Tracts for the Times


[Number 90]

§ 6.—Purgatory, Pardons, Images, Relics, Invocation of Saints.

Article xxii.—"The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons (de indulgentiis), worshipping (de veneratione) and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing (res est futilis) vainly (inaniter) invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant (contradicit) to the Word of GOD."

Now the first remark that occurs on perusing this Article is, that the doctrine objected to is "the Romish doctrine." For instance, no one would suppose that the Calvinistic doctrine containing purgatory, pardons, and image-worship, is spoken against. Not every doctrine on these matters is a fond thing, but the Romish doctrine. Accordingly, the Primitive doctrine is not condemned in it, unless, indeed, the Primitive Doctrine be the Romish, which must not be supposed. Now there was a primitive doctrine on all these points,--how far Catholic or universal, is a further question—but still so widely received and so respectably supported, that it may well be entertained as a matter of opinion by a theologian now; this, then, whatever be its merits, is not condemned by this Article.

This is clear without proof on the face of the matter, at least as regards pardons. Of course, the article never meant to make light of every doctrine about pardons, but a certain doctrine, the Romish doctrine, [as indeed the plural form itself shows.]

And [such an understanding of the Article is supported by] some sentences in the Homily on the Peril of Idolatry, in which, as far as regards relics, a certain veneration is sanctioned by its tone in speaking of them, thought not of course the Romish veneration.

The sentences referred to run as follow:--

"In the Tripartite Ecclesiastical History, the Ninth Book, and Forty-eighth Chapter, is testified, that ‘Epiphanius, being yet alive, did work miracles: and after his death, devils, being expelled at his grave or tomb, did roar.’ Thus you see what authority St. Jerome (who has just been mentioned) and that most ancient history give unto the holy and learned Bishop Epiphanius."


"St. Ambrose, in his Treatise of the Death of Theodosius the Emperor, saith, ‘Helena found the Cross, and the title on it. She worshipped the King, and not the wood, surely (for that is an heathenish error and the vanity of the wicked), but she worshipped Him that hanged on the Cross, and whose Name was written on the title,’ and so forth. See both the godly empress’s fact, and St. Ambrose’s judgment at once; they thought it had been an heathenish error, and vanity of the wicked, to have worshipped the Cross itself which was imbrued with our SAVIOUR CHRIST’S own precious blood."—Peril of Idolatry, part 2, circ. init.

In these passages the writer does not positively commit himself to the miracles at Epiphanius’s tomb, or the discovery of the true Cross, but he evidently wishes the hearer to think he believes in both. This he would not do, if he thought all honour paid to relics wrong.

If, then, in the judgment of the Homilies, not all doctrine concerning veneration of relics is condemned in the Article before us, but a certain toleration of them is compatible with its wording; neither is all doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, images, and saints, condemned by the Article, but only "the Romish."

And further by "the Romish doctrine," is not meant the Tridentine [statement], because this Article was drawn up before the decree of the Council of Trent. What is opposed is the received doctrine of the day, and unhappily of this day too, or the doctrine of the Roman schools; a conclusion which is still more clear, by considering that there are portions in the Tridentine [statements] on these subjects, which the Article, far from condemning, by anticipation approves, as far as they go. For instance, the Decree of Trent enjoins concerning purgatory thus:--"Among the uneducated and vulgar let difficult and subtle questions, which make not for edification, and seldom contribute aught towards piety, be kept back from popular discourses. Neither let them suffer the public mention and treatment of uncertain points, or such as look like falsehood." Session 25. Again, about images: "Due honour and veneration is to be paid unto them, not that we believe that any divinity or virtue is in them, for which they should be worshipped (colendae) or that we should ask any thing of them, or that trust should be reposed in images, as formerly was done by the Gentiles, which used to place their hope on idols."—Ibid.

If, then the doctrine condemned in this Article concerning purgatory, pardons, images, relics, and saints, be not the Primitive doctrine, nor the Catholic doctrine, nor the Tridentine [statement] but the Romish, doctrina Romanensium, let us next consider what in matter of fact it is. And

  1. As to the doctrine of the Romanists concerning Purgatory.
  2. Now here there was a primitive doctrine, whatever its merits, concerning the fire of judgment, which is a possible or a probable opinion, and is not condemned. That doctrine is this: that the conflagration of the world, or the flames which attend the Judge, will be an ordeal through which all men will pass; that great saints, such as St. Mary, will pass it unharmed; that others will suffer loss; but none will fail under it who are built upon the right foundation. Here is one [purgatorian doctrine] not "Romish."

    Another doctrine, purgatorian, but not Romish, is that said to be maintained by the Greeks at Florence, in which the cleansing, though a punishment, was but a pœna damni, not a pœna sensšs; not a positive sensible infliction, much less the torment of fire, but the absence of GOD’S presence. And another purgatory is that in which the cleansing is but a progressive sanctification, and has no pain at all.

    None of these doctrines does the Article condemn; any of them may be held by the Anglo-Catholic as a matter of private belief; not hat they are here advocated, one or other, but they are adduced as an illustration of what the Article does not mean, and to vindicate our Christian liberty in a matter where the Church has not confined it.

    [For what the doctrine which is reprobated is, we might refer, in the first place, to the Council of Florence, where a decree was passed on the subject, were not that decree almost as vague as the Tridentine; viz. that deficiency of penance is made up by pœnÊ purgatoriÊ.]

