgin: Give me strength against thy enemies." To the 96th (97th), the latter clause of that address is repeated, with the addition of the following: "After the birth thou didst remain a virgin inviolate. Mother of God, intercede for us."

An instance of the anthem being so intimately interwoven with the psalm, as to render the insertion of the "Gloria," between the two, to say the least, forced and unnatural, occurs at the close of the 86th (87th) psalm. The vulgate translation of the last verse, differing entirely from the English, is this: "As the habitation of all who rejoice is in thee." This sentence of the Psalmist is thus taken up in the Roman Ritual: "As the habitation of all us who rejoice is in THEE, Holy Mother of God."

The object proposed by the Church from of old in concluding each psalm by an ascription of glory to the eternal Trinity, was to lead the worshipper to apply the sentiments of the psalm to the work of our salvation accomplished by the three Persons of the Godhead. The analogous end of these anthems in the present service of the Church of Rome is to fix the thoughts of the worshipper upon Mary. This practice unhappily sanctions the excesses into which Bonaventura and others have run in their departures from the purity and integrity of primitive worship.

Cardinal du Perron informs us, that at the altar in the office of the mass, prayer is not made directly to any saint, but only obliquely, the address being always made to God. But if prayers are offered in other parts of the service directly to them, it is difficult to see what is gained by that announcement. Surely it is trifling {346} to make such immaterial distinctions. If as a priest I could address the following prayer to the Virgin in preparing for offering mass, why should I not offer a prayer to the same being during its celebration?

"O mother of pity and mercy, blessed Virgin Mary, I a miserable and unworthy sinner, flee to thee with my whole heart and affection, and I pray thy most sweet pity, that as thou didst stand by thy most sweet Son hanging upon the cross, so thou wouldest vouchsafe mercifully to stand by me a miserable priest, and by all priests who here and in all the holy Church offer Him this day, that, aided by thy grace, we may be enabled to offer a worthy and acceptable victim in the sight of the most high and undivided Trinity. Amen." [O Mater pietatis et misericordiæ, beatissima Virgo Maria, ego miser et indignus peccator ad te confugio toto corde et affectu. Et precor dulcissimam pietatem tuam, ut sicut dulcissimo Filio tuo in cruce pendenti astitisti, ita et mihi misero sacerdoti et sacerdotibus omnibus hic et in tota sancta ecclesia ipsum hodie offerentibus, clementer assistere digneris, ut tua gratia adjuti dignam et acceptabilem hostiam in conspectu summæ et individuæ Trinitatis offerre valeamus. Amen.—Rom. Brev. Hus. Hiem. p. ccxxxiii.]

This is called, in the Roman Breviary, "A PRAYER to the blessed Virgin before the celebration of the mass," and is immediately followed by another prayer directed to be offered to any saint, male or female, whose feast is on that day celebrated. "O Holy N. behold I, a miserable sinner, DERIVING CONFIDENCE FROM THY MERITS, now offer the most holy sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, FOR THY HONOUR AND GLORY. I humbly and devotedly pray thee that thou wouldest deign to intercede for me to-day, that I may be enabled to offer so great a sacrifice {347} worthily and acceptably, and to praise Him eternally with thee and with all his elect, and that I may live with Him for ever." [O sancte N. ecce ego miser peccator de tuis mentis confisus, offero nunc sacratissimura sacramentum corporis et sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christ! PRO TUO HONORE ET GLORIA; precor te humiliter et devote ut pro me hodie intercedere digneris, ut tantum sacrificium digne et acceptabiliter offerre valeam, ut Eum tecum et cum omnibus electis ejus æternaliter laudare et cum eo semper regnare valeam.—Hiem. ccxxxiii.]

Such, Christian brethren, is the result of our inquiries into the real practice of the Church of Rome with regard to the worship of the Virgin Mary at the present day, in every part of the world where allegiance to that Church is acknowledged. Can we wonder that individuals, high in honour with that Church, have carried out the same worship to far greater lengths? I have ever present to my mind the principle of fixing upon the Church of Rome herself that only which is to be found in her canons, acknowledged decrees, and formularies. And unhappily of that which directly contravenes the Gospel-rule and primitive practice, far more than enough is found in her authorized rituals to compel all who hold to the Gospel and the integrity of primitive times, to withdraw their assent and consent from her worship. But with this principle before us, surely common justice and common prudence require that we should see for ourselves the practical workings of the system. "By their fruits ye shall know them," is a principle no less sanctioned by the Gospel than suggested by common sense and experience And, indeed, the shocking lengths to which priests, bishops, cardinals, and canonized persons have gone in this particular of the worship of the Virgin, might well {348} cause every upright and enlightened Roman Catholic to look anxiously to the foundation; to determine honestly, though with tender caution and pious care, for himself, whether the corruption be not in the well-head, whether the stream do not flow impregnated with the poison from the very fountain itself; whether the prayers authorized and directed by the Church of Rome to be offered to the Virgin be not in themselves at variance with the first principles of the Gospel—Faith in one God, the giver of every good, and in one Mediator and Intercessor between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, whose blood cleanseth from all sin: in a word, to see whether all the aberrations of her children in this department of religious duty have not their prototype in the laws and ordinances, the rules and injunctions, the example and practice of their mother herself.

Indeed I am compelled here to say, that, however revolting to us as believers in Jesus, and as worshippers of the one true God, are those extravagant excesses into which the votaries of the Virgin Mary have run, I have found few of their most unequivocal ascriptions of divine worship to her, for a justification of which they cannot with reason appeal to the authorized ritual of the Church of Rome.

In leaving this point of our inquiry, I would suggest two considerations: 1st, If it was intended that the invocation of the Virgin should be exclusively confined to requests, praying her to pray and intercede by prayer for the petitioners, why should language be addressed to her which in its plain, obvious, grammatical, and common sense interpretation conveys the form of direct prayers to her for benefits believed to be at her disposal? And, 2ndly, If the Church had {349} intended that her members, when they suppliantly invoked the Virgin Mary, and had recourse to her aid, should have offered to her direct and immediate prayers that she would grant temporal and spiritual benefits, to be dispensed at her own will, and by her own authority and power, in that case, what words could the Church have put into the mouth of the petitioners which would more explicitly and unequivocally have conveyed that idea?


I have no intention of dwelling at any length on the extraordinary excesses to which the adoration of the Virgin Mary has been carried in the Church of Rome, I do not mean by obscure and illiterate or fanatical individuals, but by her celebrated prelates, doctors, and saints. My researches have brought to my knowledge such a mass of error and corruption in the worship of Christians as I never before had any conception of; and rather than bring it all forward, and exhibit it to others, I would turn my own eyes from it altogether. Still many reasons render it absolutely necessary that we should not pass over the subject entirely in silence. Few in England, I believe, are aware of the real facts of the case; and it well becomes us to guard ourselves and others against such melancholy results as would appear to be inseparable from the invocation and worship of the Virgin. If indeed we could be justified in regarding such palpable instances of her worship in its most objectionable form as the {350} marks of former and less enlightened times, most gladly would I draw a veil over them, and hide them from our sight for ever. But when I find the solemn addresses of the present chief authorities in the Church, nay, the epistles of the present sovereign Pontiff himself, cherishing, countenancing, and encouraging the selfsame evil departures from primitive truth and worship, it becomes a matter not of choice, but of necessity, to give examples at least of the deplorable excesses into which the highest and most honoured in that communion have been betrayed. On the present Pope's encyclical letter [A.D. 1840] we have already observed; and in this place I propose to examine only one more of those many excesses meeting us on every side, which characterize the public worship of the Virgin. The instance to which I refer seems to take a sort of middle station between the authorized enjoined services of the Church of Rome, and the devotions of individuals and family worship. It partakes on the one hand far too much of a public character to be considered in the light of private religious exercises; and on the other it wants that authority which would rank it among the appointed services of the Church. The devotional parts of the services are found neither in the Missals nor the Breviaries, and the adoption and celebration of the service seems to be left to the option and care of individuals. But the service is performed in the Churches,—a Priest presides,—the Host is presented to the adorations of the people,—and a sermon is preached by an appointed minister. The service to which I am referring is performed every evening through the entire month of May, and is celebrated expressly in honour of the Virgin Mary.


The month of May is dedicated to her, and is called Mary's month. Temporary altars are raised to her honour, surrounded by flowers and adorned with garlands and drapery; her image usually standing before the altar. Societies are formed chiefly for the celebration of the Virgin's praises, and in some Churches the effect, both to the eye and to the ear, corresponds with the preparation. One thing only is wanting—the proper object of worship. I have now before me a book of hymns published professedly for the religious fraternities in Paris, and used in the Churches there. [Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques à l'usage des confréries des Paroisses de Paris. Paris, 1839.] Many of these hymns are addressed to the Virgin alone; some without any reference to the Son of God and Man, the only Saviour, and without any allusion to the God of Christians; indeed, an address to a heathen Goddess more entirely destitute of Christianity can scarcely be conceived. I copy one hymn entire.

"Around the altars of Mary

Let us, her children, press;

To that mother so endeared

Let us address the sweetest prayers.

Let a lively and holy mirth

Animate us in this holy day:

There exists no sadness

For a heart full of her love.

Let us adorn this sanctuary with flowers;

Let us deck her revered altar;

Let us redouble our efforts to please her.

Be this month consecrated to her;

Let the perfume of these crowns

Form a delicious incense,


Which ascending even to her throne

May carry to her both our hearts and our prayers.

Let the holy name of Mary

Be for us a name of salvation!

Let our softened soul

Ever pay to her a sweet tribute of love.

Let us join the choirs of angels

The more to celebrate her beauty;

And may our songs of praise

Resound in eternity.

O holy Virgin! O our mother!

Watch over us from fhe height of heaven;

And when from this sojourning of misery,

We present our prayers to you;

O sweet, O divine Mary!

Lend an ear to our sighs,

And after this life

Make us to taste of immortal pleasures."

[Autour des autels de Marie

Nous ses enfants, empressons-nous;

A cette Mère si chérie,

Adressons les voeux les plus doux.

Qu'une vive et sainte allégresse

Nous anime dans ce saint jour;

Il n'existe point de tristesse

Pour un coeur plein de son amour.

Ornons des fleurs ce sanctuaire,

Parons son autel révéré,

Redoublons d'efforts pour lui plaire.

Que ce mois lui soi, consacré;

Que le parfume de ces couronnes

Forme un encens délicieux,

Qui s'élevant jusqu'à son trône,

Lui porte et nos coeurs et nos voeux.

Que le nom sacré de Marie

Soit pour nous un nom de salut;

Que toujours notre âme attendrie,

D'amour lui paie un doux tribut.

Unissons-nous aux choeurs des anges,

Pour mieux célébrer sa beauté.

Et puissent nos chants de louanges

Retentir dans l'éternité.

O Vierge sainte! ô notre Mère!

Veillez sur nous du haut des cieux;

Et de ce séjour de misère,

Quand nous vous présentons nos voeux,

O douce, ô divine Marie!

Prêtez l'oreille à nos soupirs;—

Et faites qu'après cette vie,

Nous goûtions d'immortels plaisirs.

—"Cantiques à l'usage des Confréries." Paris, 1839, p. 175.]

In the course of the present work I have already suggested the propriety of trying the real import, {353} the true intent, and meaning and force of an address to a Saint, by substituting the holiest name ever uttered on earth, for the name of the Saint to whom such address is offered; and if the same words, without any change, form a prayer fit to be offered by us sinners to the Saviour of the world, then to ask ourselves, Can this be right? I would earnestly recommend the application of the same test here; and in many other of the prayers now offered (for many such there are now offered) by Roman Catholics to the Virgin. Suppose, instead of offering these songs of praise and prayer, and self-devotion to Mary in the month of May, we were to offer them, on the day of his nativity, to our blessed Lord, would they not form an act of faith in Him as our Saviour and our God?

"Around the altar of Jesus,

Let us, his children, press;

To that Saviour so endeared

Let us address the sweetest prayers.


Let a lively and holy mirth

Animate us in this holy day:

There exists no sadness

For a heart full of his love.

Let the holy name of Jesus

Be for us a name of salvation!

Let our softened soul

Ever pay to HIM a sweet tribute of love.

O holy Jesus! O our Saviour!

Watch over us from the height of heaven;

And when from this sojourning of misery,

We present our prayers to Thee;

O sweet, O divine Redeemer,

Lend an ear to our sighs; and after this life,

Make Thou us to taste of immortal pleasures."


I will now briefly call your attention to the devotional works of the celebrated Bonaventura. He is no ordinary man; and the circumstances under which his works were commended to the world are indeed remarkable. I know not how a Church can give the impress of its own name and approval in a more full or unequivocal manner to the works of any human being, than the Church of Rome has stamped her authority on the works of this her saint.

