{269} IT is often urged, and sometimes felt and granted, that there are in the Articles, propositions or terms inconsistent with the Catholic faith; or, at least, when persons do not go so far as to feel the objection as of force, they are perplexed how best to reply to it, or how most simply to explain the passages on which it is made to rest. The following Tract is drawn up with the view of showing how groundless the objection is, and further of approximating towards the argumentative answer to it, of which most men have an implicit apprehension, though they may have nothing more. That there are real difficulties to a Catholic Christian in the Ecclesiastical position of our Church at this day, no one can deny; but the statements of the Articles are not in the number; and it may be right at the present moment to insist upon this. If in any quarter it is supposed that persons who profess to be disciples of the early Church will silently concur with those of very opposite sentiments in furthering a relaxation of subscriptions, which, it is imagined, are galling to both parties, though for different reasons, and that they will do this against the wish of the great body of the Church, the writer of the following pages would raise one voice, at least, in protest against any such anticipation. Even in such points as he may think the English Church deficient, never can he be party without a great alteration of sentiment to forcing the opinion or project of one school upon another. Religious changes, to be beneficial, should be the act of the {270} whole body; they are worth little if they are the mere act of a majority [Note 1]. No good can come of any change which is not heartfelt, a development of feelings springing up freely and calmly within the bosom of the whole body itself. Moreover, a change in theological teaching involves either the commission or the confession of sin; it is either the profession or the renunciation of erroneous doctrine, and if it does not succeed in proving the fact of past guilt, it, ipso facto, implies present. In other words, every change in religion carries with it its own condemnation, which is not attended by deep repentance. Even supposing then that any changes in contemplation, whatever they were, were good in themselves, they would cease to be good to a Church, in which they were the fruits not of the quiet conviction of all, but of the agitation, or tyranny, or intrigue of a few; nurtured not in mutual love, but in strife and envying; perfected not in humiliation and grief, but in pride, elation, and triumph. Moreover it is a very serious truth, that persons and bodies, who put themselves into a disadvantageous state, cannot at their pleasure extricate themselves from it. They are unworthy of release; they are in prison, and CHRIST is its keeper. There is but one way for them towards a real reformation—a return to Him in heart and spirit, whose sacred truth they have betrayed; all other methods, however fair they may promise, will prove to be but shadows and failures.

On these grounds, were there no others, the present writer, for one, will be no party to the ordinary political methods by which professed reforms are carried or compassed in this day. We can do nothing well till we act "with one accord;" we can have no accord in action till {271} we agree together in heart; we cannot agree without a supernatural influence; we cannot have a supernatural influence unless we pray for it; we cannot pray acceptably without repentance and confession. Our Church's strength would be irresistible, humanly speaking, were it but at unity with itself: if it remains divided, part against part, we shall see the energy which was meant to subdue the world preying upon itself, according to our SAVIOUR'S express assurance that such a house "cannot stand." Till we feel this, till we seek one another as brethren, not lightly throwing aside our private opinions, which we seem to feel we have received from above, from an ill-regulated, untrue desire of unity, but returning to each other in heart, and coming together to GOD to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, no change can be for the better. Till we, her children, are stirred up to this religious course, let the Church, our Mother, sit still; let her children be content to be in bondage; let us work in chains; let us submit to our imperfections as a punishment; let us go on teaching with the stammering lips of ambiguous formularies, and inconsistent precedents, and principles but partially developed. We are not better than our fathers; let us bear to be what Hammond was, or Andrewes, or Hooker; let us not faint under that body of death, which they bore about in patience; nor shrink from the penalty of sins, which they inherited from the age before them [Note 2].

But these remarks are beyond our present scope, which is merely to show that, while our Prayer Book is acknowledged on all hands to be of Catholic origin, our Articles also, the offspring of an uncatholic age, are, through GOD'S {272} good providence, to say the least, not uncatholic, and may be subscribed by those who aim at being catholic in heart and doctrine. In entering upon the proposed examination, it is only necessary to add, that in several places the writer has found it convenient to express himself in language recently used [Note 3], which he is willing altogether to make his own. He has distinguished the passages thus introduced by quotation marks. {273}

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§ 1.—Holy Scripture and the Authority of the Church

Articles vi. & xx.—"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation … The Church hath [power to decree (statuendi) rites and ceremonies, and] authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to [ordain (instituere) anything that is contrary to God's word written, neither may it] so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet [as it ought not to decree (decernere) anything against the same, so] besides the same, ought it not to enforce (obtrudere) anything to be believed for necessity of salvation." [Note 4]

Two instruments of Christian teaching are spoken of in these Articles, Holy Scripture and the Church.

Here then we have to inquire, first, what is meant by Holy Scripture; next, what is meant by the Church; and then, what their respective offices are in teaching revealed truth, and how these are adjusted with one another in their actual exercise.

1. Now what the Church is, will be considered below in Section 4.

2. And the Books of Holy Scripture are enumerated in the latter part of the 6th Article, so as to preclude question. Still, two points deserve notice here.

First, the Scriptures or Canonical Books are said to be those "of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." Here it is not meant that there never was any {274} doubt in portions of the Church or particular Churches concerning certain books, which the Article includes in the Canon; for some of them,—as, for instance, the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse—have been the subject of much doubt in the West or East, as the case may be. But the Article asserts that there has been no doubt about them in the Church Catholic; that is, at the very first time that the Catholic or whole Church had the opportunity of forming a judgment on the subject, it pronounced in favour of the Canonical Books. The Epistle to the Hebrews was doubted by the West, and the Apocalypse by the East, only while those portions of the Church investigated the matter separately from each other, only till they compared notes, interchanged sentiments, and formed a united judgment. The phrase must mean this, because, from the nature of the case, it can mean nothing else.

And next, be it observed, that the books which are commonly called Apocrypha, are not asserted in this Article to be destitute of inspiration or to be simply human, but to be not canonical; in other words, to differ from Canonical Scripture, specially in this respect, viz. that they are not adducible in proof of doctrine. "The other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine." That this is the limit to which our disparagement of them extends, is plain, not only because the Article mentions nothing beyond it, but also from the reverential manner in which the Homilies speak of them, as shall be incidentally shown in Section 11. The compatibility of such reverence with such disparagement is also shown from the feeling towards them of St. Jerome, who is quoted in the Article, who implies more or less their inferiority to Canonical Scripture, yet uses them freely and continually, as if Scripture. He distinctly names many of the books which he considers {275} not canonical, and virtually names them all by naming what are canonical. For instance, he says, speaking of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, "As the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, without receiving them among the Canonical Scriptures, so she reads these two books for the edification of the people, not for the confirmation of the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines." (Prœf. in Libr. Salom.) Again, "The Wisdom, as it is commonly styled, of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd, are not in the Canon." (Prœf. ad Reges.) Such is the language of a writer who nevertheless is, to say the least, not wanting in reverence towards the books he thus disparages.

A further question may be asked, concerning our received version of the Scriptures, whether it is in any sense imposed on us as a true comment on the original text; as the Vulgate is upon the Roman Catholics. It would appear not. It was made and authorized by royal command, which cannot be supposed to have any claim upon our interior assent. At the same time every one who reads it in the Services of the Church, does, of course, thereby imply that he considers that it contains no deadly heresy or dangerous mistake. And about its simplicity, majesty, gravity, harmony, and venerableness, there can be but one opinion.

3. Next we come to the main point, the adjustment which this Article effects between the respective offices of Scripture and the Church; which seems to be as follows.

It is laid down that, 1. Scripture contains all necessary articles of the faith; 2. either in its text, or by inference; 3. The Church is the keeper of Scripture; 4. and a witness of it; 5. and has authority in controversies of faith; 6. but may not expound one passage of Scripture to contradict another; 7. nor enforce as an article of faith any point not contained in Scripture. {276}

From this it appears, first, that the Church expounds and enforces the faith; for it is forbidden to expound in a particular way, or so to enforce as to obtrude; next, that it derives the faith wholly from Scripture; thirdly, that its office is to educe an harmonious interpretation of Scripture. Thus much the Article settles.