    "Now doth St. Augustine say, that those men which are cast into prison after this life, on that condition, may in no wise be holpen, though we would help them never so much. And shy? Because the sentence of GOD is unchangeable, and cannot be revoked again. Therefore let us not deceive ourselves, thinking that either we may help others, or others may help us, by their good and charitable prayers in time to come. For, as the preacher saith, ‘Where the tree falleth, whether it be toward the south, or toward the north, in what place soever the tree falleth, there it lieth:’ meaning thereby, that every mortal man dieth either in the state of salvation or damnation, according as the words of the Evangelist John do plainly import, saying, ‘He that believeth the S

    ON of GOD hath eternal life; but he that believeth not on the SON, shall never seen life, but the wrath of GOD abideth upon him.’—where is then the third place, which they call purgatory? Or where shall our prayers help and profit the dead? St. Augustine doth only acknowledge two places after this life, heaven and hell. As for the third place, he doth plainly deny that there is any such to be found in all Scripture. Chrysostom likewise is of this mind, that, unless we wash away our sins in this present world, we shall find no comfort afterward. And St. Cyprian saith, that, after death, repentance and sorrow of pain shall be without fruit, weeping also shall be in vain, and prayer shall be to no purpose. Therefore he counselleth all men to make provision for themselves while they may, because, when they are once departed out of this life, there is no place for repentance, nor yet for satisfaction."—Homily concerning Prayer, pp. 282, 283.

Now it would seem], from this passage, that the Purgatory contemplated by the Homily, was one for which no one will for an instance pretend to adduce even those Fathers who most favour Rome, viz. one in which our state would be changed, in which GOD’S sentence would be reversed. "The sentence of GOD," says the writer, "is unchangeable, and cannot be revoked again; there is no place for repentance." On the other hand, the Council of Trent, and Augustin and Cyprian, so far as they express or imply an opinion approximating to that of the Council, held Purgatory to be a place for believers, not unbelievers, not where men who have lived and died in GOD’S wrath, may gain pardon, but where those who have already been pardoned in this life, may be cleansed and purified for beholding the face of GOD. The Homily, then, and therefore the Article [as far as the Homily may be taken to explain it], does not speak of the Tridentine purgatory. The mention of Prayers for the dead in the above passage, affords an additional illustration of the limited and [relative] sense of the terms of the article now under consideration. For such prayers are obviously not condemned in it in the abstract, or in every shape, but as offered to rescue the lost from eternal fire.

[Hooker, in his Sermon on Pride, gives us a second view of the "Romish doctrine of Purgatory," from the schoolmen. After speaking of the pœna damni, he says—

"The other punishment, which hath in it not only loss of joy, but also sense of grief, vexation, and woe, is that whereunto they give the name of purgatory pains, in nothing different from those very infernal torments which the souls of castaways, together with damned spirits, do endure, save only in this, there is an appointed term to the one, to the other none; but for the time they last they are equal."—Vol. iii. p. 798.]

Such doctrine, too, as the following may well be included in that which the Article condemns under the name of "Romish." The passage to be quoted has already appeared in these Tracts.

"In the ‘Speculum Exemplorum’ it is said, that a certain priest, in an ecstasy, saw the soul of Constantius Turritanus in the eaves of his house, tormented with frosts and cold rains, and afterwards climbing up to heaven upon a shining pillar. and a certain monk saw some souls roasted upon spits like pigs, and some devils basting them with scalding lard; but a while after, they were carried to a cool place, and so proved purgatory. But Bishop Theobald, standing upon a piece of ice to cool his feet, was nearer purgatory than he was aware, and was convinced of it, when he heard a poor soul telling him, that under that ice he was tormented; and that he should be delivered, if for thirty days continual, he would say for him thirty masses. And some such thing was seen by Conrade and Udalric in a pool of water; for the place of purgatory was not yet resolved on, till St. Patrick had the key of it delivered to him, which when one Nicholas borrowed of him, he saw as strange and true things there, as ever Virgil dreamed of in his purgatory, or Cicero in his dream of Scipio, or Plato in his Gorgias, or PhÊdo, who indeed are the surest authors to prove purgatory. But because to preach false stories was forbidden by the Council of Trent, there are yet remaining more certain arguments, even relations made by angels, and the testimony of St. Odilio himself, who heard the devil complain (and he had great reason surely), that the souls of dead men were daily snatched out of his hands, by the alms and prayers of the living; and the sister of St. Damianus, being too much pleased with hearing of a piper, told her brother, that she was to be tormented for fifteen days in a purgatory.

"We do not think that the wise men in the Church of Rome believe these narratives; for if they did, they were not wise; but this we know, that by such stories the people were brought into a belief of it, and having served their turn of them, the master builders used them as false arches and centries, taking them away when the parts of the building were made firm and stable by authority."—Jer. Taylor, Works, vol. x. pp. 151, 152.

Another specimen of doctrine, which no one will attempt to prove from Scripture, is the following:--

"Eastwardly, between two walls, was a vast place of purgatory fixed, and beyond it a pond to rinse souls in, that had waded through purgatory, the water being salt and colt beyond comparison. Over this purgatory St. Nicholas was the owner.

"There was a mighty bridge, all beset with nails and spikes, and leading to the mount of joy; on which mount was a stately church, seemingly capable to contain all the inhabitants of the world, and into which the souls were no sooner entered, but that they forgot all their former torments.

"Returning to the first Church, there they found St. Michael the Archangel and the Apostles Peter and Paul. St. Michael caused all the white souls to pass through the flames, unharmed, to the mount of joy; and those that had black and white spots, St. Peter led into purgatory to be purified.

"In one part sate St. Paul, and the devil opposite to him with his guards, with a pair of scales between them, weighing all such souls as were all over black; when upon turning a soul, the scale turned towards St. Paul, he sent it to purgatory, there to expiate its sins; when towards the devil, his crew, with great triumph, plunged it into the flaming pit. . . . .

"The rustic likewise saw near the entrance of the town-hall, as it were, four streets; the first was full of innumerable furnaces and cauldrons willed with flaming pitch and other liquids, and boiling of souls, whose heads were like those of black fishes in seething liquor. The second had its cauldrons stored with snow and ice, to torment souls with horrid cold. The third had thereof boiling sulphur and other materials, affording the worst of stinks, for the vexing of souls that had wallowed in the filth of lust. The fourth had cauldrons of a most horrid salt and black water. Now sinners of all sorts were alternately tormented in these cauldrons."—Purgatory proved by Miracle, by S. Johnson, pp. 8—10.

