Sunday, April 28, 2013

Anglican Myths 12: The Invocation of Saints

The material covered in the 22nd Article has been of some controversy since the latter part of the 19th century (although never before that). The content of its teaching is one which many cannot stomach, and, for this reason, they intend to make it mean something which it does not. This is a common problem in Anglicanism these days, when men discover they disagree with the teaching of the English Church and her daughter Churches, instead of changing themselves to be in accord with its teaching or subscribing to a set of articles with which they can agree, they, instead, intend to change the teaching of our Church. 

The Anglican Articles of Religion are so bluntly clear that the invocation of saints (among other Roman practices) is repugnant to the Word of God. The words could not be expressed in any other manner to convey the plainness of their meaning. The problem lies with the listener, not with the teaching of Scripture nor of the Anglican Churches. 

First, we must approach the text as it is in our formularies in Article XXII...
XXII. Of Purgatory.The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
The first point which I must address is the word "Romish". Many authors have used this little word to mangle the plain meaning of the article. The argument is that the word "Romish" only refers to medieval exaggerations of an otherwise acceptable "primitive" doctrine concerning the saints and our invocation of them. I point, firstly, to Thomas' Principles of Theology, referencing the meaning of the word "Romish":
The question may be said to have been settled beyond all reasonable doubt by the able discussion of the late Bishop of Salisbury, who argues with great force that “Romish” means “official Roman and Tridentine doctrine”. [Bishop Wordsworth, The Invocation of Saints and the Twenty-second Article.]  The use made of Hardwick by several writers [Gibson; Kidd; Tyrrell Green; Darwell Stone.  Dr. Darwell Stone has since removed the reference to Hardwick as the result of the Bishop of Salisbury’s criticisms.] is easily shown to be inaccurate, and Hardwick’s view can be seen in his statement that the object of the Article was to “condemn scholastic and Tridentine errors,” while in another place he speaks of the significant change to “Romish,” the “Tridentine Doctors having then made further progress in the building and consolidation of the Neo-Romish system.” [Hardwick, History of the Articles of Religion, pp. 389, 130.  See also p. 84, and Note 1.]
In this sense, we should understand "Romish" to mean the official teaching of the Roman Church (i.e. the Council of Trent). It is to be noted that the original article reading the "doctrine of the school-men", as the Council of Trent had not made the invocation of saints a matter of dogma or doctrine until the time that the Articles of 1562 (and later 1571) were adopted, when the wording was changed to "Romish" to denote what had become official Roman teaching. 

The next question which needs to be addressed is what exactly is meant by "Romish" teaching on this subject. The Council of Trent declared:

“…the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, (and) help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour; but that they think impiously, who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invocated; or who assert either that they do not pray for men; or, that the invocation of them to pray for each of us even in particular, is idolatry; or, that it is repugnant to the word of God; and is opposed to the honour of the one mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus; or, that it is foolish to supplicate, vocally, or mentally, those who reign in heaven.” (26th Session - Decree concerning purgatory)
Some may argue that that was in the 16th century and that the Roman Church has sufficiently reformed itself so as to not be in contradiction with the Word of God. Here we have the most recent teaching of the Roman Church, as contained in the newest catechism:

being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness… they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus… (Para. 956) 
… “because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins” she (the Church) offers her suffrages for them. Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective. (Para. 958)

All of this to say that the official, Roman doctrine is that which is being condemned not "popular" misinterpretations of it. This is another point which must be stressed. Some wish to imply that the Reformers were simply criticizing abuse of an otherwise, theologically-coherent doctrine. I'm not sure how one can derive such moderation from such a strongly-worded statement. How is the statement that the invocation of saints "is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God," "moderate" in any sense of the word? Where is the notion of "criticism" found in this statement? This is complete condemnation of an un-Scriptural, un-catholic practice by our Reformers. 

The question arises, why is the invocation of the saints repugnant to the Word of God, and consequently repugnant to the Catholic faith? The immediate response is that it spits in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ by denying his unique place as the only Mediator and Advocate to the Father on behalf of mankind. This is the repugnance of this doctrine, an utter rejection of one of the central tenets of the Gospel. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5), to interject another created being into the place of Jesus as Mediator and Advocate is utterly heretical and outside the Scriptures and Catholic faith of Anglicanism. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), we have no reason but to go to the Father by Jesus' advocacy and have no reason to seek the advocacy of another, save if we deny the efficiency of our Lord's role as Mediator and Advocate. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10).

The Scriptures specifically condemn the worship of angels in many places. For instance, when the Apostle John falls to worship the angel in his vision, " And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10), the angels are our fellow servants just as the saints of God are. We should likewise not fall down in worship of the saints. The Apostle is reminded again, "Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God" (Rev. 22:9). "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen" (Col. 2:18).

Likewise, the Roman position depends upon the instantaneous beatification of the saints upon death. This seems to deny the teaching of the intermediate state, which is the place of rest where all faithful reside until the resurrection of the dead. The Scriptures seem to imply that there is an intermediate state where faithful souls await the resurrection of the dead (Jn. 11:11, 1 Thess. 4:13), implying the dead are "asleep". Likewise, consider: 1 Kings 2:10; Ps. 6:5, 90:5; Ecc. 9:5, 10; where we also see death referenced as "sleep" or the Scriptures implying a gulf between the living and the dead. This references another common error in relation to this topic. That is, the implication that invoking a dead saint is the same as asking a living Christian for intercession. The two are inherently different, first, Scripture gives us no clear command to invoke the dead brothers and sisters in Christ. Second, Scripture gives us no indication that the dead can hear our prayers (since we are commanded to pray to God alone through Christ, this is a moot point). Likewise, historic, Anglican teaching considers this as the fate of the soul upon death (Consider Bishop Hobart's State of the Departed or Bishop Pearson's Exposition of the Creed). 