In the "Acta Sanctorum", [Antwerp, 1723, July 14, p. 811-823.] it is stated, that this celebrated man was born in 1221, and died in 1274. He passed through all degrees of ecclesiastical dignities, {355} short only of the pontifical throne itself. He was of the order of St. Francis, and refused the archbishopric of York, when it was offered to him by Pope Clement the Fourth, in 1265; whose successor, Gregory the Tenth, elevated him to the dignity of cardinal bishop. His biographer expresses his astonishment, that such a man's memory should have been so long buried with his body; but adds, that the tardiness of his honours was compensated by their splendour.

More than two centuries after his death, his claims to canonization were urged upon Sixtus the Fourth; and that Pope raised him to the dignity of saint; the diploma of his canonization bearing date 18 kalends of May, 1482, the eleventh year of that pope's reign.

Before a saint is canonized by the Pope, it is usually required, that miracles wrought by him, or upon him, or at his tomb, be proved to the satisfaction of the Roman court130. We need not dwell on the nature of an inquiry into a matter-of-fact, alleged to have been done by an individual two hundred years before; and whose memory is said to have lain buried with his corpse. Among the miracles specified, it is recorded, that on one occasion, when he was filled with solemn awe and fear at the celebration of the Lord's Supper, God, by an angel, took a particle of the consecrated host from the hands of the priest, and gently placed it in the holy man's mouth. But, with these transactions, I am not anxious to interfere, except so far as to ascertain the degree of authority with which any pious Roman Catholic must be induced to invest Bonaventura as a teacher and instructor in the doctrines of Christianity, authorized and appointed by his Church. The case stands thus:—Pope Sixtus IV. states in his {356} diploma, that the proctor of the order of Minors, proved by a dissertation on the passage of St. John, "There are three that bear record in heaven," that the blessed Trinity had borne testimony to the fact of Bonaventura being a saint in heaven: the Father proving it by the attested miracles; the Son, in the WISDOM OF HIS DOCTRINE; the Holy Spirit, by the goodness of his life. The pontiff then adds, in his own words, "He so wrote on divine subjects, THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT SEEMS TO HAVE SPOKEN IN HIM." [Page 831. "Ea de divinis rebus scripsit, ut in eo Spiritus Sanctus locutus videatur."] A testimony referred to by Pope Sixtus the Fifth.

Footnote 130:(return)

See the canonization of St. Bonaventura in the Acta Sanctorum.

This latter pontiff was crowned May 1, 1585, more than a century after the canonization of Bonaventura, and more than three centuries after his death. By his order, the works of Bonaventura were "most carefully emendated." The decretal letters, A.D. 1588, pronounced him to be an acknowledged doctor of Holy Church, directing his authority to be cited and employed in all places of education, and in all ecclesiastical discussions and studies. The same act offers plenary indulgence to all who assist at the mass on his feast, in certain specified places, with other minor immunities on the conditions annexed. [Page 837.]

In these documents Bonaventura131 is called the Seraphic Doctor; and I repeat my doubt, whether it is possible for any human authority to give a more full, entire, and unreserved sanction to the works of any human being than the Church of Rome has given to {357} the writings of Bonaventura. And what do those works present to us, on the subject of the Invocation and worship of the Virgin Mary?

Footnote 131:(return)

The edition of his works which I have used was published at Mentz in 1609; and the passages referred to are in vol. vi. between pp. 400 and 500.

Taking every one of the one hundred and fifty psalms132, Bonaventura so changes the commencement of each, as to address them not as the inspired Psalmist did, to the Lord Jehovah, the One only Lord God Almighty, but to the Virgin Mary; inserting much of his own composition, and then adding the Gloria Patri to each. It is very painful to refer to these prostitutions of any part of the Holy Book of revealed truth; but we must not be deterred from looking this evil in the face. A few examples, however, will suffice.

Footnote 132:(return)

It is curious to find the Cardinal Du Perron, in his answer to our King James, declaring that he had never seen nor met with this Psalter in his life, and he was sure it was never written by Bonaventura; alleging that it was not mentioned by Trithemius or Gesner. The Vatican editors, however, have set that question at rest. They assure us that they have thrown into the appendix all the works about the genuineness of which there was any doubt, and that Bonaventura wrote many works not mentioned by Trithemius, which they have published from the Vatican press. Of this Psalter there is no doubt. See Cardinal Du Perron, Replique à la Rep. du Roi de Grand Bretagne. Paris, 1620, p. 974.

In the 30th psalm. "In thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me not be confounded for ever," &c., the Psalter of the Virgin substitutes these words: [In te, Domina, speravi; non confundar in æternum, &c. &c. In manus tuas, Domina, commendo spiritum meum, totam vitam meam, et diem ultimum meum.—P. 480.]

"In thee, O Lady, have I trusted; let me not be confounded for ever: in thy grace take me.

"Thou art my fortitude and my refuge; my consolation and my protection.


"To thee, O Lady, have I cried, while my heart was in heaviness; and thou didst hear me from the top of the eternal hills.

"Bring thou me out of the snare which they have hid for me; for thou art my succour.

"Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit, my whole life, and my last day.—Gloria Patri," &c.

In the 31st psalm we read, "Blessed are they whose hearts love thee, O Virgin Mary; their sins shall be mercifully blotted out BY THEE...." [Beati quorum corda te diligunt, Virgo Maria; peccata ipsorum A TE misericorditer diluentur.—P. 481.]

In the 35th, v. 2. "Incline thou the countenance of God upon us; COMPEL HIM to have mercy upon sinners. O Lady, thy mercy is in the heaven, and thy grace is spread over the whole earth." [Inclina vultum Dei super nos. COGE illum peccatoribus misereri; Domina, in coelo misericordia tua, et gratia diffusa est super terram.]

In the 67th, instead of, "Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered," the Psalter of the Virgin has,

"Let Mary arise, and let her enemies be scattered." [Exurgat Maria, et dissipentur inimici ejus.—P. 483.]

In the opening of the 93rd psalm there is a most extraordinary, rather, as it sounds to me, a most impious and blasphemous comparison of the Supreme God with the Virgin Mary, in reference to the very Attribute, which shines first, last, and brightest in HIM,—His eternal mercy. Nay, it draws the contrast in favour of the Virgin, and against God. Most glad should I be, to find that I had misunderstood this passage; and that it admits of another acceptation133. But I fear its real meaning is beyond controversy.

Footnote 133:(return)

A similar idea indeed pervades some addresses to the Virgin of the present day, representing the great and only potentate as her heavenly husband, in himself full of rage, but softened into tenderness towards her votaries by her influence. See a hymn, in the Paris collection already referred to, p. 353, &c. of this work (Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques, p. 183).

Daignez, Marie, en ce jour (Vouchsafe, Mary, on this day)

Ecouter nos soupirs, (To hear our sighs,)

Et seconder nos désirs. (And to second our desires.)

Daignez, Marie, en ce jour (Vouchsafe, Mary, on this day)

Recevoir notre encens, notre amour. (To receive our incense, our love.)

Du céleste époux (Calm the rage)

Calmez le courroux, (Of thy heavenly husband,)

Qu'il se montre doux (Let HIM show himself kind)

A tous qui sont à vous. (To all those who are thine.)

Du céleste époux (Of thy heavenly husband)

Calmez le courroux, (Calm the rage,)

Que son coeur s'attendrisse sur nous. (Let his heart be softened towards us.)


"The Lord is a God of vengeance; but thou, O Mother of Mercy, bendest to be merciful." [Deus ultionum Dominus; sed tu, Mater Misericordiæ, ad miserandum inflectis.—P. 485.]

The well known and dearly valued penitentiary psalm (129th) "De profundis," is thus addressed to Mary:—

"Out of the depths have I called to thee, O Lady:

"O Lady, hear my voice. Let thine ears be attent to the voice of thy praise and glorifying: deliver me from the hand of my enemies: confound their imaginations and attempts against me. Rescue me in the evil day; and, in the day of death, forget not my soul. Carry me into the haven of safety: let my name be enrolled among the just." [De profundis clamavi ad te, Domina: Domina, exaudi vocem meam. Fiant aures tuæ intendentes in vocem laudis et glorificationis tuæ. Libera me de manu adversariorum meorum: confunde ingenia et conatus eorum contra me. Erue me in die mala: et in die mortis ne obliviscaris animæ meæ. Deduc me ad portum salutis: inter justos scribatur nomen meum.—P. 489.]


But, as the penitential psalms are thus turned, from Him to whom the Psalmist addressed them, so his hymns of praise to Jehovah, are made to flow through the same channel to the Virgin. And all nature in the sea, on the earth, in the heavens, and heaven of heavens, is called upon to praise and glorify Mary. Thus, in the 148th psalm, we read,—

"Praise our Lady of heaven, glorify her in the highest. Praise her, all ye men and cattle, ye birds of the heaven, and fishes of the sea. Praise her, sun and moon; ye stars and circles of the planets. Praise her, cherubim and seraphim, thrones and dominions, and powers. Praise her, all ye legions of angels. Praise her, all ye orders of spirits above." [Laudate Dominam nostram de coelis: glorificate eam in excelsis. Laudate eam omnes homines et jumenta: volucres coeli et pisces maris. Laudate eam sol et luna: stellæ, et circuli planetarum. Laudate eam cherubim et seraphim: throni et dominationes, et potestates. Laudate eam omnes legiones angelorum. Laudate eam omnes ordines spirituum supernorum.—P. 491.]

The last sentence of the psalms is thus rendered,—"Let every spirit [or every thing that hath breath] praise our Lady."

To this Psalter are added many hymns changed in the same manner. One, entitled, "A Canticle, like that of Habakkuk iii." presents to us an address to the Virgin Mary, of the very words which our blessed Saviour most solemnly addressed to his heavenly Father.

O Lord, I have heard thy O Lady, I have heard thy report, speech, and was afraid, &c. &c. and was astonished; I considered thy works, O Lady, and I was afraid at thy work. In the midst of the years thou hast revived it.


I will confess to thee, O Lady, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, and hast revealed them to babes.

Thy glory hath covered the heavens, and the earth is full of thy mercy.

Thou, O Virgin, wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for salvation with thy Christ [thy anointed].

O thou Blessed, our salvation rests in thy hands. Remember our poverty, O thou pious One.


[Domina, audivi auditionem tuam, et obstupui: consideravi opera tua, et expavi, Domina, opus tuum: circa medium annorum vivificasti illud.

Confitebor tibi, Domina: quia abscondisti hæc a sapientibus: et revelasti ea parvulis. Operuit coelos gloria tua, et misericordia tua plena est terra.

Egressa es, Virgo, in salutem populi tui: in salutem cum Christo tuo. O Benedicta, in manibus tuis est reposita nostra salus; recordare, pia, paupertatis nostræ.

Quem vis, ipse salvus erit, et a quo avertis vultum tuum, vadit in interitum.—G.P., &c.]

The song of the Three Children is altered in the same manner. In it as well as in the Canticle of Zacharias, these prayers are introduced;

"O Mother of Mercy, have mercy upon us miserable sinners; who neglect to repent of our past sins, and commit every day many to be repented of." [Miserere, misericordiæ Mater, nobis miseris peccatoribus, qui retroacta peccata poenitere negligimus, ac multa quotidie poenitenda committimus.]


The Te Deum is thus lamentably perverted:

"We praise thee, Mother of God; we acknowledge thee, Mary the Virgin. [Te Matrem Dei laudamus; Te Mariam Virginem profitemur.]

"All the earth doth worship thee, spouse of the eternal Father.

"To thee all Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Principalities, faithfully do service....

"To thee the whole angelic creation with incessant voice proclaim,

"Holy! Holy! Holy! Mary, parent, mother of God, and virgin!...

"... Thou with thy Son sittest at the right hand of the Father....

"O Lady, SAVE THY PEOPLE, that we may partake of the inheritance of thy Son.

"And rule us and guard us for ever....

"Day by day we salute thee, O pious One; and we desire to praise thee in mind and voice even for ever.

"Vouchsafe, O sweet Mary, now and for ever, to keep us without sin.

"Have mercy upon us, O pious One; have mercy upon us.

"Let thy great mercy be with us, because we put our trust in thee, O Virgin Mary.

"In thee, sweet Mary, do we hope, defend thou us eternally.


"Praise becomes thee, empire becomes thee; to thee be virtue and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

[SALVUM FAC POPULUM tuum, Domina, ut simus participes hæreditatis Filii tui,

Et rege nos et custodi nos in æternum.

Dignare, Dulcis Maria, mine et semper nos sine delicto conservare. Miserere, Pia, nobis! miserere nobis! Fiat misericordia tua magna nobiscum, quia in te, Virgo Maria, confidimus. In te, Dulcis Maria, speramus, nos defendas in æternum. Te decet laus, te decet imperium, tibi virtus et gloria in sæcula sæculorum, Amen.]

