Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XXII (Part 1)

Article XXII.

Of Purgatory.

THE Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images, as of reliques, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

De Purgatorio.

DOCTRINA Romanensium de purgatorio, de indulgentiis, de veneratione, tum imaginum, tum reliquiarum, necnon de invocatione sanctorum, res est futilis, inaniter conficta, et nullis Scripturarum testimoniis innititur; immo verbo Dei contradicit.

Section I. — History.

THE three preceding Articles concerned the Church visible. This treats of the Church invisible.

The only difference between the wording of this Article and the XXIIId of Edward VI. is, that whereas this has “The Romish doctrine,” that had “The doctrine of the school-authors.”

The Article is so comprehensive that many volumes might be written upon it. It will be necessary therefore to study brevity. It evidently treats of two principal points. I. Purgatory, and the pardons or indulgences connected with the doctrine concerning it. II. The Worship of images and relics, and the Invocation of Saints.

I. 1. Purgatory.

Under the IIId Article we saw that the Jews and the early Christians uniformly believed in an intermediate state between death and judgment. But their language and expectations, at least those of the earliest fathers, are inconsistent with a belief that any of the pious were in a state of suffering, or that the sufferings of the wicked were but for a time only.

Clemens Romanus says, that “Those who have finished their course in charity, according to the grace of Christ, possess the region of the godly, who shall be manifested in the visitation of the Kingdom of Christ.”[1] Justin Martyr says, “The souls of the godly remain in a certain better place, the unjust and wicked in a worse, awaiting the day of judgment.”[2] Irenæus argues from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, that “each sort of men receive, even before the judgment, their due place of abode.”[3] Tertullian speaks of Paradise “as a place of divine pleasantness, destined to receive the spirits of the just.”[4] So Cyprian, “it is for him to fear death who is unwilling to go to Christ.”[5] “Do not suppose death the same thing to the just and the unjust. The just are called to a refreshing, the unjust are hurried away to torment; speedily safety is given to the faithful, to the unfaithful punishment.”[6] This, he shows, is not peculiar to martyrs or eminent saints. “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not suffer martyrdom, yet were honoured first among the patriarchs; and to their company every one is gathered, who is believing and righteous and praiseworthy.”[7]

We may, however, early trace a belief that, as death itself was a part of the curse, so every one was to look forward, not for the rest of the intermediate state, but for the joys of the resurrection; a delay of the resurrection, and a continuance of the death of the body, being esteemed in itself penal, and the result of sin. Indeed, St. Paul (2 Cor. v. 2, 4, 6) taught, that to be unclothed was an evil; though it would be better to be “absent from the body,” since thereby we might be “present with the Lord.” Hence, Irenæus speaks of the time between death and judgment as “a period of condemnation, resulting from man’s disobedience.”[8] And Tertullian says, that “sin, though small in amount, may be to be punished by delay of the resurrection:”[9] of which passage more hereafter.

This leads to the consideration of Prayer for the Dead. There can be no question that this custom very early prevailed among Christians. It is first mentioned by Tertullian, who speaks of the common practice of the Church to make oblations for the dead on the anniversary of the day of their death, which they called their birthday; who says also, that widows prayed for the souls of their husbands that they might have refreshment and a part in the first resurrection.[10] The like is mentioned by Origen,[11] Cyprian,[12] Cyril of Jerusalem,[13] Gregory Nazianzen,[14] Ambrose,[15] Chrysostom,[16] and others of the earliest fathers; and prayers and thanksgivings for the dead occur in all the ancient Liturgies, as in that to be found in the Apostolical Constitutions, in the Liturgies of St. James, St. Mark, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, &c.

On this early practice, dating unquestionably from the second century, the school-authors and the Romanist divines ground one of their strongest arguments to prove that a belief in Purgatory was primitive and apostolic. For why, say they, were prayers offered for the dead, unless they could profit them? and how could they profit them, except by delivering from the pains of Purgatory, or shortening their duration?

Yet it is to be observed, that many of the very prayers alleged by the Roman Catholic controversialists do of themselves prove that those who composed them could not have believed the persons prayed for to be in purgatory. The prayers for the dead in the ancient Liturgies are offered for all the greatest saints, for the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and martyrs, whom even the Roman Church has never supposed to be in purgatory. Thus the Clementine Liturgy, found in the Apostolical Constitutions,[17] has the words, “We offer to Thee (i. e. we pray) for all the saints who have pleased Thee from the beginning of the world; the patriarchs, prophets, righteous men, apostles, martyrs,” &c. The Liturgy called St. Chrysostom’s prays for all departed in the faith, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, &c.: and “especially for the holy, immaculate, blessed Theotokos, and ever-virgin Mary.”[18] This alone is sufficient to prove that prayer for the dead did not presuppose Purgatory, and was in no degree necessarily connected with it. Indeed, many of the ancients who speak of praying for the dead positively declare their firm belief that those for whom they prayed were in peace, rest, and blessedness, and therefore certainly not in fire and torment;[19] and it is not too much to affirm, that none of the ancient prayers had anything like an allusion to a Purgatory. Nay, even in the ancient Roman missals were the words, “Remember, O Lord, Thy servants which have gone before us with the sign of faith, and sleep in the sleep of peace; To them, O Lord, and to all that are in rest in Christ, we beseech Thee to grant a place of refreshment, of light and peace.”[20]

It has been so common to admit the false premiss of the Romanist divines, (namely, that prayer for the dead presupposes a Purgatory,) that it is to many minds difficult to understand on what principles the early Christians used such prayers. One of those principles was, doubtless, that all things to us unknown are to us future. Present and future are but relative ideas. To God nothing is future; all things are present. But to man, that is future of which he is ignorant. As then we know not with absolute certainty the present condition or final doom of those who are departed; their present condition is relatively, and their final doom, absolutely, future to our minds. Hence, it was thought, we are justified in praying that it may be good, even though the events of their past life may have already decided it. Again, the Resurrection is yet to come, and therefore the full bliss of the departed is yet future. Hence the ancients prayed for a hastening of the Resurrection, much in the spirit of our own Burial Service, and of the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”[21] Thus St. Ambrose prayed for the Emperors Gratian and Valentinian, that God would “raise them up with a speedy resurrection.”[22] And the Liturgies constantly ask a speedy and a happy resurrection to those who have died in the Lord.[23]

Another portion of these prayers was Eucharistic or thanksgiving; whereby they gave God thanks both for the martyrs and for all that had died in the faith and fear of God;[24] and these commemorations of the departed were thought most important, as testifying a belief in the doctrine of “the Communion of Saints,” and that the souls of those who are gone hence are still living, still fellow-heirs of the same glory, and fellow-citizens of the same kingdom with ourselves.[25]

These were the chief reasons for prayers for the dead in public Liturgies. In the more private devotions, the solicitude which had existed for beloved objects whilst on earth was still expressed for their souls, when they had gone hence and were in the middle state of the dead. For, though they held that “what shall be to every one at the day of judgment is determined at the day of his death,”[26] yet they thought it not unreasonable to pray that even those who they hoped were safe might not lose that portion of blessedness which they supposed to be in store for them.[27] There were also some private opinions, — as that the “more abundant damnation” of the damned might be lessened,[28] — that there was a first resurrection, at which some eminent saints rose before the rest, and to this they prayed that their friends might attain,[29] — that all men, even the best and holiest, had at the day of judgment a baptism of fire to go through, which should try their works, even though they should be saved in it: of which baptism more presently. Such private and particular opinions influenced the prayers of those who adopted them; but they were all unconnected with the doctrine of purgatory.[30]

The prayers for the dead, thus early prevalent, were in process of time, in the Roman Church, converted into prayers for souls in purgatory. At the beginning of the Reformation, it was first proposed to eradicate all traces of this doctrine from the Liturgies, but to retain such prayers for the dead as were accordant with primitive practice and belief. Accordingly, the first Liturgy of Edward VI. contained thanksgiving for all those saints “who now do rest in the sleep of peace,” prayer for their “everlasting peace,” and that “at the day of the general resurrection all they which be of the mystical body of the Son, might be set on His right hand.” But the reformers afterwards, fearing from what had already occurred that such prayers might be abused or misconstrued, removed them from the Communion and Burial services. Yet still we retain a thanksgiving for saints departed, a prayer that we, with them, may be partakers of everlasting glory, and a request that God would “complete the number of His elect, and hasten His kingdom, that we, with all those who are departed out of this life in His faith and fear, may have our perfect consummation and bliss in His eternal and everlasting glory.” Such commemorations of the dead sufficiently accord with the spirit of the primitive prayers, without in any degree laying us open to the danger that ill-taught or ill-thinking men might found upon them doctrines of deceit or dangerous delusions.