I think it is clearly evident that the Reformers wrote against this practice for a very specific reason, that being that the invoking of saints is nothing more than an outright denial of the Gospel and blatant idolatry. They chose to use deliberately, clear language so as to not confuse us in our thinking. The problem arose when Anglicans began to not believe in the formularies nor the Scriptures. The problem is not with our foundational documents but with our hearts. Men naturally incline to idolatry and sin, due to the Fall, yet, God chose to redeem us through Christ's sacrifice, and it is through this hope that we can shed idolatry and worship God in "spirit and in truth".

In addition to my own thoughts above, I have provided commentary from various Anglican sources. What I have posted below is from ten different commentaries on the Articles of Religion, ranging from Low Church Latitudinarian, High Church, and Evangelicals, all of which universally condemn the practice of invoking the saints in prayer. The dates range from 1586 to around the end of the 19th century (when commentaries on the Articles fell out of popularity). 

Rogers (1586)

The Christian exercise of prayer is a duty, which may not be either securely omitted, or vainly abused. And though many things in prayer be necessarily to be observed, yet a special point it is, that in our supplications and prayers we do call only upon God. For so to do we are both commanded even by God Himself, and thereunto also allured by manifold as well promises of large blessing, of by the examples of godly men in all ages; patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; prophets as Daniel, Elias, Jeremy; centurions, publicans; apostles as Paul, Peter, &c.; yea, of all the elect of God in this world.

On the other side, to pray unto any creature that is out of this world, besides Jesus Christ, there is in the scripture neither law nor command, nor promise of blessing, nor any example of godly men or women to provoke.

Finally, as all God’s people in the purer and former times have so in these days protestant churches utterly condemn the invocating of, or praying unto, any creature whatsoever.
Therefore the Romish doctrine, that saints are to be prayed unto, and their daily praying, as occasion serveth, unto Saint Agatha, that have sore breasts: unto St. Benedict, that either be, or fear to be poisoned, etc… It is vain, not warrantable by God’s word, but altogether repugnant to the holy scriptures. 

Burnet, (1699) (pp. 323ff):

It is very evident that the saints were not invocated in the Old Testament… They understood prayer to be a part of that worship which they owed to God only: so that the praying to any other, had been to a certain degree the having another God before, or besides the true Jehovah. They never prayed to any other, they called upon him, and made mention of no other: the rule was without exception…

In the New Testament we see the same method followed, with this only exception, that Jesus Christ is proposed as our Mediator; and that not only in the point of redemption, which is not denied by those of the church of Rome, but even in the point of intercession; for when St. Paul is treating concerning the prayers and supplications that are to be offered ‘for all men’, he concludes that direction in these words: For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. We think the silence of the New Testament might be a sufficient argument for this: but these words go further, and imply a prohibition to address our prayers to God by any other mediator. All the directions that are given us of trusting in God, and praying to him, are upon the matter prohibitions of trusting to any other, or of calling on any other. Invocation and faith are joined together: ‘How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?’ So that we ought only to pray to God, and to Christ, according to those words, ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ We do also know that it was a part of heathenish idolatry to invocate either demons or departed men, whom they considered as good beings subordinate to the Divine Essence, and employed by God in the government of world; and they had almost the same speculation about them, that have been since introduced into the church, concerning angels and saints…. If any degrees of invocating saints or angels had been consistent with the Christian religion, this was the proper place of declaring them: but the condemning that matter so absolutely, looks as a very express prohibition of all sort of worship to angels. And when St. John fell down to worship the angel, that had made him such glorious discoveries upon two several occasions, the answer he had was, ‘See thou do it not: worship God: I am thy fellow-servant.’… the answer plainly shows that no sort of worship ought to be offered to angels, nor to any but God.

Welchman (1713) 54:

Since all invocation is vain, where there is no faith (see James i. 6, where we are commanded to ask in faith,) and since there can be no faith where there is no word of God to support it; it follows, that the invocation of saints must be a vain thing, as not being founded upon any word of God. Besides, since there is “one mediator between God and men,” (1 Tim. 11. 5.) who “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” (Heb. Vii. 25,) he who betakes himself to the mediation of saints, affronts the true and only Mediator Christ Jesus.

O’Donnoghue (1816) pp. 193ff
Upon the last clause of this Article, “THE INVOCATION OF SAINTS,” the words of the apostle (1 Tim. Ii. 5, 6) would be so the humble Christian both a sufficient command and a decise precept; inasmuch, however, as this is one of those doctrines to which popery cleaves with unabated zeal, we shall examine it more minutely. This practice of invoking angles, or any other creatures, seems to have taken its rise from the orations annually pronounced on the anniversary of the martyrdom of any saint, in commemoration of his piety and death; in which the orator addressed the dead in all the latitude of popular declamation. At first, things were so discreetly managed and qualified , that this species of eloquence was at least harmless; but in process of time, superstition creeping in, it increased by hardly discernible degrees to what is now is – a great evil, and a crying sin. The Council of Trent, which cemented, and confirmed, and sanctioned all former error, declares, “that it is good and useful to invoke the saints, and to recur their prayers and assistance, in order to obtain benefits from God.”…

It is contended that the prayers addressed to the saints are limited to one point, praying for, or beseeching their intercession on our behalf with God. Now, not to contend that even such prayers so limited are unknown and unauthorized by Scripture, we maintain that there is abundant proof of their being plainly repugnant to it.