Two important questions, however, it does not settle, viz. whether the Church judges, first, at her sole discretion, next, on her sole responsibility; i.e. first, what the media are by which the Church interprets Scripture, whether by a direct divine gift, or by catholic tradition, or by critical exegesis of the text, or in any other way; and next, who is to decide whether it interprets Scripture rightly or not;—first, what is her method, if any; and next, who is her judge, if any. In other words, not a word is said, on the one hand, in favour of there being no external rule or method to fix the interpretation of Scripture by, or, as it is commonly expressed, of Scripture being the sole rule of faith; nor on the other, of the private judgment of the individual being the ultimate standard of interpretation. So much has been said lately on both these points, and indeed on the whole subject of these two Articles, that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them; but since it is often supposed to be almost a first principle of our Church, that Scripture is "the rule of faith," it may be well, before passing on, to make an extract [Note 5] from a paper, published some years since, which shows, by instances from our divines, that the application of the phrase to Scripture is but of recent adoption. The other question, about the ultimate judge of the interpretation of Scripture, shall not be entered upon.

"We may dispense with the phrase 'Rule of Faith,' as applied to Scripture, on the ground of its being ambiguous; and, again, because it is then used in a novel sense; {277} for the ancient Church made the Apostolic Tradition, as summed up in the Creed, and not the Bible, the Regula Fidei, or Rule. Moreover its use as a technical phrase seems to be of late introduction in the Church, that is, since the days of King William the Third. Our great divines use it without any fixed sense, sometimes for Scripture, sometimes for the whole and perfectly adjusted Christian doctrine, sometimes for the Creed; and, at the risk of being tedious, we will prove this, by quotations, that the point may be put beyond dispute.

"Ussher, after St. Austin, identifies it with the Creed;—when speaking of the Article of our LORD'S Descent to Hell, he says,—

"'It having here likewise been further manifested, what different opinions have been entertained by the ancient Doctors of the Church, concerning the determinate place wherein our Saviour's soul did remain during the time of the separation of it from the body, I leave it to be considered by the learned, whether any such controverted matter may be fitly brought in to expound the Rule of Faith, which, being common both to the great and small ones of the Church, must contain such varieties only as are generally agreed upon by the common consent of all true Christians.'—Answer to a Jesuit, p. 362.

"Taylor speaks to the same purpose: 'Let us see with what constancy that and the following ages of the Church did adhere to the Apostles' Creed, as the sufficient and perfect Rule of Faith.'—Dissuasive, part 2, i. 4, p. 470. Elsewhere he calls Scripture the Rule: 'That the Scripture is a full and sufficient Rule to Christians in faith and manners, a full and perfect declaration of the Will of GOD, is therefore certain, because we have no other.'—Ibid. part 2, i. 2, p. 384. Elsewhere, Scripture and the Creed: 'He hath, by His wise Providence, preserved the plain places of Scripture and the Apostles' Creed, in all Churches, to be the Rule and Measure of Faith, by which all Churches are saved,'—Ibid. part 2, i. 1, p. 346. Elsewhere {278} he identifies it with Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils: 'We also [after Scripture] do believe the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene, with the additions of Constantinople, and that which is commonly called the symbol of St. Athanasius; and the four first General Councils are so entirely admitted by us, that they, together with the plain words of Scripture, are made the Rule and Measure of judging heresies among us.'—Ibid. part 1, i. p. 131.

"Laud calls the Creed, or rather the Creed with Scripture, the Rule: 'Since the Fathers make the Creed the Rule of Faith; since the agreeing sense of Scripture with those Articles are the Two Regular Precepts, by which a divine is governed about his faith,' &c.—Conference with Fisher, p. 42.

"Bramhall also: 'The Scriptures and the Creed are not two different Rules of Faith, but one and the same Rule, dilated in Scripture, contracted in the Creed.'—Works, p. 402. Stillingfleet says the same (Grounds, i. 4. 3.); as does Thorndike (De Rat. fin. Controv. p. 144, &c.). Elsewhere, Stillingfleet calls Scripture the Rule (Ibid. i. 6. 2.); as does Jackson (vol. i. p. 226). But the most complete and decisive statement on the subject is contained in Field's work on the Church, from which shall follow a long extract.

"'It remaineth to show,' he says, 'what is the Rule of that judgment whereby the Church discerneth between truth and falsehood, the faith and heresy, and to whom it properly pertaineth to interpret those things which, touching this Rule, are doubtful. The Rule of our Faith in general, whereby we know it to be true, is the infinite excellency of God ... It being pre-supposed in the generality that the doctrine of the Christian Faith is of GOD, and containeth nothing but heavenly truth, in the next place, we are to inquire by what Rule we are to judge of particular things contained within the compass of it.

"'This Rule is, 1. The summary comprehension of such principal articles of this divine knowledge, as are the principles whence all {279} other things are concluded and inferred. These are contained in the Creed of the Apostles.

"'2. All such things as every Christian is bound expressly to believe, by the light and direction whereof he judgeth of other things, which are not absolutely necessary so particularly to be known. These are rightly said to be the Rule of our Faith, because the principles of every science are the Rule whereby we judge of the truth of all things, as being better and more generally known than any other thing, and the cause of knowing them.

"'3. The analogy, due proportion, and correspondence, that one thing in this divine knowledge hath with another, so that men cannot err in one of them without erring in another; nor rightly understand one, but they must likewise rightly conceive the rest.

"'4. Whatsoever Books were delivered unto us, as written by them, to whom the first and immediate revelation of the divine truth was made.

"'5. Whatsoever hath been delivered by all the saints with one consent, which have left their judgment and opinion in writing.

"'6. Whatsoever the most famous have constantly and uniformly delivered, as a matter of faith, no one contradicting, though many other ecclesiastical writers be silent, and say nothing of it.

"'7. That which the most, and most famous in every age, constantly delivered as a matter of faith, and as received of them that went before them, in such sort that the contradictors and gainsayers were in their beginnings noted for singularity, novelty and division, and afterwards, in process of time, if they persisted in such contradiction, charged with heresy.

"'These three latter Rules of our Faith we admit, not because they are equal with the former, and originally in themselves contain the direction of our Faith, but because nothing can be delivered, with such and so full consent of the people of GOD, as in them is expressed, but it must need be from those first authors and founders of our Christian profession. The Romanists add unto these the decrees of Councils and determinations of Popes, making these also to be the Rules of Faith; but because we have no proof of their infallibility, we number them not with the rest.

"'Thus we see how many things, in several degrees and sort, are said to be Rules of our Faith. The infinite excellency of GOD, as that whereby the truth of the heavenly doctrine is proved. The Articles of Faith and other verities ever expressly known in the Church as the first principles, are the Canon by which we judge of conclusion, {280} from thence inferred. The Scripture, as containing in it all that doctrine of Faith which CHRIST the SON of GOD delivered. The uniform practice and consenting judgment of them that went before us, as a certain and undoubted explication of the things contained in the Scripture ... So, then, we do not make Scripture the Rule of our Faith, but that other things in their kind are Rules likewise; in such sort that it is not safe, without respect had unto them, to judge things by the Scripture alone,' &c.—iv. 14. pp. 364, 365.

"These extracts show not only what the Anglican doctrine is, but, in particular, that the phrase 'Rule of Faith' is no symbolical expression with us, appropriated to some one sense; certainly not as a definition or attribute of Holy Scripture. And it is important to insist upon this, from the very great misconceptions to which the phrase gives rise. Perhaps its use had better be avoided altogether. In the sense in which it is commonly understood at this day, Scripture, it is plain, is not, on Anglican principles, the Rule of Faith." {281}

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§ 2.—Justification by Faith only

Article xi.—"That we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine."

The Homilies add that Faith is the sole means, the sole instrument of justification. Now, to show briefly what such statements imply, and what they do not.

1. They do not imply a denial of Baptism as a means and an instrument of justification; which the Homilies elsewhere affirm, as will be shown incidentally in a later Section.

"The instrumental power of Faith cannot interfere with the instrumental power of Baptism; because Faith is the sole justifier, not in contrast to all means and agencies whatever, (for it is not surely in contrast to our LORD'S merits, or GOD'S mercy,) but to all other graces. When, then, Faith is called the sole instrument, this means the sole internal instrument, not the sole instrument of any kind.

"There is nothing inconsistent, then, in Faith being the sole instrument of justification, and yet Baptism also the sole instrument, and that at the same time, because in distinct senses; an inward instrument in no way interfering with an outward instrument, Baptism may be the hand of the giver, and Faith the hand of the receiver."

Nor does the sole instrumentality of Faith interfere with the doctrine of Works being a mean also. And that it is a mean, the Homily of Alms-deeds declares in the strongest language, as will also be quoted in Section 11.