We have seen then, that the doctrine of the ancients concerning the intermediate state was inconsistent with a belief in purgatory, and that their custom of praying for the dead had no connection with it. Yet we may trace the rise of the doctrine itself by successive steps from early times.

In the first two centuries there is a deep silence on the subject. At the end of the second, Tertullian considered that Paradise was a place of divine pleasantness appointed to receive the souls of the just.[31] But early in the third century, Tertullian had left the Church, and joined the Montanists; and there is a passage in one of his treatises, written after he became a Montanist, which deserves attention. In that treatise (De Anima) he indeed clearly speaks of all the righteous as detained in inferis, waiting in Abraham’s bosom the comfort of the resurrection;[32] and says, that doubtless in the intermediate state (penes inferos) are punishments and rewards, as we may learn from the parable of Dives and Lazarus.[33] This appears inconsistent with any purgatorial notion; yet some consider that he had an idea of the kind, because he explains twice in this treatise the words, “Thou shalt not come out thence till thou hast paid the very last farthing,” to mean, that even “small offences are expiated by delay of resurrection.”[34] He seems, however, to consider that they will be more fully punished at the judgment.[35] And even this interpretation of Scripture, which is evidently very different from the doctrine of purgatory, he says that he derived, not from the teaching of the Church, but from Montanus.[36]

Contemporary with Tertullian, though somewhat his junior, was Origen. If Tertullian derived a notion somewhat resembling purgatory from a heretic, Origen derived a notion also bearing some resemblance to it from a heathen. His views of the nature of the human soul were borrowed from Plato. He believed it to be immortal and preexistent, always in a state of progress or decline, and ever receiving the place due to its attainments in holiness, or defection to wickedness. Hence, he did not believe the purest souls of the redeemed, or the holy angels themselves, incapable of sinning, nor the very devils out of all hope of recovery.[37] In accordance with this theory, he was obliged to consider that all the pains of the damned were merely purgatorial, and that their sins would be expiated by fire.[38] To this he applied those passages of Scripture which speak of “a fiery trial,” and of the fire as to “try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. iii. 13‒15). He held that at the day of judgment all men must pass through the fire, even the saints and prophets. As the Hebrews went through the Red Sea, so all must pass through the fire of the judgment. As the Egyptians sank in the sea, so wicked men shall sink in the lake of fire: but good men, washed in the blood of the Lamb, even they, like Israel, must pass through the flood of flame; but they shall go through it safe and uninjured.[39] All must go to the fire. The Lord sits and purifies the sons of Judah. He who brings much gold with little lead, shall have the lead purged away, and the gold shall remain uncorrupted. The more lead there is, the more burning there will be. But if a man be all leaden, he shall sink down into the abyss, as lead sinks in the water.[40]

This theory of Origen is so far from being the same with the Romanist’s purgatory, that, first of all, he places it instead of hell; and secondly, so far from looking for it between death and the resurrection, he taught that it would take place after the resurrection, at the day of judgment. Yet to this speculation, the offspring of human reason and Platonic philosophy, we may trace the rise of the doctrine on which the Church of Rome has erected so much of her power, and which has been so fatally pregnant with superstition. The theories of Origen were interesting, his character and learning were captivating; and so his name and opinions had much weight with those who followed him. Accordingly, we find eminent writers both in the East and West embracing his speculations. Lactantius held all judgment to be deferred till the resurrection; then eternal fire should consume the wicked, but it should try even the just. Those who had many sins would be scorched by it, but the pure would come off scathless.[41] Gregory Nazianzen, with the same idea, speaking of various kinds of baptism, Moses’s baptism, Christ’s baptism, the martyr’s baptism, the baptism of penitence, adds, “and perhaps in the next world men will be baptized with fire, which last baptism will be more grievous and of longer duration, which will devour the material part like hay, and consume the light substance of every kind of sin.”[42] Ambrose again, using almost the words of Origen, says, “that all must pass through the flames, even St. John and St. Peter.”[43] And elsewhere he adopts Origen’s illustration of the Israelites and Egyptians passing through the Red Sea, comparing it with the passage of all men through the fire of judgment.[44] Hilary too speaks of all, even the Virgin Mary, as to undergo the trial of fire at the day of judgment, in which souls must expiate their offences.[45] Gregory Nyssen in like manner speaks of “a purgatorial fire after our departure hence,” and of “the purging fire, which takes away the filth commingled with the soul.”[46]

All these views spring from the same source, and tend to the same conclusion. They arise from Origen’s interpretation of 1 Cor. iii. 13‒15; and they imply a belief, not in a purgatory between death and resurrection, but in a fiery ordeal through which all must pass at the day of judgment, which will consume the wicked, but purify the just.

We come now to St. Augustine. His name is deservedly had in honour, and his opinions have borne peculiar weight. He too, like Origen and Ambrose, speaks of the fire of judgment, which is to try men’s works.[47] But he goes further still. In commenting on the passage of St. Paul, so often referred to, (1 Cor. iii. 11‒15,) he says, that if men have the true foundation, even Jesus Christ, though they may not be pure from all carnal affections and infirmities, these shall be purged away from them by the fire of tribulation, by the loss of things we love, by persecution, and in the end of the world by the afflictions which antichrist should bring; in short, by the troubles of this life. But then he adds, that some have supposed that after death some further purging by fire was awaiting them who were not fully purified here, and he says, “I will not argue against it; for perhaps it is true.”[48] He does not set it forth as an article of faith. He does not speak of it as a doctrine of the Church. He does not propound it as an acknowledged truth. He does not lay it down as a settled opinion. He merely alleges it as a probable conjecture. He holds it to be uncertain, whether all tribulation is to be borne here, or some hereafter; or whether some hereafter instead of some here. But he thinks perhaps some such opinion is true. He says at least, it is not incredible.[49] The very mode in which he sets forth his doubts and queries shows that no certain ground could be taken upon the subject, as deduced from undoubted language of Scripture, or primitive teaching of the Church. In fact, he acknowledges the great difficulty of the passage in St. Paul, simply speaks of the purgatorial view as having been suggested, and thinks it not impossible or improbable. In this form of it, it was in fact an evident novelty in the days of St. Augustine.[50]

A century and a half later, Pope Gregory I. laid it down distinctly, that “there is a purgatorial fire before the judgment for lighter faults.”[51] From this time a belief in purgatory rapidly gained ground in the Western Church. Visions and apparitions of the dead were appealed to, as witnesses for the existence of a state of purgation for those souls who were detained in prison waiting for the judgment.[52] Thomas Aquinas and other schoolmen discussed the subject with their usual ingenuity, and more fully explained the situation of purgatory, its pains, and their intensity. But the Greek Church, divided from the Latin on other points, was never agreed with it on this.

In the year 1431 met the synod of Basle, which promised much reformation, and effected none. Thither a deputation had come from the Emperor of Constantinople; and by it a hope was excited that the breach between the two long-divided branches of the Church might now be healed. Eugenius IV. Bishop of Rome, who at first endeavoured in 1437 to translate the Council of Basle to Ferrara, now strove to remove it to Florence (A. D. 1439). Only four of the Bishops left Basle at his command, the rest continuing their sitting there till 1443, forming a council acknowledged as œcumenical by great part of Europe, though opposed to the pope. However, several Italian bishops met at Florence, and were joined by the Greek emperor and some bishops from the East. In this synod the Greek deputies were induced to acknowledge, that the Bishop of Rome was the primate and head of the Church, that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son, and that there is a purgatory. These decrees were signed by about sixty-two Latin bishops, by John Palæologus the emperor, and by eighteen Eastern bishops. On their return to Constantinople the Greek prelates were received with the greatest indignation by those whom they might be supposed to represent. The decrees of Florence were utterly and most summarily rejected in the East, the synod was altogether repudiated, and has never since been recognized. The patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, who were represented by deputies in the council, joined in the protest against it. To this day the Eastern Church has never acknowledged it, nor does it accept any of its decrees, whether concerning the Procession, the Pope, or Purgatory.[53]

The Council of Trent, A. D. 1563, professing to be “taught by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, and tradition of the fathers,” decreed, that there is a purgatory, and that souls there detained are aided by the sacrifice of the altar. It, however, forbade the people to be troubled with any of the more subtle questions on the subject.[54]

The divines of the Church of Rome have not been so careful as the council to avoid entering into minute discussion. Bellarmine has a whole book on the circumstances of purgatory. In this, he first discusses for whom purgatory is reserved. Then he argues that souls there detained can neither merit nor sin; then, that they are sure of salvation. Then he resolves the question, Where is purgatory? Next he discusses, whether souls pass straight from purgatory to Heaven, or whether there be a Paradise besides. He discusses how long purgatory lasts, of what nature is its punishment, whether its fire is corporeal, (which he solves in the affirmative,) whether demons torment the souls there, (which he leaves in doubt). And lastly, he teaches how prayers aid the souls in purgatory, and what kind of prayers they should be.[55]

2. Pardons or Indulgences.

These, in the sense intended by this Article and taught by the Church of Rome, sprang out of the doctrine of Purgatory.