“Call upon me in the time of trouble, says God, and I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Ps 1.15) Here is no intervention or mediatorship of angels or men mentioned or supposed; for we are taught, expressly, that “through Christ,” and him alone, “we have access to the Father.” (Eph. Ii. 18) Adoration is a duty due only to Deity, and no one can be the object of prayer but God; for omniscience and omnipresence, which are HIS prerogatives alone, must reside in him to whom prayer is addressed, or no benefit can possibly result from it. Now we are no where in Scripture taught that such properties and attributes belong even to angelic beings, much less to departed saints. 

Beveridge, 1830, pp. 444ff

Concerning the INVOCATION OF SAINTS. – And to know what the Romish doctrine concerning the invocation of saints… we do not here say, that this their doctrine concerning the saints praying for us is so; yet we say, that this their doctrine concerning our praying to the saints is ‘a fond thing, and repugnant to the Scriptures.’

And certainly it is so; for what else means that place of Scripture, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Rom. X. 14. That none is to be believed in but God, though others may be believes besides God, I suppose they will not deny; or if they do, I would wish them but to cast their eye a little upon the margin, and there they will see several of the fathers making this distinction betwixt believing in a person, and believing a person; -- that the first is proper and peculiar unto God only, the other common also unto men: so that I may believe a man, but I am to believe in none but God. And if so, then from this place it clearly follows, that seeing the saints in heaven are not to be believed in, they are not to be called upon; but that we are not to call upon none but God, because we are to believe in none but God.

Pigot, 1835 "A Churchman's Guide in Perilous Times" p. 67

And if I bow the knee in invoking departed saints (who cannot hear a single word that I say), to intercede for me, I reject the sole Mediator who stands between man and his offended God, and place my soul in jeopardy.

Jones, 1849

Bishop Latimer:  “Images of saints are called saints, and inhabiters of heaven are called saints.  Now by honoring of saints is meant praying to saints. ... Dead images are not to be prayed unto, for they have neither ears to hear withal, nor tongue to speak withal, nor heart to think withal, &c. ... As touching the saints in heaven, I said, they be not our mediators by way of redemption, for so Christ alone is our mediator and theirs both. ... Scripture doth set saints that be departed before our eyes for ensamples; so that the chiefest and most principal worship and honouring of them is to know their holy living, and to follow them as they followed Christ.” – Articles imputed to Latimer.
      “Here I may dilate the matter as touching praying to saints.  Here we may learn not to pray to saints.  Christ bids us ‘pray to thy Father that is in heaven.’  To the Creator, and not to any creature.” – Ser. on Rom. 15:4.
      “To whom shall we call, not unto the saints.  Poscentibus illum, saith he.  Those that call upon him shall be heard.  Therefore we ought to come to him only and not unto his saints.” – Ser. Matt. 6:9.
      “Let us run to him,” (Christ) “ and pray unto God for his sake.  Allege him;. put him before thee; and beware that thou call not upon any creature or saint; for that is a great wickedness before God, in praying to saints; for with the saints we have nothing to do but to keep in memory and follow their godly life and righteous living.  But our prayer must be made unto Christ only, like as this man doth here in this gospel. – Ser. on Matt. 8:1, 2, 3.

Bishop Hooper: As for the praying unto dead saints, or to have their images in the church, it is not a ceremony matter, but very plain and manifest idolatry, contrary unto the express word of God, who forbiddeth to make any image.” – Declaration of Christ. &c.

Boultbee, 1871

This practice grew up pari passu with the use of images, and we may at once quote the decree of the Council of Trent on the subject.  “The saints who reign with Christ offer their prayers to God for men: it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to flee to their prayers, help and assistance, because of the benefits to be obtained from God through his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour.  There are impious opinions who deny that the saints enjoying eternal felicity in heaven are to be invoked – or who affirm that they do not pray for men; or that to invoke them to pray for us individually is idolatry; or that it is contrary to the word of God and opposed to the honour of Jesus Christ, the One Mediator between God and man; or that it is folly to supplicate verbally or mentally those who reign in heaven.”
      Here again the Church of England protests not merely against such frantic excesses as the votaries of the Virgin Mary commit, but against the whole system of invocation of saints.  We may note here the distinction by which the scholastic divines evaded the consequence of idolatry in allowing image worship and invocation of saints.  In the second Council of Nice, the Greeks asserted that λατρεία was due to none but God himself, whilst τιμητικη προσκύνησις was due to images.  Peter Lombard, following this, ascribed Latria to God alone, and asserted that there are two species of Dulia, one of which belongs to every creature, and the other to the human nature of Christ only.  Thomas Aquinas called this latter hyperdulia, and ascribed it to the Virgin Mary also. [Hagenbach, Hist. Doctrine, § 188.]  If anything further need be added, it is that the Church of England has interpreted her own meaning of this Article by the absolute exclusion from her services of every vestige of the practices stigmatised in it.  Judicial decisions have further confirmed this, prohibiting so much as a cross upon the communion table, while permitting sculpture for the purpose of architectural ornament.  The Homily against peril of idolatry ought to be read.  It treats the whole subject copiously both from Scripture and history.  The second part contains a very complete abstract of the history of the rise and growth of image worship in the Church.  On the Invocation of Saints the second part of the brief Homily concerning prayer may be consulted, and on Purgatory and Prayer for the Dead the third part of the same Homily.

