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a nation of slaves. I do verily believe that the Roman Catholic religion has only to be universally adopted to make us both.
21. Praying to Saints.
This is one of the numerous points in which Catholics and Protestants differ from each other. They, the Catholics, pray to departed saints. This they acknowledge they do, nor are they at all ashamed of the practice, but endeavor to justify it. If any one doubts that they hold to the invocation of saints, as they express it, let him consult the notes to their own Rhemish Testament, or look into their book of prayers, where he will read the very language in which they make their supplication to the saints.
We Protestants do not pray to saints, and we think we have pretty good reasons for not doing it. We will mention some of them, in the hope that they will appear to be equally good reasons why Catholics should not pray to saints.
1. We do not feel the need of saints to pray to. We have a great and good God to go unto, whose ear is ever open to our cry, and we think that is enough; we do not want any other object of prayer. Whenever we feel the need of any thing, we judge it best to apply directly to our heavenly Father, especially since James, one of the saints, testifies, that “every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." Others may, in their necessity, if they please, apply to the saints, but we choose to ask of the Great Giver of all good. In doing so, we think we are much more likely to receive than if we invoke the saints.
It is true, being sinners, we need an advocate with the Father, but we do not need more than one, and him we have, as John, another saint, testifies, in Jesus Christ: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” John speaks of only one advocate, and Paul asserts that as there is but one God, so there is but one mediator between God and men. Yet the Catholics will have it, that there are advocates many and mediators many. The notes of the Rhemish translators on 1 Tim. 2:5, and 1 John, 2:1, assert the doctrine of a plurality of mediators and advocates. The object of those notes is to show, that if any man sin, he has many advocates with the Father, and that there are more mediators than one between God and men; the very reverse of what those texts assert! I am aware that the Catholics say that saints are mediators only in a subordinate sense; but I say they are mediators in no sense. Does the Bible speak of them as mediators in any sense ? Those words, “mediator” and “advocate,” are in the Bible sacredly appropriated to Christ. There is but one, and it is he. We come to the Father by him. To him we come immediately. Here we need no daysman.
2. We Protestants have always regarded prayer as a part of worship, as much as praise and confession of sin. Now,
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." We dare not, therefore, pray to any other than God. We would not like to be guilty of the idolatry of worshiping a creature.
3. If we were disposed to pray to the saints, yet we should not exactly know how to do it. Were we to pray to them generally, without singling any out by name, it would be a kind of praying at random ; and we strongly suspect that our requests would not be attended to, for it may be among saints in heaven, as it is among their less perfect brethren on earth, that what is made every body's business comes to be regarded as nobody's. If, on the other hand, we apply to specific saints, and invoke them by name, this supposes that we know just who the saints are. It implies either that we could see into their hearts while they lived, or that we can see into heaven now—both which far outreach our power. We might make some sad mistake in praying to deceased men who have passed for saints. It is easy enough to ascertain who the church regards as saints, but the canonized may not exactly correspond to the sanctified. But, supposing this difficulty removed, and that we know certain individuals, who, having once lived on earth, are now in heaven: the next thing is, to make them hear us, for there is manifestly no use in preferring requests to those who cannot hear them. How is this to be done? The saints are in heaven—the suppliant sinner is on earth, and the distance between them is great. Saints in heaven are not within call of sinners on earth. Where is the proof of it? If I say, “ Peter, pray for me,” how is he to know I say it? Peter is not omnipresent. Do they say that God communicates to him the fact; but where is the proof of that? Besides, what does it amount to? God, according to this theory, informs Peter that a certain sinner on earth wants him, Peter, to ask him, the Lord, to grant him something. This
is a roundabout method of getting at the thing. The man had better, a great deal, not trouble Peter, but
say at once,
“God be merciful to me a sinner.” But the Catholics ask with an air of triumph, if we do not request living saints to pray for us. for we have inspired authority for that. But that is not praying to them. There is a wide difference between praying to a saint in heaven, and asking a fellow-traveler to Zion on earth to pray to God for us. Every one must see that. When a Christian asks his minister or his Christian friend to beseech God for him, he does not consider that he is praying to him or invoking him. Besides, we never ask one to pray for us, unless we know he is within hearing. We should think it very silly to do so. We must have proof of his presence before we think of making any request of him. Yet the Catholics are continually making requests of creatures, of whose presence with them they have not a particle of proof, and who, being creatures, it is certain cannot be present with all that call upon them. How many individuals are every day, the same hour, calling on the blessed Virgin for assistance! It is all folly, unless she be omnipresent-a goddess, which the Bible certainly does not represent her as being. She occupies but one small spot in the universe of God, and it is probably a great way off. She cannot hear, even if she could help. Do you suppose that her calm repose in heaven is suffered to be disturbed by the ten thousand confused voices that cry to her without ceasing from earth ? Never.
In looking over the Bible, the book which contains the religion of Protestants, and which, being older than the Roman Catholic religion, proves the seni.
ority of Protestantism over Popery, I find no account of praying to saints. I do not read of Joshua praying to Moses; or of Elisha invoking Elijah. No, there is not a word of what constitutes so much of the devotion of the Catholic in either Testament. We do not find any thing in the Acts or Epistles about praying to the beloved Virgin, whom they call our Lady, in allusion to the phrase our Lord. Those writers say nothing about the mother. It is all about the Son. What heretics Luke and the rest of them were ! How worthy of being excommunicated ! Catholic books are full of the blessed Virgin. The Bible is all about Christ. There is the difference.
But I forgot. The New Testament does record one instance of prayer to a departed saint. The record is in Luke, 16. The saint prayed to was Abraham. The supplicant was a rich man in hell, and he made two requests. Here is the Catholic's authority for this doctrine of praying to deceased saints, so far as he gets it out of the Bible. Let him make the most of it. When, however, he takes into consideration that it was offered from hell, and by a man who lived and died in ignorance and neglect of religion, and that it proved totally unavailing, I suspect he will make no more out of it.
Specimens of Catholic Idolatry.
I take them from the Catholic book which I have been reviewing, “The Christian's Guide to Heaven."