"An assent to the doctrine that Faith alone justifies, does not at all preclude the doctrine of Works justifying also. If, indeed, it were said that Works justify in the same sense as Faith only justifies, this would be a contradiction {282} in terms; but Faith only may justify in one sense—Good Works in another:—and this is all that is here maintained. After all, does not CHRIST only justify? How is it that the doctrine of Faith justifying does not interfere with our LORD'S being the sole justifier? It will, of course, be replied, that our LORD is the meritorious cause, and Faith the means; that Faith justifies in a different and subordinate sense. As then, CHRIST only justifies in the sense in which He justifies, yet Faith also justifies in its own sense; so Works, whether moral or ritual, may justify us in their own respective senses, though in the sense in which Faith justifies, it alone justifies. The only question is, What is that sense in which Works justify, so as not to interfere with Faith only justifying? It may, indeed, turn out on inquiry, that the sense alleged will not hold, either as being unscriptural, or for any other reason; but, whether so or not, at any rate the apparent inconsistency of language should not startle men; nor should they so promptly condemn those who, though they do not use their language, at least use St. James's. Indeed, is not this argument the very weapon of the Arians, in their warfare against the SON of GOD? They said, CHRIST is not GOD, because the FATHER is called the 'Only GOD.'" [Note 6]

2. Next we have to inquire in what sense Faith only does justify. In a number of ways, of which here two only shall be mentioned.

First, it is the pleading or impetrating principle, or constitutes our title to justification; being analogous among the graces to Moses' lifting up his hands on the Mount, or the Israelites eyeing the Brazen Serpent,—actions which did not merit GOD'S mercy, but asked for it. A number of means go to effect our justification. We are justified by {283} CHRIST alone, in that He has purchased the gift; by Faith alone, in that Faith asks for it; by Baptism alone, for Baptism conveys it; and by newness of heart alone, for newness of heart is the sine qua non life of it.

And secondly, Faith, as being the beginning of perfect or justifying righteousness, is taken for what it tends towards, or ultimately will be. It is said by anticipation to be that which it promises; just as one might pay a labourer his hire before he began his work. Faith working by love is the seed of divine graces, which in due time will be brought forth and flourish—partly in this world, fully in the next. {284}

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§ 3.—Works before and after Justification

Articles xii. & xiii.—"Works done before the grace of CHRIST, and the inspiration of His SPIRIT, ['before justification,' title of the Article,] are not pleasant to GOD (minimè Deo grata sunt); forasmuch as they spring not of Faith in JESUS CHRIST, neither do they make man meet to receive grace, or (as the school authors say) deserve grace of congruity (merentur gratiam de congruo); yea, rather for that they are not done as GOD hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin. Albeit good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification (justificatos sequuntur), cannot put away (expiare) our sins, and endure the severity of GOD'S judgment, yet are they pleasing and acceptable (grata et accepta) to GOD in CHRIST, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith."

Two sorts of works are here mentioned—works before justification, and works after; and they are most strongly contrasted with each other.

1. Works before justification, are done "before the grace of CHRIST, and the inspiration of His SPIRIT."

2. Works before, "do not spring of Faith in JESUS CHRIST;" works after are "the fruits of Faith."

3. Works before "have the nature of sin;" works after are "good works."

4. Works before "are not pleasant (grata) to GOD;" works after "are pleasing and acceptable (grata et accepta) to GOD."

Two propositions, mentioned in these Articles, remain, and deserve consideration: First, that works before justification do not make or dispose men to receive grace, or, as the school writers say, deserve grace of congruity; secondly, {285} that works after "cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of GOD'S judgment."

1. As to the former statement, to deserve de congruo, or of congruity, is to move the Divine regard, not from any claim upon it, but from a certain fitness or suitableness: as, for instance, it might be said that dry wood had a certain disposition or fitness towards heat which green wood had not. Now, the Article denies that works done before the grace of CHRIST, or in a mere state of nature, in this way dispose towards grace, or move GOD to grant grace. And it asserts, with or without reason, (for it is a question of historical fact, which need not specially concern us,) that certain schoolmen maintained the affirmative.

Now, that this is what it means, is plain from the following passages of the Homilies, which in no respect have greater claims upon us than as comments upon the Articles:—

"Therefore they that teach repentance without a lively faith in our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, do teach none other but Judas's repentance, as all the schoolmen do which do only allow these three parts of repentance,—the contrition of the heart, the confession of the mouth, and the satisfaction of the work. But all these things we find in Judas's repentance, which, in outward appearance, did far exceed and pass the repentance of Peter ... This was commonly the penance which CHRIST enjoined sinners, 'Go thy way, and sin no more;' which penance we shall never be able to fulfil, without the special grace of Him that doth say, 'Without Me, ye can do nothing.'"—On Repentance, p. 460.

To take a passage which is still more clear :—

"As these examples are not brought in to the end that we should thereby take a boldness to sin, presuming on the mercy and goodness of GOD, but to the end that, if, through the frailness of our own flesh, and the temptation of the devil, we fall into the like sins, we should in no wise despair of the mercy and goodness of GOD: even so must we beware and take heed, that we do in no wise think in our hearts, imagine, or believe that we are able to repent aright, or to turn effectually unto the LORD by our own might and strength."—Ibid., part i. fin. {286}

The Article contemplates these two states,—one of justifying grace, and one of the utter destitution of grace; and it says, that those who are in utter destitution cannot do anything to gain justification; and, indeed, to assert the contrary would be Pelagianism. However, there is an intermediate state, of which the Article says nothing, but which must not be forgotten, as being an actually existing one. Men are not always either in light or in darkness, but are sometimes between the two; they are sometimes not in a state of Christian justification, yet not utterly deserted by GOD, but in a state something like that of Jews or of Heathen, turning to the thought of religion. They are not gifted with habitual grace, but they still are visited by Divine influences, or by actual grace, or rather aid; and these influences are the first-fruits of the grace of justification going before it, and are intended to lead on to it, and to be perfected in it, as twilight leads to day. And since it is a Scripture maxim, that "he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much;" and "to whomsoever hath, to him shall be given;" therefore it is quite true that works done with divine aid, and in faith before justification, do dispose men to receive the grace of justification;—such were Cornelius's alms, fastings, and prayers, which led to his baptism. At the same time it must be borne in mind that, even in such cases, it is not the works themselves which make them meet, as some schoolmen seem to have said, but the secret aid of GOD, vouchsafed, equally with the "grace and Spirit," which is the portion of the baptized, for the merits of CHRIST'S sacrifice.

But it may be objected, that the silence observed in the Article as to there being an incomplete state between that of both justification and divine grace together, and that of neither, (viz. a state in which a soul has the influences of grace, but is not yet justified,) is a proof that there is no {287} such half state. This argument, however, would prove too much; for in like manner there is a silence in the Sixth Article about a judge of the scripturalness of doctrine, yet a judge there must be. And again, few, it is supposed, would deny that Cornelius, before the Angel came to him, was in a more hopeful state, than Simon Magus or Felix. The difficulty then, if there be one, is common to persons of whatever school of opinion.

2. If works even before justification, when done by the influence of divine aid, gain grace, as we see in the instance of Cornelius, much more do works after justification. They are, according to the Article, "grata," "pleasing to GOD;" and they are accepted, "accepta;" which means that GOD rewards them, and that of course according to their degree of excellence. At the same time, as works before justification may nevertheless be done under a divine influence, so works after justification are still liable to the infection of original sin; and, as not being perfect, "cannot expiate our sins," or "endure the severity of GOD'S judgment." {288}

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§ 4.—The Visible Church

Art. xix.—"The visible Church of CHRIST is a congregation of faithful men (cœtus fidelium), in the which the pure Word of GOD is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered, according to CHRIST'S ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."