Browne 1887

      The divines of the Church of Rome defend this practice as follows: –
      (1) Saints, not going to purgatory, go straight to Heaven, where they enjoy the presence of God.
      (2) Being then in the presence of God, they behold, in the face of God, the concerns of the Church on earth.
      (3) It is good to ask our friends on earth to pray for us; how much rather those who, being nearer God, have more avail with Him.
      (4) The Scripture contains examples of saint worship.
      (1) The first position is sought to be established from Scripture, thus, –
      The thief on the cross went straight to Paradise, i.e. to Heaven! (Luke 23:43).  “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1, comp. ver. 4).  “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8).  “Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23).  “The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing” (Heb. 9:8).  “Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to the general assembly of the firstborn who are written in heaven ... and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:22, 23).  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).  White robes are given to the martyrs who cry from under the altar, i.e. the glory of the body after the resurrection (Rev. 6:11).  “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple” (Rev. 7:14, 15).
      It is admitted that in the old Testament the saints, being as yet in the limbus patrum, and therefore not in Heaven, could not be prayed to;* but since Christ’s descent into Hell and resurrection from the dead, all who die in Him, if not needing to go to purgatory, go straight to glory, and therefore, reigning with Christ, may be invocated.
            {*“Notandum est ante Christi adventum qui moriebantur non intrabant in coelum, nec Deum videbant, nec cognoscere poterant ordinarie preces supplicantum.  Ideo non fuit consuetum in V.  Testamento ut diceretur, Sancte Abraham. ora pro me: sed solum orabant homines ejus temporis Deum.” – Bellarmine, De Eceles. Triumph. I. 12(?)}
      It must be remembered, that these arguments for the immediate glorification of the saints run side by side with arguments for a purgatory.  The latter is an absolutely necessary supplement to the former: without it, the Roman Catholic divines could not get rid of the force of the arguments in favour of an intermediate state.  The two must therefore succeed or fail together.  Now, it is unnecessary to repeat the arguments already brought forward against purgatory, or those (under Article III) in proof that souls go, not straight to Heaven after death, but to an intermediate state of bliss or woe, awaiting the resurrection of the dead.  All we need consider now is this.  Do the above texts of Scripture contravene that position?  The first proves that the thief went with our Saviour where He went from the Cross; that is, not to Heaven, but to Hades, to the place of souls departed, which, in the case of the redeemed, is called Paradise.  Our Lord went not to Heaven till He rose from the grave. {See above under Art. III.}  The second proves that when this body is dissolved, we may yet hope at the general Resurrection for a glorified body.  But the context proves clearly, that, between death and judgment, the souls of the saints remain without the body, in bliss, but yet longing for the resurrection. (See 2 Cor, 5:2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10).  The passage from Ephes. 4 only proves that Christ conquered death.  That from Phil. 1 shows that the disembodied spirit in Paradise is admitted to some presence with its Saviour; as does that from Acts 7.  Heb. 9:8, merely teaches that Christ is the way to Heaven, a way not manifested under the old Law.  Heb. 12 speaks of the Church as composed of the firstborn, whose names are in God’s book, and as having fellowship with the angels, and with departed saints, who have finished their course.  The first passage from the Apocalypse (6:11), if taken in its context (see Rev. 6:9), is a strong proof that even martyrs are in a state of expectant, not of perfect bliss; and if the white robes really mean the glorified body at the resurrection, then must we believe yet more clearly than ever that the very martyrs remain “under the altar” until the time of the resurrection of the just.  The second passage (from Rev. 7:14, 15) is probably a prophetic vision of the bliss of the saints, after the general judgment, and therefore plainly nihil ad rem.
      It is said by the Romanists that a few heretics have denied the immediate beatification of the saints, Tertullian, Vigilantius, the Greeks at Florence, Luther, Calvin; {See Bellarmine, De Ecclesia Triumphante, I. 1; Controv. Gener. Tom. II. p. 674.} and it is inferred that all the orthodox fathers have maintained it. {The testimonies in favour of it from the fathers are cited, Bellarmine, ubi sutra, Lib. I. C. 4, 5.}  Tertullian is here a heretic, though when he seems to favour purgatory, he is a Catholic divine.  But the truth is even their own divines have allowed that a very large number of the greatest names of antiquity believed that the saints did not enjoy the vision of God till after the general judgment.  Franciscus Pegnamentions, as of that persuasion, Irenaeus, Justin M., Tertullian, Clemens Romanus, Origen, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine, Lactantius, Victorinus, Prudentius, Theodoret,Aretas, (Ecumenius, Theophylact, and Euthymius. {Fr. Pegna, in part. II. Directorii Inquisitor. comment. 21, apud Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, chap. IX; who quotes also Thomas Stapleton to the same purport.}  And our own great Bishop Bull pronounces it to have been the doctrine of the whole Catholic Church for many ages “that the souls of the faithful, in the state of separation, though they are in a happy condition in Paradise, yet are not in the third Heaven, nor do enjoy the beatific vision till the Resurrection ... Nay, this was a doctrine so generally received in the time of Justin Martyr, that is, in the first succession of the Apostles, that we learn from the same Justin that there were none but some profligate heretics that believed the souls of the faithful before the Resurrection to be received into Heaven. (Dialog. cum Tryphone, pp. 306, 307. Paris, 1636).” {Bull.  Vindication of the Church of England, § XII.}
      Yet this immediate beatification of the saints is the very foundation of saint worship.  That can be but a slender foundation for so vast a superstructure which the first fathers and the greatest writers of antiquity (even out enemies being the judges) could not find in the word of God and did not believe to be true.  Conceding the utmost that we can, we must yet maintain that the evidence from Scripture is far more against, than in favour of this foundation, and that the first and greatest of the fathers utterly rejected it.