[Let it be considered, then, whether on the whole the "Romish doctrine of Purgatory," which the Article condemns, and which was generally believed in the Roman Church three centuries since, as well as now, viewed in its essence, be not the doctrine, that the punishment of unrighteous Christians is temporary, not eternal, and that the purification of the righteous is a portion of the same punishment, together with the superstitions, and impostures for the sake of gain, consequent thereupon.]

  • Pardons, or Indulgences.
  • The history of the rise of the Reformation will interpret "the Romish doctrine concerning pardons," without going further. Burnet thus speaks on the subject:--

    "In the primitive church there were very severe rules made, obliging all that had sinned publicly (and they were afterwards applied to such as had sinned secretly) to continue for many years in a state of separation from the Sacrament, and of penance and discipline. But because all such general rules admit of a great variety of circumstances, taken from men’s sins, their persons, and their repentance, there was a power given to all Bishops, by the Council of Nice, to shorten the time, and to relax the severity of those Canons, and such favour as they saw cause to grant, was called indulgence. This was just and necessary, and was a provision without which no constitution or society can be well governed. But after the tenth century, as the Popes came to take this power in the whole extent of it into their own hands, so they found it too feeble to carry on the great designs that they grafted upon it.

    "They gave it high names, and called it a plenary remission, and the pardon of all sins: which the world was taught to look on as a thing of a much higher nature, than the bare excusing of men from discipline and penance. Purgatory was then got to be firmly believed, and all men were strangely possessed with the terror of it: so a deliverance from purgatory, and by consequence an immediate admission into heaven, was believed to be the certain effect of it. Multitudes were, by these means, engaged to go to the Holy Land, to recover it out of the hands of the Saracens: afterwards they armed vast numbers against the heretics, to extirpate them: they fought also all those quarrels, which their ambitious pretensions engaged them in, with emperors and other princes, by the same pay; and at least they set it to sale with the same impudence, and almost with the same methods, that mountebanks use in venting of their secrets.

    "This was so gross, even in an ignorant age, and among the ruder sort, that it gave the first rise to the Reformation: and as the progress of it was a very signal work of G

    OD, so it was in a great measure owing to the scandals that this shameless practice had given the world."—Burnet on Article XIV. p. 190.


    "The virtue of indulgences is the applying the treasure of the Church upon such terms as Popes shall think fit to prescribe, in order to the redeeming souls from purgatory, and from all other temporal punishments, and that for such a number of years as shall be specified in the bulls; some of which have gone to thousands of years; one I have seen to ten hundred thousand: and as these indulgences are sometimes granted by special tickets, like tallies struck on that treasure; so sometimes they are affixed to particular churches and altars, to particular times, or days, chiefly to the year of jubilee; they are also affixed to such things as may be carried about, to Agnus Dei’s, to medals, to rosaries, and scapularies; they are also affixed to some prayers, the devout saying of them being a mean to procure great indulgences. The granting these is left to the Pope’s discretion, who ought to distribute them as he thinks may tend most to the honour of G

    OD and the good of the Church; and he ought not to be too profuse, much less to be too scanty in dispensing them.

    "This has been the received doctrine and practice of the Church of Rome since the twelfth century: and the Council of Trent, in a hurry, in its last session, did, in very general words, approve of the practice of the Church in this matter, and decreed that indulgences should be continued; only they restrained some abuses, in particular that of selling them."—Burnet on Article XXII. p. 305.

    Burnet goes on to maintain that the act of the Council was incomplete and evaded. If it be necessary to say more on the subject, let us attend to the following passage from Jeremy Taylor:—

    "I might have instanced in worse matters, made by the Popes of Rome to be pious works, the condition of obtaining indulgences. Such was the bull of Pope Julius the Second, giving indulgence to him that meeting a Frenchman should kill him, and another for the killing of a Venetian. . . . . I desire this only instance may be added to it, that Pope Paul the Third, he that convened the Council of Trent, and Julius the Third, for fear, as I may suppose, the Council should forbid any more such follies, for a farewell to this game, gave an indulgence to the fraternity of the Sacrament of the Altar, or of the Blessed Body of O

    UR LORD JESUS CHRIST, of such a vastness and unreasonable folly, that it puts us beyond the question of religion, to an inquiry, whether it were not done either in perfect distraction, or, with worse design, to make religion to be ridiculous, and to expose it to a contempt and scorn. The conditions of the indulgence are, either to visit the Church of St. Hilary of Chartres, to say a ‘Pater Noster’ and an ‘Ave Mary’ every Friday, or, at most, to be present at processions and other divine service upon ‘Corpus Christi day.’ The gift is—as many privileges, indults, exemptions, liberties, immunities, plenary pardons of sins, and other spiritual graces, as were given to the fraternity of the Image of our SAVIOUR ‘ad Sancta Sanctorum;’ the fraternity of the charity and great hospital of St. James in Augusta, of St. John Baptist, of St. Cosmas and Damianus; of the Florentine nation; of the hospital of the HOLY GHOST in Saxia; of the order of St. Austin and St. Champ; of the fraternities of said city; of the church of our Lady ‘de populo et verbo;’ and all those that were ever given to them that visited these churches, or those which should ever be given hereafter—a pretty large gift! In which there were so many pardons, quarter-pardons, half-pardons, true pardons, plenary pardons, quarantines, and years of quarantines; that is a harder thing to number them, than to purchase them. I shall remark in these some particulars to be considered.