This is not an abstract definition of a Church, but a description of the actually existing One Holy Catholic Church diffused throughout the world; as if it were read, "The Church is a certain existing society of the faithful," &c. This is evident from the mode of describing the Catholic Church familiar to all writers from the first ages down to the age of this Article. For instance, St. Clement of Alexandria says, "I mean by the Church, not a place, but the congregation of the elect." Origen: "The Church, the assembly of all the faithful." St. Ambrose: "One congregation, one Church." St. Isidore: "The Church is a congregation of saints, collected on a certain faith, and the best conduct of life." St. Augustin: "The Church is the people of God through all ages." Again: "The Church is the multitude which is spread over the whole earth." St Cyril: "When we speak of the Church, we denote the most holy multitude of the pious." Theodoret: "The Apostle calls the Church the assembly of the faithful." Pope Gregory: "The Church, a multitude of the faithful collected of both sexes." Bede: "The Church is the congregation of all saints." Alcuin: "The Holy Catholic Church,—in Latin, the congregation of the faithful." Amalarius: "The Church is the people called together by the Church's ministers." Pope Nicholas I.: "The Church, that is, the congregation of Catholics." St. Bernard: "What is the Spouse, but the congregation of the just?" Peter the Venerable: "The Church {289} is called a congregation, but not of all things, not of cattle, but of men, faithful, good, just. Though bad among these good, and just among the unjust, are revealed or concealed, yet it is called a Church." Hugo Victorinus: "The Holy Church, that is, the university of the faithful." Arnulphus: "The Church is called the congregation of the faithful." Albertus Magnus: "The Greek word Church means in Latin convocation; and whereas works and callings belong to rational animals, and reason in man is inward faith, therefore it is called the congregation of the faithful." Durandus: "The Church is in one sense material, in which divers offices are celebrated; in another spiritual, which is the collection of the faithful." Alvarus: "The Church is the multitude of the faithful, or the university of Christians." Pope Pius II.: "The Church is the multitude of the faithful dispersed through all nations." Estius, Chancellor of Douay: "There is a controversy between Catholics and heretics as to what the word 'Church' means. John Huss and the heretics of our day who follow him, define the Church to be the university of the predestinate; Catholics define it to be the Society of those who are joined to each other by a right faith and the Sacraments." [Note 7]

These illustrations of the phraseology of the Article may be multiplied in any number. And they plainly show that it is not laying down any logical definition what a Church is, but is describing, and, as it were, pointing to the Catholic Church diffused throughout the world; which, being but one, cannot possibly be mistaken, and requires no other account of it beyond this single and majestic one. The ministration of the Word and Sacraments is mentioned as a further note of it. As to the question of its limits, whether Episcopal Succession or whether intercommunion with the whole be necessary to each part of it,—these are {290} questions, most important indeed, but of detail, and are not expressly treated of in the Articles.

This view is further illustrated by the following passage from the Homily for Whitsunday:—

"Our Saviour CHRIST departing out of the world unto His FATHER, promised His Disciples to send down another COMFORTER, that should continue with them for ever, and direct them into all truth. Which thing, to be faithfully and truly performed, the Scriptures do sufficiently bear witness. Neither must we think that this COMFORTER was either promised, or else given, only to the Apostles, but also to the universal Church of CHRIST, dispersed through the whole world ... The true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship of GOD'S faithful and elect people, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, JESUS CHRIST Himself being the head corner-stone. And it hath always three notes or marks, whereby it is known: pure and sound doctrine, the Sacraments ministered according to CHRIST'S holy institution, and the right use of ecclesiastical discipline," &c.

This passage is quoted in that respect in which it claims attention, viz. as far as it is an illustration of the Article. It is speaking of the one Catholic Church, not of an abstract Church which may have concrete fulfilments many or few; and it uses the same terms of it which the Article does of "the visible Church." It says that "the true Church is an universal congregation or fellowship of GOD'S faithful and elect people," &c., which as closely corresponds to the cœtus fidelium, or "congregation of faithful men" of the Article, as the above descriptions from Fathers or Divines do. Therefore, the cœtus fidelium spoken of in the Article is not a definition, which kirk, or connexion, or other communion may, successfully or not, be made to fall under, but the enunciation and pointing out of a fact. {291}

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§ 5.—General Councils

Article xxi.—"General councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of princes. And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the SPIRIT and Word of GOD, they may err, and sometimes have erred, in things pertaining to GOD. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they are taken out of Holy Scripture."

That great bodies of men, of different countries, may not meet together without the sanction of their rulers, is plain from the principles of civil obedience and from primitive practice. That, when met together, though Christians, they will not be all ruled by the SPIRIT or Word of GOD, is plain from our LORD'S parable of the net, and from melancholy experience. That bodies of men, deficient in this respect, may err, is a sell-evident truth,—unless, indeed, they be favoured with some divine superintendence, which has to be proved, before it can be admitted.

General Councils then may err, as such;—may err, unless in any case it is promised, as a matter of express supernatural privilege, that they shall not err; a case which lies beyond the scope of this Article, or at any rate beside its determination.

Such a promise, however, does exist, in cases when general councils are not only gathered together according to "the commandment and will of princes," but in the Name of CHRIST, according to our LORD'S promise. The Article merely contemplates the human prince, not the King of Saints. While Councils are a thing of earth, {292} their infallibility of course is not guaranteed; when they are a thing of heaven, their deliberations are overruled, and their decrees authoritative. In such cases they are Catholic councils; and it would seem, from passages which will be quoted in Section 11, that the Homilies recognize four, or even six, as bearing this character. Thus Catholic or Ecumenical Councils are General Councils, and something more. Some general councils are Catholic, and others are not [Note 8]. Nay, as even Romanists grant, the same councils may be partly Catholic, partly not.

If Catholicity be thus a quality, found at times in general councils, rather than the differentia belonging to a certain class of them, it is still less surprising that the Article should be silent on the subject.

What those conditions are, which fulfil the notion of a gathering "in the Name of CHRIST," in the case of a particular council, it is not necessary here to determine. Some have included among these conditions, the subsequent reception of its decrees by the universal Church; others a ratification by the Pope.

Another of these conditions, however, the Article goes on to mention, viz. that in points necessary to salvation, a Council should prove its decrees by Scripture.

St. Gregory Nazianzen well illustrates the consistency of this Article with a belief in the infallibility of Ecumenical Councils, by his own language on the subject on different occasions. {293}

In the following passage he anticipates the Article:—

"My mind is, if I must write the truth, to keep clear of every conference of bishops, for of conference never saw I good come, or a remedy so much as an increase of evils. For there is strife and ambition, and these have the upper hand of reason."—Ep. 55.

Yet on the other hand, he speaks elsewhere of "the Holy Council in Nicæa, and that band of chosen men whom the HOLY GHOST brought together."—Orat. 21. {294}

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§ 6.—Purgatory, Pardons, Images, Relics, Invocation of Saints

[Note 9] Article xxii.—"The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons (de indulgentiis), worshipping (de veneratione) and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing (res est futilis) vainly (inaniter) invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant (contradicit) to the Word of GOD."

Now the first remark that occurs on perusing this Article is, that the doctrine objected to is "the Romish doctrine." For instance, no one would suppose that the Calvinistic doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, and image-worship, is spoken against. Not every doctrine on these matters is a fond thing, but the Romish doctrine. Accordingly, the Primitive doctrine is not condemned in it, unless, indeed, the Primitive doctrine be the Romish, which must not be supposed. Now there was a primitive doctrine on all these points,—how far Catholic or universal, is a further question,—but still so widely received and so respectably supported, that it may well be entertained as a matter of opinion by a theologian now; this, then, whatever be its merits, is not condemned by this Article.

This is clear without proof on the face of the matter, at least as regards Pardons. Of course, the Article never meant to make light of every doctrine about pardons, but a certain doctrine, the Romish doctrine, as indeed the plural form itself shows.

And such an understanding of the Article is supported by some sentences in the Homily on Peril of Idolatry, in which, as far as regards Relics, a certain "veneration" is {295} sanctioned by its tone in speaking of them, though not of course the Romish veneration.

The sentences referred to run as follows:—

"In the Tripartite Ecclesiastical History, the Ninth Book, and Forty-eighth Chapter, is testified, that 'Epiphanius, being yet alive, did work miracles: and that after his death, devils, being expelled at his grave or tomb, did roar.' Thus you see what authority St. Jerome (who has just been mentioned) and that most ancient history give unto the holy and learned Bishop Epiphanius."


"St. Ambrose, in his Treatise of the Death of Theodosius the Emperor, saith, 'Helena found the Cross, and the title on it. She worshipped the King, and not the wood, surely (for that is an heathenish error and the vanity of the wicked), but she worshipped Him that hanged on the Cross, and whose Name was written on the title,' and so forth. See both the godly empress's fact, and St. Ambrose's judgment at once; they thought it had been an heathenish error, and vanity of the wicked, to have worshipped the Cross itself which was embrued with our SAVIOUR CHRIST'S own precious blood."—Peril of Idolatry, part 2, circ. init.

In these passages the writer does not positively commit himself to the miracles at Epiphanius's tomb, or the discovery of the true Cross, but he evidently wishes the hearer to think he believes in both. This he would not do, if he thought all honour paid to relics wrong.