      (2)  If the first position cannot be established, of course the second must fall; though even if the first were granted, it does by no means seem to follow that the second would stand.  For even if saints departed always behold the face of God, it does not certainly follow that thereby they have the omniscience of God.  That they continue to take an interest in their fellow worshippers, children of the same Father, members of the same body with themselves, we may reasonably believe; but that they know all the prayers which each one on earth utters, even the secret silent prayer of the heart, we cannot at least be certain – or rather we should think most improbable.
      (3)  It is said that saints on earth pray for each other, and exhort one another to pray for them, (Heb. 13:18, James 5:16); why not then ask the saints in light to pray for us who, nearer the throne of God, have more interest with Him?
      Yet, who does not see the difference between joining our prayers with our brethren on earth, so through the one Mediator drawing nigh to God in common supplication for mercies and mutual intercession for each other, and the invocating saints above, with all the circumstances of religious worship, to go to God for us, and so to save us from going to Him for ourselves?  If, indeed, we could be quite certain that our departed friends could hear us when we spoke to them, there might possibly be no more evil in asking them to continue their prayers for us than there could be in asking those prayers from them whilst on earth, – no evil, that is, except the danger that this custom might go further and so grow worse.  This, no doubt, was all that the interpellation of the martyrs was in the early ages; and if it had stopped here, it would have never been censured.  But who will say that Romish saint worship is no more?
      In the Church of Rome, when it is determined who are to be saints, they are publicly canonized, i.e. they are enrolled in the Catalogue of Saints; it is decreed, that they shall be formally held to be saints, and called so; they are invoked in the public prayers of the Church: churches and altars to their memory are dedicated to God; the sacrifices of the Eucharist and of public prayers are publicly offered before God to their honour; their festivals are celebrated: their images are painted with a glory round their heads: their relics are preserved and venerated. {Bellarmine, De Ecclesia Triumph. I. 7.}  They are completely invocated as mediators between God and man; so that those who fear to go to God direct are encouraged to approach Him through the saints, as being not so high and holy as to inspire fear and dread. {One reason alleged in favour of saint worship is “Propter Dei reverentiam: ut peccator, qui Deum offendit. quia non audet in propria persona adire, occurrat ad sanctos, eorum patrocinia implorando.” – Alexand. de Hales, Summa, pt. IV. quaest. 26, memb. 3, artic. 5.  Vide Usher, ubi supra.}  Herein the very office of Christ is invaded, “the ONE Mediator between God and man” (1 Tim. 2:5); a High Priest, who can “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” and through whom we may “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16).  Nay, more than this, direct prayer is made to the saints for protection and deliverance; and even in prayer to God Himself, He is reminded of the protection and patronage of the saints. {“Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that Thy faithful, who rejoice under the name and protection of the most blessed Virgin Mary, may, by her pious intercession, be delivered from all evils here on earth, and be brought to the eternal joys of Heaven.  Through.” – “Coll. for the Feast of the name of B. V. Mary”; “Missal for the Laity,” published by authority of Thomas Bishop of Cambysopolis, and Nicholas Bishop of Melipotamus, Sept. 25, 1845.}  And we know that not only among the vulgar, but with the authority of the most learned and those canonized saints, prayers have been put up to the Blessed Virgin, to use a mother’s authority and command her Son to have mercy upon sinners.*  What support can all this derive from the injunctions to us in Scripture to pray for one another, and the assurances that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”?
            {*“Imperatrix et Domina nostra benignissima, jure matris impera tuo dilectissimo Filio Domino nostro Jesu Christo, ut mentes nostras ab amore terrestrium ad coelestia desideria erigere dignetur.” – Bonaventura, Corona B. Mariae Viginis.  Oper. Tom. VI.  “Inclina vultum Dei super nos: coge Illum peccatoribus misereri.” – Id. in Psalterio B. Mariae Virginis, Ibid.  See Archbishop Usher, as above, who gives many passages at length from Bernardin de Bustis, Jacob de Valentia, Gabriel Biel, &c., to the like effect.}
      (4)  Next it is alleged that Scripture contains positive examples of the worship of saints and angels.
      Bellarmine cites the following: –
      Ps. 99:5: “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; for He is holy,” (Adorate scabellum pedis ejus, quoniam sanctum est): a passage which has been already considered.  Gen. 18:2, 19:1, Abraham and Lot bow down to the angels.  Numb. 22:31, Balaam, when he saw the angel, “fell flat on his face.”  1 Sam. 28:14, “And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.”  1 Kings 18:7, “And as Obadiah was in the way, behold Elijah met him, and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my Lord Elijah?”  2 Kings 2:15, “When the sons of the prophets saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha: and they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”  Josh. 5:14, 15; when Joshua knew that he was in the presence of the Captain of the Lord’s host, “he fell on his face to the earth, and did worship.”  The angel did not forbid him to worship him, but said, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy.”  Dan. 2:46, “The king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel; and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odour to him.” {Bellarmin.  De Eccles. Triumph. I. 13; Cont. Gen. Tom. II. p. 708.}
