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O blessed God, look down in thy mercy upon the miserable estate of Christianity, in so many parts of the Christian world!
When the blessed Virgin foretold, "that all generations should call her blessed," did she mean that all generations should worship her; would worship her images and pictures; would make her a mediatrix between God and man; would ascribe to her the power, not of prevailing with Jesus only for anything, but of commanding him too; would offer Jesus himself a sacrifice in her honour; would burn incense to her; would use rosaries, hours, and psalters for her especial invocation and service; would institute and maintain fraternities for that service; would build temples and chapels to her, and altars, and by most solemn invocation everywhere, and by proper rites of religious worship, and by letting devotion run out to her more than to our Lord Jesus himself, to agnize her to be the "Lady of Heaven and Earth," "The Queen of the World?" No, she did not mean thus, in saying, that "all generations should call her blessed:" for thus "all generations" have not served her. Nothing of all this was done to her for several generations after Christ; nor anything of it in comparison, till the dregs of time, till the decay of learning and piety made way for gross superstition.
The first beginnings of these corruptions were more general, but the improvements of them were chiefly owing to the See of Rome; which, as it grew in power and greatness, so it protected those abuses more effectually: a character very illbeseeming a Church that pretends to be the "pillar and ground of truth."
The wit of man could not devise anything more serviceable to error, to make it spread in the world, and to fix it, than that a powerful See grasping at supremacy, and pretending to infallibility, should take it under her wing.
This See is the source of all those oppositions, which they have met with that demanded a Reformation; it is this See alone which hath obstructed a general Reformation, when Christendom was otherwise well disposed towards it.
Therefore when Reformation, by common consent, was made impossible by the See of Rome, what remained, but that the National Churches should reform themselves?
Our Reformation was a return to primitive antiquity; and that it may prove a leading example, let us pray without ceasing, that God "would bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived."
THE TEXTS EXAMINED WHICH PAPISTS CITE OUT OF THE BIBLE, FOR THE PROOF OF THEIR DOCTRINE CONCERNING THE WORSHIP OF ANGELS AND SAINTS DEPARTED.
CARDINAL BELLARMINE,* and other Romish authors, in their writings concerning the worship of angels and saints, tells us, that as there are three sorts of excellencies, so there are three sorts of worship due to them.
The first excellency is that which is in God only, infinite and supereminent above all; to which is to be paid a religious worship, called Latria.
The second is human or natural, to be found in men ; and is subdivided into several sorts and degrees, according to the diversity of its objects, and degrees of their worth, whether it be prince, or parent, or master, or prophet, or philosopher; to which is to be paid a civil worship, called Cultus Civilis.
The third is a middle sort of excellency, betwixt divine and human, to be found in angels and glorified saints; to which is to be paid an inferior degree of religious worship, called Dulia: and because the Virgin Mary was the mother of our Lord, and far excelled all other saints, as well in favour with God, as in personal virtues and accomplishments; therefore to her is to be paid proportionably a higher degree of this sort of worship, called Hyperdulia.
The two first of these the Reformed own and consent to, but deny the last, as having no foundation in Scripture or reason, or true antiquity.
We worship God with all our hearts and souls, with the profoundest veneration, with the most raised affections, with the highest degrees of love and fear, and faith and confidence ; and that not only as he is a God of infinite perfections, but as he is our absolute Lord and Sovereign, the Almighty Creator and all-wise Governor of all things.
We give to man too that worship that is suitable to his
* De Sanct. Beat. 1. 1. c. 12. [vol. 2. p. 400. col. 2. Prag. 1721.]
finite and created worth and excellency; God having, for the peace and order, and well-being of the world, constituted government in it, and made some the ministers of his Providence in conferring his blessings on mankind; he hath also required an homage or worship to be done to them, conformable to the rank and order they stand in, and to that charge and power they are entrusted with.
But we do not think ourselves obliged to pay any worship at all to angels and saints, as that worship is distinguished from honour and esteem, and implies in, it any power and dominion in them over us, or any dependance and subjection in us to them. And therefore, though we highly honour and esteem them, and manifest the inward sentiments of our hearts by suitable expressions, by blessing God for them, by commemorating their virtues and their martyrdom, by congratulating their victories over the world, by propounding their example to the imitation of others, by rejoicing in their happiness and glory: yet do we refuse to pay any worship or homage to them, much less that kind of worship and homage, which either divine institution, or the consent of nations, hath appropriated to God; which, in its own nature, implies those perfections that are incommunicably in the Divine essence; which, lastly, signify that trust and dependance upon them that ought wholly to be put in God. This is that which we charge upon the Church of Rome, and which her greatest champions can neither deny nor defend, though of late they have more bent their studies to hide her shame, than to justify it.