If, then, in the judgment of the Homilies, not all doctrine concerning veneration of Relics is condemned in the Article before us, but a certain toleration of them is compatible with its wording; neither is all doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, images, and saints, condemned by the Article, but only "the Romish."

And further by "the Romish doctrine," is not meant the Tridentine doctrine, because this Article was drawn up before the decree of the Council of Trent. What is opposed is the received doctrine of that day, and unhappily of this day too, or the doctrine of the Roman Catholic {296} schools; a conclusion which is still more clear, by considering that there are portions in the Tridentine doctrine on these subjects, which the Article, far from condemning, does by anticipation approve, as far as they go. For instance, the Decree of Trent enjoins concerning Purgatory thus:—"Among the uneducated vulgar let difficult and subtle questions, which make not for edification, and seldom contribute aught towards piety, be kept back from popular discourses. Neither let them suffer the public mention and treatment of uncertain points, or such as look like falsehood." Session 25. Again, about Images: "Due honour and veneration is to be paid unto them, not that we believe that any divinity or virtue is in them, for which they should be worshipped (colendæ), or that we should ask anything of them, or that trust should be reposed in images, as formerly was done by the Gentiles, which used to place their hope on idols."—Ibid.

If, then, the doctrine condemned in this Article concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Images, Relics, and Saints, be not the Primitive doctrine, nor the Catholic doctrine, nor the Tridentine doctrine, but the Romish, doctrina Romanensium, let us next consider what in matter of fact this Romish doctrine is. And

1. As to the doctrine of the Romanists concerning Purgatory

Now here there was a primitive doctrine, whatever its merits, concerning the fire of judgment, which is a possible or a probable opinion, and is not condemned. That doctrine is this: that the conflagration of the world, or the flames which attend the Judge, will be an ordeal through which all men will pass; that great saints, such as St. Mary, will pass it unharmed; that others will suffer loss; but none will fail under it who are built upon the right foundation. Here is one purgatorian doctrine not "Romish." {297}

Another doctrine, purgatorian, but not Romish, is that said to be maintained by the Greeks at Florence, in which the cleansing, though a punishment, was but a pœna damni, not a pœna sensûs; not a positive sensible infliction, much less the torment of fire, but the absence of GOD'S presence. And another purgatory is that in which the cleansing is but a progressive sanctification, and has no pain at all.

None of these doctrines does the Article condemn; any of them may be held by the Anglo-Catholic as a matter of private belief; not that they are here advocated, one or other, but they are adduced as an illustration of what the Article does not mean, and to vindicate our Christian liberty in a matter where the Church has not confined it.

On the other hand, what the doctrine is which is reprobated, is plain from the following passage of the Homilies.

"Now doth St. Augustine say, that those men which are cast into prison after this life, on that condition, may in no wise be holpen, though we would help them never so much. And why? Because the sentence of GOD is unchangeable, and cannot be revoked again. Therefore let us not deceive ourselves, thinking that either we may help others, or others may help us, by their good and charitable prayers in time to come. For, as the preacher saith, 'When the tree falleth, whether it be toward the south, or toward the north, in what place soever the tree falleth, there it lieth;' meaning thereby, that every mortal man dieth either in the state of salvation or damnation, … where is then the third place, which they call purgatory? Or where shall our prayers help and profit the dead? ... Chrysostom likewise is of this mind, that, unless we wash away our sins in this present world, we shall find no comfort afterward. And St. Cyprian saith, that, after death, repentance and sorrow of pain shall be without fruit, weeping also shall be in vain, and prayer shall be to no purpose. Therefore he counselleth all men to make provision for themselves while they may, because, when they are once departed out of this life, there is no place for repentance, nor yet for satisfaction."—Homily concerning Prayer, pp. 282, 283.

Now it is plain from this passage, that the Purgatory contemplated by the Homily, was one for which no one {298} will for an instant pretend to adduce even those Fathers who most favour Rome, viz. one in which our state would be changed, in which GOD'S sentence could be reversed. "The sentence of GOD," says the writer, "is unchangeable, and cannot be revoked again; there is no place for repentance." On the other hand, the Decrees of the Council of Trent, after Augustine and Cyprian, (so far as those Fathers express or imply any opinion approximating to that of the Council,) teach that Purgatory is a place for believers, not unbelievers, not where men who have lived and died in sin, may gain pardon, but where those who have already been pardoned in this life, may be cleansed and purified for beholding the face of GOD. The Homily, then, and therefore the Article, does not speak of the Tridentine Purgatory.

The mention of Prayers for the dead in the above passage, affords an additional illustration of the limited and conditional sense of the terms of the Article now under consideration. For such prayers are obviously not condemned in it in the abstract, or in every shape, but as offered with a view to rescue the lost from eternal fire.

Hooker, in his Sermon on Pride, gives us a second view of the "Romish doctrine of Purgatory," from the schoolmen. After speaking of the pœna damni, he says,—

"The other punishment, which hath in it not only loss of joy, but also sense of grief, vexation, and woe, is that whereunto they give the name of purgatory pains, in nothing different from those very infernal torments which the souls of castaways, together with damned spirits do endure, save only in this, there is an appointed term to the one, to the other none; but for the time they last they are equal."—Vol. iii. p. 798.

Such doctrine, too, as the following may well be included in that which the Article condemns under the name of "Romish:"—

"In the 'Speculum Exemplorum' it is said, that a certain priest, in {299} an ecstasy, saw the soul of Constantius Turritanus in the eaves of his house, tormented with frosts and cold rains, and afterwards climbing up to heaven upon a shining pillar. And a certain monk saw some souls roasted upon spits like pigs, and some devils basting them with scalding lard; but a while after, they were carried to a cool place, and so proved purgatory. But Bishop Theobald, standing upon a piece of ice to cool his feet, was nearer purgatory than he was aware, and was convinced of it, when he heard a poor soul telling him, that under that ice he was tormented; and that he should be delivered, if for thirty days continual, he would say for him thirty masses. And some such thing was seen by Conrade and Udalric in a pool of water; for the place of purgatory was not yet resolved on, till St. Patrick had the key of it delivered to him, which when one Nicholas borrowed of him, he saw as strange and true things there, as ever Virgil dreamed of in his purgatory, or Cicero in his dream of Scipio, or Plato in his Gorgias, or Phædo, who indeed are the surest authors to prove purgatory."—Jer. Taylor, Works, vol. x. pp. 151, 152.

Another specimen of doctrine, which no one will attempt to prove from Scripture, is the following:—

"Returning to the first Church, there they found St. Michael the Archangel and the Apostles Peter and Paul. St. Michael caused all the white souls to pass through the flames, unharmed, to the mount of joy; and those that had black and white spots, St. Peter led into purgatory to be purified.

"In one part sate St. Paul, and the devil opposite to him with his guards, with a pair of scales between them, weighing all such souls as were all over black; when upon turning a soul, the scale turned towards St. Paul, he sent it to purgatory, there to expiate its sins; when towards the devil, his crew, with great triumph, plunged it into the flaming pit …

"The rustic likewise saw near the entrance of the town-hall, as it were, four streets; the first was full of innumerable furnaces and cauldrons filled with flaming pitch and other liquids, and boiling of souls, whose heads were like those of black fishes in the seething liquor. The second had its cauldrons stored with snow and ice, to torment souls with horrid cold. The third had thereof boiling sulphur and other materials, affording the worst of stinks, for the vexing of souls that had wallowed in the filth of lust. The fourth had cauldrons of a most horrid salt and black water. Now sinners {300} of all sorts were alternately tormented in these cauldrons."—Purgatory proved by Miracle, by S. Johnson, pp. 8-10.

2. Pardons, or Indulgences

Burnet says,—

"The virtue of indulgences is the applying the treasure of the Church upon such terms as Popes shall think fit to prescribe, in order to the redeeming souls from purgatory, and from all other temporal punishments, and that for such a number of years as shall be specified in the bulls; some of which have gone to thousands of years; one I have seen to ten hundred thousand: and as these indulgences are sometimes granted by special tickets, like tallies struck on that treasure; so sometimes they are affixed to particular churches and altars, to particular times, or days, chiefly to the year of jubilee; they are also affixed to such things as may be carried about, to Agnus Dei's, to medals, to rosaries, and scapularies; they are also affixed to some prayers, the devout saying of them being a mean to procure great indulgences. The granting these is left to the Pope's discretion, who ought to distribute them as he thinks may tend most to the honour of GOD and the good of the Church; and he ought not to be too profuse, much less to be too scanty in dispensing them.