      Now, in the first place, it is certainly not a little strange that whereas the divines of the Church of Rome tell us that no prayers were offered to the old Testament saints, because they were in the limbus patrum, and not in Heaven; {See Bellarmin.  Ibid. I. 19, as quoted above.} yet, in their Scriptural proof of saint worship, they bring all their arguments from the old Testament only.  There must be something rotten here.  And we need not go far to see what the ground of their preference for such a line of argument is.  The Eastern form of salutation to princes, honoured guests, and elders, was, and still is, a profound prostration of the body, which is easily construed into an act of religious worship.  Now Abraham and Lot evidently (from the context and from Heb. 13:2) did not know that the angels who appeared to them were angels.  They thought them strangers on a journey and exercised Eastern hospitality to them.  They perceived that they were strangers of distinction and exhibited Eastern tokens of respect.  Thus, “being not forgetful to entertain strangers, they entertained angels unawares.”
      The same may be said of all the above instances, except perhaps the last two.  Falling down at the feet was the common mode of respectful salutation, and that especially when favours were to be asked.  Thus Abigail fell at the feet of David (1 Sam. 25:24); Esther fell at the feet of Ahasuerus (Esth. 8:3); the servant is represented as falling at the feet of his master (Matt. 18:29).  This was no sign of religious worship.  Even Balaam, though he fell down before the angel, by no means appears to have worshipped him.  He fell down from fear and in token of respect.  The case of Joshua, when he met the Captain of the Lord’s host, may be different.  It is well known to have been the belief of many of the fathers, and of many eminent divines after them, that the Captain of the Lord’s host was the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the eternal Son of God. {See Justin M. Dialogus, p. 284; Euseb.  H E. I. 2.}  And it is certainly as fair to infer from the worship paid to him that he was God, as to infer from it that worship ought to be paid to any beside God.
      We are reduced then to one single instance, and that the instance of an idolatrous king, who soon afterwards bade every one worship a golden image.  He indeed appears, in a rapture of astonishment, to have fallen down to worship the prophet Daniel – not a glorified saint reigning with Christ – but one of those old fathers who had to abide after death in the limbus until our Lord’s descent to Hades should rescue them.
      But is there no instance in the new Testament?  The new Testament is ever the best interpreter of the old.  Are there no examples of the worship of saints or angels there?  The Roman Catholic divines have not adduced any; but their opponents cannot deny that there are some cases of such worship recorded, and those too of a worship which cannot be explained to mean merely bowing down in token of respect to a superior.
      One example is that of Cornelius: “as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him” (προσεκύνησεν).  This is very like the case of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel; but with this advantage over it, that Cornelius was no idolater, and St. Peter was not a prophet of the old Testament, for whom the schoolmen tell us alimbus was in store, but the chief of the Apostles to whom the keys of the kingdom were committed, from whom the Roman Pontiff inherits his right to forgive and retain sins, and who (on their showing) at death was sure of passing straight to the highest kingdom of glory, thenceforth to reign with Christ, and to receive the prayers of the faithful.  How then does St. Peter, whose authority none will question, treat the worship of Cornelius?  “Peter took him up, saying, Stand up: I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25, 26).
      We may remember another case somewhat similar, though not quite identical, when “the Apostles Barnabas and Paul rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? we also are men of like passions with you” (Acts 14:14, 15).  But perhaps we shall be told that it was latria not dulia, that the men of Lycaonia meant to pay to them.
      However, we are not confined to saint worship in the new Testament; we can discover manifest traces of angel worship too.  Twice, one whose example we may rarely refuse to follow, the blessed Apostle St. John, fell down to worship the angel, who showed him the mysteries of the Apocalypse.  The same word (προσκυνησαι) is used here as was used of Cornelius and St. Peter, and as is used (in the LXX) of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel (προσεκύνησε, Dan. 2:46).  And what does the angel of God say to the Apostle?  “See thou do it not; I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren, that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God” (Rev. 19:10).  And again, “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant ... worship God” (Rev. 22:9).
      These are cases as plain as any in the old Testament can be.  It is not very likely that St. John would have offered the supreme worship of latria to the angel.  Therefore, no doubt, all kind of worship was forbidden him.  And if only latria be forbidden, but dulia be a pious or necessary custom, it is certainly remarkable that neither the angel explained to St. John, nor St. Peter to Cornelius, nor St. Paul to the people of Lycaonia, the very important distinction between latria and dulia, the great sin of offering the former, and the great piety of offering the latter, to created but glorified intelligences; especially as the ambiguous word worship (προσκυνησαι) includes them both.  Moreover, as God’s revelations became successively clearer, and there is a gradual development of Divine truth, it is truly unaccountable that so large a germ of saint and angel worship as the Roman Catholics discover in the old Testament, should have developed into nothing more manifest than what we thus find in the new.  St. Paul, we know, earnestly warns his converts against “the worshipping of angels,” – and the word he uses (θρήσκεια) appears to comprehend all kinds of worship (Col. 2:18).  St. Paul was not a writer who neglected accurate distinctions, and we may fairly say he was as profound a reasoner and as deep a theologian as any human being, even under Divine revelation, was ever privileged to become.  But there is no question raised by him about dulia or hyperdulia.  It is simply “Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels” (Col. 2:18).  It is a fearful thing to think that this voluntary humility and unauthorized worship of inferior beings may beguile of their reward those who should worship God only.
      One more instance is too pregnant to be omitted.  Once, and but once, in the history of the Bible do we hear that an angel claimed worship for himself.  And he claimed it of Him whose example in worship, as in everything else, we are bound to follow.  An angel of exceeding power once said to Jesus, “All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.  Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:9, 10).

