Page images
PDF
EPUB

4

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 diffi. culty 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

We do,

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, at 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 sup-pose 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 orer the Bible, the book which contains the religion of Protestants, and which, being older than the Roman Catholic religion, proves the seniority 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.

22. Specimens of Catholic Idolatry.

I take them from the Catholic book which I have been reviewing, “The Christian's Guide to Heaven." I did not know, before I read this book, that idolatry was the road to heaven, It did not use to be under the Jewish dispensation. These specimens of Catholic idolatry I think the reader will pronounce, with me quite up to the average of Pagan idolatry.

Here is one. “We fly to thy patronage, O holy nother of God; despise not our petitions in our neces. sities, but deliver us from all dangers.” That is the manner in which devout Catholics in the United States are directed to pray. They fly to Mary, but “God is our refuge.” There is the difference. They look to her to deliver them from all dangers. I don't know how she can deliver them from all dangers. I think they had better ascertain the powers of the Virgin Mary, before they place such unbounded reliance on her. I should be a very fearful creature, had I none to fly to from danger but her. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee,” (the Lord.) So says the Psalmist, and it is my purpose too.

The next specimen is entitled, “The Salve Regina,” and thus it runs: “Hail ! holy queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee we cry, poor banished sons of Eve; to thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thy eyes of mercy towards us, and after this our exile is ended, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O clement, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary." Now, is it not a farce to call this Christianity ? It is a great deal more like atheism. Here is an authorized Catholic prayer, in which there is no recognition of God whatever !

Then follows a call to devout contemplation, and

one would suppose that the object of it would be God, or the Savior. But no, it is the Virgin. “Let us, with exultation, contemplate the blessed Virgin Mary sitting in glory at the right hand of her beloved Son. She is crowned by the heavenly Father queen of heaven and earth, and appointed by Jesus Christ the dispenser of his graces.” It is singular that the Catholics, when they look up to heaven, see no object so conspicuous as the blessed Virgin. Now, she was not the most prominent figure in those visions of heaven of which we have account in the Bible. Stephen saw “the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God," but he saw nothing of the Virgin Mary sitting at her Son's right hand. Nor does John, in the history he gives in the book of Revelation of his visions of heaven, make any mention of seeing her. But it seems she is not only visible to the contemplativé Catholic, but almost alone conspicuous.

They speak of her moreover as crowned universal queen, and appointed dispenser of the graces of Christ. But where did they get that information ? It is too much to expect us to take their word for it, since it is acknowledged that we have not the word of God for it. I always supposed Christ to be, through his Spirit, the dispenser of his own graces. I always understood it to be him who “received gifts for men.” But it seems, according to the Catholics, that quite a different person received and dispenses them. How much novelty there is in the Catholic religion ! It is almost all of it comparatively new doctrine. Ours, the Protestant, is the old religion, after all that is said to the contrary.

But the Catholic is so positive in regard 10 the coro

« PreviousContinue »