    "1. That a most scandalous and unchristian dissolution and death of all ecclesiastical discipline, is consequent to the making all sin so cheap and trivial a thing; that the horrible demerits and exemplary punishment and remotion of scandal and satisfaction to the Church, are indeed reduced to trifling and mock penances. He that shall send a servant with a candle to attend the holy Sacrament, when it shall be carried to sick people, or shall go himself; or if he can neither go nor send, if he say a ‘Pater Noster’ and an ‘Ave,’ he shall have a hundred years of true pardon. This is fair and easy. But then,

    "2. It would be considered what is meant by so many years of pardon, and so many years of true pardon. I know but of one natural interpretation of it; and that it can mean nothing, but that some of the pardons are but fantastical, and not true; and in this I find no fault, save only that it ought to have been said, that all of them are fantastical.

    "3. It were fit we learned how to compute four thousand and eight hundred years of quarantines, and a remission of a third part of all their sins; for so much is given to every brother and sister of this fraternity, upon Easter-day, and eight days after. Now if a brother needs not thus many, it would be considered whether it did not encourage a brother or a frail sister to use all their medicine, and sin more freely, let so great a gift become useless.

    "4. And this is so much the more considerable because the gift is vast beyond all imagination. The first four days in lent they may purchase thirty-three thousand years of pardon, besides a plenary remission of all their sins over and above. The first week of Lent a hundred and three-and-thirty thousand years of pardon, besides five plenary remissions of all their sins, and two third parts besides, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. The second week in Lent a hundred and eight-and-fifty thousand years of pardon, besides the remission of all their sins, and a third part besides; and the delivery of one soul. The third week in Lent, eighty thousand years, besides a plenary remission, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. The fourth week in Lent, threescore thousand years of pardon, besides a remission of two-thirds of all their sins, and one plenary remission, and one soul delivered. The fifth week, seventy-nine thousand years of pardon, and the deliverance of two souls; only the two thousand seven hundred years that are given for the Sunday, may be had twice that day, if they will visit the altar twice, and as many quarantines. The sixth week, two hundred and five thousand years, besides quarantines, and four plenary pardons. Only on Palm Sunday, whose portion is twenty-five thousand years, it may be had twice that day. And all this is the price of him that shall, upon these days, visit the altar in the Church of St. Hilary. And this runs on to the Fridays, and many festivals and other solemn days in the other parts of the year."—Jer. Taylor, vol. xi. pp. 53—56.

    [The doctrine then of pardons, spoken of in the Article, is the doctrine maintained and acted on in the Roman Church, that remission of the penalties of sin in the next life may be obtained by the power of the Pope, with such abuses as money payments consequent thereupon.]

  • Veneration and worshipping of Images and Relics.
  • That the Homilies do not altogether discard reverence towards relics, has already been shown. Now let us see what they do discard.

    "What meaneth it that Christian men, after the use of the Gentiles idolaters, cap and kneel before images? which if they had any sense and gratitude, would kneel before men, carpenters, masons, plasterers, founders, and goldsmiths, their makers and framers, by whose means they have attained this honour, which else would have been evil-favoured, and rude lumps of clay or plaster, pieces of timber, stone, or metal, without shape or fashion, and so without all estimation and honour, as that idol in the Pagan poet confesseth, saying, ‘I was once a vile block, but now I am become a god,’ &c. What a fond thing is it for man, who hath life and reason, to bow himself, to a dead and insensible image, the work of his own hand! Is not this stooping and kneeling before them, which is forbidden so earnestly by GOD’S word? Let such as so fall down before images of saints, know and confess that they exhibit that honour o dead stocks and stones, which the saints themselves, Peter, Paul and Barnabas, would not to be given to them, being alive; which the angel of G

    OD forbiddeth to be given to him. And if they say they exhibit such honour not to the image, but to the saint whom it representeth, they are convicted of folly, to believe that they please saints with that honour, which they abhor as a spoil of GOD’S honour."--Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 191.


    "Thus far Lactantius, and much more, too long here to write, of candle lighting in temples before images and idols for religion; whereby appeareth both the foolishness thereof, and also that in opinion and act we do agree altogether in our candle-religion with the Gentiles idolaters. What meaneth it that they, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, burn incense, offer up gold to images, hang up crutches, chains, and ships, legs, arms, and whole men and women of wax, before images, as though by them, or saints (as they say) they were delivered from lameness, sickness, captivity, or shipwreck? Is not this ‘colere imagines,’ to worship images, so earnestly forbidden in GOD’S word? If they deny it, let them read the eleventh chapter of Daniel the Prophet, who saith of antichrist, ‘He shall worship GOD, whom his fathers knew not, with gold, silver, and with precious stones, and other things of pleasure:’ in which place the Latin word is colet." ...... "To increase this madness, wicked men, which have the keeping of such images, for their great lucre and advantage, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, have reported and spread abroad, as well by lying tales as written fables, divers miracles of images: as that such an image miraculously was sent from heaven, even like the Palladium, or Magna Diana Ephesiorum. Such another was as miraculously found in the earth, as the man’s head was in the Capitol, or the horse’s head in Capua. Such an image was brought by angels. Such an one came itself far from the East to the West, as Dame Fortune fled to Rome. Such an image of our Lady was painted by St. Luke, whom of a physician they have made a painter for that purpose. Such an one an hundred yokes of oxen could not move, like Bona Dea, whom the whip could not carry; or Jupiter Olympius, which laughed the artificers to scorn, that went about to remove him to Rome. Some images, though they were hard and stony, yet, for tender heart and pity, wept. Some, like Castor and Pollux, helping their friends in battle, sweat, as marble pillars do in dankish weather. Some spake more monstrously than ever did Balaam’s ass, who had life and breath in him. Such a cripple came and saluted this saint of oak, and by and by he was made whole; and lo! here hangeth his crutch. Such an one in a tempest vowed to St. Christopher, and ’scaped; and behold, here is a ship of wax. Such an one, by St. Leonard’s help, brake out of prison, and see here his fetters hang." . . . . . . "The Relics we must kiss and offer unto, specially on Relic Sunday. And while we offer, (that we should not be weary, or repent us of our cost,) the music and minstrelsy goeth merrily all the offertory time, with praising and calling upon those saints, whose relics be then in presence. Yea, and the water also, wherein those relics have been dipped, must with great reverence be reserved, as very holy and effectuous." . . . . . . "Because Relics were so gainful, few places were there but they had relics provided for them. And for more plenty of Relics, some one saint had many heads, one in one place, and another in another place. Some had six arms, and twenty-six fingers. And where our LORD bare His cross alone, if all the pieces of the relics thereof were gathered together, the greatest ship in England would scarcely bear them; and yet the greatest part of it, they say, doth yet remain in the hands of the Infidels; for the which they pray in their beads-bidding, that they may get it also in their hands, for such godly use and purpose. And not only the bones of the saints, but every thing appertaining to them, was a holy relic. In some place they offer a sword, in some the scabbard, in some a shoe, in some a saddle that had been set upon some holy horse, in some the coals wherewith St. Laurence was roasted, in some place the tail of the ass which our LORD JESUS CHRIST sat on, to be kissed and offered unto for a relic. For rather than they would lack a relic, they would offer you a horse bone instead of a virgin’s arm, or the tail of the ass to be kissed and offered unto for relics. O wicked, impudent, and most shameless men, the devisers of these things! O silly, foolish, and dastardly daws, and more beastly than the ass whose tail they kissed, that believe such things!" . . . . . . "Of these things already rehearsed, it is evident that our image maintainers have not only made images, and set them up in temples, as did the Gentiles their idols; but also that they have had the same idolatrous opinions of the saints, to whom they have made images, which the Gentiles idolaters had of their false gods; and have not only worshipped their images with the same rites, ceremonies, superstition, and all circumstances, as did the Gentiles idolaters for their idols, but in many points have also far exceeded them in all wickedness, foolishness and madness."—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, pp. 193—197.