Thomas, Principles of Theology

 This practice grew up side by side with the veneration of images, and nothing was known of it in the Church for at least three hundred years.  It started with the words, ora pro nobis, but soon went beyond this request for their intercessions.  As the New Testament says that angels are ministers, the idea was extended to the tutelage of saints, who came to be thought of as God’s ministers for good.  In the Old Testament there is, of course, no hint of anything of the kind, and if the Jews had no need, this is still more true of Christians.  Not even the mediaeval doctrine of the Limbus Patrum availed in opposition to the silence of the Old Testament.  But not only is there no trace of the practice in primitive Christianity, there is much against it.  The earliest writers urge in the strongest way that Christians should worship none but God.  Justin Martyr said: – “ It becomes Christians to worship God only.” [Apology, I, p. 63.]  Tertullian: – “For the safety of the Emperor, we invoke God, eternal, true, and living God. ... Nor can I pray to any other than to Him, from whom I am sure that I may obtain, because He alone can give it.” [Apology, Cap. XXX.]
      While the early Christians had a genuine, living belief in the communion of saints they never contemplated the possibility of addressing departed saints in prayer.  This would really involve giving to saints quasi-angelic power, and the extent of which this is capable of going may be seen in the practice of Mariolatry.
      The Council of Trent takes a moderate line on this subject, saying that the saints pray for us and that it is, therefore, useful to invoke them.  Rome also distinguishes betweenlatria, the worship to be paid to God only; dulia, the worship or reverence to be paid to saints and angels, and hyperdulia, the devotion paid to the Mother of our Lord.  But no such distinction can be found either in Scripture or in the primitive Church, and certainly ordinary people never distinguish between higher and lower forms of worship.  If saints and angels can be addressed, then they must in some way be regarded as superhuman and semi-divine.  But such a practice cannot help interfering with the sole mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Several references in the New Testament clearly indicate the impossibility of the practice (Acts 10:25, 14:14; Rev. 19:10).  An appeal to saints and angels of necessity involves virtual idolatry, since it means the interposition of someone between God and ourselves.  It was this that elicited St. Paul’s severe condemnation (Col. 2:18).  While, therefore, it is right to recognize to the full the balance and moderation of the Tridentine decree on the subject of the Invocation of Saints, it is impossible to overlook the deplorable extent to which popular practice has always gone in past days and at present. [Among many other examples the following may be adduced: (1) From certain prayers which have received Papal sanction and are specially “indulgenced” we may take the following: “Leave me not, my Mother, in my own hands, or I am lost.  Let me but cling to thee; save me, my hope; save me from hell.”  (2) Many passages can be quoted from Liguori’s Glories of Mary, a book which has received the highest sanction in the Roman Catholic Church.  “Often we shall be heard more quickly and be thus preserved, if we have recourse to Mary, and call upon her name, than we should be if we called upon the name of Jesus our Saviour.  Many things are asked from God and are not granted; they are asked from Mary and are obtained. ... Mary so loved the world, that she gave her only-begotten Son.”]  In view of what has been adduced it is hardly necessary even to quote again the words of the Article, that this practice is “a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”
      But the subject has obtained fuller consideration during recent years by being associated with what is called “Comprecation”.  It is said that while direct invocation of saints is not permissible, we may rightly appeal to God for the prayers of departed saints, and that this practice of Comprecation is not to be regarded as condemned by the Article. [B. J. Kidd, On the Articles, p. 199 ff.; Gibson, ut supra, p. 569 f.; Gayford, Article, “Invocation of Saints,” Prayer Book Dictionary; Darwell Stone, Invocation of Saints.]  The entire question of the true meaning of the Article on this point has been fully discussed by the (late) Bishop of Salisbury, in the booklet already mentioned. [The Invocation of Saints and the Twenty-second Article.  Second and Revised Edition with new Preface.  See also Stewart, ut supra.]  As the Bishop points out, the real question is whether Comprecation was in the minds of those who were responsible for the Articles of 1563 and 1571. [Ut supra, p. 5.]  Not only is there no trace in Scripture of any such Comprecation, but no early authorities in the Church can be adduced in support of it.  The entire absence of Scripture teaching as to what is the life of the departed saints makes the idea of very doubtful strength.  Nor can it be regarded as spiritually healthy to associate the possibility of the mediation of saints with our direct approach to God.
      A still more recent pronouncement pleading for Comprecation was made by the Bishop of London at the Southampton Church Congress, 1913, in which he associated the practice with our belief in the communion of saints.  But it is well known that the primary interpretation of that Article in the Creed had no reference whatever to the practice of Comprecation, [So, Swete, The Apostles’ Creedin loc.] and our knowledge of the life of the departed is far too slight to permit us to base any such serious and definite practice upon it.  Bishop Wordsworth well points out that God has concealed from us much that we should like to know because it is better for us to be ignorant.
      “Therefore, in framing theories about this communion of saints, we should take our ignorance to be His will, and adapt all our actions to that will.” [Ut supra, p. xii.]