In the Primitive Church, when Christians had lapsed in persecution, or otherwise incurred the censure of the Church, it was not uncommon for the bishops to relax the penances which had been enjoined on them, either when there was danger of death, or at the intercession of the martyrs or confessors in prison, or from some other worthy cause.[56] Very early, the custom of martyrs interceding appears to have been abused; and the high esteem in which martyrdom was held, led to the precipitate reception of their prayers for offenders, to the interruption of the right discipline of the Church.[57]

The Council of Ancyra, and, soon after, the Council of Nice, gave bishops express authority to restore offenders to communion, and to shorten the term of their penitential probation, on consideration of past good conduct or present tokens of true repentance.[58] This was reasonable enough. But all good is liable to abuse. In process of time, liberal almsgiving was accepted in lieu, or at least in mitigation of penance; the beginning of which custom is charged, though probably without justice, on our own Archbishop Theodore.[59] Here was a loop-hole for all evil to creep in. The subsequent sale of indulgences easily rose out of the permission to substitute charity to the poor or to the Church for mortification and humiliation before God.

But the obtaining of such exemptions is a wholly different thing from the modern doctrine of the Roman Church concerning indulgences. Indulgences indeed now are said to be exemptions from the temporal punishment of sins. But in the term temporal punishment are included not only Church-censures, but the pains of purgatory; and it is held, that the Bishop of Rome has a store or treasure of the merits of Christ and of the saints, which, for sufficient reasons, he can dispense, either by himself or his agents, to mitigate or shorten the sufferings of penitents, whether in this world or the world to come;[60] this power not, of course, extending to the torments of hell, which are not among the temporal punishments of sin. Some of the Roman Catholic divines acknowledge that no mention of such indulgences is to be found in Scripture or in the fathers. Many of the schoolmen confess that their use began in the time of Pope Alexander III., at the end of the twelfth century. Indeed, before this time, it is hardly possible to discover any traces of them. The first jubilee, or year of general indulgence, is said to have been kept in the pontificate of Boniface VIII., 1300 years after Christ. And the famous bull, Unigenitus, was issued by Pope Clement VI. fifty years after the first jubilee, A. D. 1350.[61] It was not without discussion and opposition that this custom grew and prevailed.[62] It reached its greatest height of corruption in the Pontificate of Leo X., when Tetzel, the agent of that pope, openly selling indulgences in Germany, roused the spirit of Luther, and so hastened the Reformation. This led to more formal discussion and consideration of the grounds of it. The Council of Trent decreed, that “the treasures of the Church should not be made use of for gain, but for godliness.”[63] It declared, that “the power of granting indulgences was given by Christ to His Church,” that, according to ancient usage, “it is to be retained in the Church;” and it anathematizes those “who assert that indulgences are useless, or that the Church cannot grant them.” Yet it enjoins moderation in their use, lest “by too great facility in granting them ecclesiastical discipline be enervated;” and forbids all abuses, whereby profit has been sought by them, and through which scandal has arisen from heretics.[64]

II. 1. “Worshipping and adoration as well of images as of relics.”

We have strong testimony from the earliest times against anything like image-worship, or the use of images or pictures, for the exciting of devotion. Irenæus speaks of it as one of the errors of some of the Gnostics, that they had images and pictures, which they crowned and honoured, as the Gentiles do, professing that the form of Christ, as He was in the flesh, was made by Pilate.[65] Clement of Alexandria repeatedly speaks of the impropriety of making an image of God, the best image of whom is man created after His likeness.[66] Origen quotes Celsus as saying that Christians could not “bear temples, altars, and images;” and proceeds to justify the forbidding of statues and images, showing that Christians rejected them on a higher principle than the Scythians and nomad tribes of Libya.[67] He contends, that it is folly to make images of God, whose best image are those virtues and graces which the Word forms within us, and by which we imitate Him, the “First-born of every creature,” in whom, of all things, is the highest and noblest image of the Father.[68] So Minucius Felix asks “What should I form as an image of God, when, if you think rightly, man is himself God’s image?”[69] Exactly in like manner argues Lactantius: “That is not God’s image which is made with man’s fingers, with stone or brass: but man himself, who thinks and moves and acts;” and he says, “it is superfluous to make images of gods, as if they were absent, when we believe them to be present.”[70] Athanasius as plainly condemns the adoration of images, whether in their use the Supreme Being be to be worshipped, or only angels and inferior intelligences.[71]

The Romanist divines lay great stress on the early mention of the use of the sign of the cross and of emblematical figures. But, how far either of these are from resemblance to the later use of images, it is impossible that any one can be unmindful. Symbols of the faith were unquestionably very early adopted, perhaps from the very first; and have been retained, not only in the Anglican, but in the Lutheran and other reformed communions.

Tertullian speaks of the symbol, on a chalice, of the Good Shepherd carrying the lost sheep on his shoulders.[72] This was not even a figure of our Saviour, but merely an emblem of Him; and this is the only instance ever mentioned by writers of the first three centuries. The sign of the cross, we learn from the same father, was constantly made by the first Christians on their foreheads, at their going out and coming in, at meals, at bathing, at lying down and rising up; and all this, he says, had been handed down by ancient custom and tradition.[73] But though they thus used the sign of the Cross, to remind them of Him who was crucified, it was not to worship it. “We neither worship crosses, nor wish for them,” says Minucius Felix;[74] for the heathens had charged upon Christians that they paid respect to that instrument of punishment which they deserved.[75] But the cross was esteemed emblematical of the doctrine of the Cross, and a badge to distinguish Christian from heathen men. If ever the early Christians were likely to have worshipped the cross, it was when the Empress Helena, mother to Constantine the Great, found, or thought she found the true cross on which our Lord was crucified. But how little was this the case, we learn from the words of St. Ambrose. He tells us that Helena found the nails with which our Lord was crucified, and placed one in the crown worn by Constantine. “Wise Helena,” he says,” who exalted the cross on the head of kings, that Christ’s cross might be adored in kings.”[76] But then he remarks that Helena worshipped that great King who was crucified, “not the wood on which He was crucified; that would be a heathenish error, a vanity of impious men; but she worshipped Him who hung upon the cross.”[77] In vain therefore is the ancient use of the cross, or even the respect paid to the figure of it, alleged as a proof of the antiquity of image-worship. Indeed, it has not been the cross, but the Crucifix, the figure of the crucified Saviour, which has tempted to an idolatrous worship of it.

We have seen that it was charged against the Gnostics as an error, that they had an image of our Saviour, and paid it honour as the heathen do. Eusebius tells us that the people of Paneas had a statue, said to have been erected by the woman who was healed of an issue of blood, and supposed to be a likeness of our blessed Saviour. Eusebius remarks on it, that it is no great wonder if the heathen who were healed by our Saviour should have done such things as this, when pictures of St. Peter, and St. Paul, and of Christ Himself, were said to be preserved; all this being after the heathen manner of honouring deliverers.[78] It is true, Sozomen tells us, that, when Julian had removed this statue, and the heathen had insulted it and broken it in pieces out of hatred to Christ, the Christians gathered up the fragments and laid them up in the Church.[79] But it follows not, because the Christians of his day did not wish to see a statue which was esteemed a likeness of our Saviour treated with contempt, that they therefore intended to adore it. They did not set it up in the Church to worship, but simply brought in the fragments there, that they might not be insulted.

It is not improbable that, about the beginning of the fourth century, there was some inclination to bring pictures into churches; for at the Council of Eliberis in Spain, A. D. 305, one of the canons ordered, that “no picture should be in the church, lest that, which is worshipped or adored, be painted on the walls.”[80] At the latter end of the fourth century, we are told that Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, to keep the country-people quiet, when they met to celehrate the festival of the dedication of the church of St. Felix, ordered the church to be painted with portraits of martyrs and Scripture history, such as Esther, Job, Tobit, &c.[81]

Nearly at the same time, or a little earlier, Epiphanius, going through Anablatha, a village in Palestine, “found there a veil hanging before the door of a church, whereon was painted an image of Christ, or some saint — he did not remember which. When he saw in the church of Christ an image of a man, contrary to the authority of Scripture, he rent it, and advised that it should be made a winding-sheet for some poor man.”[82] Here we have the strong testimony of a bishop and eminent father of the Church, not only against image-worship, but even against the use of pictures in the house of God.

