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tion; and that themselves do not so account them. de M. clearly gives them another name; he calls itm, "beseeching or demanding the assistance of our brethren." But men of all religions do agree this to be a quite different thing from that part of religion which we call prayer.

And to make this matter so plain that it can neither be misunderstood nor denied: Suppose a man visited with the pestilence, or any other dangerous distemper, do desire his physician to apply his best skill to recover him; is this prayer, or religious invocation? No; they will not say it is. But if the same person desires the blessed Virgin, or St. Roche, or St. Sebastian, to restore him to health, this they will confess to be prayer. And the reason of the difference is not that the physician is desired to help the patient by his skill in natural remedies, and the saints by their intercession with God. For suppose that the patient sends for the priest, and desires him to pray for him; they will not say this desire is a prayer to the priest, or a religious invocation of him: they will tell you, that the sick man desires or demands the assistance of the priest's prayers. But still, if he calls upon the blessed Virgin, or any of the saints departed, to help him by their prayers; this is properly, and in the account of religion, praying to them. What then is the reason of the difference? for here is a request made to the priest and to the saint, and the same request too: why is one prayer, and the other not? Now though we should not perfectly agree with our adversaries about the reason of the difference; yet so long as it is and must be acknowledged, that the honest requests we make to one another upon earth are not that part of religion which we call prayer, but that the requests which we make to the departed saints are prayer; so long, I say, as this is granted, it is plain that this their common argument, " It is lawful and profitable to desire the assistance of our brethren's prayers here upon earth; and therefore it is lawful and profitable to call upon those in heaven to assist us with their prayers," is very deceitful. For this is as much as to say, Those requests which are not prayer may be lawfully made to creatures, and therefore those which are prayer may be made to creatures as lawfully as those that

are not.

m Pag. 6, 7.

Now if you desire to know what it is in this case that makes the difference, I think the answer is very plain. For the difference is not to be taken, 1, from the matter of the request, for that is the same; nor, 2, from the persons themselves to whom the request is made; for if the saint departed were here, why would my requesting of the same thing be prayer to him and not to the priest? And therefore, 3, it must necessarily lie in the different circumstances of the priest and the saint; that the former is with me, and the latter is absent from me. Requests made to the faithful are made to those that are within the compass of civil conversation; but the same requests made to the blessed Virgin and the saints are made to those that are departed out of the compass of civil conversation. And this is that which makes them not to be prayer in the former case, and to be prayer in the latter.

But if it be further inquired, Why it is prayer to ask the same things of those that are distant from civil conversation, which to ask of those that are within the compass of it is not prayer? the reason seems plainly to be this; That when I address myself to one that is within the compass of civil conversation, in which men use to hear or to understand one another, my assurance that he hears me does no way ascribe to him a knowledge or a presence which is above the condition of a creature. But if I invoke the saints every where, with assurance that they hear me, I have no other reasonable ground of such assurance, than that they are every where present at the same time: for if I acknowledge that there is a certain limited compass within which they can hear and know, let this limit be never so wide, how can I be assured that they are not out of that compass when I speak to them? But the Romanists pray every where to every saint, believing that they are heard. "It is certain," says one of them ", " that the saints know what we bring forth by the affection of the heart only." "It is of faith," saith another ", " that the blessed know our prayers which we pour out to them, else it were in vain to make them." Now a request does undoubtedly become prayer, or religious invocation, when the making of it attributes any Divine prerogative or perfection to the Being that is called upon; • Pesant. 1. Thom. qu. 12. art. 10.

n Bellar. de Sanct. Beat. 1. 1. c. 20. disput. 7.

and therefore, because immensity of presence is an incommunicable perfection of God; and because also requests made to those that are out of all lines of civil communication, being made in faith, do ascribe that power to them which is proper to God only: therefore such requests are proper prayer, or religious invocation.

