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have also established my covenant with them, &c. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, and I have remembered my covenant." Lev. xxvi. 41, 42: “If then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, &c. then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember.”
And as good men were wont to adjure God by his truth and faithfulness engaged in covenant with their forefathers to spare them and to save them, so also was God pleased, the stronger to confirm their faith in his covenant and promises, sometimes to repeat and confirm it afresh to them. Psalm lxxxix. 28, “My covenant shall stand fast with them. Ver. 33, “My loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer faithfulness to fail.” Ver. 34, “ My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips ; once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David.”
The doctrine of merit is a stranger to the Scriptures, and what no creature, though innocent, is capable of; the highest degree of virtue and goodness being our duty, no man can merit at God's hand, for that is to do more than his duty; and if the innocent cannot merit, much less the wicked and unclean ; and who can say, I have no sin ? All the promises therefore made by God to good men and their posterity, are not to be reckoned as a debt to their deserts, but as the effect of his grace and mercy in Christ Jesus ; having deserved no good thing from God, nay, having demerited highly against him, we can expect nothing from God, but by way of
and covenant; and the justice and wisdom of God requiring that this covenant should be founded in our Saviour's blood, and sealed and ratified in it, we have nothing else but Christ and his merits to rely upon, nothing else to plead in the behalf of ourselves and others at the throne of God; but this we have, and this is sufficient.
This was long ago prefigured by the Jews being obliged to offer
up all their prayers to God at the temple, the temple being a type of Christ's incarnation. As God dwelt in the temple then, so he does now in our nature; and what the temple was to the Jews, that is Christ Jesus to us, the way and means that procures the acceptance of our prayers with God.
To this may be added many places in the New Testament : “He is able to save to the uttermost all those that come unto God by him, for he ever lives to make intercession for us,” Heb.
vii. 25. To this our Saviour hath appropriated his own granting what his disciples should ask of God: John xiv. 13, 14, “ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. To this he elsewhere appropriates God's granting what they should ask of him: John xv. 16, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
To this he expressly obliges his disciples, John xvi. 24, “ Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Now to pray in the name of Christ, is to pray through his mediation, upon the encouragement of his merits, and his being our intercessor and advocate at God's right hand in our nature ; who having perfectly fulfilled his Father's will, and by his death made an atonement for our sins, and purchased grace and glory, and all good things for us, hath given thereby the greatest assurance, that whenever we go duly qualified in his name, we shall get access, and both our persons and services be accepted.
And that this is to ask in Christ's name appears
from John i. 12, “ To as many as received him, to them
gave he power to became the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name ;" that is, on the account of his merits and undertaking. So John xx. 31, “These things are written that ye might believe, and that believing, ye might have life through his name ;” that is, through his merits and mediation.
The third branch is : There is no proof from Scripture for praying to saints and angels, as intercessors and mediators in the presence of God.
The Romanists positively assert, that the saints are our “advocates and mediators in heaven,” and pray to them as such ; and though they distinguish betwixt à mediator of redemption," and a "mediator of intercession," ascribing the first solely to Christ, and making the latter common betwixt him and saints in heaven; yet, whoever considers their doctrine of merit and supererogation, and that of indulgences founded upon it; whoever observes how often they desire in their devotions to be heard and assisted for the merits, as well as prayers of this or that other saint, and that Bellarmine* himself confesses, that they may, after a sort, be called “
* Precibus et Meritis -Non absurdum est si sancti viri Redemptores nostri aliquo modo dicuntur. De Indul. 1. 1. c. 4. (vol. 3. p. 657. col. 1. Prag. 1721.]
Redeemers,” will be apt to conclude that they attribute both to the saints as well as to Christ.
But admitting the distinction, there is as little proof for the one as for the other in Scripture ; the texts they appeal to for the justification of it, being very much mistaken by them. The first is Gal. iii. 19, where the Apostle, speaking of the
“it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
From whence they argue, that the saints in heaven may in the same sense be called mediators, wherein St. Paul calls Moses a mediator.
I shall not answer with some learned men, that by mediator here may not be meant Moses, but Christ, the promised Messiah, who spake with Moses on the mount,* and delivered the law to him, being attended on by an innumerable company of angels, for the greater glory and majesty of their Lord.