At the end of the fourth century again, St. Augustine says that he knew of many who were worshippers of tombs and pictures, and who practised other superstitious rites. But he says, the Church condemns all such, and strives to correct them as evil children.[83] He himself declares, that it is impiety to erect a statue to God in the Church.[84] He contends against the argument of the heathens, that they only used the image to remind them of the being they worshipped, saying that the visible image naturally arrested the attention more than the invisible deity; and hence the use of such an outward symbol of devotion is calculated to lead to a real worship of the idol itself, even of the gold and silver, the work of men’s hands. And then he answers the objection, that Christians in the administration of the Sacraments had vessels made of gold and silver, the work of men’s hands. “But,” he asks, “have they a mouth, and speak not? have they eyes, and see not? or do we worship them, because in their use we worship God? That is the chief cause of the mad impiety, that a form like life has so much power on the feelings of the wretched beings as to make itself to be worshipped, instead of its being manifest that it is not living, and so ought to be contemned,”[85] &c.

From all this it is manifest, that in the fourth century, among ignorant Christians, a tendency to pay reverence to pictures or images was beginning to appear in some parts of the Church; the Church herself and her bishops and divines strongly opposing and earnestly protesting against it. Towards the close of this century, and afterwards, we hear of pictures (not statues) introduced into churches. Yet these pictures were not pictures of our Lord and His saints, but rather historical pictures of Scripture subjects, such as the sacrifice of Isaac, or of martyrdoms, or, as we saw from Paulinus, of Job and Esther, and other famous characters of old. About the same time, pictures of living kings and bishops were admitted into the church, and set up with those of martyrs and Scripture histories. But as with the dead, so neither with the living, was worship either probable or designed.[86] However, danger of this kind soon arose. By degrees not pictures only, but statues were brought in. And in the sixth century, we find that Serenus, Bishop of Marseilles, ordered all the images in the churches of his diocese to be defaced and broken; whereupon Gregory the Great writes to him, to say that he approved of his forbidding images to be worshipped, but that he blamed him for breaking them, as they were innocent of themselves, and useful for the instruction of the vulgar.[87]

In the eighth century arose the famous Iconoclastic controversy of Constantinople. Philippicus Bardanes, the emperor, with the consent of John, patriarch of Constantinople, began by pulling down pictures from the churches, and forbade them at Rome as well as in Greece. Constantius, Bishop of Rome, opposed him, and ordered pictures of the first six councils to be placed in the porch of St. Peter’s. The controversy, thus kindled, raged during the reigns of several subsequent emperors, especially of Leo the Isaurian, and his son Constantine Copronymus, who were zealous Iconoclasts, and the Empress Irene, as zealous for the opposite party, who were called Iconoduli. In the reign of Constantine Copronymus, a council was summoned at Constantinople, A. D. 754, called by the Greeks the Seventh General Council, but rejected by the Latins, which condemned the worship and all use of images. In the reign of Irene, A. D. 784, the second Council of Nice was summoned by that empress, which reversed the decrees of the Council of Constantinople, and ordained that images should be set up, that salutation and respectful honour should be paid them, and incense should be offered; but not the worship of Latria, which is due to God alone.[88] The decrees of this synod were sent by Pope Adrian into France, to Charlemagne, to be confirmed by the bishops of his kingdom; Charlemagne having also received them direct from Greece. The Gallican bishops, having thus a copy of the decrees, composed a reply to them, not objecting to images, if used for historical remembrance and ornament to walls, but absolutely condemning any worship or adoration of them.[89] This work (the Libri Carolini) was published by the authority of Charlemagne and the consent of his bishops, A. D. 790.[90] Charlemagne also consulted the British bishops, A. D. 792, who, abhorring the worship of images, authorized Albinus to convey to Charlemagne, in their name, a refutation of the decrees of the second Council of Nice. In 794, Charlemagne assembled a synod at Frankfort, composed of 300 bishops from France, Germany, and Italy, who formally rejected the Synod of Nice, and declared that it was not to be esteemed the seventh general council.[91] It has been shown, indeed, that the Synod of Nice was not received in the Western Church for five centuries and a half; and it was very long before there was any real recognition of image-worship in the West, except in those Churches immediately influenced by Rome.[92]

In 869, the Emperor Basil assembled another council at Constantinople, attended by about one hundred Eastern bishops and the legates of Pope Adrian. This confirmed the worship of images, and is esteemed by Romanists as the eighth general council. Yet it is wholly rejected by the Eastern Church, and was evidently for a long time not acknowledged in the West.[93] It was rejected by the next Council of Constantinople, held A. D. 879, which itself also is rejected by the Western Church.

The Council of Trent, which is supposed to fix the doctrines of the Roman Church, enjoins that “Images of Christ, the Virgo Deipara, and the saints, shall be retained in churches, and due honour and veneration given to them, not because any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them, for which they are to be worshipped, nor because anything is to be sought from them, or faith reposed in them, as by the Gentiles, who placed their hope in images; but because the honour which is paid to them is referred to their prototypes; so that by means of the images, which we kiss and bow down before, we adore Christ and reverence the saints, whose likeness they bear.”[94]

2. The worshipping of relics is so much connected with the adoration of images and invocation of saints, that we may pass it over the more briefly.

No doubt, there was an early inclination to pay much respect to the remains of martyrs. We know from all antiquity, that the custom prevailed of meeting at their tombs and celebrating the days of their martyrdom. We find that the Smyrnæan Christians were disappointed at not being allowed the body of Polycarp, as many desired to be able to take it away. Yet they indignantly repudiated the notion that they could worship it.[95] The importance attached to the finding of the true cross by St. Helena is an example of a similar feeling. As the bones of Elisha restored a dead man to life, so the ancients early believed that miraculous powers were often conferred on the dead bodies of the martyrs. Such Gregory Nazianzen attributes to the ashes of St. Cyprian, and speaks of his body as a benefit to the community.[96] A little later, Vigilantius, a Gaul by birth, but a presbyter of the church of Spain, declaimed against the veneration which men had in his time learned to pay to the tombs and relics of the martyrs. It is probable, that he charged his fellow Christians with practices of which they were not guilty; yet it is not unlikely, that in the more rude and ignorant neighbourhoods, that, which was at first but natural respect, was even then approaching to mischievous superstition. St. Jerome wrote fiercely against him, most distinctly and vehemently repelling the charge that Christians worshipped the relics of the saints. “Not only,” he says, “do we not worship relics, but not the sun, the moon, angels nor archangels, cherubim nor seraphim, nor any name that is named in this world or in the world to come; lest we should serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. We honour the relics of the martyrs, that we may worship Him whose martyrs they are. We honour the servants, that their honour may redound to their Lord’s.”[97] His contemporary, St. Augustine, seems to have been more alive than St. Jerome to the growing evil. He graphically describes and complains of the custom, then beginning, of people wandering about and selling relics, or what they said to be relics, of those who had suffered martyrdom.[98]

Still it has been proved, that, in the early ages, the Church never permitted anything like religious worship to be offered to the relics of the saints.[99] The respect paid to them sprang from that natural instinct of humanity, which prompts us to cherish the mortal remains, and all else that is left to us, of those we have loved and honoured whilst in life; and the belief of the sacredness and future resurrection of the bodies of Christians, joined with the wish to protect them from the insults of their heathen persecutors, added intensity to this feeling. With the progress of image-worship and of the invocation of the saints, grew (and perhaps still more rapidly) the undue esteem of relics, to which sanctity seemed to belong: until at length the relics of saints were formally installed amongst the objects of worship, and set up with images for the veneration of the faithful.[100]

3. The Invocation of Saints.

For this practice no early authority can be pleaded, but against it the strongest testimony of the primitive Christians exists. They assert continually, that we should worship none but God. Thus Justin Martyr: “It becomes Christians to worship God only.”[101] Tertullian: “For the safety of the Emperor we invoke God, eternal, true, and living God . . . . Nor can I pray to any other than to Him, from whom I am sure that I may obtain, because He alone can give it.”[102] Origen: “To worship any one besides the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is the sin of impiety.”[103] Lactantius complains of the extreme blindness of men (i. e. heathens), who could worship dead men.[104] And Athanasius argues from St. Paul’s language (1 Thess. iii. 11), that the Son must be God, and not an angel or any other creature, since He is invoked in conjunction with His Father.[105]

In the circular Epistle of the Church of Smyrna, narrating the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, which took place about A. D. 147, it is said, that the Jews prevented the giving of the body to the Christians for burial, “lest forsaking Him who was crucified, they should begin to worship this Polycarp;” “not considering,” writes the Church of Smyrna, “that neither is it possible for us to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all who are saved in the whole world, the spotless One for sinners, nor to worship any other.”[106]