Can this by any the most subtle refinement be understood to be a mere request to her to pray for us?

The Athanasian Creed is employed in the same manner; and it is very remarkable that the Assumption itself of the Virgin into heaven is there specified as one of the points to be believed on pain of losing all hopes of salvation.

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold firm the faith concerning the Virgin Mary: which except a man keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.... [Quicunque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est ut teneat de Maria firmam fidem.]

"Whom at length He took up (assumpsit) unto heaven, and she sitteth at the right hand of her Son, not ceasing to pray to her Son for us. [Quam demum ipse in coelum assumpsit, et sedit ad dexteram Filii, non cessans pro nobis Filium exorare.]

"This is the faith concerning Mary the Virgin, which except every one believe faithfully and firmly he cannot be saved." [Hæc est fides de Maria Virgine: quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.]

In the Litany addressed to her, these sentences are found.

"Holy Mary, whom all things praise and venerate, pray for us,—be propitious,—spare us, O Lady.

"From all evil deliver us, O Lady.

"In the devastating hour of death, deliver us, O Lady.

"From the horrible torments of hell, deliver us, O Lady.

"We sinners do beseech thee to hear us.

"That thou wouldest vouchsafe to give eternal rest {364} to all the faithful departed, we beseech thee to hear us. &c. &c."

[Sancta Maria, quam omnia laudant

Et venerantur, ora pro nobis.

Propitia esto. Parce nobis, Domina.

Ab omni malo libera nos, Domina.

In hora mortis devastante libera nos, Domina.

Ab inferni horribili cruciamine libera nos, Domina.

Peccatores te rogamus, audi nos.

Ut cunctis fidelibus defunctis requiem

Æternam donare digneris, te rogamus, audi nos.]

I will add to this catalogue of prayers and praises to the Virgin, only the translation of one prayer more from the same canonized Saint; it contains a passage often referred to, but the existence of which has been denied. It stands, however, in his works, vol. vi. page 466.

"Therefore, O Empress, and our most benign Lady, by THY RIGHT OF MOTHER COMMAND thy most beloved Son [JURE MATRIS IMPERA tuo dilectissimo Filio], our Lord, Jesus Christ, that He vouchsafe to raise our minds from the love of earthly things to heavenly desires, who liveth and reigneth."

Now let any man of common understanding and straightforward principles say, whether any, the most ingenious refinement can interpret all this to mean merely that Bonaventura invoked the Virgin Mary to pray for him, or for his fellow-creatures. It looks as though he were resolved on set purpose to exalt her to an equality with the Almighty, when we find him not once, not casually, not in the fervent rapture of momentary excitement, but deliberately, through one hundred and fifty Psalms, applying to Mary the very words dictated by the Holy Spirit to the Psalmist, and consecrated {365} to the worship of the one supreme God; and then selecting the most solemn expressions by which the Christian Church approaches the Lord of heaven and earth, our Father, our Saviour, our Sanctifier: employing too the very words of her most solemn form of belief in the ever-blessed Trinity, and substituting Mary's name for the God of Christians. On the words, "By thy right of mother command thy Son," beyond the assertion of the fact that there they are to this day, I wish to add nothing, because the very denial of their existence often repeated shows, that many Roman Catholics themselves regard them as objectionable.

But, if such a man as Bonaventura, one of the most learned and celebrated men of his age, could be tempted by the views cherished by the Church of Rome, to indulge in such language, what can be fairly expected of the large mass of persons who find that language published to the world with the highest sanction which their religion can give, as the work of a man whom the Almighty declared when on earth, by miracles, to be a chosen vessel, and to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and of whom they are taught by the infallible testimony134 of his canonization, that he is now reigning with Christ in heaven, and is himself the lawful and appointed object of religious invocation. I profess to you that I see no way by which Christians can hold and encourage this doctrine of the Invocation of Saints, without at the same time countenancing and cherishing what, were I to join in such invocation, would stain my soul with the guilt of idolatry. If the doctrine were confessedly Scriptural, come what would come, our duty would be to maintain it at all hazards, {366} and to brave every danger rather than from fear of consequences to renounce what we believe to have come from God; securing the doctrine at all events, and then putting forth our very best to guard against its perversion and abuse. But surely, it well becomes our brethren of the Church of Rome, to examine with most rigid and unsparing scrutiny into the very foundation of such a doctrine as this; a doctrine which in its mildest and most guarded form is considered by a very large number of their fellow Christians, as a dishonouring of God and of his Son, our Saviour; and which in its excess, an excess witnessed in the books of learned and sainted authors, and in the every day practice of worshippers, seems to be in no wise distinguishable from the practices of acknowledged polytheism, and pagan worship. If that foundation, after honest and persevering examination, approves itself as based sure and deep on the word of God, and the faith and practice of the apostles and the Church founded by them from the first, I have not another word to say, beyond a fervent prayer that the God in whom we trust would pour the bright beams of his Gospel abundantly into the hearts of all who receive that Gospel as the word of life. But were they my dying words to my dearest friend who had espoused that doctrine, I would say to him, Look well yourself to the foundation, because I am, after long examination, convinced, beyond a shadow of doubt that the doctrine and practice of the Invocation of Saints and Angels is as contrary to the doctrine and practice of the primitive Church, as it is in direct opposition to the express words of Scripture, and totally abhorrent from the spirit which pervades the whole of the Old, and the whole of the New Testament of God's eternal truth.

Footnote 134:(return)

Bellarmin, in his Church Triumphant, maintains that in the act of Canonization, the Church is infallible. Vol. ii. p. 871.



Unhappily these excesses in the worship of the Virgin Mary are not confined to Bonaventura, or to his age. We have too many examples of the same extravagant exaltation of her as an object of adoration and praise in men, whose station and abilities seemed to hold them forth to the world as burning and shining lights. Again, let me repeat, that in thus soliciting your attention to the doctrines and expressed feelings of a few from among the host of the Virgin's worshippers, I am far from believing that the enlightened Roman Catholics in England now are ready to respond to such sentiments. My desire is that all persons should be made aware of the excesses into which even celebrated teachers have been tempted to run, when they once admitted the least inroad to be made upon the integrity of God's worship; and I am anxious also, without offence, but with all openness, to caution my countrymen against encouraging that revival of the worship of the Virgin in England, to promote which the highest authorities in the Church of Rome have lately expressed their solicitude, intimating, at the same time, their regret that the worship of the Virgin at the present time has, in England, degenerated from its exaltation in former ages, and that England is now far behind her continental neighbours in her worship. Though these excessive departures from Gospel truth and the primitive worship of one God by one Mediator may not be the doctrines of all who belong to the Church of Rome, yet they are the tenets of some of her most {368} celebrated doctors, of men who were raised to her highest dignities in their lifetime, and solemnly enrolled by her among the saints of glory after their death. Their words and their actions are appealed to now in support of similar tenets and doctrines, though few, in this country at least, are found to put them forth in all their magnitude and fulness. But even in their mildest and least startling form these doctrines are awfully dangerous.

The fact is, that the direct tendency of the worship of the Virgin, as practically illustrated in the Church of Rome, is to make GOD himself an object of FEAR, and the VIRGIN an object of LOVE; to invest Him, who is the Father of mercy and God of all comfort, with awfulness, and majesty, and with the terrors of eternal justice, and in direct and striking contrast to array the Virgin mother with mercy and benignity, and compassionate tenderness. Christians cannot be too constantly and too carefully on their guard against doing this wrong to our heavenly Father. His own inspired word invites us to regard Him not only as the God of love, but as Love itself. "God is love;" [1 John iv. 8.] and so far from terrifying us by representations of his tremendous majesty, and by declarations that we cannot ourselves draw nigh to God; so far from bidding us to approach Him with our suits and supplications through mediators whom we should regard as having, more than our blessed Redeemer, a fellow-feeling with us, and at the same time resistless influence with Him; his own invitation and assurance is, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest:" [Matt. xi. 28.] "No one cometh unto the Father but by me:" [John xiv. 6.] "Him that cometh to me I will {369} in no wise cast out:" [John vi. 37.] "Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." [Heb. iv. 16.]

How entirely opposed to such passages as these, breathing the spirit that pervades the whole Bible, are those doctrines which represent the Virgin Mary as the Mediatrix by whom we must sue for the divine clemency; as the dispenser of all God's mercies and graces; as the sharer of God's kingdom, as the fountain of pity, as the moderator of God's justice, and the appeaser of his wrath. "Show thyself a mother." "Compel thy Son to have pity." "By thy right of mother command thy Son." "God is a God of vengeance; but thou, Mary, dost incline to mercy;" such expressions convey sentiments and associations shocking to our feelings, and from which our reason turns away, when we think of God's perfections, and the full atonement and omnipotent intercession of his Son Christ our Redeemer. But it must not be disguised, that these are the very sentiments in which the most celebrated defenders of the worship of the Virgin, in the Church of Rome, teach their disciples to acquiesce, and in which they must have themselves fully acquiesced, if they practised what they taught. It is very painful to make such extracts as leave us no alternative in forming our opinions on this point; but it is necessary to do so, otherwise we may injure the cause of truth by suppressing the reality; a reality over which there seems to be a strong disposition, in the present day, in part at least, to draw a veil; an expedient which can only increase the danger.

The first author, whose sentiments I would request you to weigh, is Gabriel Biel, a schoolman of great celebrity135. {370} In his thirty-second lecture, on the Canon of the Mass, he thus expresses himself, referring to a sermon of St. Bernard, "The will of God was, that we should have all through Mary.... You were afraid to approach the Father, frightened by only hearing of Him.... He gave you Jesus for a Mediator. What could not such a Son obtain with such a Father? He will surely be heard for his own reverence-sake; for the Father loveth the Son. But, are you afraid to approach even Him? He is your brother and your flesh; tempted through all, that He might become merciful. THIS BROTHER MARY GAVE TO YOU. But, perhaps, even in Him you fear the divine Majesty, because, although He was made man, yet He remained God. You wish to have an advocate even to Him. Betake yourself to Mary. For, in Mary is pure humanity, not only pure from all contamination, but pure also by the singleness of her nature136. Nor should I, with any doubt say, she too will be heard for her own reverence-sake. The Son, surely, will hear the Mother, and the Father will hear the Son."

Footnote 135:(return)

Tubingen, 1499. Gabriel Biel, born at Spires about A.D. 1425, was in A.D. 1484 appointed the first Professor of Theology in the then newly founded University of Tubingen. He afterwards retired to a monastery, and died A.D. 1495.

Footnote 136:(return)

This is a very favourite argument in the present day, often heard in the pulpits on the Continent.

In his 80th lecture, the same author comments on this prayer, which is still offered in the service of the Mass:

"Deliver us, we beseech thee, O Lord, from all evils past, present, and future; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever-virgin mother of God, Mary, with thy blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and Andrew, and all saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that, aided by the help of thy mercy, we may be both ever {371} free from sin, and free from all disquietude. Through the same our Lord, &c."

On this prayer Biel observes, "Again we ask, in this prayer, the defence of peace; and since we cannot, nor do we presume to obtain this by our own merit, ... therefore, in order to obtain this, we have recourse, in the second part of this prayer, to the suffrages of all his saints, whom He hath constituted, in the court of his kingdom, as our mediators, most acceptable to himself, whose prayers his love does not reject. But, of them, we fly, in the first place, to the most blessed Virgin, the Queen of Heaven, to whom the King of kings, the heavenly Father, has given the half of his kingdom; which was signified in Hester, the queen, to whom, when she approached to appease king Asuerus, the king said to her, Even if thou shalt ask the half of my kingdom, it shall be given thee. So the heavenly Father, inasmuch as He has justice and mercy as the more valued possessions of his kingdom, RETAINING JUSTICE TO HIMSELF, GRANTED MERCY to the Virgin Mother. We, therefore, ask for peace, by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Virgin." [Cum habeat justitiam et misericordiam tanquam potiora regni sui bona, justitia sibi retenta, misericordiam Matri Virgini concessit.]

The very same partition of the kingdom of heaven, is declared to have been made between God himself and the Virgin by one who was dignified by the name of the "venerable and most Christian Doctor," John Gerson137, who died in 1429; excepting that, instead of justice and mercy, Gerson mentions power and mercy as the two parts of which God's kingdom consists, and that, whilst power remained with the Lord, the part of mercy ceded "to the mother of Christ, and the reigning {372} spouse; hence, by the whole Church, she is saluted as Queen of Mercy."

Footnote 137:(return)

Paris, 1606. Tract iv. Super "Magnificat," part iii. p. 754. See Fabricius, vol. iii. p. 49. Patav. 1754.