"This has been the received doctrine and practice of the Church of Rome since the twelfth century: and the Council of Trent, in a hurry, in its last session, did, in very general words, approve of the practice of the Church in this matter, and decreed that indulgences should be continued; only they restrained some abuses, in particular that of selling them."—Burnet on Article XXII. p. 305; also on Art. XIV. p. 190.

If it be necessary to say more on the subject, let us attend to the following passage from Jeremy Taylor:—

"1. That a most scandalous and unchristian dissolution and death of all ecclesiastical discipline, is consequent to the making all sin so cheap and trivial a thing; that the horrible demerits and exemplary punishment and remotion of scandal and satisfactions to the Church, are indeed reduced to trifling and mock penances. He that shall send a servant with a candle to attend the holy Sacrament, when it shall be carried to sick people, or shall go himself; or, if he can neither go nor send, if he say a 'Pater Noster' and an 'Ave,' he shall have a hundred years of true pardon. This is fair and easy. But then,—

"2. It would be considered what is meant by so many years of {301} pardon, and so many years of true pardon. I know but of one natural interpretation of it; and that it can mean nothing, but that some of the pardons are but fantastical, and not true; and in this I find no fault, save only that it ought to have been said, that all of them are fantastical.

"3. It were fit we learned how to compute four thousand and eight hundred years of quarantines, and a remission of a third part of all their sins; for so much is given to every brother and sister of this fraternity, upon Easter-day, and eight days after. Now if a brother needs not thus many, it would be considered whether it did not encourage a brother or a frail sister to use all their medicine, and sin more freely, lest so great a gift become useless.

"4. And this is so much the more considerable because the gift is vast beyond all imagination. The first four days in Lent they may purchase thirty-three thousand years of pardon, besides a plenary remission of all their sins over and above. The first week of Lent a hundred and three-and-thirty thousand years of pardon, besides five plenary remissions of all their sins, and two third parts besides, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. The second week in Lent a hundred and eight-and-fifty thousand years of pardon, besides the remission of all their sins, and a third part besides; and the delivery of one soul. The third week in Lent, eight thousand years, besides a plenary remission, and the delivery of one soul out of purgatory. The fourth week in Lent, threescore thousand years of pardon, besides a remission of two-thirds of all their sins, and one plenary remission, and one soul delivered. The fifth week, seventy-nine thousand years of pardon, and the deliverance of two souls; only the two thousand seven hundred years that are given for the Sunday, may be had twice that day, if they will visit the altar twice, and as many quarantines. The sixth week, two hundred and five thousand years, besides quarantines, and four plenary pardons. Only on Palm Sunday, whose portion is twenty-five thousand years, it may be had twice that day. And all this is the price of him that shall, upon these days, visit the altar in the church of St. Hilary. And this runs on to the Fridays, and many Festivals, and other solemn days in the other parts of the year."—Jer. Taylor, vol. xi. pp. 53-56.

The pardons then, spoken of in the Article, are large and reckless indulgences from the penalties of sin obtained on money payments.

3. Veneration and worshipping of Images and Relics

{302}That the Homilies do not altogether discard reverence towards relics, has already been shown. Now let us see what they do discard.

"What meaneth it that Christian men, after the use of the Gentiles idolaters, cap and kneel before images? which, if they had any sense and gratitude, would kneel before men, carpenters, masons, plasterers, founders, and goldsmiths, their makers and framers, by whose means they have attained this honour, which else should have been evil-favoured, and rude lumps of clay or plaster, pieces of timber, stone, or metal, without shape or fashion, and so without all estimation and honour, as that idol in the Pagan poet confesseth, saying, 'I was once a vile block, but now I am become a god,' &c. What a fond thing is it for man, who hath life and reason, to bow himself to a dead and insensible image, the work of his own hand! Is not this stooping and kneeling before them, which is forbidden so earnestly by GOD'S word? Let such as so fall down before images of saints, know and confess that they exhibit that honour to dead stocks and stones, which the saints themselves, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, would not to be given to them, being alive; which the angel of GOD forbiddeth to be given to him. And if they say they exhibit such honour not to the image, but to the saint whom it representeth, they are convicted of folly, to believe that they please saints with that honour, which they abhor as a spoil of GOD'S honour."—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 191.


"Because Relics were so gainful, few places were there but they had Relics provided for them. And for more plenty of Relics, some one saint had many heads, one in one place, and another in another place. Some had six arms, and twenty-six fingers. And where our LORD bare His cross alone, if all the pieces of the relics thereof were gathered together, the greatest ship in England would scarcely bear them; and yet the greatest part of it, they say, doth yet remain in the hands of the Infidels; for the which they pray in their beads-bidding, that they may get it also into their hands, for such godly use and purpose. And not only the bones of the saints, but everything appertaining to them, was a holy relic. In some place they offer a sword, in some the scabbard, in some a shoe, in some a saddle that had been set upon some holy horse, in some the coals wherewith St. Laurence was roasted, in some place the tail of the ass which our LORD JESUS CHRIST sat on, to be kissed and {303} offered unto for a relic. For rather than they would lack a relic, they would offer you a horse-bone instead of a virgin's arm, or the tail of the ass to be kissed and offered unto for relics. O wicked, impudent, and most shameless men, the devisers of these things! O silly, foolish, and dastardly daws, and more beastly than the ass whose tail they kissed, that believe such things!"—Ibid. pp. 193-97.

In another place the Homilies speak as follows:—

"Our churches stand full of such great puppets, wondrously decked and adorned; garlands and coronets be set on their heads, precious pearls hanging about their necks; their fingers shine with rings, set with precious stones; their dead and stiff bodies are clothed with garments stiff with gold. You would believe that the images of our men-saints were some princes of Persia land with their proud apparel; and the idols of our women-saints were nice and well-trimmed harlots, tempting their paramours to wantonness: whereby the saints of GOD are not honoured, but most dishonoured, and their godliness, soberness, chastity, contempt of riches, and of the vanity of the world, defaced and brought in doubt by such monstrous decking, most differing from their sober and godly lives. And because the whole pageant must thoroughly be played, it is not enough thus to deck idols, but at last come in the priests themselves, likewise decked with gold and pearl, that they may be meet servants for such lords and ladies, and fit worshippers of such gods and goddesses. And with a solemn pace they pass forth before these golden puppets, and fall down to the ground on their marrow-bones before these honourable idols." … "O books and scriptures, in the which the devilish schoolmaster, Satan, hath penned the lewd lessons of wicked idolatry, for his dastardly disciples and scholars to behold, read, and learn, to GOD'S most high dishonour, and their most horrible damnation!"—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, pp. 219—222.


"Sects and feigned religions were neither the fortieth part so many among the Jews, nor more superstitiously and ungodly abused, than of late years they have been among us: which sects and religions had so many hypocritical and feigned works in their state of religion, as they arrogantly named it, that their lamps, as they said, ran always over able to satisfy not only for their own sins, but also for all other their benefactors, brothers, and sisters of religion, as most ungodly and craftily they had persuaded the multitude of {304} ignorant people; keeping in divers places, as it were, marts or markets of merits, being full of their holy relics, images, shrines, and works of overflowing abundance, ready to be sold; and all things which they had were called holy—holy cowls, holy girdles, holy pardons, holy beads, holy shoes, holy rules, and all full of holiness. And what thing can be more foolish, more superstitious, or ungodly, than that men, women, and children, should wear a friar's coat to deliver them from agues or pestilence; or when they die, or when they be buried, cause it to be cast upon them, in hope thereby to be saved?"—Homily on Good Works, pp. 45, 46, also p. 223.

Now the veneration and worship condemned in these and other passages are observances such as these: kneeling before images, lighting candles to them, offering them incense, going on pilgrimage to them, hanging up crutches, &c., before them, lying legends about them, belief in miracles as if wrought by them through illusion of the devil, decking them up immodestly, and providing incentives by them to bad passions; and, in like manner, merry music and minstrelsy and licentious practices in honour of relics, counterfeit relics, multiplication of them, absurd pretences about them. This is what the Article means by "the Romish doctrine," which, in agreement to one of the above extracts, it calls "a fond thing," res futilis; for who can ever hope, except the grossest and most blinded minds, to be gaining the favour of the blessed saints, while they come with unchaste thoughts and eyes, that cannot cease from sin; and to be profited by "pilgrimage-going," in which "Lady Venus and her son Cupid were rather worshipped wantonly in the flesh, than God the Father, and our Saviour Christ His Son, truly worshipped in the Spirit?"

