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Christ presented to the Apostles, a few hours before the event of his death, was destined to be a legacy which he left upon earth, as an everlasting monument of his tenderness, and of his love for them, and for all the children of men.
Bath, Dec. 19, 1813.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Would not a Papist wish to say the Litany to the
Virgin Mary devoutly! What is a Litany said devoutly in a chapel, but worship; and what is the worship of a Creature but Idolatry?
The charge which Mr. ***
bas brought forward, in this question, against the Catholic Church, is one which involves every consequence, destructive of the purity of religious worship; and it is one, which if fairly made out, must, of necessity, induce every man, who retains any principle of sound religion, or who possesses any common share of common sense, to abandon ber society for ever. But that Gentleman must excuse me, if I say, that, in order to establish that fact, it will be necessary for him to produce some argument, both stronger and more logical, than the argument which he has thought it sufficient to employ for that purpose.
Even on the supposition that Catholics are mistaken, in their ideas, on the subject of the invocation of angels and of saints ;--even, on the supposition, that the honor which we pay to their memories, is not perfectly
consistent with the dependent situation, in which they are placed; yet, on no principle of reason, could the charge of idolatry be established, on that ground, against the Catholic Church. Were these suppositions even proved to be true, then error, indeed, and error too of a inost serious description might, with fairness, be imputed to her doctrines:-But certainly not the crime of idolatry; unless it can also be proved, that the honors, in question, are such, as belong exclusively to God; or that they are intended to be di. vine bonors, by the Catholic himself. If Mr. * * * * * * *
however, will take the trouble of ascertaining the precise nature of Catlıolic doctrine, on this subject, he will be satisfied that neither of these suppositions can admit of any possible proof.-By the doctrines of the Ca. tholic Church, we are taught to believe, that the veneration and the invocation of angels and of saints, are acts which are lawful and advantage. ous to ourselves: and by the same authority we are also taught to believe, that, in those acts, there is nothing which can derogate, in any degree, from the honor which belongs to the sovereign Majesty of God, or which can be injurious, in any respect, to Christ's character of mediator for man, The conviotion which a Catholic feels, that these consequences cannot flow from the principle, in question, arises from the different character of those prayers, which are offered to God himself, and of those, which are addressed to his Saints.
In the Society of Catholics, there is no child, who from the moment he is capable of learning the principles of his religious belief, is not carefully instructed to know, that when he addresses his petitions to any of the servants of God, it must be with dispositions of mind, and with an expression of language, which are essentially different from those which he employs, when the God of the Saints himself is addressed. Great as is the veneration which we cherish for the memories of the blessed spirits of departed men, and frequently as we have recourse to them in supplication and in prayer, we neither do believe, nor are we, by any principle of religion, taught to believe, that they possess any power to relieve us, or any power of any description whatever, which is not given them by the goodness of God, or any influence which is not founded on the infinite merits of Christ. We neither consider them as mediators, in the sense, in which that term is applied to the person of Christ, nor, in that sense, do we ever presume to give them that title. But, we consider them as possessing in an exalted degree, the favor and the friendship of God;we consider, that the principle of charity, which inflamed their hearts, and animated their conduct, in regard of their Brethren, during the period of their residence upon earth, has now attained, by their union with the source of every excellence, and of every virtue, the rery highest degree of perfection; and we consider, that in consequence of that principle of charity, thus refined and exalted, they cannot be supposed to be capable of beholding us in distress, and not endeavouring to obtain for us, by the interest of their prayers, from the power and the goodness of God, the relief of our wants.
If, in the charitable solicitations of these virtuous men in our behalf, there be nothing which is repugnant to any idea, which we are bound to entertain of the Deity, or to the purity of religion, is it possible to suppose, that in our solicitations to them on the principles which I have described, there can be any thing repugnant to the very same ideas? To solicit the interest which arises from the prayers of each other, while we are yet surrounded in this world, with imperfection and with weakness, is an act which Mr. * himself will not maintain, is inconsistent with any idea, which we are required to entertain of the sovereignty of God ;-it is an act, which is not incompatible with the office of Mediator, which in the strict sense of the term, belongs only to the person of Christ;-it is not repugnant to the language of scripture;-it is not in opposition to the practice of virtuous men, in every age of the
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