« PrécédentContinuer »
understand not Latin, he is far from speaking to them, teaching and edifying them; and if he prays in Latin, his understanding is as unfruitful to them, and they are as far from being able to say Amen to his prayer as if he spoke and prayed in Arabic or Persic. But Latin is a language which all scholars understand. What then? The question is not, whether some or all scholars understand it, but whether the people understand it, of whom the religious assemblies do consist ? For if they do not, it is an unknown language after all. There were in some of those Corinthian assemblies such as could interpret the unknown languages that were spoke there, and consequently understood them; notwithstanding which, St. Paul condemns the use of them, because they were unknown to the people. We are told indeed by the sage author of Protestancy destitute of Scripture-proof, * *s that their fixed forms of divine offices are in a language the most certain and the most intelligible, not only in Christendom, but in every auditory." Which if it be true, the controversy is at an end; for we desire no more but to have the public prayers performed in such a language as is most intelligible to every auditory. But, good Sir, are not your divine offices in Latin ? And do you seriously believe that English is not incomparably better understood in our English auditories than Latin ? I am sure if you do, your faith is of a peculiar make from all the world's. But pray, how is it most intelligible ? For hitherto this seems to me one of the wildest paradoxes that ever was published to the world. Why you must know it is not intelligible, as all other languages are, by the particular form and articulation of its words. No? then I dare boldly say, it is so intelligible as never any language was since the confusion of languages. But how then, I beseech you? Why, it is “ intelligible to every one, by either actions, or ceremonies, or circumstances," &c. I confess for such an action, to speak so or so, or that this or that is the language of such a ceremony or circumstance, are figurative expressions, common enough in most languages; but for a language to speak, or to be intelligible by actions or ceremonies, is such a scheme of speech as no figure will warrant that I ever yet heard of, unless it be the figure blunder ; we will allow your actions, your ceremonies and circumstances to be very significant, and their significations to be very intelligible. But pray what is this to your language? A French shrug, or an Italian
grimace may be intelligible enough to a man that understands not one word either of French or Italian ; and so may the cringings and bowings, and prostrations of a mass-priest be to the people, though they understand not one word of all the Latin service he recites to them ; but still, if they understand not the language, it is in St. Paul's sense unknown to them, how well soever they understand the ceremonies : and for my life I cannot see how the intelligibility of the actions and ceremonies of their prayers should excuse their expressing them in unintelligible words. For to what end serve these intelligible actions and ceremonies, unless it be to instruct the people ? And in what are they to instruct them, but in the prayers
and divine offices to which they appertain ? And if it be needful that the people should be instructed in the prayers (as it must be, or these actions and ceremonies must be needless), I would fain know which is the more likely way to instruct them, whether by dumb signs and shows, or by intelligible words, or whether the people would not better understand the prayers by hearing them pronounced or read in their own language, than by seeing a priest perform the most significant actions or ceremonies of prayer?' And if they would, pray how doth your using the least effectual means to instruct the people, excuse your wilful neglect of the most effectual means? So that in all this pretence there is nothing but perfect shuffling. The question between you and us is, whether the people understand the language of yoar prayers ? For if they do not, it is unknown to them, and under that notion is condemned by St. Paul. Some people, you say, do understand it; that is, one in five hundred perhaps understands it ; and so many, it is probable of the Corinthian people understood Arabic and Persic. Or suppose it were but one in a thousand, the case is still the same. If the generality of the people are the people ; and the generality of our people do no more understand Latin than the generality of the Corinthians did Arabic or Persic, the one as well as the other must be an unknown tongue to the people ; and if it be so, I see no way you have, after all
your tricking, shuffling, and doubling, to justify your Latin service, but by appealing from St. Paul's authority.
Fourthly, and lastly, That supposing the people did understand Latin when they hear it, yet this will not at all excuse their muttering their Latin prayers in so low a voice that the people cannot hear them. The Representer tells us, that if their prayers were in their mother-tongue, he should receive but little advantage by it, because the greatest part is said in so low a voice that it is not possible he should hear it. And if this be true, I am fully of his mind, because words which he doth not hear, can doubtless signify no more to him than words which he doth not understand. But this is only excusing one fault by another; for if it be a fault to perform the public prayers in an unknown tongue, it is doubtless as great a fault to perform them in an unheard tongue, seeing what is unheard must be unknown. But why do they mutter them in so low a voice, contrary to the current sense and practice of the Primitive Church ? I confess, if the language of them be unknown to the people (as I doubt it is), it is no great matter how low the voice is in which they are pronounced ; for to what end should the people hear that which they cannot understand ? But if they do understand a Latin prayer when they hear it (as some of their bolder sort of authors would fain insinuate they do), I am sure they do not understand it when they hear it not. An unknown language in public prayer is forbid because it hinders the people from understanding the prayers; and in my opinion, it is as hard for the people to understand the prayers in a known language, when they do not hear it, as in an unknown language when they do hear it: but if they can understand it, notwithstanding they neither know the language, nor hear the words of it, truly they are much greater conjurors than ever I took them for.
And thus, I think, I have returned a full answer to all the cavils of our adversaries, the very best of which are so very thin and transparent, that if I might advise them, they should tamper no more with 1 Cor. xiv. And seeing there is no persuading St. Paul, either by fair means or foul, to be reconciled to their practice, even to let him alone for the future to abound in his own sense ; and this some of their own authors have judged the most advisable course, who having tried all manner of artifice to vex and torture the text into a compliance with their Church's service, and all to no purpose, were at last forced to betake themselves to this resolution, that* “the Church doth not at all offend in departing from this institution of St. Paul, it being left free to the Church, not only to violate this institution of St. Paul, but also the institution of God himself, supposing it to have been once profitable to the Church, but now unprofitable.” And this I confess is a full Catholic answer, not only to what St. Paul, but also to what God himself hath said, or can say. But before they attribute to their Church such an exorbitant authority over the word of God, it concerns them to beware, lest while they seek to evade St. Paul's authority, they verify his prophecy in 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4, where he tells us, “that the day of Christ shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be rerealed, the son of perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
it Vid. Hoftmeist. in 1 Cor. xiv. p. 272.
THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH OF ROME JUSTLY CONDEMNED, AS DIRECTING PRAYERS TO SAINTS AND ANGELS.
INVOCATION OF SAINTS.
AMONGST many other very corrupt and erroneous doctrines of the Romanists, the Church of England in her twentysecond Article, condemns that of Invocation of Saints, as a “fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God;" and in her learned homily against the Peril of Idolatry, passes yet a much severer censure upon it, and makes all those that believe and practise it, “guilty of the same idolatry that was amongst Ethnics and Gentiles.” How sharp soever this charge may be thought to be, it is, you see, the plain sense and judgment of our Church, and what I believe is the truth, and no hard matter to make good. To proceed therefore in the easiest and clearest method I
propose to sum up all that I think needful to be said upon it, under these following heads :
I. What is the professed doctrine and practice of the Church of Rome as to Invocation of Saints.
II. On what occasion it began and spread in the Church. III. That there is not the least proof for it from Scripture.
IV. That there is no proof for it from the Fathers of the first three hundred years, and more.
V. That there is full and evident proof in Scripture against it.
VI. That the Fathers of the first and purest ages, till after three hundred, are all express and positive in their writings against it.
VII. That the doctrine and practice of Saint-invocation is impious and idolatrous.