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copied from Greek or oriental models, to leave any doubt as to the source from whence they were derived. In fact, we have memorials in the writings of primitive antiquity, which trace back this sort of prayer to the third century in the eastern churches; while it does not appear that there are any notices of a similar practice in the west, until after the introduction of processions, in imitation of the eastern church, which probably took place early in the fifth century. Besides this, the litaneutical form of praying is visible in all the offices of the eastern churches, in the liturgies, the canonical hours, the administration of all rites. In the west it has always been very sparingly used. Of the petitions which are comprised in our litany, it may be observed, that they are generally of remote antiquity in the English church. Mabillon has printed a litany of the church of England, written probably in the eighth century, which contains a large portion of that which we repeat at the present day, and which preserves exactly the same form of petition and response which is still retained. The still more ancient litanies of the abbey of Fulda, of the Ambrosian missal, and of Gelasius, patriarch of Rome; together with the Diaconica or Irenica of the liturgies and offices of the churches of Constantinople, Caesarea, Antioch, Jerusalem, &c. which all preserve the form of the litany; all these ancient formularies contain very much the same petitions as the English litany. This is in fact so manifest, even to the most superficial observer, that Schultingius could find nothing to blame in the English litany, except the omission of the invocations of saints. “It is not “pleasing to him,” he says, “that the suffrages and “intercessions of the saints are omitted, contrary to “the practice of the primitive church, and the cus“tom of ancient litanies".” In reply to this objection, I may remark, first, that the litanies of the eastern apostolical churches have never contained the invocations which appear in many of the western litanies; therefore those invocations are not essential in the litany. Secondly, the most ancient western litanies do not contain any invocations of saints, and there is no proof that these invocations were introduced into them before the eighth century. Therefore the western churches in early times did not use those invocations which now appear at the beginning of their litanies. If then the church of England had only wished to assimilate her rites to those of the catholic church during the first seven centuries, she would have been obliged to omit the invocations of saints which had for a considerable time been placed at the beginning of her litany. And who will venture to blame the church of England for assimilating her rites to those of the primitive catholic church 2 The church of England, however, is justified on other grounds for removing the invocation of Saints from the litany. First, it is unnecessary to invoke the saints, by the admission of all parties; and it is so for two reasons; because, first, while we are not commanded by the word of God to invoke the saints, we are invited to “call on the Lord in the day of trouble,” to “ask” and “receive;” and we have the repeated assurance of Christ, that “if we ask any thing in “his name he will do it.” Secondly, the Fathers of the church affirm, that the saints departed pray for their brethren in this world: therefore it is not necessary to invoke their prayers, because they are given spontaneously. Secondly, it is imprudent to invoke the saints, because, as cardinal Cajetan has observed, we have no certain way of knowing whether they can hear our invocations. The catholic church has not taught us that the saints certainly hear any address made to them. Those Fathers who invoked the saints expressed some doubts whether they knew any thing of what passed on earth. But we are certain that God hears every prayer that is addressed to him, and that he is ready to succour to the utmost those that come to him. If, then, we fly from such prayers to invocations of the saints, we exchange a certain means of grace for an uncertainty, and therefore act imprudently. Thirdly, it was the duty of the church of England to remove all invocations of saints from her litany and other offices, in order to rescue her children effectually from the peril of heresy and blasphemy. The custom of invoking the saints in the offices of the church, or on other occasions, produces at length a conviction in the minds of men, that the saints hear all invocations addressed to them. They who hear the church continually repeating the words “Saint Mary pray for us,” must be led to believe that the Saint hears this address. Now if it be firmly believed and taught, that the saints always
" “De hac litania idem ju- morem antiquarum litaniarum, dico quod de litaniis Luthera- de quibus antea copiose et norum antea dixi, nempe mihi iterato dixi, praetermittantur.” non placere quod sanctorum Schultingii Biblioth. Eccl. tom. suffragia et intercessiones con- iv. pars 2, p. 133. tra praxin priscae ecclesiae, et
hear invocations, a wide field is opened for the spread of error and superstition. The refinements of schoolmen, as to the mode by which a knowledge of our prayers is said to be communicated to the saints, cannot be intelligible to the capacities of the ignorant and unlearned, nor will they be communicated to them. The majority of Christians are therefore, by the custom of invoking the saints, placed in peril of ascribing a natural intrinsic power, little less than divine, to beings who, though invisible to mankind, can hear all prayers addressed to them in all parts of the world. This sentiment, admitted by all to be erroneous and perilous in itself, gives encouragement and impulse to evils which follow from another species of invocation addressed to the saints. Bellarmine, a Romanist, affirms that it is lawful to say, “St. Peter, have mercy upon me, “save me, open to me the way to heaven; grant “me health of body, grant me patience, fortitude”,” &c.. If we take such prayers in a literal sense, they are heretical and blasphemous; and as many of the unlearned must necessarily take them in a literal sense, the use of such prayers must lead many persons into heresy and blasphemy. Now, before the Reformation many prayers of this kind were not only recited in private, but even in the public offices of some churches; and it would not have been sufficient to abolish these prayers, if the invocation of saints to pray for us had been retained. For when erroneous notions of the power of saints had been engrafted on the mind of any person, it would have been impossible to eradicate them while the church continually supplied a ready and popular argument in favour of the ubiquity and universal intelligence of the saints by invoking them. The church of England was therefore justified in omitting the invocation of saints in her litany. First, because the litanies of all churches were devoid of them for seven centuries. Secondly, because they were unnecessary. Thirdly, because they were imprudent. And, fourthly, because they originated and promoted the danger of heresy and blasphemy. And on the same grounds we affirm, that it is the duty of all other churches to follow her example. Those catholic fathers, who in the fourth century invoked the saints, were too well instructed in the Christian faith, either to believe positively that the saints heard our prayers, or that they could aid us in any way except by their own; and they never contemplated the dangers of heresy and blasphemy into which this practice, originally intended for the promotion of piety, has led many of the simple and unlearned.
o “Est tamen notandum, cum dicinus, non debere peti a Sanctis, nisi utorent pro nobis, nos non agere de verbis, sed de sensu verborum : nam quantum ad verba, licet dicere: S. Petre miserere mei, salva me, aperi mihi aditum coeli:
item da mihi sanitatem corporis, da patientiam, da mihi fortitudinem, &c. dummodo intelligamus, salva me, et miserere mei orando pro me, da mihi hoc et illud tuis precibus et meritis.” Bellarminus de Sanct. Beatit, lib. i. c. 17.