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It is so vast a proportion of religious service which they render to her; it consists of so many parts and diversities, that it were a labour to recount them as particularly as the case would bear. It shall suffice to mention some of the principal heads. They worship her with religious prayers and vows they erect churches and oratories for her service; where they worship her very images and pictures and pretended relics: they make rosaries, and compose hours, psalters, and other forms of devotion to her they ask things of her that are proper to be asked of God only: they burn incense to her images, and offer their very sacrifice of the mass in her honour.

Now as to this, and all the rest, we cannot but stand amazed, that this service of the blessed Virgin should grow to be one of the principal parts of their religion; when the holy scriptures have not given us the least intimation of rule or example for it, or of any doctrine or practice that leads to it. That it should be a main design of their Catechisms to instruct youth in the worship of the blessed Virgin; of their sermons to excite the people to put confidence in her, and to call upon her for the present occasion; of their books of devotion to direct them how to pray to her, and magnify her in formal invocations; of their confessors to enjoin penitents to say so many Ave Maries, in satisfaction for their sins, and to make at least as frequent applications to Mary as to Jesus himself for deliverance from sins and dangers: when not one word, not one intimation of any thing, like to any thing of all this, is left upon record in the writings of the evangelists and apostles; from whom those men pretend to derive their religion, whose books are large enough for this so famous a service, to have been at least mentioned somewhere or other; and who, without all doubt, would have more than mentioned it, if it had been the religion of those times. This is that we must always wonder at, and so much the more, because the constant tenor of the holy scriptures bears against such practices as these, agreeably to that precept of both Testaments, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

And indeed our reasons to keep at a distance from this worship of the blessed Virgin and the saints, are so obvious and commonly known, that I shall not make it a business by

itself to represent them. But these two things I shall consider as well as I can:

1. The plausible expositions and colours by which they have tried of late to justify themselves in these things.

2. What were the beginnings of this kind of worship amongst Christians, and by what steps it is grown to that height in which we now see it. I shall consider the former in a narrow compass, because much has been said to it already. The latter is what I chiefly design.

SECT. II.

In pursuance of the first thing propounded, I shall particularly observe how monsieur de Meaux hath expounded these matters, under the heads of religious worship, of invocation of saints, and giving honour to images and relics: but I shall begin with the two latter, because he expounds these particularly; and then I shall consider the general defence he makes for all the religious worship they give to the blessed Virgin and to the saints.

The worship of invocation is the foundation of a great many other things done in her service: for instance, it is this that hath brought forth the rosary, the psalters, the hours, and all other offices of devotion to her. It is this that hath raised her shrines, and built oratories and chapels for her especial service. And indeed, if she as well as God is to be worshipped with prayers and hymns, it is but reasonable that she should have her holy places for such services, as well as God. And yet St. Austin thought the "erecting of temples to be so proper an act of Divine worship, that if we should do it to the most excellent angel, we should be anathematized from the church of God:" whereas therefore our churches are known from one another in cities and populous towns, by the names of several saints; yet we profess, that however for distinction sake they are so called, they are God's houses and oratories, and not theirs; and it is most manifest, that they are used by us for his worship, and not for theirs in whole or in part.

The invocation of the blessed Virgin and the saints has run out into some excesses from which they might have separated it; and therefore to these excesses I shall say but little, espe

c Cont. Maxim. Arian. lib. 1. c. 11.

cially because they defend them very faintly, and with great appearances of self-condemnation.

It was too much in all reason that the council of Trent d allowed of mental as well as vocal prayers to be made to the saints; for this ascribes to them the knowledge of the secrets of hearts. And it is a very faint plea for this which monsieur de Meaux makes in saying, that "God did not disdain to discover future things to the prophets, though they appear much more particularly reserved to his own knowledge." For this does not clear mental praying to the saints from the consequence we charge it with, unless they were sure that as God discovered some future things to the prophets, so he does also perpetually reveal the prayers of our mind to the saints. The instance shews what is needless, that God can do it if he please; it does not shew that he does it; and that only would have been to the purpose.

