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MEMBERS of the Church of Rome, and members of the Church of England, have too long entertained towards each other feelings of hostility. Instead of being drawn together as brethren by the cords of that one faith which all Catholics hold dear, their sentiments of sympathy and affection have been absorbed by the abhorrence with which each body has regarded the characteristic tenets of its adversary; whilst the terms “ heretic” on the one side, and “idolater” on the opposite, have rendered any attempt to bring about a free and friendly discussion of each other's views almost hopeless.
Every Christian must wish that such animosities, always ill-becoming the servants and children of the God of love, should cease for ever. Truth indeed must never be sacrificed to secure peace; nor must we be tempted by the seductiveness of a liberality, falsely so called, to soften down and make light of those differences which keep the Churches of England and Rome asunder.
But surely the points at issue may be examined without exasperation and rancour; and the results of inquiries carried on with a singleness of mind, in search only for the truth, may be offered on the one side without insult or offence, and should be received and examined without contempt and scorn on the other.
The writer of this address is not one in whom early associations would foster sentiments of evil will against members of the Church of Rome; or encourage any feeling, incompatible with regard and kindness, towards the conscientious defenders of her creed. From his boyhood he has lived on terms of friendly intercourse and intimacy with individuals among her laity and of her priesthood. In his theological pursuits, he has often studied her ritual, consulted her commentators, and perused the homilies of her divines; and, withal, he has mourned over her errors and misdoings, as he would have sighed over the faults of a friend, who, with many good qualities still to endear him, had unhappily swerved from the straight path of rectitude and integrity.
In preparing these pages, the author is not conscious of having been influenced by any motive in the least degree inconsistent with sentiments of charity and respect; at all events, he would hope that no single expression may have escaped from his pen tending to hurt unnecessarily the feelings of any sincere Christian. He has been prompted by a hope that he may perhaps
induce some individuals to investigate with candour, and freedom, and with a genuine desire of arriving at the truth, the subjects here discussed; and that whilst some, even of those who may have hitherto acquiesced in erroneous doctrines and practices, may be convinced of their departure from Christian verity; others, if tempted to desert the straight path of primitive worship, may be somewhat strengthened and armed by the views presented to them here, against the captivating allurements of religious error.
Whether the present work may, by the divine favour, be made in some degree instrumental in forwarding these results, or in effecting any good, the author presumes not to anticipate; but he will hope for the best. He believes that the honest pursuit of the truth, undertaken with an humble zeal for God's glory, and in dependence on his guidance and light, is often made successful beyond our own sanguine expectations.
With these views the following pages are offered, as the result of an inquiry into the doctrine and practice of the Invocation of Saints and Angels, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To prevent misconception as to the nature of this work, the author would observe, that since the single subject here proposed to be investigated is, “ The Invocation of Saints and Angels and the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he has scrupulously avoided the discussion of many important and interesting questions usually con
sidered to be connected with it. He has not, for example, discussed the practice of praying for the Dead; he has investigated no theory relating to the soul's intermediate state between our dissolution and the final judgment; he has canvassed no opinion as to any power in the saints and the faithful departed to succour either by their prayers or by any other offices, those who are still on earth, and on their way to God. From these and such like topics he has abstained, not because he thinks lightly of their importance, nor because his own mind is perplexed by doubts concerning them; but because the introduction of such points would tend to distract the thoughts from the exclusive contemplation of the one distinct question to be investigated.
He is also induced to apprise the reader, that in his work, as he originally prepared it, a far wider field, even on the single subject of the present inquiry, was contemplated than this volume now embraces. His intention was to present an historical survey of the doctrine and practice of the invocation of Saints and Angels, and the Virgin, tracing it from the first intimation of any thing of the kind through its various progressive stages, till it had reached its widest prevalence in Christendom. When, however, he had arranged and filled up the results of the inquiries which he made into the sentiments and habits of those later writers of the Church, whose works he considered it necessary to examine with this specific object in view,