I would next refer to a writer who lived four centuries before Biel, but whose works received the papal sanction so late as the commencement of the seventeenth century, Petrus Damianus, Cardinal and Bishop. His works were published at the command of Pope Clement VIII., who died A.D. 1604, and were dedicated to his successor, Paul V., who gave the copyright for fifteen years to the Editor, Constantine Cajetan, A.D. 1606. I will quote only one passage from this author. It is found in his sermon on the nativity of the Virgin, whom he thus addresses: "Nothing is impossible with thee, with whom it is possible to restore those in despair to the hope of blessedness. For how could that authority, which derived its flesh from thy flesh, oppose thy power? For thou approachest before that golden altar of human reconciliation not only asking, but commanding; a mistress, not a handmaid." [Accedis enim ante illud aureum humanæ reconciliationis altare, non solum rogans, sed imperans; Domina, non ancilla. Paris, 1743. vol. ii. p. 107. Serm. 44.]

I must now solicit your attention to the sentiments of two writers, whose partial identity of name has naturally led, in some instances, to the one being mistaken for the other, Bernardinus de Bustis, and Bernardinus Senensis. Bernardinus de Bustis, [Fabricius, vol. i. 215.] in the country of Milan, was the celebrated author of the "Office of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin," which was confirmed by the bull of Sixtus the Fourth, and has since been celebrated on the 8th of December.

He composed different works in honour of the Virgin, {373} to one of which he gave the title "Mariale." In this work, with a great variety of sentiments of a similar tendency, he thus expresses himself:—

"Of so great authority in the heavenly palace is that empress, that, omitting all other intermediate saints, we may appeal to her from every grievance.... With confidence, then, let every one appeal to her, whether he be aggrieved by the devil, or by any tyrant, or by his own body, or by divine justice;" [Cologne, 1607. Part iii. Serm. ii. p. 176.] and then, having specified and illustrated the three other sources of grievance, he thus proceeds: "In the fourth place, he may APPEAL TO HER, if any one feels himself AGGRIEVED BY THE JUSTICE OF GOD [Licet ad ipsam appellare, si quis a Dei justitia se gravari sentit.] ... That empress, therefore, Hester, was a figure of this empress of the heavens, with whom God divided his kingdom. For, whereas God has justice and mercy, He retained justice to himself to be exercised in this world, and granted mercy to his mother; and thus, if any one feels himself to be aggrieved in the court of God's justice, let him appeal to the court of mercy of his mother." [Ideo si quis sentit se gravari in foro justitiæ Dei, appellet ad forum misericordiæ matris ejus.]

For one moment, let us calmly weigh the import of these words:—Is it any thing short of robbing the Eternal Father of the brightest jewel in his crown, and sharing his glory with another? Is it not encouraging us to turn our eyes from the God of mercy as a stern and ruthless judge, and habitually to fix them upon Mary as the dispenser of all we want for the comfort and happiness of our souls?

In another place, this same author thus exalts Mary:

"Since the Virgin Mary is mother of God, and God is her Son; and every son is naturally inferior to his {374} mother, and subject to her; and the mother is preferred above, and is superior to her son, it follows that the blessed Virgin is herself superior to God, and God himself is her subject, by reason of the humanity derived from her;" [Part ix. Serm. ii. p. 605.] and again. "O the unspeakable dignity of Mary, who was worthy to command the Commander of all." [Part xii. Serm, ii. p. 816.]

I will detain you by only one more quotation from this famed Doctor. It appears to rob God of his justice and power, as well as of his mercy; and to turn our eyes to Mary for the enjoyment of all we can desire, and for safety from all we can dread. Would that Bernardine stood alone in the propagation of such doctrines. "We may say, that the blessed Virgin is chancellor in the court of heaven. For we see, that in the chancery of our lord the pope, three kinds of letters are granted: some are of simple justice, others are of pure grace, and the third mixed, containing justice and grace.... The third chancellor is he to whom it appertains to give letters of pure grace and mercy. And this office hath the blessed Virgin; and therefore she is called the mother of grace and mercy: but those letters of mercy she gives only in the present life. For, to some souls, as they are departing, she gives letters of pure grace; to others, of simple justice; and to others, mixed, namely, of justice and grace. For some were very much devoted to her, and to them she gives letters of pure grace, by which she COMMANDS, that glory be given to them without any pain of purgatory: others were miserable sinners, and not devoted to her, and to them she gives letters of simple justice, by which she COMMANDS that condign vengeance be done upon them; others were lukewarm and remiss in devotion, and to them she gives letters of justice and grace, by which {375} she COMMANDS that grace be given to them, and yet, on account of their negligence and sloth, some pain of purgatory be also inflicted on them." [Part xii. Serm. ii. On the twenty-second excellence, p. 825.]

The only remaining author, to whom I will at present refer you, is a canonized saint, Bernardinus Senensis. A full account of his life, his miracles, and his enrolment among the saints in heaven, is found in the Acta Sanctorum, vol. v. under the 20th of May, the day especially dedicated to his honour. Eugenius IV. died before the canonization of Bernardine could be completed: the next pope, Nicholas V. on Whitsunday 1450, in full conclave, enrolled him among the saints, to the joy, we are told, of all Italy. In 1461, Pius the Second said that Bernardine was taken for a saint even in his lifetime; and, in 1472, Sixtus IV. issued a bull, in which he extols the saint, and authorizes the translation of his body into a new church, dedicated, as others had been, to his honour.

This Bernardine is equally explicit with others, in maintaining, that all the blessings which Christians can receive on earth are dispensed by Mary; that her princedom equals the princedom of the Eternal Father; that all are her servants and subjects, who are the subjects and servants of the Most High; that all who adore the Son of God should adore his virgin-mother, and that the Virgin has repaid the Almighty for all that He has done for the human race. Some of these doctrines were to me quite startling; I was not prepared for them; but I have been assured they find an echo in the pulpits in many parts of the continent. Very few quotations will suffice. [Opera, per John de la Haye. Paris, 1636. Five volumes bound in two.]


"As many creatures do service to the glorious Mary, as do service to the Trinity.... For he who is the Son of God, and of the blessed Virgin, wishing (so to speak) to make, in a manner, the princedom of his mother equal to the princedom of his father, he who was God, served his mother on earth. Moreover, this is true, all things, even the Virgin, are servants of the divine empire; and again, this is true, all things, even God, are servants of the empire of the Virgin." [Vol. iv. Serm. v. c. vi. p. 118.]

"Therefore, all the angelic spirits are the ministers and servants of this glorious Virgin." [Serm. iii. c. iii. p. 104.]

"To comprise all in a brief sentence, I do not doubt that God made all the liberations and pardons in the Old Testament on account of the reverence and love of this blessed maid, by which God preordained from eternity, that she should be, by predestination, honoured above all his works. On account of the immense love of the Virgin, as well Christ himself, as the whole most blessed Trinity, frequently grants pardon to the most wicked sinners." [Serm. v. c. ii. p. 116.]

"By the law of succession, and the right of inheritance, the primacy and kingdom of the whole universe is due to the blessed Virgin. Nay, when her only Son died on the cross, since He had no one on earth to succeed Him of right, his mother, by the laws of all, succeeded, and by this acquired the principality of all. [Serm. v. c. vii. p. 118.] ... But, of the monarchy of the universe, Christ never made any testamentary bequest, because that could never be done without prejudice to his mother. Moreover, HE KNEW THAT A MOTHER CAN ANNUL THE {377} WILL OF HER SON, IF IT BE MADE TO THE PREJUDICE OF HERSELF." [Insuper noverat quod potest mater irritare Filii testamentum si in sui præjudicium sit confectum.—P. 118.]

"The Virgin Mother138, from the time she conceived God, obtained a certain jurisdiction and authority in every temporal procession of the Holy Spirit, so that no creature could obtain any grace of virtue from God except according to the dispensation of his Virgin mother139. As through the neck the vital breathings descend from the head into the body, so the vital graces are transfused from the head Christ into his mystical body, through the Virgin. I fear not to say, that this Virgin has a certain jurisdiction over the flowing of all graces. And, because she is the mother of such a Son of God, who produces the Holy Spirit; THEREFORE, ALL THE GIFTS, VIRTUES, AND GRACES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE ADMINISTERED BY THE HANDS OF HERSELF, TO WHOM SHE WILL, WHEN SHE WILL, HOW SHE WILL, AND IN WHAT QUANTITY SHE WILL." [Serm. v. p. 119.]

Footnote 138:(return)

Serm. v. c. viii. and Serm. vi. c. ii. p. 120 and 122. There is an omission (probably by an error of the press) in the first passage, which the second enables us to supply.

Footnote 139:(return)

This writer is constantly referring to St. Bernard's doctrine, "No grace comes from heaven upon the earth, but what passes through the hands of Mary."

"She is the queen of mercy, the temple of God, the habitation of the Holy Spirit, always sitting at the right hand of Christ in eternal glory. Therefore she is to be venerated, to be saluted, and to be adored with the adoration of hyperdulia. And therefore she sits at the right hand of the King, that as often as you adore Christ the king you may adore also the mother of Christ." [Serm. vi. p. 121.]

"The blessed Virgin Mary alone has done more for {378} God; or as much (so to speak) as God hath done for the whole human race. For I verily believe that God will grant me indulgence if I now speak for the Virgin. Let us gather together into one what things God hath done for man, and let us consider what satisfaction the Virgin Mary hath rendered to the Lord." Bernardine here enumerates many particulars, placing one against the other, which for many reasons I cannot induce myself to transfer into these pages, and then he sums up the whole thus: "Therefore, setting each individual thing one against another, namely, what things God had done for man, and what things the blessed Virgin has done for God, you will see that Mary has done more for God, than God has for man; so that thus, on account of the blessed Virgin, (whom, nevertheless, He himself made,) God is in a certain manner under greater obligations to us than we are to Him." [Serm. vi. p. 120.]

The whole treatise he finishes with this address to the Virgin:—

"Truly by mere babbling are we uttering these thy praises and excellences; but we suppliantly pray thy immense sweetness. Do thou, by thy benignity, supply our insufficiencies, that we may worthily praise thee through the endless ages of ages. Amen."

In closing these brief extracts I would observe, that by almost every writer in support of the worship of the Virgin, an appeal is made to St. Bernard140 as their chief authority. Especially is the following passage quoted by many, either whole or in part, at almost every turn of their argument:—

Footnote 140:(return)

The present Pope, in the same manner, refers to him in his Encyclical Letter.—A.D. 1840.

"If thou art disturbed by the heinousness of thy crimes, and confounded by the foulness of thy conscience, {379} if terrified by the horror of judgment thou begin to be swallowed up in the gulf of despair, think of Mary, invoke Mary; let her not depart from thy heart, let her not depart from thy mouth. For whilst thinking of her, thou dost not err; imploring her, thou dost not despair; following her, thou dost not lose thy way; whilst she holds thee, thou dost not fall; whilst she protects thee, thou dost not fear; whilst she is thy leader, thou art not wearied; whilst she is favourable, thou reachest thy end141."

Footnote 141:(return)

See Bern. Sen. vol. iv. p. 124. The passage is found in Bernard, Paris, 1640. p. 25.

If the Virgin Mary is thus regarded as the source and well-head of all safety and blessing, we cannot wonder, that glory and praise are ascribed in the selfsame terms to her as to the Almighty. Cardinal Bellarmin closes the several portions of his writings with "Praise to God and the blessed Virgin Mary142." It is painful to reflect, that either the highest glory, due to that God who will not share his glory with another, is here ascribed to one of the creatures of his hand (however highly favoured and full of grace), or else that to the most high God is ascribed an inferior glory and praise, such as it is lawful for us to address to an exalted fellow-creature. Surely the only ascription fitting the lips and the heart of those who have been enlightened by the bright beams of Gospel truth, is Glory to God alone through Christ his Son.

Footnote 142:(return)

Such ascriptions are very common. Joannes de Carthagena, a most voluminous writer of homilies, adopts this as the close of his sections: "Praise and glory to the Triune God, to the Humanity of Christ, to the Blessed Virgin Mary his mother, and to St. Joseph her dearest spouse."—Catholic Homilies on the Sacred Secrets of the Mother of God, and Joseph, p. 921. Paris, 1615.



It may perhaps be surmised, that the authors referred to in the last section lived many years ago, and that the sentiments of the faithful members of the Church of Rome have undergone material changes on these points. Assurances are given on every side, that the invocation of the saints and of the Virgin is nothing more than a request, that they would intercede with God, and implore his mercy for the suppliants. But whatever implicit reliance we may place on the good faith with which these declarations are made, we can discover no new key by which to interpret the forms of prayer and praise satisfactorily. Confessedly there are no changes in the authorized services. We discover no traces of change in the worship of private devotion. The Breviary and Missal contain the same offices of the Virgin Mary as in former days. The same sentiments are expressed towards her in public; the same forms of devotion143, both in prayer and praise, are prepared for the use of individuals in their daily exercises. Whatever meaning is to be attached to the expressions employed, the prevailing expressions themselves remain the same as we found them to have been in past ages.