But granting it to be Moses; he is called a mediator in a far different sense from that wherein that appellation is given to the saints above, viz. as he was an internuncio, a person that went betwixt God and the people, relating the covenants and agreements made betwixt them. “I stood betwixt the Lord and you at that time,” says Moses of himself, Deut. v. 5. For what? It follows, “to shew you the word of the Lord.” And as Moses brought the word and law of God to the people, Exod. xix. 7, so he returned the words of the people to the Lord, ver. 8. “ And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him : and all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do: and Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.” To this Bellarmines agrees, where he says,
- all such messengers may in a sense be called mediators.” But does it follow, because Moses was employed as a messenger betwixt God and the Jews, at the delivery of the law, that the saints above are our advocates and mediators with God in the court of heaven.
They cite also, Rev. viii. 3, where an angel is said to offer the prayers of the saints to God. The words are these : “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer ; and there was given unto him much incense,
* Deut. xxxiii. 2. Acts vii. 53.
+ Angelis dispositis. # Quatenus nuncii utrinque itantes, pacta ac foedera utriusque partis referunt, quomodo omnes internuncii dici possunt mediatores. De Christo, 1. 5. c. 1. (ut supra, vol. 1. p. 261.col. 1.]
that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon
the golden altar, which was before the throne.
To this I need say no more, but that the generality of learned men, as well of the Church of Rome as the Reformed, understand by the Angel here, our blessed Saviour, whose office alone it is to offer up the prayers of the saints, and for whose sake alone they are accepted. So Thomas Aquinas :* " The angel, to wit, Christ, who is called an angel, because sent by the Father into the world.” So the Jesuit Viegas :t
“ All interpreters do confess, that by angel is here meant our Lord Christ, because of no other can it be said, that he offers up
to the Father after so glorious and majestic a manner, the incense, that is, the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar.” To confirm this sense of the words, we may observe that he is called in the text, “another angel ;” intimating, that he was one, both in nature and office, different from the others mentioned in the verse before, ver. 2: "I saw the seven angels which stood before God;" and then, ver. 3, “another angel came and stood at the altar."
The next is Rev. v. 8, where it is said, “that the four beasts, and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.” By the prayers of the saints they mean of those saints that are living upon the earth, and by the four beasts and four and twenty elders, the saints that are in heaven ; and from thence conclude, that the saints in heaven do offer up the prayers of the saints on earth.
But if by the four beasts and four and twenty elders are not meant the members of the Church triumphant, but the bishops and pastors of the Church militant, whose office it is to present the prayers and praises of the Church to God, then is this text cited by them to no purpose. And that they are thus to be understood, may not only be collected from the very testimonies Bellarmine I cites against it; but some of the Fathers are very plain and positive in it; but instead of setting down their words, I shall desire the reader to peruse the text, with the following verses to the end of the chapter, and he will easily perceive that they are a representation of the whole
* Angelus, scilicet Christus, qui dicitur Angelus, quia missus a Patre in mundum, &c. In cap. 8. Apoc.
+ Reliqui omnes interpretes esse Christum Dominum confitentur,quia nulli alii quam Christo, &c. In cap. 8. Apoc. sect. 2. I Ambr. in loc. Iren. 1. 4. c. 33. [ut supra, p. 249.]
Church of Christ both in heaven and earth, joining together in their doxologies and praises to God for the victories of the Lamb, and the redemption of the world by his blood, ver. 8. to 14: “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, &c. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, &c. And I beheld and heard the voices of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing : and every creature which is in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, honour, glory and power be unto him that sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
I might pass over what they produce out of Tobit xii. 12, 15, where the angel Raphael is said “to bring the remembrance of their prayers before the Holy One, and to present the prayers of the saints.”
The book being apocryphal, and so not of sufficient authority, we have no more reason to give credit to it in this place, than in others that are apparently false, as chap. v. 12, where it brings in the angel saying what was not true, viz. “ Azarias the son of Ananias the great, and of thy brethren.”
There is but one text more, and I believe the reader will excuse me, if I do but name it, without making any reflections upon it, Gen. ii. 18: “It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make an help meet for him ;” that is, says Henno,* “ One Advocate or Mediator in heaven is not sufficient for mankind, which has so many causes of the highest and most dangerous consequence depending before God, let us make him a meet help, i.e. the blessed Virgin.”
I must not stay here to shew, that the angels and saints above are no way qualified for the office of a Mediator, unless it could be proved that they knew our desires, and were thoroughly acquainted with our case and condition, and haad a sufficient power to undertake our patronage, and a sufficient merit and
* Non sufficit unus Advocatus vel Mediator humano generi in coelo, cum tot ac tam periculosa causas habeant coram Deo, faciamus ei adjutorium, hoc est, beatam Virginem. Wicel. Elenc. abus. p. 125. [Fascic. Rer. Expet. et Fug. vol. 2. p. 747. Lond. 1690.]