Here again it is remarkable that, urged by the truth of the allegation, the Council of Trent is obliged, both to confess the above-mentioned enormities in the veneration of relics and images, and to forbid them:—

"Into these holy and salutary observances should any abuses have {305} crept, of these the Holy Council strongly [vehementer] desires the utter extinction; so that no images of a false doctrine, and supplying to the uninstructed opportunity of perilous error, should be set up … All superstition also in invocation of saints, veneration of relics, and religious use of images, be put away; all filthy lucre be cast out of doors; and all wantonness be avoided; so that images be not painted or adorned with an immodest beauty; or the celebration of Saints and attendance on Relics be abused to revelries and drunkennesses; as though festival days were kept in honour of saints by luxury and lasciviousness."—Sess. 25.

4. Invocation of Saints

By "invocation" here is not meant the mere circumstance of addressing beings out of sight, because we use the Psalms in our daily service, which are frequent in invocations of Angels to praise and bless GOD. In the Benedicite too we address "the spirits and souls of the righteous."

Nor is it a "fond" invocation to pray that unseen beings may bless us; for this Bishop Ken does in his Evening Hymn:

O may my Guardian, while I sleep,
Close to my bed his vigils keep,
His love angelical instil,
Stop all the avenues of ill, &c.

Indeed, it is not unnatural, if "the seven spirits before the Throne" have sent us through St. John the Evangelist, "grace and peace," that we, in turn, should send up our thoughts and desires to them.

On the other hand, judging from the example set us in the Homilies themselves, invocations are not censurable if we mean nothing definite by them, addressing them to beings which we know cannot hear, and using them as interjections. The Homily seems to avail itself of this proviso in a passage, which will serve to begin our extracts in illustration of the superstitious use of invocations:—

"We have left Him neither heaven, nor earth, nor water, nor {306} country, nor city, peace nor war to rule and govern, neither men, nor beasts, nor their diseases to cure; that a godly man might justly, for zealous indignation, cry out, O heaven, O earth, and seas [Note 10], what madness and wickedness against GOD are men fallen into! What dishonour do the creatures to their Creator and Maker!"—Homily on Peril of Idolatry, p. 189.

Again, just before:—

"Terentius Varro sheweth, that there were three hundred Jupiters in his time: there were no fewer Veneres and Dianæ: we had no fewer Christophers, Ladies, and Mary Magdalens, and other saints. Œnomaus and Hesiodus show, that in their time there were thirty thousand gods. I think we had no fewer saints, to whom we gave the honour due to GOD. And they have not only spoiled the true living GOD of his due honour in temples, cities, countries, and lands, by such devices and inventions as the Gentiles idolaters have done before them: but the sea and waters have as well special saints with them, as they had gods with the Gentiles, Neptune, Triton, Nereus, Castor and Pollux, Venus, and such other: in whose places become St. Christopher, St. Clement, and divers others, and specially our Lady, to whom shipmen sing, 'Ave, maris stella.' Neither hath the fire escaped their idolatrous inventions. For, instead of Vulcan and Vesta, the Gentiles' gods of the fire, our men have placed St. Agatha, and make litters on her day for to quench fire with. Every artificer and profession hath his special saint, as a peculiar god. As for example, scholars have St. Nicholas and St. Gregory: painters, St. Luke; neither lack soldiers their Mars, nor lovers their Venus, amongst Christians. All diseases have their special saints, as gods the curers of them; … the falling-evil St. Cornelio, the tooth-ache St. Apollin, &c. Neither do beasts nor cattle lack their gods with us; for St. Loy is the horse-leech, and St. Anthony the swineherd."—Ibid. p. 188.

The same subject is introduced in connexion with a lament over the falling off of attendance on religious worship consequent upon the Reformation:—

"GOD'S vengeance hath been and is daily provoked, because much wicked people pass nothing to resort to the Church, either for that they are so sore blinded, that they understand nothing of GOD and godliness, and care not with devilish example to offend their neighbours; or else for that they see the Church altogether scoured of such gay gazing sights, as their gross fantasy was greatly delighted with, {307} because they see the false religion abandoned, and the true restored, which seemeth an unsavoury thing to their unsavoury taste; as may appear by this, that a woman said to her neighbour, 'Alas, gossip what shall we now do at Church, since all the saints are taken away, since all the goodly sights we were wont to have are gone, since we cannot hear the like piping, singing, chanting, and playing upon the organs, that we could before?' But, dearly beloved, we ought greatly to rejoice, and give GOD thanks, that our churches are delivered of all those things which displeased GOD so sore, and filthily defiled His house and His place of prayer."—On the Place and Time of Prayer, pp. 293, 294.


"CHRIST, sitting in heaven, hath an everlasting priesthood, and always prayeth to His FATHER for them that be penitent, obtaining, by virtue of His wounds, which are evermore in the sight of GOD, not only perfect remission of our sins, but also all other necessaries that we lack in this world; so that this Holy Mediator is sufficient in heaven, and needeth no others to help Him.

"Invocation is a thing proper unto GOD, which if we attribute unto the saints, it soundeth unto their reproach, neither can they well bear it at our hands. When Paul healed a certain lame man, which was impotent in his feet, at Lystra, the people would have done sacrifice unto him and Barnabas; who, rending their clothes, refused it, and exhorted them to worship the true GOD. Likewise in the Revelation, when St. John fell before the angel's feet to worship him, the angel would not permit him to do it, but commanded him that he should worship GOD. Which examples declare unto us, that the saints and angels in heaven will not have us to do any honour unto them, that is due and proper unto GOD."—Homily on Prayer, pp. 272-277.

Whereas, then, it has already been shown that not all invocation is wrong, this last passage plainly tells us what kind of invocation is not allowable, or what is meant by invocation in its exceptionable sense: viz. "a thing proper to GOD," as being part of the "honour that is due and proper unto GOD." And two instances are specially given of such calling and invocating, viz. sacrificing, and falling down in worship. Besides this, the Homily adds, that it is wrong to pray to them for "necessaries in this world," {308}and to accompany their services with "piping, singing, chanting, and playing" on the organ, and of invoking saints as patrons of particular elements, countries, arts, or remedies. 

Here, again, as before, the Article gains a witness and concurrence from the Council of Trent. "Though," say the divines there assembled, "the Church has been accustomed sometimes to celebrate a few masses to the honour and remembrance of saints, yet she doth not teach that sacrifice is offered to them, but to GOD alone, who crowned them; wherefore neither is the priest wont to say, I offer sacrifice to thee, O Peter, or O Paul, but to GOD." (Sess. 22.)

Or, to know what is meant by fond invocations, we may refer to the following passage of Bishop Andrewes's answer to Cardinal Perron:—

"This one point is needful to be observed throughout all the Cardinal's answer, that he hath framed to himself five distinctions:—(l.) Prayer direct, and prayer oblique, or indirect. (2.) Prayer absolute, and prayer relative. (3.) Prayer sovereign, and prayer subaltern. (4.) Prayer final, and prayer transitory. (5.) Prayer sacrificial, and prayer out of, or from the sacrifice. Prayer direct, absolute, final, sovereign, sacrificial, that must not be made to the saints, but to GOD only: but as for prayer oblique, relative, transitory, subaltern, from, or out of the sacrifice, that (saith he) we may make to the saints ...

"Yet it is sure, that in these distinctions is the whole substance of his answer."—Andrewes's Answer to Perron's Reply, c. 20, pp. 57-62.

Bellarmine's admissions quite bear out the principles laid down by Bishop Andrewes and the Homily:—

"It is not lawful," he says, "to ask of the saints to grant to us, as if they were the authors of divine benefits, glory or grace, or the other means of blessedness ... This is proved, first, from Scripture, 'The LORD will give grace and glory.' (Psal. lxxxiv.) … Secondly, from the usage of the Church; for in the mass-prayers, {309} and the saints' offices, we never ask anything else, but that, at their prayers, benefits may be granted to us by GOD. Thirdly, from reason: for what we need surpasses the powers of the creature, and therefore even of saints; therefore we ought to ask nothing of saints beyond their impetrating from GOD what is profitable for us. Fourthly, from Augustine and Theodoret, who expressly teach that saints are not to be invoked as gods, but as able to gain from GOD what they wish. However, it must be observed, when we say that nothing should be asked of saints but their prayers for us, the question is not about the words, but the sense of the words. For, as far as the words go, it is lawful to say: 'St. Peter, pity me, save me; open for me the gate of heaven;' also, 'give me health of body, patience, fortitude,' &c., provided that we mean 'save and pity me by praying for me;' 'grant me this or that by thy prayers and merits.' For so speaks Gregory Nazianzen, and many others of the ancients, &c.—De Sanct. Beat. i. 17. {310}

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§ 7.—The Sacraments

Art. xxv.—"Those five, commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown, partly of the corrupt following (pravâ imitatione) of the Apostles, partly from states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of sacraments, (sacramentorum eandem rationem,) with Baptism and the LORD'S Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of GOD."