No doubt, the early Christians, believing in “the communion of saints,” had a lively conviction that saints departed were still fellow-worshippers with the Church militant, and thought that those in Paradise still prayed for those on earth.[107] But it does not therefore follow, that they considered that those who joined with us in prayer, ought to be themselves addressed in prayer. On the contrary, we have express evidence that those who believed the saints at rest to pray for the saints in trial, believed that they did so without being invoked. So Origen, “When men, purposing to themselves things which are excellent, pray to God, thousands of the sacred powers join with them in prayer, though not themselves called on or invoked.”[108] Nay! he is here specially arguing against Celsus, who would have had men invoke others of inferior power, after the God who is over all; and he contends that, as the shadow follows the body, so if we can move God by our prayers, we shall be sure to have all the angels and souls of the righteous on our side, and that therefore we must endeavour to please God alone.[109] In the same book he repeatedly denies that it is permitted us to worship angels, who are ministering spirits, our duty being to worship God alone.[110] And whereas Celsus had said, that angels (δαίμονες) belonged to God, and should be reverenced, Origen says, “Far from us be the counsels of Celsus, that we should worship them. We must pray to God alone who is over all, and to the only-begotten Son, the first-born of every creature, and from Him must ask, that, when our prayers have reached Him, He, as High Priest, would offer them to His God and our God, to His Father, and the Father of all who live according to His word.”[111]

St. Athanasius observes, that St. Peter forbade Cornelius to worship him (Acts x. 26), and the angel forbade St. John, when he would have worshipped him (Rev. xxii. 9). “Wherefore,” he adds, “it belongs to God only to be worshipped, and of this the angels are not ignorant, who, though they excel in glory, are yet all of them creatures, and are not in the number of those to be adored, but of those who adore the Lord.”[112]

In like manner the Council of Laodicea, held probably about A. D. 364,[113] forbids Christians to attend conventicles where angels were invoked, and pronounces anathema on all such as were guilty of this secret idolatry, inasmuch as they might be esteemed to have left the Lord Jesus, and given themselves to idolatry.[114] Theodoret tells us, that the reason why this canon was passed at Laodicea was because in Phrygia and Pisidia men had learned to pray to angels; and even to his own day, he says, there were oratories of St. Michael among them.[115]

We hear of another early example of an heretical tendency to creature-worship, which seems almost providentially to have been permitted, in order that there might be an early testimony borne against it. Epiphanius tells us that, whereas some had treated the Virgin Mary with contempt, others were led to the other extreme of error, so that women offered cakes before her, and exalted her to the dignity of one to be worshipped.[116] This, he says, was a doctrine invented by demons. “No doubt the body of Mary was holy; but she was not a God.” Again, “The Virgin was a virgin, and to be honoured; yet not given us to be worshipped, but herself worshipper, of Him who was born of her after the flesh, and who came down from Heaven and from the bosom of His Father.” He then continues, that “the words ‘Woman, what have I to do with thee?’ were spoken on purpose that we might know her to be a woman, and not esteem her as something of a more excellent nature, and because our Lord foresaw the heresies likely to arise.” Again he says, “Neither Elias, though he never died, nor Thecla, nor any of the saints, is to be worshipped.”[117] If the Apostles “will not allow the angels to be worshipped, how much less the daughter of Anna,” i. e. the blessed Virgin. “Let Mary be honoured, but let the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be worshipped. Let no man worship Mary.”[118] “Therefore though Mary be most excellent, holy, and honoured, yet is it not that she should be adored.”[119]

Thus early did the worship of the Virgin show itself, and thus earnestly did the Christian fathers protest against it.[120]

Gregory Nazianzen flourished nearly at the same time with Epiphanius, towards the end of the fourth century. Archbishop Usher says, that his writings are the first in which we meet with any thing like an address to the spirits of the dead.[121] It is worth while to see how this is. First, then, let us premise, that he expressly declares all worship of a creature to be idolatry. He positively charges the Arians with idolatry, because they, not believing the Son of God to be fully equal and of one substance with the Father, yet offered prayers to Him.[122] It is plain, therefore, that any address made by him to the departed could not be intended to be of the nature of that inferior worship, which the Arians offered to the Son, believing Him only the chief of the creatures of God. Yet it is clear that he believed, though not with certainty, that departed saints took an interest in all that passed among their friends and brethren on earth.[123] He had even a pious persuasion that they still continued as much as ever to aid with their prayers those for whom they had been wont to pray on earth.[124] And he ventures to think, if it be not too bold to say so, (εἰ μὴ τολμηρὸν τοῦτο εἰπεῖν,) that the saints, being then nearer to God, and having put off the fetters of the flesh, have more avail with Him than when on earth.[125] In all this he does not appear to have gone further than some who preceded him; nor is there anything in such speculations beyond what might be consistent which the most Protestant abhorrence of saint-worship and Mariolatry. Let us then see how it influenced him in the addresses which he is supposed to have made to the departed. In his first oration against Julian, speaking rhetorically, he addresses the departed emperor Constantius, “Hear, O soul of the great Constantius, if thou hast any sense or perception of these things, thou and the Christian souls of emperors before thee.”[126] So, in his funeral oration on his sister Gorgonia, he winds up thus: “If thou hast a care for the things done by us, and pious souls have this honour of God, that they perceive such things, receive this our oration, in the place of many funeral rites.”[127] Yet these addresses, so far from resembling the prayer in after-times offered to the saints, do in themselves effectually bear witness that no such prayers were ever at that time sent up to them. In oratorical language, in regular oratorical harangues, Gregory addresses himself to the souls of the departed. In one case he, as it were, calls on the soul of Constantius to witness; in the other he addresses his sister, and trusts that she may be satisfied with the funeral honours done to her. But in both instances he expresses doubt whether they can hear him, and in neither does he make anything like prayers to them.

All good things are liable to abuse; and the affectionate interest which the first Christians felt in the repose of the souls who had gone before them to Paradise, their belief that they still prayed with them and for them, no doubt, in course of time engendered an inclination to ask the departed to offer prayers for them, and so by degrees led to the Mariolatry and saint-worship of the Church of Rome. We have seen, however, the clearest proofs that nothing of the sort was permitted or endured in the first four centuries. Later than that, we have distinct evidence in the same direction from those great lights of the Church, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine. The former protests against angel-worship as the most fearful abomination, and attributes its origin to the inventions of the devil.[128] St. Augustine replies to a charge brought by the Manichees, that the Catholics worshipped the martyrs, saying that Christians celebrated the memories of martyrs to excite themselves to imitation, to associate themselves in their good deeds, to have the benefit of their prayers; but never so as to offer up sacrifice (the sacrifice of worship) to martyrs, but to the God of martyrs. “The honour,” he continues, “which we bestow on martyrs, is the honour of love and society, just as holy men of God are honoured in this life; but with that honour which the Greeks call Latria, and for which there is no one word in Latin, a service proper to God alone, we neither worship nor teach any one to worship any but God.”[129]

Unhappily, some even of this early time, whose names are deservedly had in honour, were not so wise. St. Jerome, the contemporary of St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine, gave too much encouragement to the superstitions which were taking root in his day. Vigilantius, whatever his errors may have been, seems wisely to have protested against the growing tendency to venerate the relics and bones of the martyrs, and even called those who did so, idolaters. St. Jerome repudiates indeed all idolatrous worship. “Not only do we not worship and adore the relics of martyrs, but neither sun nor moon, nor angels, nor archangels, cherubim nor seraphim, nor any name that is named, in this world or in the world to come, lest we should serve the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” But he earnestly defends the sanctity of the martyrs’ relics. Vigilantius had argued, that the souls of Apostles and martyrs were either in the bosom of Abraham, or in a place of rest, and refreshment, or beneath the altar of God (Rev. vi. 9). But Jerome contends, that “they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (Rev. xiv. 4); and as the Lamb is everywhere present, so we may believe them to be; and as demons wander through the earth, can we argue that the souls of martyrs, must be confined to one place?” On the contrary, he thinks that they may frequent the shrines where their relics are preserved, and where their memorials are celebrated. He expresses belief in miracles wrought at the tombs of martyrs, and that they pray for us after their decease. He defends the custom of lighting torches before the martyrs’ shrines, denying that it is idolatrous to do so.[130] Here, though such language is far different from what we read in after-ages, we yet clearly trace the rise and gradual progress of dangerous error.

The temptation to turn the mind from God to His creatures is nowhere more likely to assail us than in our devotions. The multitude, converted from heathenism, who had all along worshipped deified mortals, readily lapsed into the worship of martyrs. The noxious plant early took root, and though for a time the wise and pious pastors of the Church kept down its growth, still it gained strength and sprang up afresh; until in ages of darkness and ignorance it reached a height so great, that, at least among the rude and untaught masses, it overshadowed with its dark branches the green pastures of the Church of Christ.

