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preach to us now. Here is to be proved what works of charity saints departed now in their state may do or not do. The holy Scriptures say that works must be done in faith that please God; saints have not faith ; wherefore it seeineth to follow, that saints do not work after this present life, or else their works should be done in faith that they might please God. Also, Scripture promiseth a reward for every good work; prayer isa good work;; prayer therefore doth not want its reward before God. But for the
of saints departed, I read no reward promised of God; but every man shall have his reward for works done in this present life and, in the body (Gal. vi. and 2 Cor. v.), saith St. Paul. “ All we shall stand before the justice of God, and shall everyone, according to his doings, the time he was in his body, receive good or evil."
Finally, as touching prayer to saints departed, I think it no damnable thing to pray to them, nor yet do necessary thing to pray to them. I think it should be more for the glory of God, to keep sure trust and true confidence in God, and to know that all goodness, health, life, salvation, glory eternal come only of God, and of his mere mercy towards us, if no prayer at all were made to saints departed. For by prayer made to saints God's honour hath been taken away, and his power
minished. Honour due for God hath been given to saints : trust and confidence taken from God and put in saints: and the blind ignorant people have been more ready to go to saints, yea, to the images of saints, than to God, and desire health and succour of them ; such hath been our blind ignorance.
This praying to saints hath been the cause of much idolatry, of much false trust and confidence in saints, and in images, and that so many have desired health of saints rather than of God for their diseases; as
of St. Loy for our horse, of St. Anthony for our pig, of Roch for the pestilence, of Appoline for the tooth-ach, of John Shorne for the ague, and in a manner for every sickness one saint or other. So God was set aside, of whom all health doth come, and saints called on in whom is no health, nor any help can they grant without God. Therefore, if all prayer to saints departed were set aside, I think God should be better honoured, more trust and confidence put in him ; and that all help, succour, comfort, and goodness do come of God and of none other, would be better known and believed of the unlearned people, who have been long in blindness for lack of true teachers of the word of God.
One thing in this matter I would gladly know, what hurt should it be to Christian men, if men should not call and desire saints departed to pray for them ; but of saints should learn to follow their footsteps in faith, hope, charity, patience, meekness, contemning of honour, riches, worldly pleasures, and in other such-like virtues, for the which things Scripture putteth us in remembrance of holy men departed ? I pray you what necessary thing did Christian people want, before popes ordained the litany to be sung and said in churches ? But as for praying to saints departed, I will not much contend in this matter. I will not condemn them, that do desire their prayers, nor yet commend them. I think it an indifferent thing, that may be done well and omitted, and not as a thing necessarily to be done, or that he should be counted as an heretic, that should not pray to saints, or be a good Christian man for that work that should desire the prayers of saints departed. I think it should be more for the honour of God, and for the true faith to be had among Christian men, to withstand the opinion of saints now had, that no prayers should be made to
saints departed ; than if any should desire saints to pray with them, and for them. If this my mind do agree with the Scriptures, take it ; if not, refuse it. I will not be obstinate in this matter ; I'would be glad to learn the verity by the holy Scripture, which in all doubts is able to try out the truth, if we will be diligent to search, and leave man's fantasies and dreams, which have blinded us long, that we could not see the truth. But now let us return again to St. Paul.
Ver. 19-22. Now therefore, ye are no more guests and strangers, but citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, builded upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, where Jesus Christ is ihe head corner-stone, in whom every building coupled together, groweth to an holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye are builded also together to be an habitation of God in the Spirit.
Before St. Paul said, they were guests and strangers to the household of God; now he saith, they be no more strangers, but of the household of God, and citizens with the saints made by Christ. Before, they were far from the household of Israel; now, they be received to be of the household of Israel, that is to say, they be made fellows of saints (that is, of the Jews, which count themselves saints in comparison to the Gentiles), and partakers of the heavenly inheritance, and of everlasting health by Christ; builded upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets ; that is to say, upon Christ, upon whom the Apostles and Prophets did build and make Christ to be their foundation. For as St. Paul saith (1 Cor. iji.), “ No man can set another foundation, beside that foundation set, which is Christ Jesus," and not the bishop of Rome, for Christ is the head of the Church and of all them that believe, and not the bishop of Rome. And Christ is the cornerstone, that keepeth and joineth the buildings together, that coupleth the Jews and the Gentiles together, and by his spirit keepeth them both in unity and concord, faith, hope, charity, and in all good
St. Paul saying the Gentiles believing to be builded upon Christ, the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, reproveth all them, that say or think the bishop of Rome to be the foundation, upon whom Christ hath builded his church ; for that foundation is Christ, and none other. Neither the bishop of Rome, nor yet any other man, creature, nor angel, but Christ is the foundation of all faithful believers, and the corner-stone, that will not be removed with any blast of wind.
Every building upon Christ doth grow and increase in an holy temple to the Lord. Here he sheweth the difference between the building builded upon Christ, and upon other things or creatures. If it be builded upon Christ, it will stand and increase. If it be builded upon man, or upon man's inventions, dreams, and fantasies, it will fall and decay at every blast of wind or tempest: which thing doth agree with Christ, saying (Mat. xv.), " Every graft that my Father of heaven hath not grafted, shall be plucked up by the roots.” Here we may learn, pilgrimage, pardon, painting of images to be honoured, not to have been of God: monks, friars, canons, and such-like religion of men invented, not to have been of God; for they decay and fall away, and their feigned religion is little set by : also all those that go not forward from virtue to virtue, and increase daily in virtue, not to be builded of God. For the building of Christ increaseth daily, and is made more and more