    It will be observed that in this extract, as elsewhere in the Homilies, it is implied that the Bishop or the Church of Rome is Antichrist; but this is a statement bearing on prophetical interpretation, not on doctrine; and one besides which cannot be reasonably brought to illustrate or explain any of the positions of the Articles: and therefore it may be suitably passed over.

    In another place the Homilies speak as follows:--

    "Our churches stand full of such great puppets, wondrously decked and adorned; garlands and coronets be set on their heads, precious pearls hanging about their necks; their fingers shine with rings, set with precious stones; their dead and stiff bodies are clothed with garments stiff with gold. You would believer that the images of our men-saints were some princes of Persia land with their prod apparel; and the idols of our women-saints were nice and well-trimmed harlots, tempting their paramours to wantonness: whereby the saints of GOD are not honoured, but most dishonoured, and their godliness, soberness, chastity, contempt of riches, and of the vanity of the world, defaced and brought in doubt by such monstrous decking, most differing from their sober and godly lives. And because the whole pageant most thoroughly be played, it is not enough thus to deck idols, but at last come in the priests themselves, likewise decked with gold and pearl, that they may be meet servants for such lords and ladies, and fit worshippers of such gods and goddesses. And with a solemn pace they pass forth before these golden puppets, and fall down to the ground on their marrow-bones before these honourable idols; and then rising up again, offer up odours and incense unto them, to give the people an example of double idolatry, by worshipping not only the idol, but the god also, and riches, wherewith it is garnished. Which thing, the most part of our old Martyrs, rather than they would do, or once kneel, or offer up one crumb of incense before an image, suffered most cruel and terrible deaths, as the histories of them at large do declare." . . . . . . "O books and scriptures, in the which the devilish schoolmaster, Satan, hath penned the lewd lessons of wicked idolatry, for his dastardly disciples and scholars to behold, reach, and learn, to GOD’S most high dishonour, and their most terrible damnation! Have we not been much bound, think you, to those which should have taught us the truth out of GOD’S Book and His Holy Scripture, that they have shut up that Book and Scripture from us, and none of us so bold as once to open it, or read in it?

    Again, with a covert allusion to the abuses of the day, the Homilist says elsewhere, of Scripture,

    "There shall you read of Baal, Moloch, Chamos, Melchom, Baalpeor, Astaroth, Bel, the Dragon, Priapus, the brazen Serpent, the twelve Signs, and many others, unto whose images the people, with great devotion, invented pilgrimages, precious decking, and censing them, kneeling down, and offering to them, thinking that an high merit before GOD, and to be esteemed above the precepts and commandments of GOD."—Homily on Good Works, p. 42.

    Again, soon after:

    "What man, having any judgment or learning, joined with a true zeal unto GOD, doth not see and lament to have entered into CHRIST’S religion, such false doctrine, superstition, idolatry, hypocrisy, and other enormities and abuses, so as by little and little, through the sour leaven thereof, the sweet bread of GOD’S holy word had been much hindered and laid apart? Never had the Jews, in their most blindness, so many pilgrimages unto images, nor used so much kneeling, kissing, and censing of them, as hath been used in our time. Sects and feigned religions were neither the fortieth part so many among the Jews, nor more superstitiously and ungodly abused, than of late years they have been among us: which sects and religions had so many hypocritical and feigned works in their state of religion, as they arrogantly named it, that their lamps, as they said, ran always over, able to satisfy not only for their own sins, but also for all other their benefactors, brothers, and sisters of religion, as most ungodly and craftily they had persuaded the multitude of ignorant people; keeping in divers places, as it were, marts or markets of merits, being full of their holy relics, images, shrines, and works of overflowing abundance, ready to be sold; and all things which they had were called holy—holy cowls, holy girdles, holy pardons, holy beads, holy shows, holy rules, and all full of holiness. And what thing can be more foolish, more superstitious, or ungodly, than that men, women, and children, should wear a friar’s coat to deliver them from agues or pestilence; or when they die, or when their be buried, cause it to be cast upon them, in hope thereby to be saved? Which superstition, although ((thanks be to GOD) it hath been little used in this realm, yet in divers other realms it hath been, and yet it, used among many, both learned and unlearned."—Homily on Good Works, pp. 45, 46.

