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as a token of God's favour. They had not so much efficacy with God; it is otherwise now. The sacrifice of the cross hath made abundant atonement, and satisfied the Divine justice; we are allowed to feast upon this precious victim, and to rejoice in the saving virtue of Christ's death. The legal offerer brought his sacrifice, imparted his crime to it, it died in his stead. This was all he had to do with it. It came not back from the altar: he eat no part of it. He imparted death to the beast, that imparted not life nor nourishment to him back again. Our Lord made expiation by his death, and gives us spiritual nourishment in his holy sacrament. But then to suppose him offered again, is to suppose him to suffer more than once, and consequently to deny the sufficiency of the sacrifice he offered on the cross.
From what hath been said, the unprejudiced reader, and sincere lover of truth, will easily discern that the scriptures will afford no proof for the doctrine of the Roman church concerning the sacrifice of the mass.
THE BLESSED VIRGIN
AN ACCOUNT OF THE BEGINNINGS AND RISE OF IT AMONGST CHRISTIANS, IN ANSWER TO M. DE MEAUX'S APPEAL TO THE FOURTH AGE, IN HIS EXPOSITION AND PASTORAL LETTER.
THE gentlemen of the church of Rome have been pleased lately to send books amongst us of a very different strain; on the one side, "Popery misrepresented and represented," but especially monsieur de M.'s Exposition of the Roman doctrine; on the other side, "Our Lady's Rosary, and the Contemplation of her Life and Glory," &c. which go up and down, though not so openly, as the other. And we believe they have books in readiness to explain over again their meaning in the other articles, (treated of in the Exposition,) at the same rate that their books of particular devotion to our Lady do explain the articles of religious worship, and invocation of saints.
In the mean time they seem to believe that there are no articles will bear a representation in their true colours sooner or better than these. And the truth is, as mankind has in all ages been very prone to superstition, so to no kind of it more than to that of worshipping dead men and women; which being the practice they would reconcile us to, in the first place, we are
concerned the more throughly to examine what they now think fit to say for it.
But let no man think, that in this cause we are engaged against the saints departed, because we contend with their worshippers. Let no man take our refusal to honour them as their worshippers honour them, for an argument that we do not honour them at all. We are content to be tried by that known rule of St. Austin, that "they are to be honoured for imitation, not to be adored for religion." We believe that the highest honour we can do them is to follow their examples: we love their memories; we celebrate anniversary commemorations of their piety and virtues, especially of their sufferings for righteousness' sake; we congratulate their victories over the world; we rejoice in their glory and happiness; we propound their examples to the imitation of the faithful, exciting them to live as the saints once lived, that they at length may inherit those promises, which, by their faith and patience in this world, the saints now inherit in the other; we praise God for them as often as we meet together at the holy table of our Lord; and when we meet to inter our Christian brethren, we pray to God" to hasten his kingdom, that we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of his holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in his everlasting glory."
Thus we honour the departed saints, remembering all along, that though they are highly exalted above us, who are here below imprisoned in earthly bodies, and struggling in a sinful world with infirmities and temptations; we yet belong to the same body of which they are members, and that they are still our fellow-servants. We are persuaded they have not less, but rather more charity for us than they had for the church, when they lived upon the earth; but whether they know us in particular or not, or in what instances they express their charity towards us, God having made no revelations of these things, we can define nothing about them; and therefore we dare not give them those honours, which suppose such an assurance of these things as God hath thought fit to deny us.
As to the Virgin Mary in particular, we do with men and angels acknowledge that she was blessed amongst women, since she brought forth the Saviour of mankind and the Lord of
heaven and earth; since she was not the mother only, but the virgin mother also of our Lord, and conceived him by the power of the Holy Ghost. Which confession so honourable to her, being inseparable from a right belief concerning our Lord Jesus, we do not only set it forth upon the anniversary of the annunciation, but frequently also in our sermons, and daily in the Creed. Moreover, we take these singular graces of God towards her, in conjunction with other things of a more common quality: we doubt not but she was an excellently pious and virtuous person. We see by her behaviour, when the angel Gabriel a came to her, that she was not apt to be imposed upon by counterfeit visions and revelations, nor forward to believe great things of herself, nor lifted up with pride, because she was so highly favoured; but that upon this extraordinary occasion, she wholly resigned herself to the disposal of God, with a wisdom and humility that could not but be habitual. But if nothing at all had been said of her personal qualities in the scriptures, (as indeed there is but very little,) we might have presumed without rashness, that because God (who has no less regard to a holy mind than to a pure body) would have the mother of our Lord to retain the purity of a virgin, he would also choose a most holy virgin to be his mother; and since he was pleased to send us so heavenly a treasure in an earthen vessel, he would choose one of the greatest honour. For which reason likewise we might have concluded, without other testimony, that she became afterwards a faithful disciple of her Son. For when one, in admiration of him, cried out, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. Yea rather, said he, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it: without which blessedness, she that bore him in her womb, and nourished him at her breasts, would have been justly esteemed by all generations the most unhappy and miserable creature in the world. Finally, from all this we cannot but conclude, that she is very happy and glorious in the kingdom of heaven. For though we have no particular revelations concerning this, to warrant any comparisons of her state with that of angels and archangels, yet upon general reasons we may say with sufficient assurance, that her rewards and glories in heaven are exceeding great,
a Luke i.
and such as hold proportion, not only with her faith and tience, (for as some think she suffered martyrdom,) but likewise with that honour, which God was pleased to confer upon her in this world.
Now if any thing remains, whereby to express the tenderness we have for the honour of the blessed Virgin, it is this, that we should do what we can to redeem her name from that dishonourable imputation of affecting glories that cannot belong to the most excellent creature, that is but a creature: for they who, by most solemn rites of religious service, address to her, as to the "queen of heaven and earth," would make us believe, and pretend to believe themselves, that she is pleased with that worship which they offer to her. But if, as we say, they yield to her those services which no creature is to receive, they do by consequence represent her as a lady that aspires to the glory of the Most High; which is by no means for the glory of the blessed Virgin. And if their saint-worship be liable to the same charge, thus also they represent the other saints. Now though, in opposing their doctrine and practice, we are principally moved by that concern we ought to have for the glory of our Creator and Saviour; yet it is some inducement to us so to do, that we shall thereby vindicate the blessed Virgin also, and all the glorified saints. For if she knows what passes amongst mortals, she cannot but be displeased at those services that have been and still are paid to her by some of her Son's disciples; and if she said any thing at all to them, she should say to her votaries, but with greater indignation, what the angel said to St. John, falling at his feet to worship him; See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant-worship God.
The same I say of the angels, the apostles, the martyrs, and all the saints, whom they honour with the same kind of worship that they give to the blessed Virgin. Only the degree of her worship, and the frequency of their addresses to her, and the strength of their confidence in her, is so much greater, that they have thought fit to invent a word of art to express it by; hyperdulia they call it; a word which our people cannot understand better, than by knowing the practice which it is a name for.
b Rev. xix. 10.