      Then, too, there is the question of how we are to reconcile the statement of Article VIII which teaches that we receive the Creeds because they can be proved by Scripture, and the description of the Invocation of Saints in Article XXII as “a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”  It is surely impossible to think of Comprecation as being in any way included in a belief in the Communion of Saints in view of the plain statements of the latter Article.  And if it should be admitted that Comprecation is not contemplated by Article XXII, then the practice obviously finds no warrant within the formularies, or in any other representative authority of the Church of England, to say nothing of the entire silence of Scripture.
      We may go further, and raise the question whether Supplication is a part of the worship behind the veil.  We know from Scripture that our Lord is interceding on behalf of His people, but the question whether intercession implies supplication is a matter of very serious hesitation.  It would almost seem as though the idea of our Lord as a Suppliant involves an entirely unworthy conception of Him in the presence of the Father, and it is in every way truer to think of His intercession as satisfied by His presence above as “our Advocate with the Father”.  At any rate, two modern writers have suggested this idea in words that call for careful consideration: – “The modern conception of Christ pleading in Heaven His Passion, ‘offering His blood’ on behalf of men, has no foundation in the Epistle.  His glorified humanity is the eternal pledge of the absolute efficacy of His accomplished work.  He pleads, as older writers truly expressed the thought, by His Presence on the Father’s throne.” [Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews p. 230.]
      “The intercession of the ascended Christ is not a prayer but a life.  The New Testament does not represent Him as an orante, standing ever before the Father, and with outstretched arms, like the figure in the mosaics of the Catacombs, and with strong crying and tears pleading our cause in the presence of a reluctant God; but as a throned Priest-King, asking what He will from a Father who always hears and grants His request.  Our Lord’s life in Heaven is His prayer.” [Swete, The Ascended Christ, p. 95.]
      If, then, it is unnecessary for our Lord to pray for us, there is certainly no room for the supplication of others.  But whether this is so or not, there is nothing in Scripture to afford any encouragement of the view that departed saints offer supplication, on our behalf.
      One other point seems to call for some notice in connection with this subject.  Latimer’s name is frequently used in support of the practice of the Invocation of Saints, by the quotation of some words of his preached in Bristol in 1533, in which he said that “By way of intercession saints in heaven may be mediators and pray for us.”  But it is unfair to quote statements made as early as 1533, without placing alongside of them his more fully developed views.  Thus, in a sermon preached in 1552, after saying that we may learn much goodness from the shepherds who went to Bethlehem, he adds, “We may not make gods of them, or call upon them, as we have been taught in times past; because God will be called upon, honoured, and worshipped alone.”  Still stronger language can be adduced, bearing the same date, in which prayer to the saints is described as “most abominable idolatry.”  It may be said without any question or qualification that there is no adequate ground for believing that the Reformers of the sixteenth century, after they had entered upon the full light of their position, ever advocated this practice, while there is no representative Reformed divine of post-Reformation days who is an advocate of it.  Bishop Wordsworth’s discussion of the various authors adduced is sufficient to show the essential weakness of any attempt to produce support for this practice in the Reformed English Church, and the conclusion drawn by the Bishop may be stated in his own words: – “I am constrained to say that I have found the arguments in favour of the lager interpretation of the Article even weaker than I had expected.  They are, indeed, so weak that I have some hope that those who have hitherto used them will feel it necessary at least to shift their ground.” [Ut supra, p. 5.]
      And the Bishop adds that there cannot be any consistent advocacy of invocation in the face of the Article, which speaks of it as “futile” and “repugnant to the Word of God”: – “As long as the Articles remain unaltered we clergy of the Church of England are bound to defer to them in our own sphere so far as not to contradict them on any point of principle in our teaching.” [Ut supra, p. 63.]
      The entire practice, whether of direct Invocation, or of mediate Comprecation, reveals an apparently inherent tendency in unspiritual and human nature to fear the holiness of God, and by stopping short of it to seek the influence of an intermediary.  But this is in reality what St. Paul describes as “voluntary humility,” which is false to the very idea of true Christian life.  When once the soul has entered into a personal experience of what is meant by “fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,” there can be no thought of any intermediary.  It is, therefore, not untrue to say that at the basis of the practice of the Invocation of Saints is the “evil heart of unbelief,” which, under the guise of humility and unwillingness to approach God, occupies itself with beings who are thought to have more power with God than those for whom Christ died. [In Les Origines du Culte des Martyrs, by Père Delahaye, S. J., it is shown that the Cultus of the Saints arose out of that of the Martyrs, that in the earliest times no such Cultus existed, that it was not, and could not be, intended to be taught in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, that there is no real trace of the Cultus before Nicaea, and that the practice arose largely out of the half-converted heathenism introduced into Christianity at and after the time of Constantine.  These and other points are frankly admitted by the Rev. F. W. Puller in the English Church Review for 1914.  They support entirely the view maintained above that our Church knows nothing either of Invocation or Comprecation.]  In the face of the full, deep, rich teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the direct approach of the soul to God, and the numerous invitations to “draw near with full assurance of faith,” anything short of this really amounts to practical distrust and disobedience. [For all the questions connected with this Article, reference should be made to Dearden, Modern Romanism Examined, pp. 195–221; 269–297.]