It is unnecessary to trace its progress. It grew steadily on, though still checked occasionally. During the Iconoclastic controversy, one of the canons of the Council of Frankfort forbade not only image-worship, but the invocation of saints (A. D. 794); which, however, had been upheld by the opposite party at the second Council of Nice (A. D. 787).

Our Article especially condemns the “Romish doctrine” of invocation of saints, for which, of course, we must consult the decrees of the Council of Trent. That council simply enjoins, that the people be taught “that the saints reigning with Christ offer their prayers for men to God, and that it is good and useful to invoke them as suppliants; and for the sake of the obtaining of benefits from God through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour, to have recourse to their prayers.” The calling this idolatry it declares to be impious.[131] The creed of the council has one article, “As also that the saints reigning with Christ are to be venerated and invoked, and that they offer up prayers for us to God, and that their relics are to be venerated.”[132]

This is the mildest statement of the doctrine. Unhappily the practice has far exceeded it; and that too in the public and authorized prayers of the Romish Church. It would be an irksome task to collect the many expressions of idolatrous worship with which the Blessed Virgin is approached; and they are too well known to make it necessary.

It is desirable to observe the distinctions which Romanist divines make between the worship due to God, and that paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints. They lay it down, that there are three kinds of worship or adoration: first, latria, which belongs only to God; secondly, that honour and respect shown to good men; thirdly, an intermediate worship, called by them dulia, which belongs to glorified saints in general, and hyperdulia, which belongs to the human nature of Christ, and to the Blessed Virgin.[133]

They determine, that the saints are to be invoked, not as primarily able to grant our prayers, but only to aid us with their intercessions; although they admit, that the forms of the prayers are as though we prayed directly to them; as for instance in the hymn: —

Maria mater gratiæ,

Mater misericordiæ,

Tu nos ab hoste protege,

Et hora mortis suscipe.

They say, moreover, that the saints pray for us through Christ, Christ prays immediately to the Father.[134]

It has seemed unnecessary to say anything of the views concerning the various subjects of this Article, as entertained by the different Protestant communions. All the reformed bodies of Europe have agreed in condemning the belief in purgatory, image-worship, and saint-worship. The Calvinistic bodies are more rigid than the Church of England and the Lutherans, in their rejection of all outward symbolism and emblems in their worship and places of worship. The Lutherans retain, not only the cross, but pictures and the Crucifix in their churches; but, of course, they exhibit nothing like adoration to them. The Church of England has retained the cross as the symbol of redemption, and has encouraged the architectural adornment of her churches, but she has generally rejected the Crucifix, and whatever may appear to involve the least danger of idolatrous worship.