    [Once more:--

    "True religion, then, and pleasing of GOD, standeth not in making, setting up, painting, gilding, and decking of dumb and dead images (which be but great puppets and babies for old fools in dotage, and wicked idolatry, to dally and play with), nor in kissing of them, capping, kneeling, offering to them, incensing of them, setting up of candles, hanging up of legs, arms, or whole bodies of wax before them, or praying or asking of them, or of saints, things belonging only to GOD to give. But all these things be vain and abominable, and most damnable before GOD."—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 223.]

    Now the veneration and worship condemned in these and other passages are such as these: kneeling before images, lighting candles to them, offering them incense, going on pilgrimage to them, hanging up crutches, &c. before them, lying tales about them, belief in miracles as if wrought by them through illusion of the devil, decking them up immodestly, and providing incentives by them to bad passions; and, in like manner, merry music and minstrelsy, and licentious practices in honour of relics, counterfeit relics, multiplication of them, absurd pretences about them. This is what the Article means by "the Romish doctrine," which, in agreement to one of the above extracts, it calls "a fond thing," res futilis; for who can ever hope, except the grossest and most blinded minds, to be gaining the favour of the blessed saints, while they come with unchaste thoughts and eyes, that cannot cease from sin; and to be profited by "pilgrimage-going," in which "Lady Venus and her son Cupid were rather worshipped wantonly in the flesh, than GOD the FATHER, and our SAVIOUR CHRIST HIS SON, truly worshipped in the SPIRIT?"

    Here again it is remarkable that, urged by the truth of the allegation, the Council of Trent is obliged, both to confess the above-mentioned enormities in the veneration of relics and images, and to forbid them.

    "Into these thy holy and salutary observances should any abuses creep, of these the Holy Council strongly [vehementer] desires the utter extinction; so that no images of a false doctrine, and supplying to the uninstructed opportunity of perilous error, should be set up. . . . . all superstition also in invocation of saints, veneration of relics, and sacred use of images, be put away; all filthy lucre be cast out of doors; and all wantonness be avoided; so that images be not painted or adorned with an immodest beauty; or the celebration of Saints and attendance on Relics be abused to revelries and drunkenness; as though festival days were kept in honour of saints by luxury and lasciviousness."—Sess . 25.

    [On the whole, then, by the Romish doctrine of the veneration and worshipping of images and relics, the Article means all maintenance of those idolatrous honours which have been and are paid to them so commonly throughout the Church of Rome, with the superstitions, profanities, and impurities consequent thereupon.]

  • Invocation of Saints.
  • By "invocation" here is not meant the mere circumstance of addressing beings out of sight, because we use the Psalms in our daily service, which are frequent invocations of Angels to praise and bless GOD. In the Benedicite too we address "the spirits and souls of the righteous."

    Nor is it a "fond" invocation to pray that unseen beings may bless us; [for this Bishop Ken does in his Evening Hymn:—

    O may my Guardian, while I sleep,

    Close to my bed his vigils keep,

    His love angelical instil,

    Stop all the avenues of ill, &c.]

    On the other hand, judging from the example set us in the Homilies themselves, invocations are not censurable, and certainly not "fond," if we mean nothing definite by them, addressing them to beings which we know cannot hear, and using them as interjections. The Homilist seems to avail himself of this proviso in a passage, which will serve to begin our extracts in illustration of the superstitious use of invocations.

    "We have left Him neither heaven, nor earth, nor water, nor country, nor city, peace nor war to rule and govern, neither men, nor beasts, nor their diseases to cure; that a godly man might justly, for zealous indignation, cry out, O heaven, O earth, and seas, what madness and wickedness against GOD are men fallen into! What dishonour do the creatures to their CREATOR and MAKER! And if we remember GOD sometimes, yet, because we doubt of His ability or will to help, we join to Him another helper, as if He were a noun adjective, using these sayings: such as learn, GOD and St. Nicholas be my speed: such as neese, GOD help and St. John: to the horse, GOD and St. Loy save thee. Thus are we become like horses and mules, which have no understanding. For is there not one GOD only, who by His power and wisdom made all things, and by His providence governeth the same, and by His goodness maintaineth and saveth them? be not all things of Him, by Him and through Him? Why dost thou turn from the CREATOR to the creatures? This is the manner of the Gentiles idolaters: but thou art a Christian, and therefore by CHRIST alone hast access toGOD the FATHER, and help of Him only."—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 189.

    Again, just before:

    Terentius Varro showeth, that there were three hundred Jupiters in his time: there were no fewer Veneres and DianÊ: we had no fewer Christophers, Ladies and Mary Magdalens, and other saints. Œnomaus and Hesodius shew, that in their time there were thirty thousand gods. I think we had no fewer saints, to whom we gave the honour due to GOD. And they have not only spoiled the true living GOD of His due honour in temples, cities, countries and lands, by such devices and inventions as the Gentiles idolaters have done before them: but the sea and waters have as well special saints with them, as they had gods with the Gentiles, Neptune, Triton, Nereus, Castor and Pollux, Venus, and such other: in whose places be come St. Christopher, St. Clement, and divers other, and specially our Lady, to whom shipmen sing, ‘Ave, maris stella.’ Neither hath the fire escaped their idolatrous inventions. For, instead of Vulcan and Vesta, the Gentiles’ gods of the fire, our men have placed St. Agatha, and make litters on her day for to quench fire with. Every artificer and profession hath his special saint, as a peculiar god. As for example, scholars have St. Nicholas and St. Gregory: painters, St. Luke; neither lack soldiers their Mars, nor lovers their Venus, amongst Christians. A11 diseases have their special saints, as gods the curers of them; ...... the falling-evil St. Cornelio, the tooth-ache St. Apollin, &c. Neither do beats nor cattle lack their gods with us; for St. Loy is the horse-leech, and St. Anthony the swineherd." --Ibid., p. 188.

