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And if the efficacy of prayer be such in behalf of each other, while in this mortal state, in which no man stands justified in the sight of his Creator, (m) how much more may not be expected from it, when the just man is not only removed from this imperfect state of existence, but has received power over the nations ;) is seated upon the same throne with the Almighty ;() and is become a pillar in the temple of his God, in that temple where the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascends up before God.") Where, then, I would ask, is the superstition and idolatry of all this?
() Psl. cxlii. (6) Apoc. ii. 26.
(P) Ibid. iii. 21. (9) Ibid. iii. 12.
(m) Ibid. viii. 4. (8) I will subjoin the opinion of Luther upon this point, though rather as as an object of curiosity, than for the purpose of founding any argument upon it.
Concerning the Invocation of Saints,” says he, " I agree with the whole Christian Church, and am of opinion, that the saints in heaven are to be invocated; for, who can contradict the wonders daily wrought at their tombs?” (In Purg. Quorund. Artic. Tom. 1.)—Again : “ Some, however, may say; Of what use can the saints be to us? Thou art to use them as thou dost thy neighbour; for as thou sayest to him ; Pray to God for me; so mayest thou, St. Peter pray for me." (In Festo St. Johannis Baptistæ.) . And in another place: “Let no one omit to invoke the blessed Virgin, and the Angels and Saints, that they may intercede with God for them at that instant (the hour of death].” Luther's Prep. ad Mort.
Though relics and images are not expressly mentioned in the oath, yet, as we are not sure that they may not by implication be comprised therein, and that the charge of superstition and idolatry may not be grounded in the minds of those who take this test, upon the supposed doctrine and practice of Catholics upon these points, I deem it quite necessary for our justification to state our belief thereon. This belief may be found in the following propositions :-“God alone is the object of our worship and adoration, but Catholics shew honour to the relics of saints, and they place images and pictures in their churches, to reduce their wandering thoughts, and to enliven their memories towards heavenly things. They shew, besides, a respect to the representations of Christ, of the mysterious facts of their religion, and of the saints of God, beyond what is due to any profane figure; not that they believe any virtue to reside in them, for which they ought to be honoured, but because the honour given to pictures is referred to the prototype, or thing represented.
They maintain also that honour and respect are due to the bible, to the cross, to the name of Jesus, to churches, &c. as things peculiarly appertaining to God; as well as to kings, magistrates, and superiors: for to whom honour is due, honour may be given, without any derogation from the majesty of God, or that divine worship which is appropriate to him."
To any one at all read in sacred history, it must be superfluous to produce texts of scripture to shew the wonderful miracles wrought by Almighty God by means of the relics of his saints : When Eliseus smote the waters of Jordan with the mantle of Elias, they parted, and the prophet passed over ;()_When a dead man was let down into the sepulchre of Eliseus, no sooner did he touch the bones of the prophet, than he revived and stood upon
his feet.(u) Numbers were healed merely by the shadow of St. Peter passing over them ;(a) and others by handkerchiefs which had touched the body of St. Paul. Surely it is lawful to venerate the instruments which the Almighty has sometimes been pleased to employ in the performance of his wonderful works; and from time immemorial it has been the custom, when a church was not actually built over the tombs of martyrs, to furnish it with the relics of saints, placing them immediately under the altar, that their mortal remains might occupy a similar situation upon earth, in which their souls were seen by St. John in heaven: I saw under the altar, says he, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.(-)
(0) 4 Kings, ii. 14.
() Ibid. xiii. 21. (3) Acts, v. 14, 15, 16.
(y) Ibid. xix. 11, 12. (5) Rev. vi. 9.
Having shewn that we are not superstitious in our veneration of relics, I trust also to prove that we are not idolators in our respect for images, and in the manner in which we use them. The answer in our English Catechisms to the question, Do Catholics pray to images ? is this : No, by no means, for they can neither see, nor hear, nor help us. A similar answer, together with the most pointed condemnation of every species of Idolatry, is to be found, without one exception, in all the catechisms in use in Italy, France, Spain, Flanders, Germany; in a word, in every portion of the Catholic world, in every language in which Christianity is preached, and in every clime in which the name of Jesus is known. Now, if we consider the diligence with which the Catholic clergy inculcate the study of the catechism, the earnestness with which they impress it on the minds of children the clear and familiar manner in which they explain it-and the assiduity .and frequency of these explanations, we ought at least to hesitate before we pronounce that those who receive and believe these doctrines, receive and believe them in one sense, and practice them in another. It should also be observed that the clergy are no ways interested in keeping up any delusion upon this point; while the common instinct of man, every principle both of natural and revealed religion, conspire to direct his adoration to the sole
object worthy of it—to the great Creator and Disposer of all things. If, with all the checks and precautions employed, some abuse or extravagance should partially and occasionally exist, it must in justice be attributed rather to the perversity of human nature, than to any thing radically vicious in the system.
When the Almighty commanded cherubim, who are his creatures as much as man, to be made for the ornament of the ark of the covenant, he did so without fear that the Israelites, prone as they were to idolatry, would transfer those divine honours to them which they owed to himself alone. Indeed, when the Jewish people fell into this most abominable of all crimes, the idolatry was generally meditated first, and the idol raised afterwards : so far were they from being led astray by the use of images in their worship! Yet, be it remembered, that, though we are bound to pay a due respect to the images of Christ and of his Saints, when used,
(@) Upon the Propitiatory stood two Cherubim, face to face, with their wings expanded and spread, so as to cover the Ark, forming, as it were, a throne for the God of all Sanctity and Majesty. Hence comes the expression often met with in the Sacred Writings, of God sitting upon the Cherubim. It is in imitation of this, that Cherubim are not unfrequently placed to ornament the altar of the blessed Sacrament, where the Almighty deigns to be visibly present.