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volume, combine in addressing us with voices loud and clear, Pray to God Almighty solely in the name and for the sake of his dear and only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and offer no prayer, no supplication, no intreaty, to any other being or power, saint or angel, though it be only to ask for their intercession with the great God. But this involves the whole question, and must be sifted thoroughly. Let us then review the entire volume with close and minute scrutiny, and ask ourselves, Is there a single passage, interpreted to the best of our skill, with the aid of those on whose integrity and learning we can rely, which directly and unequivocally sanctions any religious invocation of whatever kind to any being except God alone? And then let us calmly and deliberately resolve this point : In a matter of so vital importance, of so immense interest, and of so sacred a character as the worship of the Supreme Being, who declares himself to be a jealous God, ought we to suffer any refinements of casuistry to entice us from the broad, clear light of revelation? If it were God's good pleasure to make exceptions to his rule—a rule so repeatedly, and so positively enacted and enforced-surely the analogy of his gracious dealings with mankind would have taught us to look for an announcement of the exception in terms equally forcible and explicit. Instead, however, of this, we find no single act, no single word, nothing which even by implication can be forced to sanction any prayer or religious invocation, of whatever kind, to any other being save to God alone.
Let us first look to the language and conduct of our blessed Lord, whose prayers to his father are upon record for our instruction and comfort, and whose precepts and example form the best rule of a Christian's life. So far from repealing the ancient law, he repeats in his own person its solemn announcement, “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord ?.” Whilst the same heavenly Teacher commands us with authority, “When thou prayest, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly 2.” No allusion in any word of his do we find to any prayer from a mortal on this earth to an angel or saint in heaven.. And yet occasions were multiplied on which a reference to the invocation of angels would have been natural, and apparently called for. He again and again places beyond all doubt the reality of their good services towards mankind, but it is as God's servants, and at God's bidding, not in answer to any supplication or invoking of ours. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus has been cited 3 to bear contrary evidence: but, in the first place, that parable does not offer a case in point; in the second place, were it in point, it might be fairly and strongly urged against the practice of invoking the spirit of any departed mortal, even the father of the faithful himself. For what are the circumstances of the parabolic representation? A lost spirit in the regions of torment prays to Abraham in the regions of the blessed, and the spirit of the departed patriarch professes himself to have no power to grant the request of the departed and condemned spirit 4. The practice indeed of our Roman Catholic brethren would have been exemplified, had our blessed Lord represented the rich man's five brethren still on earth as pious men, and as supplicating Abraham in heaven to pray for themselves, or to mitigate
their lost brother's punishment and his woes. But then it would have afforded Christians little encouragement to follow their example, when they found Abraham declaring himself unable to aid them in attaining the object of their prayer, or in any way to assist them at all. Without one single exception, we find our blessed Lord's example, precepts, and doctrines to be decidedly against the practice of invoking saint or angel; whilst not one solitary act or word of His can be cited to countenance or palliate it.
Next it follows, that we inquire into the conduct and the writings of Christ's Apostles and immediate followers, to whom he graciously promised that the Holy Spirit should guide them into all truth. In the Acts of the Apostles, various instances of prayer attract our notice, but not one ejaculation is found there to any other being save God alone. Neither angel nor saint is invoked. The Apostles prayed for guidance in the government of Christ's infant Church, but it was, “ Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men ?." They prayed for their own acceptance, but it was “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit 2.” They prayed for each other, as in behalf of St. Peter when in prison; but we are expressly told, that the prayer which was made without ceasing by the Church for him was addressed to GOD 3.
To deliver St. Peter from his chains, an angel was sent on an especial mission from heaven; but though St. Peter saw him, and heard his voice, and followed him, and knew of a surety that the Almighty had employed the ministration of an angel to liberate him from his bonds, yet we do not hear thereafter of
Acts i. 24.
? Acts vii. 59.
3 Acts xii. 5.
Peter having himself prayed to an angel to secure his good offices, and his intercession with God, nor has he once indirectly intimated to others that such supplications would be of avail, or were even allowable. He exhorts his fellow-Christians to pray, “ Watch unto prayer,” but it is because “The eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers !.” He himself prays for them, but it is, that the God of all grace might make them perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle them. He suggests no invocation of saint or angel to intercede with God for them. He bids them cast all their care upon God, on the assurance that God himself careth for them.
Precisely the same result issues from a contemplation of the acts and exhortation of St. Paul. He too experienced in his own person the comfort of an angel's ministration, bidding him cast off all fear when in the extreme of imminent peril?. Many a prayer of that holy Apostle is upon record ; many an earnest exhortation to prayer was made by him; we find many a declaration relative to his own habits of prayer. But with him God and God alone is the object of prayer throughout: by him no saint or angel or archangel is alluded to, as one whose intercession might be sought by himself or by us. He could speak in glowing language of patriarchs, prophets, and angels, but unto none of these would he turn. “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God 3.” And let any one receive, in the plain meaning of his words, his prohibitory monition , and say, could St. Paul have
il Peter iv. 7 ; iii. 12 ; v. 7.
? Acts xxvii. 23, 24.
uttered these words without any qualifying expression, had he worshipped angels by invocation, even asking them only to aid him by their prayers. “Let no one beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels; not holding the Head,” which Head he had in the first chapter (v. 18) declared to be the dear Son of God, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins.”
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews could bring before our minds with most fervent uplifting eloquence Abel and Abraham and David, — that goodly fellowship of the prophets, that holy army of martyrs; he could speak as though he were an eyewitness of what he describes, of the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. And, surely, had the thought of seeking the support or intercession of saint or angel by invocation addressed to them, been familiar to him ; had the thought even occurred to his mind with approbation, he would not have allowed such an occasion to pass by, without even alluding to any benefit that might arise from our invoking such friends of God. So far from that allusion, the utmost which he says at the close of his eulogy is this, " These all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect'.”
The beloved Apostle who could look forward in full assurance of faith to the day of Christ's second coming, and knew that " when He shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” has left us this record of his sentiments concerning prayer :