    The same subject is introduced in connexion with a lament over the falling off of attendance on religious worship consequent upon the Reformation:

    "GOD’S vengeance hath been and is daily provoked, because much wicked people pass nothing to resort to the Church, either for that they are so sore blinded, that they understand nothing of GOD and godliness, and care not with devilish example to offend their neighbours; or else for that they see the Church altogether scoured of such gay gozing sights, as their gross fantasy was greatly delighted with, because they see the false religion abandoned, and the true restored, which seemeth an unsavoury thing to their unsavoury taste; as may appear by this, that a woman said to her neighbour, ‘Alas, gossip, what shall we now do at church, since all the saints are taken away, since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone, since we cannot hear the like piping, singing, chanting, and playing upon the organs, that we could before ?’ But, dearly beloved, we ought greatly to rejoice, and give GOD thanks that our churches are delivered of all those things which displeased GOD so sore, and filthily defiled His house and His place of prayer, for the which He hath justly destroyed many nations, according to the saying of St. Paul: ‘If any man defile the temple of GOD, GOD will him destroy.’ And this ought we greatly to praise GOD for, that superstitious and idolatrous manners as were utterly naught, and defaced GOD’S glory, are utterly abolished, as they most justly deserved: and yet those things that either GOD was honoured with, or His people edified, are decently retained, and inour churches comely practised."--On the Place and Time of Prayer, pp. 203, 294.


    "There are certain conditions most requisite to be found in every such a one that must be called upon, which if they be not found in Him unto whom we pray, then doth our prayer avail us nothing, but is altogether in vain.

    "The first is this, that He, to whom we make our prayers, be able to help us. The second is, that He will help us, The third is, that He be such a one as may hear our prayers. The fourth is, that He understand better than ourselves what we lack, and how far we have need of help. If these things be to be found in any other, saving only GOD, then may we lawfully call upon some other besides GOD. But what man is so gross, but he well understandeth that those things are only proper to Him, who is omnipotent, and knoweth all things, even the very secrets of the heart; that is to say, only and to GOD alone? Whereof it followeth that we must call neither upon angel, nor yet upon saint, but only and solely upon GOD, as St. Paul doth write: ‘How shall men call upon Him, in whom they have not believed?’ So that invocation or prayer may not be made without faith in Him on whom they call; but that we must first believe in Him before we can make our prayer unto Him, whereupon we must only and solely pray unto GOD. For to say that we should believe in either angel or saint, or in any other living creature, were most horrible blasphemy against GOD and His holy word; neither ought this fancy to enter into the heart of any Christian man, because we are expressly taught in the word of the LORD only to repose our faith in the blessed TRINITY, in whose only name we are also baptized, according to the express commandment of our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, in the last of St. Matthew.

    "But that the truth thereof may better appear, even to them that be most simple and unlearned, let us consider what prayer is. St. Augustine calleth it a lifting up of the mind to GOD; that is to say, an humble and lowly pouring out of the heart to GOD. Isidorus saith, that it is an affection of the heart, and not a labour of the lips. So that, by these plans, true prayer doth consist not so much in the outward sound and voice of words, as in the inward groaning and crying of the heart to GOD.

    "Now, then, is there any angel, any virgin, any patriarch, or prophet, among the dead, that can understand or know the meaning of the hear? The Scripture saith, ‘it is GOD that searcheth the heart and reins, and that He only knoweth the hearts of the children of men.’ As for the saints, they have so little knowledge of the secrets of the heart, that many of the ancient fathers greatly doubt whether they know any thing at all, that is commonly done on earth. And albeit some think they do, yet St Augustine, a doctor of great authority, and also antiquity, hath this opinion of them; that they know no more what we do on earth, than we know what they do in heaven. For proof whereof, he allegeth the words of Isaiah the prophet, where it is said, ‘Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel knoweth us not.’ His mind therefore is this, not that we should put any religion in worshipping them, or praying unto them; but that we should honour them by following their virtuous and godly life. For, as he witnesseth in another place, the martyrs, and holy men in time past, were wont, after their death, to be remembered and named of the priest at divine service; but never to be invocated or called upon. And why so? Because the priest, saith he, is GOD’S priest, and not theirs: whereby he is bound to call upon GOD, and not upon them. ...... O but I dare not (will some man say) trouble GOD at all times with my prayers we see that in kings’ houses, and courts of princes, men cannot be admitted, unless they first use the help and means of some special nobleman, to come to the speech of the king, and to obtain the thing that they would have.

    "CHRIST, sitting in heaven, hath an everlasting priesthood, and always prayeth to His FATHER for them that be penitent, obtaining, by virtue of His wounds, which are evermore in the sight of GOD, not only perfect remission of our sins, but also all other necessaries that we lack in this world; so that this Holy Mediator is sufficient in heaven, and needeth no others to help Him.

    "Invocation is a thing proper unto GOD, which if we attribute unto the saints, it soundeth unto their reproach, neither can they well bear it at our hands. When Paul healed a certain lame man, which was impotent in his feet, at Lystra, the people would have done sacrifice unto him and Barnabas; who, rending their clothes, refused it, and exhorted them to worship the true GOD. Likewise in Revelation, when St. John fell before the angel’s feet to worship him, the angel would not permit him to do it, but commanded him that he should worship GOD. Which examples declare unto us, that the saints and angels in heaven will not have us to do any honour unto them that is due and proper unto GOD."—Homily on Prayer, pp. 272—277.