This Article does not deny the five rites in question to be sacraments, but to be sacraments in the sense in which Baptism and the LORD'S Supper are sacraments; "sacraments of the Gospel," sacraments with an outward sign ordained of GOD.

They are not sacraments in any sense, unless the Church has the power of dispensing grace through rites of its own appointing, or is endued with the gift of blessing and hallowing the "rites or ceremonies" which, according to the twentieth article, it "hath power to decree." But we may well believe that the Church has this gift.

If, then, a sacrament be merely an outward sign of an invisible grace given under it, the five rites may be sacraments; but if it must be an outward sign ordained by GOD or CHRIST, then only Baptism and the LORD'S Supper are sacraments.

Our Church acknowledges both definitions;—in the Article before us, the stricter; and again in the Catechism, where a sacrament is defined to be "an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by CHRIST himself." And this, it should be remarked, is a {311} characteristic of our formularies in various places, not to deny the truth or obligation of certain doctrines or ordinances, but simply to deny, (what no Roman opponent now can successfully maintain,) that CHRIST for certain directly ordained them. For instance, in regard to the visible Church it is sufficient that the ministration of the sacraments should be "according to CHRIST'S ordinance." Art. xix.—And it is added, "in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same." The question entertained is, what is the least that GOD requires of us. Again, "the baptism of young children is to be retained, as most agreeable to the institution of CHRIST." Art. xxvii.—Again, "the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by CHRIST'S ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." Art. xxviii.—Who will maintain the paradox that what the Apostles "set in order when they came" had been already done by CHRIST? Again, "both parts of the LORD'S sacrament, by CHRIST'S ordinance and commandment, ought to be administered to all Christian men alike." Art. xxx.—Again, "bishops, priests, and deacons, are not commanded by GOD'S law either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage." Art. xxxii.—In making this distinction, however, it is not here insinuated, (though the question is not entered on in these particular articles,) that every one of these points, of which it is only said that they are not ordained by CHRIST, is justifiable on grounds short of His appointment.

On the other hand, our Church takes the wider sense of the meaning of the word Sacrament in the Homilies; observing,—

"In the second Book against the Adversary of the Law and the Prophets, he [St. Augustine] calleth sacraments holy signs. And writing to Bonifacius of the baptism of infants, he saith, 'If sacraments had not a certain similitude of those things whereof they be sacraments, they should be no sacraments at all. And of this {312} similitude they do for the most parts receive the names of the self-same things they signify.' By these words of St. Augustine it appeareth, that he alloweth the common description of a sacrament, which is, that it is a visible sign of an invisible grace; that is to say, that setteth out to the eyes and other outward senses the inward working of God's free mercy, and doth, as it were, seal in our hearts the promises of God."—Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments, pp. 296, 297.

Accordingly, starting with this definition of St. Augustine's, the writer is necessarily carried on as follows:—

"You shall hear how many sacraments there be, that were instituted by our SAVIOUR CHRIST, and are to be continued, and received of every Christian in due time and order, and for such purpose as our SAVIOUR CHRIST willed them to be received. And as for the number of them, if they should be considered according to the exact signification of a sacrament, namely, for visible signs expressly commanded in the New Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sins, and of our holiness and joining in CHRIST, there be but two; namely, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. For although absolution hath the promise of forgiveness of sin; yet by the express word of the New Testament, it hath not this promise annexed and tied to the visible sign, which is imposition of hands. For this visible sign (I mean laying on of hands) is not expressly commanded in the New Testament to be used in absolution, as the visible signs in Baptism and the LORD'S Supper are: and therefore absolution is no such sacrament as Baptism and the Communion are. And, though the ordering of ministers hath this visible sign and promise; yet it lacks the promise of remission of sin, as all other sacraments besides the two above named do. Therefore neither it, nor any other sacrament, be such sacraments as Baptism and the Communion are. But in a general acception, the name of a sacrament may be attributed to anything, whereby an holy thing is signified. In which understanding of the word, the ancient writers have given this name, not only to the other five, commonly of late years taken and used for supplying the number of the seven sacraments; but also to divers and sundry other ceremonies, as to oil, washing of feet, and such like; not meaning thereby to repute them as sacraments, in the same signification that the two forenamed sacraments are. And therefore St. Augustine, weighing the true {313} signification and exact meaning of the word, writing to Januarius, and also in the third Book of Christian Doctrine, affirmeth, that the sacraments of the Christians, as they are most excellent in signification, so are they most few in number, and in both places maketh mention expressly of two, the sacrament of Baptism, and the Supper of the LORD. And although there are retained by order of the Church of England, besides these two, certain other rites and ceremonies, about the institution of ministers in the Church, Matrimony, Confirmation of Children, by examining them of their knowledge in their Articles of the Faith, and joining thereto the prayers of the Church for them, and likewise for the Visitation of the Sick; yet no man ought to take these for sacraments, in such signification and meaning as the sacraments of Baptism and the LORD'S Supper are: but either for godly states of life, necessary in Christ's Church, and therefore worthy to be set forth by public action and solemnity, by the ministry of the Church, or else judged to be such ordinances as may make for the instruction, comfort, and edification of CHRIST'S Church."—Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments, pp. 298-300.

Another definition of the word Sacrament, which equally succeeds in limiting it to the two principal rites of the Christian Church, is also contained in the Catechism, as well as implied in the above passage:—"Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, Baptism and the Supper of the LORD." On this subject the following remark has been made:—

"The Roman Catholic considers that there are seven [sacraments]; we do not strictly determine the number. We define the word generally to be an 'outward sign of an inward grace,' without saying to how many ordinances this applies. However, what we do determine is, that CHRIST has ordained two special sacraments, as generally necessary to salvation. This, then, is the characteristic mark of those two, separating them from all other whatever; and this is nothing else but saying in other words that they are the only justifying rites, or instruments of communicating the {314} Atonement, which is the one thing necessary to us. Ordination, for instance, gives power, yet without making the soul acceptable to GOD; Confirmation gives light and strength, yet is the mere completion of Baptism; and Absolution may be viewed as a negative ordinance removing the barrier which sin has raised between us and that grace, which by inheritance is ours. But the two sacraments 'of the Gospel,' as they may be emphatically styled, are the instruments of inward life, according to our LORD'S declaration, that Baptism is a new birth, and that in the Eucharist we eat the living bread." [Note 11]

Tract 90 continued

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1. This is not meant to hinder acts of Catholic consent, such as occurred anciently, when the Catholic body aids one portion of a particular Church against another portion.
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2. "We, thy sinful creatures," says the Service for King Charles the Martyr, "here assembled before Thee, do, in behalf of all the people of this land, humbly confess, that they were the crying sins of this nation, which brought down this judgment upon us," i.e. King Charles's murder.
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3. [That is, by himself, in former Tracts, Lectures, &c.]
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4. These passages in brackets relate to rites and ceremonies which are not here in question.
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5. [British Critic, Oct. 1836, pp. 386-388.]
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6. [Lectures on Justification, x., xii., pp. 226, 276, ed. 1874.]
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7. These instances are from Launoy.
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8. [Bellarmine makes this distinction between "General" and "Ecumenical," and, as being a contemporary of the compilers of the Articles, he may be fairly taken to interpret their word "General." This reference to Bellarmine's language is no after-thought of the writer of the Tract to shelter a distinction which was, at the time of publication accused of being subtle and sophistical, for he had Bellarmine in mind when he made it. Bellarmine says, "Concilia generalia approbata numerantur hucusque decem et octo." Then he speaks of "Concilia generalia reprobata," &c., &c. De Concil. i. 5, 6.]
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9. [Vid. infr. Note 1, p. 349, at the end of this Tract.]
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10. O cœlum, o terra, o maria Neptuni.—Terent. Adelph. v. 3.
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11. [Lect. on Justification vi., fin.]
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