Footnote 143:(return)

Works of this character abound in every place, where Catholic books may be purchased.

Since I made these extracts from the learned and celebrated doctors and canonized saints of former ages, my attention has been invited to the language now {381} used in forms of devotion, the spirit of which implies similar views of the power and love of the Virgin Mary, as the fountain of mercies to mankind, and the dispenser of every heavenly blessing.

At the head of these modern works, I was led to read over again the encyclical letter of the present sovereign pontiff, from the closing sentences of which I have already made extracts. And referring his words to a test which we have more than once applied in a similar case—that of changing the name of the person, and substituting the name of God, or his blessed Son, I cannot see how the spirit of his sentiments falls in the least below the highest degree of religious worship. His words, in the third paragraph of his letter, as they appear in the Laity's Directory for 1833, are these:—

"But having at length taken possession of our see in the Lateran Basilic according to the custom and institution of our predecessors, we turn to you without delay, venerable brethren, and in testimony of our feelings towards you, we select for the date of our letter this most joyful day on which we celebrate the solemn festival of the most blessed Virgin's triumphant assumption into heaven, that she who has been through every great calamity our patroness and protectress, may WATCH OVER US WRITING TO YOU, AND LEAD OUR MIND BY HER HEAVENLY INFLUENCE to those counsels which may prove most salutary to Christ's flock."

Let us substitute for the name of Mary, the holiest of all, The Eternal Spirit of Jehovah Himself; and will not these words be a proper vehicle of the sentiments of a Christian pastor? Let us fix upon Christmas-day, or Easter, or Holy Thursday, and what word expressive {382} of gratitude for past mercies to the supreme Giver of all good things, or of hope and trust in the guidance of the Spirit of counsel, and wisdom, and strength—of the most High God, who alone can order the wills and ways of men—might not a bishop of Christ's flock take from this declaration of the Sovereign Pontiff, and use in its first and natural sense, when speaking of the Lord Jehovah Himself? "We select for the date of our letter this most joyful day on which we celebrate the solemn festival of the most blessed Redeemer's nativity, (or glorious resurrection, or ascension,) that He who has been through every great calamity our patron and protector, may watch over us writing to you, and lead our mind by his heavenly influence to those counsels which may prove most salutary to Christ's flock."

In these sentiments of the present Pope there is no allusion (as there is in the other clause) to Mary's prayers and intercessions. Looking to and weighing the words employed, and as far as words can be relied upon as interpreters of the thoughts, looking to the spirit of his profession, only one inference can be fairly drawn. However direct and immediate the prayers of the suppliants may be to the Virgin for her protection and defence from all dangers, spiritual and bodily, and for the guidance of the inmost thoughts in the right way, (blessings which we of the Anglican Catholic Church, following the footsteps of the primitive flock of Christ, have always looked for at the hand of God Almighty only, to be granted by Him for the sake of his blessed Son,) such petitioners to Mary would be sanctioned to the utmost by the principles and example of the present Roman Pontiff.

We have already, when examining the records of {383} the Council of Chalcedon, compared the closing words of this encyclical letter with the more holy and primitive aspirations of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople in those earlier days; and the comparison is striking between the sentiments now expressed in the opening parts of the same letter, and the spirit of the collects which were adopted for the use of the faithful, before the invocation of saints and of the Virgin had gained its present strong hold in the Church of Rome. For example, a collect at Vespers teaches us to pray to God as the source from whom all holy desires and all good counsels proceed [Hiem. 149.]; and on the fifth Sunday after Easter this prayer is offered: "O God, from whom all good things do come, grant, we pray Thee, that by thy inspiration we may think those things that be good; and by thy guidance may perform the same;" whilst on the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, in a collect, the spirit of which is strongly contrasted with the sentiments in both parts of this encyclical letter, God is thus addressed: "We beseech thee, O Lord, with thy continual pity, guard thy family, that, leaning on the sole hope of heavenly grace, it may ever be defended by thy protection." [Ut quæ in sola spe gratiæ coelestis innititur, tua semper protectione muniatur.—Hiem, 364. "Let us raise our eyes to the Blessed Virgin, who is our greatest hope, yea, the entire ground of our hope."]

Similar materials are abundant. A whole volume, indeed, might readily be composed consisting solely of rules and instructions, confessions and forms of prayer, appertaining to the Virgin and the Saints, published by authority at the present day, both in our country and on the Continent, for the use of our Roman Catholic {384} brethren; but to which the word of God, and the doctrine and practice of the primitive Church, are in our estimation as much opposed as to the prayers of Bonaventura, or to the doctrine of either of the Bernardins. It would, however, be unprofitable to dwell on this subject at any great length. I will, therefore, only briefly refer to two publications of this sort, to which my own attention has been accidentally drawn: "The Imitation of the Blessed Virgin,"144 and "The Little Testament of the Holy Virgin."145

Footnote 144:(return)

"The Imitation of the Blessed Virgin, composed on the plan of the Imitation of Christ. London, 1816. Approved by T.R. Asselini, Doctor of Sorbonne, last Bishop of Boulogne. From the French."

Footnote 145:(return)

"The Little Testament of the Holy Virgin, translated from the French, and revised by a Catholic Priest. Third Edition. Dublin, 1836."

The first professes to be "composed on the plan of the 'Imitation of Christ.'" This is, in itself, highly objectionable; its tendency is to exalt Mary, by association, to the same place in our hearts and minds, which Thomas à Kempis had laboured, in his "Imitation of Christ," to secure for the Saviour; and it reminds us of the proceedings of Bonaventura, who wrote psalms to the honour of the Virgin after the manner which David used in his hymns to the Lord of Glory. In this work we read the following prayer to the Virgin, which seems to be stained with the error, the existence of which elsewhere we have already noticed, of contrasting the justice and the stern dealings even of the Saviour, with the mercy, and loving-kindness, and fellow-feeling of Mary; making God an object of fear, Mary an object of love.

"Mother of my Redeemer, O Mary, in the last moments {385} of my life, I implore thy assistance with more earnestness than ever. I find myself, as it were, placed between heaven and hell. Alas! what will become of me, if thou do not exert, in my behalf, thy powerful influence with Jesus?... I die with SUBMISSION since JESUS has ORDAINED it; but notwithstanding the natural horror which I have of death, I die with PLEASURE, because I die under THY protection." [Chap. xiii. p. 344.]

In the fourteenth chapter the following passage occurs: "It is giving to the blessed Virgin a testimony of love particularly dear and precious to her, to make her holy spouse Joseph the first object of our devotion, next to that which consecrates us to her service.... The name of Joseph is invoked with singular devotion by all the true faithful. They frequently join it with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary. Whilst Jesus and Mary lived at Nazareth, if we had wished to obtain some favour from them, could we have employed a more powerful protector than St. Joseph? Will he now have less power and credit? GO THEREFORE TO JOSEPH, (Gen. xli. 55.) that he may intercede for you. Whatever favour you ask, God will grant it you at his request.... Go to Joseph in all your necessities; but especially to obtain the grace of a happy death. The general opinion that he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary has inspired the faithful with great confidence, that, through his intercession, they will have an end as happy and consoling as his. In effect, it has been remarked, that it is particularly at the hour of death that those who have been during their life careful to honour this great saint, reap the fruit of their devotion." [P. 347.]

In this passage the unworthy idea, itself formed on a groundless tradition, is introduced of paying reverence {386} to one saint, in order to gratify and conciliate another. Joseph must be especially honoured in order to do what is most acceptable to Mary. Surely this tends to withdraw the mind from that habitual reference of all our actions immediately to God, which the primitive teachers were so anxious to cultivate in all Christians.

In the "Little Testament of the Holy Virgin," the following (p. 46) is called, "A Prayer to the blessed Virgin." Can any words place more on an entire level with each other, the eternal Son of God and the Virgin? "Jesus and Mary?!"

"O Mary! what would be our poverty and misery if the Father of Mercies had not drawn you from his treasury to give you to earth! Oh! my Life and Consolation, I trust and confide in your holy name. My heart wishes to love you; my mouth to praise you; my mind to contemplate you; my soul sighs to be yours. Receive me, defend me, preserve me; I cannot perish in your hands. Let the demons tremble when I pronounce your holy name, since you have ruined their empire; but we shall say with Saint Anselm, that he does not know God, who has not an idea sufficiently high of your greatness and glory. We shall esteem it the greatest honour to be of the number of your servants. Let your glory, blessed Mother, be equal to the extent of your name; reign, after God, over all that is beneath God; but, above all, reign in my heart; you will be my consolation in suffering, my strength in weakness, my counsel in doubt. At the name of Mary my hope shall be enlightened, my love inflamed. Oh! that I could deeply engrave the dear name on every heart, suggest it to every tongue, and make all celebrate it with me. Mary! sacred name, under which no one {387} should despair. Mary! sacred name, often assaulted, but always victorious. Mary! it shall be my life, my strength, my comfort! Every day shall I envoke IT AND THE DIVINE NAME OF JESUS. The Son will awake the recollection of the mother, and the mother that of the Son. JESUS AND MARY! this is what my heart shall say at the last hour, if my tongue cannot; I shall hear them on my death bed,—they shall be wafted on my expiring breath, and I with them, to see THEM, know THEM, bless and love THEM for eternity. Amen."

There may, perhaps, be a reasonable ground for our hoping that these are not the sentiments entertained by the enlightened Roman Catholics of our country and age. Any one has a full right to say, "These are productions of individuals for which we and the Church to which we belong are not responsible, any more than the Church of England is responsible for all doctrines and sentiments expressed by writers in her communion! Even the sentiments above referred to of the present reigning pope, you have no right to allege as the doctrines of the Church!" But I would again venture to suggest to every one, who would thus speak, the duty of ascertaining for himself, whether the sentiments of those who at present fill the highest places, and which fully justify these devotional exercises and prayers to the Virgin and the Saints, be not themselves fully justified by the authorized ritual of the Roman Church. On this point are supplied, even in this volume, materials sufficiently diversified and abundant in quantity to enable any one to form a correct judgment.

By two brief extracts I will now bring this branch of our inquiry to a close. The first is from the concluding paragraphs of a discourse lately delivered and {388} published. In principle, the sentiments here professed apparently admit not only of being identified with those of the authorized services of the Church of Rome, but also, though not so naked and revolting in appearance as the doctrines of Bonaventura, Biel, and the two Bernardins, yet in reality they equally depart from the simplicity of the Gospel, and are equally at direct variance with that, its first and its last principle, ONE GOD AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.

"Remember that this day you have put yourselves and your families under the protection of the ever-blessed Mother of God, and Her chaste Spouse, St. Joseph; of those who were chosen of God to protect the infancy of Jesus from the danger by a persecuting world. ENTREAT THEM TO PROTECT YOU AND YOURS FROM THE PERILS of a seducing and ensnaring world; to plead your interests in heaven, and secure by their intercession your everlasting crown. Loudly proclaim the praises of your heavenly Queen, but at the same time turn Her power to your everlasting advantage by your earnest supplications to HER." (See Appendix.)

The other extract, which sanctions to the full whatever offerings of praise and ascriptions of glory we have found individuals making to the Virgin and to Saints, is from an announcement in, I believe, the last English edition of the Roman Breviary published, in its present form, under the sanction of the Pope himself.

"To those who devoutly recite the following prayer after the office, Pope Leo the Tenth hath granted pardon (indulsit) for the defects and faults in celebrating it, contracted by human frailty.

"To the most holy and undivided Trinity; to the manhood {389} of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ; to the fruitful spotlessness of the most blessed and most glorious and ever-Virgin Mary; and to the entire body of all the Saints, be eternal praise, honour, virtue, and glory, from every creature, and to us remission of all sins, through endless ages of ages. Amen." [Norwich, 1830. Æst.]

On the indulgence for pardon given by Pope Leo the Tenth, more than 300 years ago, for such defects and faults in celebrating a religious service as may be contracted by human frailty; and on the fact of the notification of that indulgence being retained, and set forth so prominently in the service books at the present day, I will say nothing. Whatever associations may be raised in our minds by these circumstances, the subject does not fall within our present field of inquiry. But to join the Holy Trinity with the Virgin Mother, and all the Saints in one and the same ascription of ETERNAL PRAISE, HONOUR, and GLORY, is as utterly subversive of the integrity of primitive Christian Worship, as it is repugnant to the plainest sense of holy Scripture, and derogatory to the dignity of that Supreme Being, who declares Himself to be a jealous God.

