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sucked."* His answer is-"Yea, rather blessed are they, who hear the word of God and keep it."
It ought not to escape notice, how much this unsanctioned worship of the blessed Virgin is aggravated, by its being offered to her as translated to heaven: a novelty, which intruded into the Church during the dark ages; there being no mention of any such matter in any genuine production of the primitive Church, under the utmost latitude of construction ever given to the expression. The affirmed fact was at last founded on a palpable fable; and yet gave occasion to a festival and a corresponding service. The train of errours did not end here: for after awhile, there arose those who conceived it a still higher exercise of devotion, to contemplate the blessed Virgin as not born under original sin. In Spain, where the controversy ran high, the state was convulsed by it. At the council of Trent, there was a hard struggle to obtain its unqualified approbation of the new doctrine; which, with that sanction, would have been promulgated under the penalty of damnation. But the council went no further, than to express the decree concerning original sin, in terms which left the controversy concerning the blessed Virgin not absolutely decided; yet so far countenanced, as that a festival was afterwards instituted by papal authority, for the celebration of what is called "The immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary." All these things were the genuine fruits of a devotion, which began in the adoration of a picture. It ought to be an awful caution against will-worship, in its commencement: but it would be a perverted use of this instruction, to apply it to rules for the decent conducting of worship, confessedly agreeable to the gospel.†
Luke, xi. 27.
+ Within the last century, a Jesuit of eminence in his order -Gabriel Malagrida-conceived of it as an act of piety, to claim freedom from original sin, in favour of the mother of the blessed Virgin. It is easy to perceive, that under some
On this subject, there is a material consideration resulting from those assurances both in the Old Testament and in the New, which respect the conversion of the Jews, as preparatory to the entire conversion of the Gentiles. Whoever considers the repugnancy of the former to every species of the worship in question, the strong ground which they have for it in their scriptures, and their confirmation in it by a national character, remaining precisely the same from the period of their captivity in Babylon; will perceive it to be to the last degree improbable, that Christianity, with this clog to it, will ever be reconciled to their understandings, or made welcome to their affections. And this is a sentiment, giving countenance to those interpretations of the yet unfulfilled prophecies, which contemplate as cotemporaneous and connected events, the conversion of the Jews, and the downfal of the authorities by which image worship is sustained.
To return to the point which gave occasion to the present dissertation-the division of the decalogue. Let the code be divided as it may, all creature worship is therein prohibited. Still the prohibition is the more pointed, according to the Protestant arrangement; which was also that of the Jewish Church, as may be learned from Josephus.* This
circumstances of time and place, such a project would have been sufficient to force the question into the counsels of princes, and to make it fruitful of controversy among theologians. In the circumstances which existed, it was convenient to bring it under the head of heresy: there being some difficulty, as to either proving or the manner of trying for another crime, of which the party stood accused-that of treason. This man had written a book, in favour of the opi nion supported by him. It is difficult to imagine what were his arguments, unless they were precisely such as were ad yanced on the other subject-honour supposed to be done to the blessed Virgin, and through her, to her adorable Son: for as to any authority of scripture or of the fathers, the subjects are alike barren.
Antiq. lib. iii. cap, 5.
is of far higher authority, than what is sometimes quoted from Clement of Alexandria, in favour of the arrangement of the Church of Rome; even if the opinion of this father were expressly in her favour; which, however, does not appear to be the fact. The truth is, Clement, in his Pædagogue, divided the commandments very carelessly, besides infusing some whimsical matters into his remarks on them. Under his second, he includes what is proper to the second, and also what is proper to the third. He numbers' the fourth as the third, giving none which he calls the fourth. The two forms agree as to the fifth. He has nothing answering to that, which is here esteemed the sixth, but says "Next follows that concerning adultery:" that concerning murder being passed over. Then follows that concerning theft. He has nothing concerning false witness. Finally, what completely shows how irrelevant his authority is to the other side, he concludes thus-" The tenth is concerning all covetous desires."
of the LORD's Prayer, as a form.* IT has been shown, in the lecture, that in both of the places of scripture in which the Lord's Prayer has been introduced-which are Matt. vi. 9. and the following verse, and Luke, xxi. 2. and following the strict and literal injunction concerning it, extends to the establishing of it as a form. The object at present, is merely to sustain the sentiment;.
* See Lecture IV.
by showing, that it was so considered in the early Church. And this is done with a view to the obvi ous result of the consideration, and of the evidence to be given of it.
Tertullian, who wrote in the latter end of the second, and the beginning of the third centuries, in his book "De Oratione;" which treats of this prayer, refers to John's having taught his disciples a form of prayer, which had given way to what had been taught by Christ himself. It must therefore have been considered by this author, as a form also. And indeed, he had so called it just before: For he says" Our Lord taught to his disciples the form of prayer of the New Testament." The same author supposed, that it ascended to heaven with a peculiar privilege. He remarks however, that Christ, after he had made this appointment, foreseeing the necessities of men, added-" Ask and ye shall receive." So that says Tertullian— "Other things may be petitioned for, according to the circumstances of every one; this appointed and ordinary prayer being premised as a foundation."
In like manner St. Cyprian, in his short treatise concerning this very prayer, calls it "a form by which Christ has admonished and instructed us, what we should pray for." And again, noticing the command, he introduces the Saviour speaking in person and saying-" Our Father, who art in heaven, &c."
St. Austin, in one of his Homiliest tells his flock -"He" (Christ) "said to his disciples, said to his apostles, and to us the lambs, and to the rams of the flock he said-" Pray thus." It may be noted, that the place in St. Matthew is here translated more strictly than in the common translation, and agreeably to what was pleaded for in the lecture. The father had just before testified, that the prayer was used by the Church, and that she used it by
• Chap. i.
zix. De Verbis Apost.
divine command. In describing the celebration of the Eucharist, in two different places,* he speaks of the Lord's Prayer, as making a part of the service.
The apostolick constitutions confessedly descriptive of the practice of the Church in very early times-speak of this prayer as making of part of the service for baptism. And the same is referred to by St. Chrysostome. Both of these authorities also intimate, that it was used in the celebration of the Eucharist.
It would be easy to multiply authorities to the same effect: but on the presumption that more is unnecessary, there shall be now a transition to the results.
There are two opinions, inconsistent with the present statement. One of them censures every species of form; objecting to the use of any petitions, not suggested during the engagement in the exercise. The other permits, but does not enjoin the use of the Lord's Prayer. Both of these opinions presume, that it was delivered as a general directory on the subject of prayer, rather than as a form of it.
The testimonies here cited from early writers, are not produced as obligatory in themselves; but they are thought to evince what was the opinion and the practice of the Church, at a time in which her institutions as, to this point, ought to be held strongly confirmatory of the interpretation which has been given ofthe only two places in the gospels, wherein the prayer is found.
If it was really delivered as a precise form; it will be difficult to show, that other prescribed forms, not in themselves exceptionable, but on the con. trary expressive of evangelical truth, and breathing the spirit of the first and fundamental form, are
↑ Lib. vii. cap. 44.
* Hom. 83. and Ep. ad Paulum, Hom. vi, in Coloss,