It is not enough that they give it a different name, when the worship is the same, that they distinguish the worship of God from that of the creature, by the intention of their minds; ascribing the highest degree to the one, and a lower to the other, when they confound them together by making the external acts of it common to both: as God's being the universal parent and common benefactor of the world, challenges a public worship to be due to him; so the unity of his nature, and the supremacy of his authority and power, require that that public worship, and all the expressions of it, be appropriated to him, as incommunicable as his nature, and undivided as his dominion; the one ought to be singular and peculiar as the other, or else we put God and the creature on the level; and either bring down God to the meanness of a creature, or exalt the creature to the altitude of a god.
But though no created excellency can have any inherent or natural right to any part of that worship that is given to God: may not God, who is the fountain of honour, make a grant of it to his beloved favourites, and permit at least, if not require, that some part of it be exhibited to them? This is what the Romanists pretend to, but can never prove, as to any one of those particulars, wherein we accuse them of giving religious worship to angels and saints departed.
Some of those particulars they deny, but at the same time practise they confess* that sacrifice is the peculiar worship of God, and ought to be offered to none besides; it being written, Exod. xxii. 20, "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, shall surely be put to death." And yet do they daily offer up Christ in the sacrifice of the mass to God, in honour of the saints, especially of the blessed Virgin : and how then is sacrifice esteemed by them an honour solely and peculiarly due to God? They tell us also that temples and altars, as well as sacrifice, are appropriate to God; and yet what is more common amongst them, than to erect temples and altars in honour of the saints as patrons of them, and for their proper worship and service?
Again, some they own, but do not pretend to prove from Scripture, but think to fetch them off by distinctions, whilst we have evident proofs from Scripture against them: such are burning incense and making vows to them; concerning both which, the holy Scriptures inform us, that they are appropriate acts of worship to God.
For burning incense, Exod. xxx. 1,8, 10: "Thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon, and Aaron shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord, it is most holy unto the Lord:" and for this reason Hezekiah brake in pieces the brazen serpent, because the people burnt incense to it, 2 Kings xviii. 4.
For making vows, Numb. xxx. 2: "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord." Deut. xxiii. 21, 23: "When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God." And Isa. xix. 21: Vows are reckoned up with sacrifices and oblations: "And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it."
Lastly, others they both own, and have attempted to prove
* Bellar. de Sanct. Beat. 1. 1. c. 12. [Ibid. p. 401.] † Bellar. eod. loc.
from Scripture, such are the religious adoration and solemn invocation of them. My present business therefore is to examine what is the true sense of Scripture as to these points: which I shall do with as much care and judgment as I can, and with all faithfulness and sincerity; shewing the weakness of the proofs cited by the Papists in defence of them, and how very clear and strong ours are against them. For method's sake I shall cast them under these several heads.
I. Head. Although we do not deny that angels and saints departed pray for the Church on earth, yet many of the texts they cite for it do not prove it.
II. Head.-No proof from Scripture, that angels and saints departed have an universal knowledge of men, and their conditions.
III. Head.-No proof from Scripture that angels and saints departed are entrusted with the care and government of the world under God.
IV. Head.-No proof from Scripture for the religious adoration of angels and saints departed.
V. Head.-No proof from Scripture for the solemn invocation of angels and saints departed.
Although we do not deny, that angels and saints departed pray for the Church on earth, yet many of the texts they cite for it do not prove it.
We believe, as well as the Romanists, that angels and saints are in a happy and blessed state; that they have a very fervent charity, and a most tender concern for the Church on earth, and are always ready to do what they are able, especially by their good wishes and earnest prayers to promote its prosperity; that they are very dear to God, in great grace and favour with him, and likely to prevail in their intercessions for what things they ask according to his will; that they know very well what must be in general the necessities of a militant Church, the tribulations and persecutions it is subject to; that it is never without enemies, and consequently never without troubles; and knowing this, that they cannot but commiserate its state, and in pity and compassion towards it, pray for its relief and succour.