It has, indeed, been maintained that such ascriptions of glory and praise jointly to God and his Saints, is sanctioned by the language of our blessed Saviour Himself when He speaks of his having given his glory to his disciples [John xvii. 22.], and of his second advent, when He shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. [Luke ix. 26.] But between the two cases there is no analogy whatever; the inference is utterly fallacious. We know that the Lord of Hosts is the King of glory, and that his eternal Son shared the glory of his Father before the foundations {390} of the world were laid. We know, too, that the Almighty has been pleased to create beings of various degrees and orders, differing from each other in kind or in excellence according to his supreme will. Among those creatures of his hand are the angels whom we reverence and love, as his faithful servants and his ministers to us for good. But when we speak and think of religious adoration; of giving thanks; and ascribing eternal glory and honour, we have only one object in our minds,—the supreme Sovereign Lord of all.

With regard to the gracious words of our Saviour in his prayer to the Father, on the eve of his death, St. Peter's acts and words supply us with a plain and conclusive comment. He was himself one of those to whom Christ had declared that He had given the glory which his Father had given to Him; and yet when Cornelius fell down at his feet to worship him, he took him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself also am a man." [Acts x. 26.] The Saviour was pleased to impart his glory to his Apostles, dividing to them his heavenly gifts severally as He willed. We praise Him for those graces which shone so brightly in them, and we pray to Him to enable us by his grace to follow them, as they followed his blessed steps. We reverence their memory, but we give God alone the praise.

As to the other instance, the words of our Lord (assuring us that the angels should accompany Him at his second advent in their glory, the glory which He assigned to them in the order of creation,) no more authorize us to ascribe praise and glory by a religious act to them, when we praise the God of angels and men, than would {391} the assurance of an inspired apostle, that "there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars," sanction us in joining those luminaries in the same ascription of glory with their Almighty Creator and ours. Just as reasonably would a pagan justify his worship of the sun, the moon, and the stars, by this passage of Scripture, as our Roman Catholic brethren would justify themselves by the former passage in their ascription of praise and glory to the holy angels, and saints, and the blessed Virgin. We honour the holy angels, we praise God for the glory which He has imparted to them, and for the share which He has been pleased to assign to them in executing his decrees of mercy in the heavenly work of our salvation; and we pray to HIM to grant that they may by his appointment succour and defend us on earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. But we address no invocation to them; we ascribe no glory to them as an act of religious worship. By offering thanks and praise to God He declares that we honour HIM; by offering thanks and praise, and by ascribing glory and honour to angel, saint, or virgin, we make them gods.



We have now, my fellow Christians, arrived at the conclusion of the task which I proposed to undertake. I have laid before you, to the utmost of my abilities and means, the result of my inquiry into the evidence of holy Scripture and primitive antiquity, on the invocation of saints and angels, and the blessed Virgin Mary. In this inquiry, excepting so far as was necessary to elucidate the origin and history of the Roman Catholic tenet of the Assumption of the Virgin, we have limited our researches to the writers who lived before the Nicene Council. That Council has always been considered a cardinal point,—a sort of climacteric in the history of the early Church. It was the first Council to which all the bishops of Christendom were summoned; and the influence of its decrees is felt beneficially in the Catholic Church to this very day. In fixing upon this Council as our present boundary line, I was influenced by a conviction, that the large body of Christians, whether of the Roman, the Anglican, or any other branch of the Church Catholic, would consent to this as an indisputable axiom,—that what the Church Catholic did not believe or practise up to {393} that date of her existence upon earth, cannot be regarded as either Catholic or primitive, or apostolical. Ending with St. Athanasius, (who, though he was present at that Council, yet brings his testimony down through almost another half century, his death not having taken place till A.D. 873, on the verge of his eightieth year,) we have examined the remains of Christian antiquity, reckoning forward to that Council from the times of the Apostles. We have searched diligently into the writings, the sentiments, and the conduct of those first disciples of our Lord. We have contemplated the words of our blessed Saviour himself, and the inspired narrative of his life and teaching. With the same object in view we have studied the prophets of the Old Testament, and the works of Moses; and we have endeavoured, at the fountainhead, to ascertain what is the mind and will of God, as revealed to the world from the day when He made man, on the question of our invoking the angels and saints to intercede with Him in our behalf, or to assist and succour us on the earth. And the result is this:—From first to last, the voice of God Himself, and the voices of the inspired messengers of heaven, whether under the patriarchal, the Mosaic, or the Christian dispensations, the voices too of those maintainers of our common faith in Christ, who prayed, and taught, in the Church, before the corruptions of a degenerate world had mingled themselves with the purity of Christian worship, combine all, in publishing, throughout the earth, one and the self-same principle, "Pray only to God; draw nigh to Him alone; invoke no other; seek no other in the world of spirits, neither angel, nor beatified saint; seek Him, and He will favourably, with mercy, hear your prayers." To this one {394} principle, when the Gospel announced the whole counsel of God in the salvation of man, our Lord himself, his Apostles, and his Church, unite in adding another principle of eternal obligation,—There is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; whatsoever the faithful shall ask the Father in the name of that Mediator, He will grant it to them: He is ever living to make intercession for those who believe in Him: Invoke we no other intercessor, apply we neither to saint nor angel, plead we the merits of no other. Let us lift up our hearts to God Almighty himself, and make our requests known to Him in the name, and through the mediation of Christ, and He will fulfil our desires and petitions as may be most expedient for us; He will grant to us, in this world, a knowledge of his truth, and in the world to come life everlasting!

Watching the tide of evidence through its whole progress, we find it to flow all in this one direction. Here and there indeed attempts have been made to raise some mounds and barriers of human structure, in order to arrest its progress, and turn it from its straight course, but in vain; unchecked by any such endeavours, it rolls on in one full, steady, strong, and resistless current. Until we have long passed the Nicene Council, we find no one writer of the Christian Church, whose remains tell us, that he either himself invoked saints and angels, and the Virgin Mary, or was at all aware of any such practice prevailing in Christendom. Suppose, for one moment, that our doctrine is right; and then we find the whole tenour of the Old and New Testaments, and the ancient writers, in their plain meaning, agreeably to the interpretation of the most learned and unbiassed critics, fully coinciding in every respect with our view of God being the sole object of invocation, {395} and of the exclusive character of Christ's intercession, mediation, and advocacy. Suppose, for another moment, the Roman Catholic theory to be correct, then the whole general tenour and drift of Scripture must be evaded; the clearest statements and announcements must be explained away by subtle distinctions, gratuitous definitions, and casuistical refinements, altogether foreign from the broad and simple truths of Revelation; then, too, in ascertaining the sentiments of an author, not his general and pervading principles, evidenced throughout his writings, must be appealed to; but casual and insulated expressions must be contracted or expanded as may best seem to counteract the impression made by the testimony of those principles. We may safely ask, Is there such evidence, that the primitive Church offered invocations to saints and angels, and the Virgin, as would satisfy us in the case of any secular dispute with regard to ancient usage? On the contrary, is not the evidence clear to a moral demonstration, that the offering of such addresses is an innovation of later days, unknown to the primitive Christians till after the middle of the fourth century, and never pronounced to be an article of faith, until the Council of Trent, more than a thousand years after its first appearance in Christendom, so decreed it.

The tendency, indeed, of some Roman Catholic writings, especially of late years, is to draw off our minds on these points from the written word of God, and the testimony of the earliest Church, and to dwell upon the possibility, the reasonableness of the doctrines of the Church of Rome in this respect, their accordance with our natural feelings, and their charitableness. But in points of such vast moment, in things concerning the soul's salvation, we can depend with satisfaction and {396} without misgiving, only on the sure word of promise; nothing short of God's own pledge of his own eternal truth can assure us, that all is safe. Such substitution of what may appear to us reasonable, and agreeable to our natural sentiments, and desirable if true, in place of the assurances of God's revealed Will, may correspond with the arguments of a heathen philosopher unacquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus, but cannot satisfy disciples of Him who brought life and immortality to light by his Gospel. Such questions as these, "Is there any thing unreasonable in this? Would not this be a welcome tenet, if true?" well became the lips of Socrates in his defence before his judges, but are in the strict sense of the word preposterous in a Christian. With the Christian the first question is, What is the truth? What is revealed? What has God promised? What has He taught man to hope for? What has He commanded man to do? By his own words, by the words and by the example of his inspired messengers, by the doctrine and practice of his Church, the witness and interpreter of the truth, how has He directed us to sue for his mercy and all its blessings? On what foundation, sure and certain, can we build our hopes that "He will favourably with mercy hear our prayers?" For in this matter, a matter of spiritual life and death, we can anchor our hope on no other rock than his sure word of promise.

That sure word of promise, if I am a faithful believer, I have; but it is exclusive of any invocation by me of saint, or angel, or virgin. The pledge of heaven is most solemnly and repeatedly given; God, who cannot lie, has, in language so plain, that he may run who readeth it, assured me that if I come to HIMSELF by HIS SON, my prayer shall not be cast out, my suit shall {397} not be denied, I shall not be sent empty away. In every variety of form which language can assume, this assurance is ratified and confirmed. His own revealed will directs me to pray for my fellow-creatures, and to expect a beneficial effect from the prayers of the faithful upon earth in my behalf. To pray for them, therefore, and to seek their prayers, and to wait patiently for an answer to both, are acts of faith and of duty. And were it also appointed by God's will to be an act of faith and duty in a Christian to seek the prayers, and aid, and assistance, of saints and angels by supplicatingly invoking them, surely the same word of truth would have revealed that also. Whereas the reverse shows itself under every diversified state of things, from the opening of the sacred book to its very last page. The subtle distinction of religious worship into latria, dulia, and hyperdulia, the refined classification of prayer under the two heads of direct, absolute, final, sovereign, on the one hand, and of oblique, relative, transitory, subaltern, on the other, swell indeed many elaborate works of casuistry, but are not discoverable in the remains of primitive Christians, nor in the writings of God's word have they any place. I cannot find in the inspired Apostles any reference to the necessity, the duty, the lawfulness, the expediency of our seeking by prayer the good offices of the holy dead, or of the angels of light. In their successors the earliest inspired teachers and pastors of Christ's fold, I seek in vain for any precept, or example, or suggestion, or incidental allusion looking that way. Why then should a Christian wish to add to that which God has been pleased to appoint and to reveal? Why should I attempt to enter heaven through any other gate than {398} that gate which the Lord of heaven has opened for me? or why should I seek to reach that gate by any other way than the way which He has made for me; which He has Himself plainly prescribed to me; in which He has promised that his word shall be a lantern unto my feet; and along which those saints and servants of his, who received the truth from his own lips, and sealed it by their blood, have gone before?

Whenever a maintainer of the doctrine and practice of invoking the Saints asks me, as we have lately been asked in these words, "May I not reasonably hope that their prayers will be more efficacious than my own and those of my friends? And, under this persuasion, I say to them, as I just now said to you, holy Mary, holy Peter, holy Paul, pray for me. What is there in reason or revelation to forbid me to do so?" To this and similar questions and suggestions, I answer at once, God has solemnly covenanted to grant the petitions of those who ask HIM for his mercy, in the name and for the sake of his Son; and in his holy word has, both by precept and example, taught us in this life to pray for each other, and to ask each other's prayers [James v. 16; I Tim. ii. 1.]; but that He will favourably answer the prayers which we supplicate angels to offer, or which we offer to Himself through the merits and by the intercession of departed mortals, is no where in the covenant. Moreover, when God invites me and commands me to approach Him myself, in the name of his Son, and trusting to his merits, it is not Christian humility, rather it savours of presumption, and intruding into those things which we have not seen [Coloss. ii. 18.], to seek to prevail with Him by {399} pleading other merits, and petitioning creatures, however glorious, to interest themselves with Him in our behalf, angels and saints, of whose power even to hear us we have no evidence. When Jesus Himself, who knows both the deep counsels of the Eternal Spirit, and man's wants and weaknesses and unworthiness, and who loveth his own to the end, pledges his never-failing word, that whatsoever we ask the Father in his name, He will give it us, can it be less than an unworthy distrust of his truth and faithfulness to ask the Father for the merits and by the intercession of another? and as though in fear lest God should fail of his promise, or be unmindful of us Himself, to invoke angels and the good departed to make our wants known unto HIM, and prevail with HIM to relieve us?

Surely it were wiser and safer to adhere religiously to that one way which cannot fail, than to adopt for ourselves methods and systems, for the success of which we have no guarantee; which may be unacceptable in his sight; and the tendency of which may be to bring down a curse and not a blessing.