It is indeed very possible, that he that prays to the blessed Virgin and to the saints may not believe that they are omnipresent; but if he prays, as they pretend to do in the Roman church, with assurance that they hear him, his prayer implies it, and himself, by construction of the fact, ascribes it to them: for let him, if he can, produce any other reasonable ground of assurance that they hear him, wheresoever and whensoever he addresses to them. But instead of that, M. de Meaux tells us, that "the church contents herself to teach, with all antiquity, (not all antiquity I am sure,) those prayers to be very profitable to such who make them, whether it be the saints know them by the ministry and communication of angels, who, according to the testimony of the scripture, know what passes amongst us P, &c.; whether it be that God himself makes known to them our desires by a particular revelation; or lastly, whether it be that he discovers the secret to them in his Divine essence, in which all truth is comprised.” Now if his church could have taught us upon what grounds they are assured that the saints do hear them, either this way or that way; or that God has in general revealed to us that they hear or know the prayers we make to them, one way or other, and therefore that it is profitable to pray to them; she had not been content to teach that the saints do know them some way or other, though she knows not how or why. For what foundation that they hear us can be gathered from such uncertain and loose conjectures as these are? Can any man convince me that a thing is done, by telling me that it might be done, by some way or other, for any thing he knows to the contrary? and is this kind of arguing a sufficient ground to establish so solemn a part of religion as the invocation of saints? I know it is possible for God to reveal to my friend in the East Indies what I say here in England; but am I sure that if I say to him an Ora pro nobis, at this distance, it

p Exp. p. 8.

reaches him forthwith? It were no difficult matter, if it were needful, to find them trouble enough to clear these very conjectures from absurdity; but as long as they are only conjectures, they can be no foundation of a certain persuasion. Whereas therefore M. de Meaux says, "It is manifest, that to say a creature may have the knowledge of these prayers, by a light communicated to him by God, is not to elevate a creature above his condition;" I say, it is as manifest that this is no ground of certainty that the saints hear our prayers at all; and if this be all they have to say, and yet will pretend to pray to them with faith, there is but one ground left for that faith, viz. that the saints are every where present, and are therefore elevated above the condition of creatures: which though some of themselves do not believe, yet their assurance to be heard being altogether unreasonable without that belief, their prayers do give the omnipresence of God to creatures; which is indeed the great reason why their addresses to the saints are properly prayers.

This therefore I lay down, and let them remove it if they can; That to invocate any creature who is out of the compass of civil conversation-i. e. with whom I cannot converse, as we do with one another, by speaking within the known distances of hearing, or by writing, or messages, or the like—is in itself a vain and foolish thing, because he is out of distance. But if I pretend that it is profitable to invoke the saints, and this upon assurance that they hear me, though I can neither tell which way in particular, nor can shew in general that they do certainly hear me some way that does not infer their omnipresence; there is no remedy, but my invocation of them must by consequence confess that they are omnipresent.

Let therefore those of our communion say, that by calling upon God they do acknowledge his omnipresence, as well as his other infinite perfections; and that they are such acknowledgments which make their invocation of them religious invocation, or that which is prayer in the account of religion; and therefore, that they dare not call upon the saints departed; because they being without the compass of civil conversation, or of such means of communication as we have with one another in this world, we cannot be reasonably assured that they hear us, unless we will suppose them to be omni

present; which as we do not believe, so we dare not do any thing that looks as if we did believe it.

Thus have I shewn what, in our judgment, makes the difference between asking fit things of our brethren upon earth, and asking the same things of our brethren in heaven; why one is not prayer, and the other is, viz. because the living are within our compass, and the dead are out of it. But whatever it is that makes the difference, since the honest requests we make to one another in this world are not prayer, and the requests we make to the saints in heaven are prayer; it does not follow that we may request the same things of these as we may of those for if the argument be put into proper expressions, nothing can be more apparently inconsequent; for then it would run thus: Because I make my requests known to those to whom I do not offer the religious worship of prayer in so doing, therefore I may represent my desires to those too whom I cannot call upon, but my desires become the worship of prayer, or religious invocation.

And from hence it appears, that though this act of religious worship be given by those of the Roman church to the meanest saint; yet after the most plausible defence they make of their practice in so doing, it is not to be given to the most excellent creature, and therefore not to the blessed Virgin herself. And by this we may judge what a cause they have to maintain, who call upon the saints, and especially upon the blessed Virgin, in strains so unsuitable to the condition of creatures, as they are whom they invoke; when, because they are but creatures, they ought not to invoke them at all, since they are out of that compass of conversation in which only we could speak to them as to creatures, with faith that they hear us.


To come to the next particular: When they kneel to the images of the blessed Virgin and the saints, and prostrate and humble themselves, and pray before them, we are given to understand there is no harm in all this, because they "attribute no other virtue to the images, but that of exciting the remembrance of those they represent 9;" and "their intention is not so much to honour the image, as to honour the apostle or

q Exp. p. 9.

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