  1. ἔχουσιν χώραν εὐσεβῶν. — Clem. Ad Cor. I. 50.
  2. τὰς μὲν τῶν εὐσεβῶν ψυχὰς ἐν κρείττονί ποι χώρῳ μένειν, κ. τ. λ. — Dial. p. 223; Conf. Quæst. et Respons. ad Orthodox. Justino Imputat. qu. 5.
  3. “Dignam habitationem munamquamque gentem percipere etiam ante judicium.” — Lib. II. 63. Compare Lib. V. 31, quoted above, p. 97.
  4. “Locum divinæ amœnitatis recipiendis sanctorum spiritibus destinatum.” — Apol. I. 47.
  5. “Ejus est mortem timere qui ad Christum nolit ire.” — Cyp. De Mortalitate, p. 157, Oxon. 1682.
  6. “Non est quod putetis bonis et malis interitum esse communem. Ad refrigerium justi vocantur, ad supplicium rapiuntur injusti: datur velocius tutela fidentibus, perfidis pœna.” — Ibid. p. 161.
  7. “Ad quorum convivium congregatur quisquis fidelis et justus et laudabilis invenitur.” — Ibid. p. 163. The reasoning of the whole treatise De Mortalite is of the same kind, and quite inconsistent with a belief that good men going out of this life have a penal state to undergo before attaining to rest and happiness.
  8. “Ut quemadmodum caput resurrexit a mortuis, sic et reliquum corpus omnis hominis qui invenitur in vita, impleto tempore condemnationis ejus, quæ erat propter inobedientiam, resurgat.” — Iren. III. 21.
  9. “Modicum quoque delictum mora resurrectionis illic luendum.” — De Anima, c. 58.
  10. “Oblationes pro defunctis, pro natalitiis annua die facimus.” — De Corona Milit. c. 3. “Pro anima ejus orat, et refrigerium interim adpostulat ei, et in prima resurrectione consortium, et offert annuis diebus dormitionis ejus.” — De Monogamia, c. 10.
  11. Lib. IX. In Rom. xii.
  12. Epist. 34, Edit. Fell, 39, p. 77.
  13. Catech. Myst. V. 6, 7.
  14. Orat. in Cæsar. juxta fin.
  15. Epist. II. 8, Ad Faustinum.
  16. Hom. 41. in 1 ad Corinth.
  17. Constitut. Apostol. Lib. VIII. cap. 12.
  18. ἐξαιρέτως τῆς παναγίας, ἀχράντου, ὑπερευλογημένης δεσποίνης ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας. — Chrysost. Liturg. Græc.
  19. See this shown in very numerous instances by Archbishop Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, ch. VII., and by Bingham, E. A. Bk. XV. ch. III. § 16.
  20. “Memento etiam, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum, qui nos præcesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii lucis et pacis ut indulgeas deprecamur.” — Bibl. Patr. Gr. Lat. Tom. II. p. 129, quoted by Usher and Bingham, as above.
  21. See Bp. Bull, Sermon III. Works, I. p. 71, Oxf. 1827.
  22. “Te quæso, summe Deus, ut charissimos juvenes matura resurrectione suscites et resuscites.” — Ambros. De Obit. Valentini, in ipso fine; Usher, as above.
  23. See numerous examples, quoted by Usher as above.
  24. “The term of εὐχαριστήριος εὐχὴ, ‘a thanksgiving prayer,’ I borrow from the writer of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, (Dionys. Eccles. Hierarch. cap. VII.) who, in the description of the funeral observances used of old in the Church, informeth us, first, that the friends of the dead accounted him to be, as he was, blessed, because that, according to his wish, he had obtained a victorious end, and thereupon sent forth hymns of thanksgiving to the Author of that victory, desiring that they themselves might come unto the like end.” — Usher, as above.
  25. Epiphan. Hæres. LXXV. n. VII.
  26. “Quod enim in die judicii futurum est omnibus, hoc in singulis die mortis impletur.” — Hieronym. In Joel, cap. 2; Usher, Ibid.
  27. See this exemplified in the prayer of St. Augustine for his mother Monica. — Confess. Lib. IX. cap. 13, quoted by Bingham, Lib. XV. ch. III. § 16.
  28. “Ut tolerabilior sit damnatio.” — Aug. Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. CX. Bingham, Ibid.
  29. This was a Millenarian opinion, and was held by Tertullian. — De Monogam. cap. 10; Cont. Marcion. Lib. III. cap. 25; Bingham, Ibid.
  30. The student should by all means read Usher’s Answer to a Jesuit, ch. VII. On Prayer for the Dead; and Bingham, Bk. XV. ch. III. §§ 15, 16. See also Field, Of the Church, Bk. III. c. 9, 17; Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive from Popery, pt. I. ch. I. § IV.; Bramhall, Answer to M. De la Milletiere, I. p. 59, of the Anglo-Catholic Library; Bull’s Works, I. Serm. III. &c.
  31. Apol. I. 45, quoted above.
  32. Tertull. De Anima, 55.
  33. Ibid. 58.
  34. “Ne . . . . judex te tradat angelo executionis, et ille te in carcerem mandet inferum, unde non dimittaris, nisi modico quoque delicto mora resurrectionis expenso.” — Ibid. 35. “In summa carcerem illum quem evangelium demonstrat inferos intelligimus, et novissimum quadrantem, modicum quoque delictum mora resurrectionis illic luendum interpretamur; nemo dubitabit animam aliquid pensare penes inferos salva resurrectionis plenitudine per carnem quoque.” — Ibid. 58.
  35. See the concluding words in the last-cited passage.
  36. “Hoc enim Paracletus (h. e. Montanus) frequentissime commendavit, si quis sermones ejus ex agnitione promissorum charismatum admiscuit.” — Ibid. There is a passage in Cyprian (Epist. 55 ad Antonian. p. 109, Oxf. 1682) from which it is supposed that he adopted this view of Tertullian, whom he called “his Master.” Rigaltius has shown that the language thus used by Cyprian applies to the penitential discipline of the Church, not to a purgatorial fire after death. It is true, the wording of this passage looks like Tertullian’s reasoning. But Cyprian’s language is so constantly opposed to the notion of purgatory, that it is scarcely possible that he should have consistently held that doctrine. See the passages above quoted from his treatise De Mortalitate. So the following: “Quod interim morimur, ad immortalitatem morte transgredimur; nec potest vita æterna succedere, nisi hinc contigerit exire. Non est exitus iste, sed transitus: et temporali itinere decurso, ad æterna transgressus.” — De Mortalitate, 12, p. 164. “Amplectamur diem, qui assignat singulos domicilio suo, qui nos istinc ereptos, et laqueis sæcularibus exsolutos Paradiso restituit et regno.” — Ibid. 14, p. 166.
  37. De Principiis, Lib. I. cap. 6, n. 3, Hieronym. In Jonæ Proph. c. III.; Augustin. De Civit. Dei, Lib. XXI. c. 17, Tom. VII. 637. See Laud against Fisher, § 38.
  38. Origen, De Principiis, Lib. II. cap. 10, n. 5; Homil. in Levitic. vii. n. 4.
  39. Homil. III. in Ps. xxxvi. num. 1.
  40. Homil. in Exod. vi. num. 4.
  41. Lactant. VII. 21.
  42. τυχόν ἐκεῖ τῷ πυρὶ βαπτισθήσονται τῷ τελευταίῳ βαπτίσματι τῷ ἐπιπονωτέρῳ καὶ μακροτέρῳ, ὁ ἐσθίει τὸν χόρτον, τὴν ὕλην, καὶ δαπανᾷ πάσης κακίας κουϕότητα. — Greg. Nazianz. Oratio XXXIX. juxta finem.
  43. Serm. XX. in Psal. 118.
  44. In Psal. 36.
  45. “Cum ex omni otioso verbo rationem simus præstituri, diem judicii concupiscemus, in quo subeunda sunt gravia illa expiandæ a peccatis animæ supplicia,” &c. — Hilar. In Ps. 118, lit. Gimel.
  46. μετὰ τὴν ἐνθένδε μετανάστασιν, διὰ τῆς τοῦ καθαοσίου πυοὸς χωνείας. — Orat. De Mortuis, Tom. III. p. 634, Paris, 1638. τοῦ καθαρσίου πυρὸς τὸν ἐμμιχθέντα τῇ ψυχῇ ῥύπον ἀποκαθῃράντος. — Ibid. p. 635. See Laud against Fisher, § 38.
  47. De Civitate Dei, XVI. 24, XX. 25, Tom. VII. pp. 437, 609.
  48. “Post istius sane corporis mortem, donec ad illum veniatur, qui post resurrectionem corporum futurus est damnationis ultimus dies, si hoc temporis intervallo spiritus defunctorum ejusmodi ignem dicuntur perpeti, quem non sentiant illi qui non habuerunt tales mores et amores in hujus corporis vita, ut eorum ligna, fœnum, stipula consumatur; alii vero sentiant qui ejusmodi secum ædificia portaverunt, sive ibi tantum, sive ideo hic ut non ibi, sæcularis, quamvis a damnatione venialia concremantem ignem transitoriæ tribulationis inveniant, non redarguo, quia forsitan verum est.”De Civit. Dei, XXI. 26, Tom. VII. p. 649.
  49. “Tale aliquid etiam post hanc vitam fieri, incredibile non est, et utrum ita sit quæri potest, et aut inveniri aut latere, nonnullos fideles per ignem quendam purgatorium quanto magis minusve bona pereuntia dilexerunt, tanto tardius citiusque salvari.” — Enchiridion ad. Laurent. cap. 69, Tom. VI. p. 222. See also De Fide et Operibus, cap. 16, Tom. VI. p. 180.
  50. We must by no means imagine that the fathers uniformly interpreted this passage of the Corinthians either of a purgatorial fire at judgment, or before the judgment. For example, St. Chrysostom distinctly expounds it of a probatory, not a purgatory fire; and understands that those who suffer loss are those who are damned eternally, and that their “being saved yet so as by fire” means that they shall be preserved from annihilation, not from suffering by the fire. — See Hom. IX. in 1 Corinth.
  51. “De quibusdam levibus culpis esse ante judicium purgatorius ignis credendus est.” — Gregor. Dial. Lib. IV. cap. 39. Also In Psalm. iii. Pœnitent. in princip.: Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, ch. VI.; Laud against Fisher, § 38.
  52. See Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive from Popery, pt. I. ch. I. § 4, Vol. X. p. 150, Works, London, 1822.
  53. Concil. Tom. XIII.; Fleury, LIV.; Gibbon, ch. LXVI. LXVII.; Usher, as above; Palmer, On the Church, pt. IV. ch. XI. § 5.
  54. Sess. XXV. Decretum de Purgatorio.
  55. Bellarmin. De Purgatorio, Lib. II.
  56. Tertullian Ad Martyres, c. I.; Cypr. Ep. 15 ad Martyres; Euseb. H. E. V. 2.