May the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls pour down upon his Church the abundance of his mercy, preserving those in the truth who now possess it, restoring it to those by whom it has been lost, and imparting it to all who are yet in darkness. And, whilst we speak the truth in love, and endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, may HE, for his own glory, and for the safety and comfort of his people, shed this truth abroad in our hearts, and enlighten us to receive it in all its fulness and integrity, and in the very sense in which the Holy Spirit, when He guided {400} the pen of St. Paul, willed the Church to interpret it, "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels alway do Thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple, acceptable unto Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace, so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which Thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Note.—Pages 107 and 110.

The following is the original of the passages discussed in the text. Justin Martyr, Apol. I. p. 47. § vi. Benedictine Edition by P. Maran. Paris, A.D. 1742.

[Greek: Enthende kai atheoi keklaemetha; kai homologoumen ton toiouton nomizomenon theon atheoi einai, all' ouchi tou alaethestatou, kai patros dikaiosunaes kai sophrosunaes, kai ton allon areton, anepimiktou te kakias Theou; all' ekeinon te, kai ton par' autou huion elthonta kai didaxanta haemas tauta, kai ton ton allon hepomenon kai exomoioumenon agathon angelon straton, pneuma te to prophaetikon sebometha, kai proskunoumen, logoi kai alaetheiai timontes, kai panti boulomenoi mathein, hos edidachthaemen, aphthonos paradidontes.]

Ibid. page 50, 51. sect. xiii.—[Greek: 'Atheoi men oun hos ouk esmen, ton daemiourgon toude tou pantos sebomenoi, ... ton didaskalon te touton genomenon haemin, kai eis touto genaethenta Iaesoun Christon ton staurothenta epi Pontiou Pilatou, tou genomenou en Ioudaiai epi chronois Tiberiou Kaisaros epitropou, huion autou tou ontos Theou mathontes, kai en deuterai chorai echontes, pneuma te prophaetikon en tritaei taxei, hoti meta logou timomen, apodeixomen....]

Note.—Page 134.

In the text it has been observed, that "Coccius in his elaborate work quotes the two following passages as Origen's, without expressing {402} any hesitation or doubt respecting their genuineness; in which he is followed by writers of the present day."

The modern works, to which reference is here made, are chiefly the Lectures delivered by Dr. Wiseman, in the Roman Catholic Chapel in Moorfields in the year 1836, and the compilation of Messrs. Berington and Kirk [Berington and Kirk. London, 1830, p. 403.], from which Dr. Wiseman in his preface to his Lectures (p. ix.) informs us, that in general he had drawn his quotations of the Fathers. In citing the testimony of Origen in support of the invocation of saints, it is evident that Dr. Wiseman has drawn from that source; for whereas the two confessedly spurious passages, from the Lament, and from the Book on Job, are in that compilation quoted in the same page, Dr. Wiseman cites only the passage from the Lament, as from a work on the Lamentations, but gives his reference to the Book on Job. His words are these:—"Again he (Origen) thus writes on the Lamentations: 'I will fall down on my knees, and not presuming, on account of my crimes, to present my prayer to God, I will invoke all the saints to my assistance. O ye saints of heaven, I beseech you with a sorrow full of sighs and tears; fall at the feet of the Lord of mercies for me, a miserable sinner,'—Lib. ii. De Job." [Lectures on the Principal Doctrines and Practices of the Catholic Church, by Nicholas Wiseman, D.D. London, 1836. Vol. i. preface, p. ix. and vol. ii. p. 107.]

When we find such passages as these, which have been so long ago and so repeatedly pronounced to be utterly spurious, yet cited in evidence at the present time, and represented as conveying the genuine testimony of Origen, we shall be pardoned for repeating the sentiments expressed so many years ago by the learned Bishop of Avranches with regard to the very work here cited, "It is wonderful that, WITHOUT ANY MARK OF THEIR BEING FORGERIES, they should be sometimes cited in evidence by some theologians."

Note.—Page 151.

The whole passage cited as Origen's comment on the words of Ezekiel, "The heavens are opened," is in the Latin version as follows. The Greek original, if it ever existed, is lost. The portion between brackets is the part suspected of being an interpolation.

6. Et aperti sunt coeli. Clausi erant coeli, et ad adventum Christi aperti sunt, ut reseratis illis veniret super eum Spiritus Sanctus in specie columbæ. Neque enirn poterat ad nos commeare nisi primum {403} ad suæ naturæ consortem descendisset. Ascendit Jesus in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem, accepit dona in hominibus. Qui descendit, ipse est qui ascendit super omnes coelos ut impleret omnia. Et ipse dedit alios apostolos, alios prophetas, alios evangelistas, alios pastores et magistros in perfectionem sanctorum.

[7. Aperti sunt coeli. Non sufficit unum coelum aperiri: aperiuntur plurimi, ut descendant non ab uno, sed ab omnibus coelis angeli ad eos qui salvandi sunt. Angeli qui ascendebant et descendebant super Filium hominis, et accesserunt as eum, et ministrabant ei. Descenderunt autem angeli, quia prior descenderat Christus, metuentes descendere priusquam Dominus virtutum omnium rerumque præciperet. Quando autem viderunt principem militiæ coelestis in terrestribus locis commorari, tunc per apertam viam ingressi sunt sequentes Dominum suum, et parentes voluntati ejus qui distribuit eos custodes credentium nomini suo. Tu heri sub dæmonio eras, hodie sub angelo. Nolite, inquit Dominus, contemnere unum de minimis istis qui sunt in ecclesia. Amen enim dico vobis, quia angeli eorum per omnia vident faciem Patris qui est in coelis. Obsequuntur saluti tuæ angeli, concessi sunt ad ministerium Filii Dei, et dicuntinter se: si ille descendit, et descendit in corpus; si mortali indutus est carne, et sustinuit crucem, et pro hominibus mortuus est, quit nos quiescimus? quid parcimus nobis? Eja omnes angeli descendamus e coelo. Ideo et multitudo militiæ coelestis erat laudantium et glorificantium Deum, quando natus est Christus. Omnia angelis plena sunt: veni, angeli, suscipe sermone conversum ab errore pristino, a doctrina dæmoniorum, ab iniquitate in altum loquente: et suscipiens eum quasi medicus bonus confove atque institue, parvulus est, hodie nascitur senex repuerascens: et suscipe tribuens ei baptismum secundæ regenerationis, et advoca tibi alios socios ministerii tui, ut concti pariter eos qui aliquando decepti sunt, erudiatis ad fidem. Gaudium enim est majus in coelis super unum peccatorem poenitentiam agentem, quam supra nonaginta novem justos quibus non opus est poenitentia. Exultat omnis creatura, collætatur et applaudit his qui salvandi sunt. Nam expectatio creaturæ revelationem filiorum Dei expectat. Et licet nolint ii qui scripturas apostolicas interpolaverunt istiusmodi sermones inesse libris eorum quibus possit Creator Christus approbari, expectat tamen omnis creatura filios Dei, quando liberentur a delicto, quando auferentur de Zabuli manu, quando regenerentur a Christo. Verum jam tempus est, ut de præsenti loco aliqua tangamus. Vidit Propheta non visionem, sed visiones Dei. {404} Quare non vidat unam, sed plurimas visiones? Audi Dominum pollicentem atque dicentem: Ego visiones multiplicavi. 8. Quinta mensis. Hic annus quinta captivitatis regis Joachim. Trigesimo anno ætatis Ezekielis, et quinto captivitatis Joachim, Propheta mittiur ad Judæos. Non despexit clementissimus pater, nec longo tempore incommonitum populum dereliquit. Quintus est annus. Quantum temporis intercessit? Quinque anni interfluxerunt ex quo captivi serviunt.]

Statim descendit Spiritus Sanctus,—aperuit coelos, ut hi qui captivitatis jugo premebantur, viderent ea quæ videbantur a Propheta. Dicente quippe eo, Et aperti sunt coeli, quodam modo et ipsi intuebantur oculis cordis quæ ille etiam oculis carnis aspexerat.—Vol. iii. p. 358.

Note.—Page 165.

In a note on the Epistle of St. Cyprian to his brother, reference was made to the Appendix for a closer comparison of Cyprian's original letter with the modern translation of the passage under consideration. By placing the two versions in parallel columns side by side, we shall immediately see, that the mode of citing the testimony of St. Cyprian adopted in Dr. Wiseman's Lectures, from the compilation of Messrs. Berington and Kirk, is rather to substitute his own comment and inference, than to allow the witness to speak for himself in his own words. The whole paragraph, as it appears in Dr. Wiseman's Lectures, is this:—

"St. Cyprian in the same century: 'Let us be mindful of one another in our prayers; with one mind and with one heart, in this world and in the next, let us always pray with mutual charity relieving our sufferings and afflictions. And may the charity of him, who, by the divine favour, shall first depart hence, still persevere before the Lord; may his prayer, for our brethren and sisters, not cease.' Therefore, after having departed this life, the same offices of charity are to continue, by praying for those who remain on earth." [Lect. xiii. vol. ii. p. 107, and Berington and Kirk, p. 430.]

St. Cyprian's words. Epist. lvii. p. 96.

Translation adopted by Dr. Wiseman from Berington and Kirk.

1. Memories nostri invicem simus,
1. Let us be mindful of one another IN OUR PRAYERS;
2. Concordes atque unanimes, 2. With one mind and with one heart,
3. Utrobique. 3. In this world and in the next,
4. PRO NOBIS semper oremus, 4. Let us always pray,
5. Pressuras et angustias mutua caritate relevemus, 5. With mutual charity RELIEVING our sufferings and afflictions.
6. Et si quis istinc nostrum prior divinæ dignationis celeritate præcesserit, perseveret apud Dominum NOSTRA DILECTIO, 6. And may the CHARITY OF HIM, who, by the divine favour, shall first depart hence, still persevere before the Lord;
7. Pro fratribus et sororibus nostris apud misericordiam patris non cesset oratio. 7. May HIS prayer, for our brethren and sisters, not cease.

In this translation, by inserting the words, in our prayers, which are not in the original in the first clause; by rendering the adverb utrobique, IN THIS WORLD AND IN THE NEXT, in the third clause; by omitting the words pro nobis, for each other, which are in the original, in the fourth clause; by changing in the fifth the verb relevemus, let us relieve, implying another branch of their mutual kindness, into the participle relieving, which may imply, that the relief alluded to was also to be conveyed by the medium of their prayers; by substituting the charity of him, in place of nostra dilectio, our charity, in the sixth; and by inserting the word his, which is not in the original, before prayer, where the grammar of the sentence requires our, in the seventh clause;—by these means the translator makes Cyprian express a sentiment far removed from what the words of Cyprian, in their plain and natural sense, convey. It must, however, be borne in mind, as we have shown in our examination of the passage, that the sentiment of Cyprian, even as it is thus unduly extracted from his words, would not in the remotest degree countenance the invocation of saints. It would do no more than imply his belief, that the faithful departed may take an interest in the welfare of their surviving friends on earth, and promote that welfare by their prayers; a point which, in the preface, is mentioned as one of those topics, the discussion of which would be avoided in this inquiry, as quite distinct from the invocation of saints.


Note.—Page 176.

An extract from Eusebius, unnoticed in the text of this work, has recently been cited as conveying his testimony in favour of the invocation of saints. I have judged it better to defer the consideration of it to the appendix. It has been cited in these terms: "In the fourth century Eusebius of Cæsarea thus writes: 'May we be found worthy by the prayers and intercessions of all the saints.'" [Dr. Wiseman's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 107. Lect. xiii. Berington and Kirk, p. 431.] To form a just estimate of this alleged testimony, it is requisite that we have before us not only that incomplete clause, but the whole passage purporting to contain, in these words, the closing sentences of a commentary on Isaiah: [Tom. ii. p. 593, ed. Paris, 1707. Dr. Wiseman's reference is "Com. in Isai. Tom. ii. p. 593, ed. Paris, 1706."]

"'And they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh.' To what flesh? Altogether to that which shall be somewhere punished? Nay, to that which shall of the heavenly vision be deemed worthy, concerning which it was said before, All flesh shall come to worship before me, of which may we also be deemed worthy by the prayers and intercessions of all the saints. Amen."

In examining this passage I am willing for the present that all its clauses should be accepted as the genuine words of Eusebius, and accepted too in the meaning attached to them by those who have cited them. And to what do they amount? If these are indeed his expressions, Eusebius believed that the saints departed can forward our spiritual welfare by their prayers and ministering offices; and he uttered his desire that we might thus be benefited. Now whether we agree with him or not in that belief; whether we consider the faithful departed as able to take an interest in our welfare and to promote it, or regard such an opinion as without foundation in the word of God and in primitive doctrine; the belief implied and the wish expressed here by Eusebius, are widely indeed removed from the act of suppliantly invoking the saints departed, and resorting to them with entreaties for their prayers and intercessions in our behalf. These two things, although often confounded, are far from being equivalent; and by all who would investigate with fairness the subject of our inquiry, they must be carefully kept distinct. The invocation of saints being the single point in question, our business is to ascertain, not what opinions Eusebius may have {407} entertained as to the condition, and power, and offices of the saints departed, but whether he invoked them; whether he had recourse to them with supplications for their prayers, or aid and succour. And keeping this closely in view, even if we admit this passage to be genuine, and interpret it as those who have cited it wish it to be interpreted, we find in it no authority for the invocation of saints. A Christian would be no more countenanced by this language of Eusebius in suppliantly invoking departed saints, than he would in praying to the angels for their help and mediation be countenanced by the terms of the prayer in regard to them, addressed by the Anglican Church to God, "O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant, that as thy holy angels alway do Thee service in heaven, so by THY appointment they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." Whoever petitions them, makes them Gods—Deos qui rogat ille facit.