Besides, whatever opinion they have of the lawfulness and profitableness of praying to saints, they should have been very much afraid to affirm them to be mediators of intercession; when, without any distinction, the scripture does not only give to Christ the quality of a Mediator, as M. de Meaux grants', but likewise the quality of our only Mediator, as he should have granted for as there is one God, so there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus 5. Much less should men have been encouraged to make immediate applications to the saints more frequently than to God or to Christ, as if the saints were more easily prevailed with by our prayers than our God and Saviour. These excesses were too notorious to be denied, but withal they were too scandalous to be confessed; but in all reason they ought to have been severely reproved. M. de Meaux would have us to observe that the council teaches, "it is good and profitable" to pray to the saints. And we do observe, that though the Fathers were not insensible of the extravagant practices and doctrines in this matter that were current amongst them, yet they would not vouchsafe to note them with the least censure, but were content to let them go on as they had done before.

d Sess. 25. de Invoc. S. Bellar. de Sanct. Beatit. 1. 1. c. 20.

f Exp. p. 6.

g 1 Tim. ii. 5.

e Exp. p. 8.

Moreover, they pray to the blessed Virgin, to "protect them from the enemy," to "receive them at the hour of death," to be "propitious to them," to "spare them," to "give them strength," to "give them grace," to "open the gate of everlasting life to them ;" and for all that a good Christian can ask of God. Such like prayers do they also offer to the other saints: but neither shall I stay upon this; because they do not go about to justify it amongst us, otherwise than by pretending that they say what they do not mean; and that "the intention of the church, and of her faithful, reduces these prayers always to this form," that the saints would pray for us. Now when they confess that "the outward veneration is established to testify the inward sentiments of the mind," we desire no greater evidence of self-condemnation in this case, than to hear them say quite backward, that the intention of the church and her faithful is established to explain the meaning of so considerable a part of their outward worship. But in the mean time, God help the common people, if they are to be judged after their own intentions and understandings, and not the intentions and expositions of some few guides of their church.

To name no more of these enormities; their dividing to the saints their several offices in their prayers to them is a most unaccountable superstition; i. e. that one saint is applied to for the cure of one disease, and another for another; and some peculiar things desired of almost every one. For how can they persuade us that they desire nothing of the saints but the help of their prayers, when they attribute to each saint his particular virtue and power; unless they think that St. Apollonia's intercession is not as effectual against the gout as the toothache?

SECT. III.

But setting aside these excesses, which several moderate men of their own church have complained of, but all to no purpose; let us hear what they say in behalf of praying to the blessed Virgin, and to the saints at all, supposing it be for nothing but to pray for them, as one creature may do for another; and that they speak to her and them in hymns and strains, which, as to the matter therein contained, do not exalt them above the condition of creatures: in one word, why they

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address to her, and the rest of the saints, with any sort of formal invocation.

We dare not do this, because we believe prayer to be an essential part of God's worship, inasmuch as it is sometimes put for the whole. How shall they call upon him, in whom they have not believed? i. e. How shall they serve and worship him? It is so incommunicable a worship, that God himself described his own house by it: My house shall be called an house of prayer. And surely when God named his house by some part of that service that was performed there, he would choose such a part as was peculiar to himself. This and much more we say for ourselves.

But to all that we can say, they give this plausible answerk, That it makes no more against their practice, in desiring the prayers of their brethren in heaven, than against theirs and ours, in desiring the prayers of our brethren upon earth; and, as monsieur de M. says, that it "is profitable to pray to the saints, in the same spirit of charity, and according to the same order of fraternal society, which moves us to demand assistance of our brethren living upon earth 1."

Now this is a very popular way to save themselves from blame, but by no means sufficient: for there is a concurrence of other reasons to make it profitable to desire the prayers of our brethren upon earth besides these two, that they are our brethren, and that we love one another. God has manifestly approved it in the holy scriptures; that is one reason: besides, we are also sure that when we desire our brethren upon earth to pray for us, they hear us; that is another reason. But neither of these reasons can be justly produced, to shew the profitableness of praying to the saints departed.

But because this is the most common and colourable defence they make, I shall further shew what may and ought to be replied to it by the people of our communion. They say, we may as lawfully desire those in heaven to pray for us, as those on earth but let us then tell them, that when we ask of one another things proper to be asked, these requests are by no means that which we understand by prayer or religious invocasame spirit we address to the saints that live with him?" Past. Let. p. 16. 1 Exp. p. 6.

"What have they to say to this prayer, Pray for us? Is it not word for word St. Paul's? Is it more injurious to the Creator, because in the

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