    Whereas, then, it has already been shown that not all invocation is wrong, this last passage plainly tells us what kind of invocation is not allowable, or what is meant by invocation in its exceptionable sense: viz. "a thing proper to GOD," as being part of the "honour that is due and proper unto GOD." And two instances are specially given of such calling and invocating, viz., sacrificing, and falling down in worship. Besides this, the Homilist adds, that it is wrong to pray to them for "necessaries in this world," and to accompany their services with "piping, singing, chanting, and playing" on the organ, and of invoking saints as patrons of particular elements, countries arts, or remedies.

    Here again, as before, the Article gains a witness and concurrence from the Council of Trent. . "Though," say the divines there assembled, "the Church has been accustomed sometimes to celebrate a few masses to the honour and remembrance of saints, yet she doth not teach that sacrifice is offered to them, but to GOD alone, who crowned them; wherefore neither is the priest wont to say, I offer sacrifice to thee, O Peter, or O Paul, but to GOD." (Sess. 22.) Or, to know what is meant by fond invocations, we may refer to the following passage of Bishop Andrews’s Answer to Cardinal Perron:—

    "This one point is needful to be observed throughout all the Cardinal’s answer, that he hath framed to himself five distinctions:—(1.) Prayer direct, and prayer oblique, or indirect. (2.) Prayer absolute, and prayer relative. (3.) Prayer sovereign, and prayer subaltern. (4.) Prayer final, and prayer transitory. (5.) Prayer sacrificial, and prayer out of, or from the sacrifice. Prayer direct, absolute, final, sovereign, sacrificial, that must not be made to the saints, but to GOD only: but as for prayer oblique, relative, transitory, subaltern, from, or out of the sacrifice, that (saith he) we may make to the saints.

    "For all the world, like the question in Scotland, which was made some fifty years since, whether the Pater noster might not be said to saints. For then they in like sort devised the distinction of—(1.) Ultimate, et non ultimate. (2.) Principaliter, et minus principaliter. (3.) Primarie et secundarie: Capiendo stricte et capiendo large. And as for ultimate, principaliter, primarie et capiendo stricte, they conclude it must go to GOD: but non ultimate, minus principaliter, secundarie, et capiendo large, it might be allowed saints.

    "Yet it is sure, that in these distinctions is the whole substance of his answer. And whensoever he is pressed, he flees straight to his prayer relative and prayer transitory; as if prier pour prier were all the Church of Rome did hold; and that they made no prayers to the saints, but only to pray for them. The Bishop well remembers, that Master Casaubon more than once told him that reasoning with the Cardinal, touching the invocation of saints, the Cardinal freely confessed to him that he had never rayed to saint in all his life, save only when he happened to follow the procession; and that then he sung Ora pro nobis with the clerks indeed, but else not.

    "Which cometh much to this opinion he now seemeth to defend: but wherein others of the Church of Rome will surely give him over, so that it is to be feared that the Cardinal will be shent for this, and some censure come out against him by the Sorbonne. For the world cannot believe that oblique relative prayer is all that is sought; seeing it is most evident, by their breviaries, hours, and rosaries, that they pray directly, absolutely, and finally to saints, and make no mention at all of prier pour prier, to pray to GOD to forgive them; but to the saints, to give it themselves. So that all he saith comes to nothing. They say to the blessed Virgin, ‘Sancta Maria,’ not only ‘Ora pro nobis:’ but ‘Succure miseris, juva pusillanimes, refove flebiles, accipe quod offerimus, dona quod rogamus, excusa quod timemus,’ &c. &c.....

    All which, and many more, shew plainly that the practice of the Church of Rome, in this point of invocation of saints, is far otherwise than Cardinal Perron would bear the world in hand; and that prier pour prier is not at all, but that ‘To dona cœlum, Tu laxa, Tu sana, Tu solve crimina, Tu duc, conduc, induc, perduc ad gloriam; Tu serva, Tu fer opem, To aufer, Tu confer vitam,’ are said to them (totidem verbis); more than which cannot be said to GOD Himself. And again, ‘Hic nos solvat ý peccatis, Hic nostros tergat reatus, Hic arma conferat, His hostem fuget, Hic gubernet, Hic aptet tuo conspectui;’ which if they be not direct and absolute, it would be asked of them, what is absolute or direct?"—Bishop Andrews’s Answer to Chapter XX. of Cardinal Perron’s Reply, pp. 57—62.

    Bellarmine’s admissions quite bear out the principles laid down by Bishop Andrews and the Homilist:—

    "It is not lawful," he says, "to ask of the saints to grant to us, as if they were the authors of divine benefits, glory or grace, or the other means of blessedness. . . . . . . This is proved, first, from Scripture, ‘The LORD will hive grace and glory.’ (Psal. lxxxiv.) Secondly, from the usage of the Church; for in the mass-prayers, and the saints’ offices, we never ask any thing else, but that at their prayers, benefits may be granted to us by GOD. Thirdly, from reason: for what we need surpasses the powers of the creature, and therefore even of saints; therefore we ought to ask nothing of saints beyond their impetrating from GOD what is profitable for us. Fourthly, from Augustine and Theodoret, who expressly teach that saints are not to be invoked as gods, but as able to gain from GOD what they wish. However, it must be observed, when we say, that nothing should be asked of saints but their prayers for us, the question is not about the words, but the sense of the words. For, as far as words go it is lawful to say: ‘St. Peter, pity me, save me, open for me the gate of heaven;’ also, ‘give me health of body, patience, fortitude,’ &c., provided that we mean ‘save and pity me by praying for me;’ ‘grant this or that by thy prayers and merits." For so speaks Gregory Nazianzen, and many others of the ancients, &c."—De Sanct. Beat. i. 17.

    [By the doctrine of the invocation of saints then, the Article means all maintenance of addresses to them which intrench upon the incommunicable honour due to GOD alone, such as have been, and are in the Church of Rome, and such as, equally with the peculiar doctrine of purgatory, pardons, and worshipping and adoration of images and relics, as actually taught in that Church, are unknown to the Catholic Church.]

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