But whilst, for the sake of the argument, I have admitted this passage to be genuine, and correctly translated, and have shown that whether genuine or not, and even if it be thus correctly translated, it affects not in the least the issue of our inquiry, I do not feel at liberty to withhold the acknowledgment of my persuasion that in this concession I grant too much. For, in the first place, I am assured, that if the passage came from the pen of Eusebius, no one is justified in confining the desire and wish contained in it to the intercessions and prayers of the saints in heaven; and, secondly, I see reasons for inferring that the last clause was framed and attached to this work, not by Eusebius himself, but by some editor or scribe.

In support of my first persuasion, I would observe that the very language of the writer of these comments on Isaiah and the Psalms precludes us from regarding the Saints departed as exclusively constituting those "holy ones" by whose intercessions and prayers he expresses his desire that our spiritual welfare may be promoted. In this very comment on Isaiah (ch. vi. 2. p. 376), when he is speaking of the heavenly inhabitants, and illustrates his views by God's dealings towards the children of men in this world, he employs this expression: "For as among men the Saints of God partake of more excellent graces." On the 67th (68th) Ps. v. 34, having interpreted the words, "his strength is in the clouds," as referring to the {408} prophets and teachers of divine wisdom, under the guidance of the Spirit, pouring heavenly truths upon the souls of men as the clouds drop rain on fertile lands, he proceeds thus to comment on the expression, "God is wonderful among his Saints." [Vol. i. p. 364. The English translation refers the word "holy" to places, not persons.] "These Saints are different from those before called Apostles and prophets. And who can they be, except those who out of all nations are deemed worthy of purity and holiness, among whom God is wonderful, giving to them power and strength?" Thus in perfect accordance with the language of this writer, the Saints, from whose prayers and intercessions he desires to derive spiritual benefits, may be the Saints of God on earth—in the same state with those saints still living in the flesh, whose prayers St. Paul desired to be offered up for himself, that by them a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ might be opened unto him [Coloss. i. 2; iv. 2, 3.]—and with those saints to whom the same Apostle wrote at Philippi: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus:" and to whom he sent the greetings of the saints who then surrounded him: "ALL the SAINTS salute you." [Phil i. 1; iv. 22.]

But before the closing words of this paragraph, whatever be its meaning, be acknowledged as the genuine and undoubted production of Eusebius, I would suggest the careful weighing of some considerations, which appear to me to involve serious difficulties.

1. First, through all the voluminous works of Eusebius, I have found in no single passage any allusion to the prayers of saints departed, or to their ministering offices in our behalf, though numberless openings show themselves for the natural introduction of such a subject.

2. Secondly, among all the various works and treatises of Eusebius, I have not found one which is closed by any termination of the kind; on the contrary, they all end with remarkable suddenness and abruptness, precisely as this comment would end, were the sentence under consideration removed. Each, indeed, of the books of his Ecclesiastical History, is followed by a notice of the close of the book, in some cases too that notice involving a religious sentiment: for example, at the close of the 10th book we read: "With the help of God, the end of the tenth book." But that these are appendages made by an editor or scribe is evident in itself, and moreover {409} in many instances is shown by such sentences as these, "And this we have found in a certain copy in the 8th volume:" "This is in some copies, as if omitted from the 8th book." I find no one instance of Eusebius bringing a chapter or a treatise to its close by any religious sentiment, or any termination of the nature here contemplated.

It is also difficult to conceive that any author, having the flow and connexion of the whole passage present to his mind, would himself have appended this ejaculation as we now find it. We know that editors and scribes often attached a sentiment of their own to the closing words of an author. And it seems far more probable, that a scribe not having the full drift of the argument mainly before him, but catching the expression, "heavenly vision," appended such an ejaculation. That the writer himself should introduce such a sentence by the connecting link of a relative pronoun feminine, which must of necessity be referred, not as the grammatical construction would suggest to the feminine noun preceding it,—not to any word expressed or understood in the intervening clause preceding it,—not to the last word in the sentence even before that intervening clause, nor yet to the principal and leading subject immediately under discussion and thrice repeated,—but to a noun incidentally introduced, seems, to say the least, strange and unnatural. "And they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh. To what flesh? Altogether to that which shall be somewhere punished? Nay, to that which shall of the heavenly vision be deemed worthy, concerning WHICH it was said before, All FLESH shall come to worship before me, of which may we also be deemed worthy by the prayers and intercessions of all the saints. Amen." But the classical reader will appreciate these remarks more satisfactorily by examining them with reference to the passage in the original language.

[Greek: Kai esontai eis orasin pasaei sarki. poiai de sarki; ae pantos pou taei kolasthaesomenaei; taes de epouraniou theas kataxiothaesomenaei peri HAES anotero elegeto aexei pasa sarx tou proskunaesai enopion mou, HAES kai haemeis axiotheiaemen euchais kai presbeiais panton ton hagion, amaen.]

Note.—Page 181.


In the text I observed that some Roman Catholic writers of the present day had cited the homily there shown to be utterly spurious, {410} as the genuine work of St. Athanasius, and as recording his testimony in defence of the invocation of Saints. The passage there referred to Dr. Wiseman thus introduces, and comments upon.

"St. Athanasius, the most zealous and strenuous supporter that the Church ever possessed of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and consequently of his infinite superiority over all the saints, thus enthusiastically addresses his ever-blessed Mother: 'Hear now, O daughter of David; incline thine ear to our prayers. We raise our cry to thee. Remember us, O most holy Virgin, and for the feeble eulogiums we give thee, grant us great gifts from the treasures of thy graces, thou who art full of grace. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Queen and mother of God, intercede for us.' Mark well," continues Dr. Wiseman, "these words; 'grant us great gifts, from the treasures of thy graces;' as if he hoped directly to receive them from her. Do Catholics use stronger words than these? Or did St. Athanasius think or speak with us, or with Protestants?"

In answer to these questions I reply with sure and certain confidence, first, that the genuine words of St. Athanasius himself prove him to have spoken and thought with the Anglican Church, and not with the Roman Church on the invocation of saints and angels, and the blessed Virgin Mary; and secondly, that whatever words Roman Catholics use, whether stronger or not than these, these words on which the above questions are put, never came forth from the pen of St. Athanasius. Their spuriousness is not a question of doubt or difficulty. It has been shown in the text that the whole homily has been for ages utterly repudiated, as a work falsely attributed to St. Athanasius. It is indeed very disheartening to those, whose object is the discovery and the establishment of the truth, to find works cited in evidence as the genuine productions of primitive Christian teachers, which have been so long ago, and so repeatedly, and that not by members of another communion, but by the most learned men of the Church of Rome, adjudged to be spurious. I do not mean that I think it not fully competent for a writer of the present day to call in question, and overrule and set aside the decisions of former editors, as to the genuine or the spurious character of any work. On the contrary I am persuaded that a field is open in that department of theology, which would richly repay all the time and labour and expense, which persons well qualified for the task could bestow upon its culture. What I lament is this, that after a work has been deliberately condemned as unquestionably {411} spurious, by competent and accredited judges for two centuries and a half at the least, that very work should be now cited as genuine and conclusive evidence, without any the most distant allusion to the judgment which had condemned it, or even to any suspicion of its being a forgery. In this instance, also, Dr. Wiseman has implicitly followed the compilation of Messrs. Berington and Kirk. This is evident, because the extract, as it stands word for word the same in his Lectures and their compilation, is not found as one passage in the spurious homily, but is made up of sentences selected from different clauses, and put together so as to make one paragraph. It is worthy of notice, that in quoting their authority, both Dr. Wiseman, and those whom he follows, refer us to the very volume in which the Benedictine editors declare that there was no learned man, who did not pronounce the work to be spurious; and in which also they quote at length the letter of Baronius which had proved it to be a forgery. [Dr. Wiseman's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 108, from Berington and Kirk, p. 430, 431.]

Note.—Page 231. (Decree of the Council of Trent.) [Canones et Decreta Sacros. OEcumen. et Genera. Concilii Tridentini, &c. Rom. fol. A.D. 1564.]

Mandat sancta Synodus omnibus Episcopis, et ceteris docendi munus curamque sustinentibus, ut juxta Catholicæ, et Apostolicæ Ecclesiæ usum, a primævis Christianæ religionis temporibus receptum, sanctorumque Patrum consensionem, et sacrorum Conciliorum decreta, inprimis de Sanctorum intercessione, invocatione, Reliquiarum honore, et legitimo imaginum usu, fideles diligenter instruant, docentes eos, Sanctos, una cum Christo regnantes, orationes suas pro hominibus Deo offerre; bonum atque utile esse suppliciter eos invocare; et ob beneficia impetranda a Deo per Filium ejus Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum, qui solus noster Redemptor et Salvator est, ad eorum orationes, opem, auxiliumque confugere: illos vero, qui negant sanctos æternâ felicitate in coelo fruentes, invocandos esse; aut qui asserunt, vel illos pro hominibus non orare, vel eorum, ut pro nobis etiam singulis orent, invocationem esse idololatriam, vel pugnare cum verbo Dei, adversarique honori unius Mediatoris Dei et hominum, Jesu Christi, vel stultum esse, in coelo regnantibus voce, vel mente supplicare, impie sentire. Sanctorum quoque Martyrum, et aliorum cum Christo viventium Sancta corpora, {412} quæ viva membra fuerunt Christi, et templum Spiritus Sancti, ab ipso ad æternam vitam suscitanda et glorificanda, a fidelibus veneranda esse; per quæ multa beneficia a Deo hominibus præstantur: ita ut affirmantes, Sanctorum Reliquiis venerationem, atque honorem non deberi; vel eas, aliaque sacra monumenta a fidelibus inutiliter honorari; atque eorum opis impetrandæ causa sanctorum memorias frustra frequentari; omnino damnandos esse, prout jampridem eos damnavit, et nunc etiam damnat Ecclesia. [De Invocatione, Veneratione, et Reliquiis Sanctorum, et Sacris Imaginibus, p. 202.]

Note.—Pages 369 and 390.

In a prefatory epistle, addressed to the "Chaplains, Wardens, and Brethren of the Holy Catholic Gild," in Huddersfield, Dr. Wiseman (p. 4) expresses himself thus: "Yesterday I laid the badge of your association at the feet of the sovereign pontiff, and it was most condescendingly and graciously received. But this is not all. As I had foretold, I found His Holiness fully informed of your establishment and public manifestation; and I had the satisfaction of hearing him express his WISH THAT SIMILAR INSTITUTIONS SHOULD REVIVE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY."

Towards the close of the sermon, to which this preface is prefixed, and which was preached at St. Patrick's Chapel, Huddersfield, Sept. 26th, 1839, and was printed at York in the present year [A.D. 1840], the preacher draws the comparison, referred to in page 370 of this work, between England and the continent, and between England as it is, and England as it once was, and as, in his view, it ought to be again. After describing the scenes which you may witness in Roman Catholic countries, "where you might see the poor and the afflicted crowding round some altar, where their pious confidence or experience of past favours leads them to hope that their prayers will best be heard through the intercession of our dear Lady," he thus proceeds: "Oh that the time had come, when a similar expression of our devout feelings towards her should publicly be made, and all should unite to show her that honour, that reverence, and love which she deserves from all Christians, and which has so long been denied her amongst us. There was a time when England was second to {413} no other country upon earth in the discharge of this holy duty; and it will be only PART OF THE RESTORATION OF OUR GOOD AND GLORIOUS DAYS OF OLD to revive to the utmost this part of ancient piety. Therefore do I feel sincere joy at witnessing the establishment of this excellent brotherhood, and its public manifestation in this town this day, both as a means of encouraging devotion and virtue, and as a return to one of the venerable institutions of our forefathers. Enter then fully into its spirit."

["A Sermon delivered at St. Patrick's, Huddersfield, Sept. 26th, 1839, on occasion of the Holy Catholic Gild there established, by the Rev. N. Wiseman, D.D., Professor in the University of Rome. York, 1840," p. 22, 23. The first quotation made in p. 390, is from this Sermon.]