  57. See Tertullian, De Pudicit. c. 22.
  58. Concil. Ancyran. Can. V.; Concil. Nicæn. I. Can. XII.; Marshall’s Penitential Discipline, ch. III. § 2.
  59. Theodore became Archbishop of Canterbury, A. D. 670. The custom of purchasing exemption of penance by almsgiving can be proved to be of greater antiquity than this. See Marshall, as above.
  60. “Recte Clemens VI. Pont. in Constitutione, Extravagantis, quæ incipit Unigenitus . . . . declaravit, extare in Eccl. thesaurum spiritualem ex passionibus Christi et sanctorum conflatum.” — Bellarmin. De Indulgentiis, Lib. I. cap. 2. “Restat igitur ut passiones sanctorum, si ullo modo dispensari debeant, extra sacramentum solum, idque per solutionem solius reatus pœnæ temporalis dispensari debeant.” — Ibid. cap. 3. See also cap. 10, where Indulgences are shown to apply either to penance in this life or purgatorial pains in the next.
  61. Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive from Popery, ch. I. § 3, Vol. X. p. 138; Bellarmin. De Indulgentiis, Lib. I. cap. 2.
  62. See Bp. Taylor, as above, who refers to Franciscus de Mayronis and Durandus as having disputed against it. See also Bellarmine, as above.
  63. Sess. XXI. cap. IX.
  64. Sess. XXV. Decretum de Indulgentiis.
  65. Iren. Adv. Hær. I. 24, ad finem. Comp. Epiphan. Hæres. XXVII. n. 6, who charges the Carpocratians with worshipping images of Christ, together with those of the philosophers, as the Gentiles do. So Augustine (Hæres. VII.) accuses them of worshipping images of our Lord, of St. Paul, Homer, and Plato.
  66. Strom. Lib. V. 5, Tom. II. p. 662, Lib. VI. 18, Tom. II. p. 825, Lib. VII. 5, Tom. II. p. 845, &c.
  67. Cont. Cels. Lib. VII. 62, seq.
  68. Cont. Cels. Lib. VII. 18.
  69. Minuc. Felic. Octavius, p. 313. Lugd. Batav. 1672.
  70. Instit. II. 2.
  71. Orat. cont. Gentes. Tom. I. p. 22, Col. 1686.
  72. De Pudicit. c. 7.
  73. De Corona M. c. 3.
  74. Octav. p. 284.
  75. Ibid. p. 86; Tertull. Apol. c. 16.
  76. “Sapiens Helena, quæ crucem in capite regum levavit, ut crux Christi in regibus adoretur.” — Ambros. De Obitu Theodosii, juxta finem.
  77. “Habeat Helena quæ legat (h. e. titulum in crucem a Pilato inscriptum) unde crucem Domini recognoscat. Invenit ergo titulum, Regem adoravit, non lignum utique, quia hic gentilis est error, et vanitas impiorum, sed adoravit Illum qui pependit in ligno,” &c. — Ibid.
  78. ὡς εἰκὸς τῶν παλαιῶν ἀπαραϕυλάκτως οἶα σωτῆρας ἐθνικῇ συνηθείᾳ παρἑαυτοῖς τουτον τιμᾷν εἰωθότων τὸν τρόπον. — H. E. VII. 18.
  79. Sozomen. V. 21.
  80. Concil. Eliber. can. 36: “Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur aut adoratur, in parietibus depingatur.” — See Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive pt. I. ch. I. § 8; Bingham, E. A. Bk. VIII. c. VIII. § 6.
  81. Paulin. Natal. 9, Felicis; Bingham, Bk. VIII. ch. VIII. § 7.
  82. Epiphan. Epist. ad Johan. Hierosol. translated by St. Jerome. Ep. 60: Bellarmine (De Imagin. Lib. II. c. 9) argues that the passage is an interpolation. But it is all in the MSS., and its genuineness is admitted by Petavius (De Incarnation. Lib. XV. c. 14, 4, 8). See Bingham, as above.
  83. “Novi multos esse sepulcrorum et picturarum adoratores, &c. . . . .quos et ipsa (Ecclesia) condemnat, et quotidie tanquam malso filios corrigere studet.” — De Moribus Ecclesiæ, I. c. 34, §§ 74, 75, Tom. I. p. 713.
  84. De Fide et Symbolo, c. VII. Tom. VI. p. 157; Comp. De Consensu Evangelist, I. 16, Tom. III. pt. II. p. 11.
  85. In Psalm. cxiii.; Serm. II. §§ 4, 5, 6.
  86. See Bingham, E. A. Bk. VIII. ch. VIII. §§ 9, 11.
  87. “Quia sanctorum imagines adorari vetuisses, omnino laudavimus: fregisse vero reprehendimus,” &c. — Gregor. Lib. IX. Ep. 9; Bingham, as above; Jer. Taylor, as above.
  88. In the VIIth Session a profession of faith was read and signed by the legates and bishops, deciding that images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, should be exposed to view and honoured, but not worshipped with Latria; but that lights should be burned before them and incense offered to them, as the honour so bestowed upon the image is transferred to the original.
  89. “Dum nos nihil in imaginibus spernamus nisi adorationem . . . non ad adorandum, sed ad memoriam rerum gestarum et venustatem parietum habere permittimus. — Lib. Carol. Lib. III. c. 16.
  90. The Caroline books are still extant. The Preface may be seen in Mr. Harvey’s learned and useful work, Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Vindex Catholicus.
  91. See Dupin, Eccl. Hist. Cent. VIII.; Mosheim, Eccl. Hist. Cent. VIII. pt. 2, ch. 3; Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, ch. X.; Bp. Bull, Corruption of Church of Rome, Works, II. p. 275, &c.; Palmer, On the Church, part IV. ch. X. § 4.
  92. Palmer, as above.
  93. Palmer, On the Church, pt. IV. ch. X. § 5.
  94. Sess. XXV. De Invocatione, &c. Sanctorum et Sacris Imaginibus.
  95. Martyr. Polycarpi, c. 17.
  96. Orat. XVIII. Tom. I. pp. 284, 285.
  97. Hieronym. Epist. 37, ad Riparium. Tom. IV. part II. p. 279.
  98. “Alii membra martyrum, si tamen martyrum, venditant.” — De Op. Monach. c. 28, Tom. VI. p. 498.
  99. See on this subject Bingham, E. A. Bk. XXIII. cap. IV. §§ 8, 9; also (referred to by him) Dallæus De Objecto cultus Religiosi, Lib. IV.
  100. See Concil. Trident. Sess. XXV.; Bellarmin. De Reliquiis Sanctorum, Lib. IV. &c.
  101. τὸν Θεὸν μόνον δεῖ προσκυνεῖν. — Apol. I. p. 63.
  102. “Nos pro salute imperatorum Deum invocamus æternum, Deum verum, Deum vivum … Hæc ab alio orare non possum, quam a quo me scio consecuturum, quoniam et ipse qui solus præstat.” — Apol. c. 30.
  103. “Adorare quempiam præter Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum impietatis est crimen.” — Comment. in Epist. ad Roman. Lib. I. n. 16. Comp. In Jesum Nave, Hom. VI. 3: “Non enim adorasset, nisi agnovisset Deum.”
  104. “Homines autem ipsos ad tantam cæcitatem esse deductos, ut vero ac vivo Deo mortuos præferant.” — Instit. II. c. I.
  105. νῦν δὲ ἡ τοιαῦτη δόσις δείκνυσι τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ οὐκ ἂν γοῦν εὔξαιτο τις λαβεῖν παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τῶνγγέλων · ἢ παρά τινος τῶν ἄλλων κτισμάτων, οὐδ ‘ ἄν εἴποι τις, δώῃ σοι Θεὸς καὶγγελος. — Contra Arian. Orat. IV.
  106. οὐδὲ ἕτερόν τινα σέβεσθαι. — S. Polycarpi Martyrium, c. 17; Coteler. Tom. II. p. 200.
  107. e. g. Origen writes: “Ego sic arbitror, quod omnes illi, qui dormierunt ante nos, patres pugnent nobiscum, et adjuvent nos orationibus suis. Ita namque etiam quendam de senioribus magistris audivi dicentem,” &c. — In Jesum Nave, Hom. XVI. 5.
  108. ὥστε τολμᾶν ἡμᾶς λέγειν, ὅτι ἀνθρώποις μετὰ προαιρέσεως προτιθεμένοις τὰ κρείττονα, εὐχομένοις τῷ Θεῷ, μυρίαι ὅσαι ἄκλητοι ουνεύχονται ὁυνάμεις ἱεραὶ. — Cont. Celsum, Lib. VIII. c. 64.
  109. Cont. Cels. Lib. VIII. c. 64.
  110. Cont. Cels. VIII. num. 35, 37.
  111. Ibid. num. 26. See the like argument, Cont. Cels. V. num. 4.
  112. Athanas. Cont. Arian. Orat. III. Tom. I. p. 394.
  113. The date is uncertain, some placing it as early as A. D. 314, others as late as A. D. 372.
  114. Concil. Laodic. Can,. XXXV. Ὅτι οὐ δεῖ χριστιανοὺς ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ἀπιεναι καὶ ἀγγέλους ὀνομάζειν καὶ συνάξεις ποιεῖν · ἄπερ ἀπηγόρευται. εἴ τις οὖν εὑρεθῇ ταύτῃ τῇ κεκρυμμένῃ εἰδωλολατρείᾳ σχολάζων, ἔστω ἀνάθεμα, ὅτι ἐγκατέλιπε τὸν Κύριον ἡμῶν ησοῦν Χριστὸν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ εἰδωλολατρεία προσῆλθεν.
  115. Theodoret, In Coloss. ii. and iii.; Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, ch. IX.; Suicer, s. v. ἄγγελος.
  116. Hæres. 79.
  117. οὔτε τις τῶν ἁγίων προσκυνεῖται.
  118. ἐν τιμῇ ἔστω Μαρία, ὁ δὲ Πατὴρ, καὶ Υἱὸς, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα προσκυνείσθω, τὴν Μαρίαν μηδεὶς προσκυνείτω.
  119. καὶ εἰ καλλίστη ἡ Μαρία καὶ ἁγία καὶ τετιμημένη, ἀλλ’ οὐκ εἰς τὸ προσκυνεῖσθαι.
  120. Bellarmine quotes a passage from Athanasius (De Deipara Virgine, ad finem) which would, if genuine, prove that St. Athanasius sanctions the worship of the Virgin; but the tract is known to be spurious, and was evidently written after the rise of the Monothelite heresy.
  121. Usher, Answer to a Jesuit, ch. IX.
  122. Greg. Nazianz. Orat. XL. Tom. I. p. 669.
  123. καὶ γὰρ πείθομαι τὸς τῶν ἁγίων ψυχὰς τῶν ἡμετέρων αἰσθάνεσθαι. — Epist. 201, p. 898.
  124. Orat. XXIV. p. 425.
  125. Orat. XIX. p. 288.
  126. κουε καὶ ἧ τοῦ μεγάλου Κωνσταντίου ψυχὴ, εἴ τις αἴσθησις, ὅσαι τε πρὸ αὐτοῦ βασιλέων ϕιλόχριστοι. — Orat. III. p. 50.
  127. εἴ δέ τις σοὶ καὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων ἐστι λόγος, καὶ τοῦτο ταῖς ὁσίαις ψυχαῖς ἐκ Θεου γέρας, τῶν τοιούτων ἐπαισθάνεσθαι, δέχοιο καὶ τὸν ἡμέτερον λόγον, ἀντὶ πολλῶν καὶ πρὸ πολλῶν ἐνταϕίων. — Orat. XI. p. 189.
  128. ὁ διάβολος τὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων ἐπεισήγαγε, βασκαίνων ἡμῖν τῆς τιμῆς. — Homil. IX. in Coloss. See also Homil. V. VII. in Coloss.; Bingham, E. A. XIII. iii. 3.
  129. “Colimus ergo martyres eo cultu dilectionis et societatis, quo et in hac vita coluntur sancti homines Dei, quorum cor ad talem pro evangelica veritate passionem paratum esse sentimus. At vero illo cultu, quæ Græce Latria dicitur, Latine uno verbo dici non potest, cum sit quædam proprie Divinitati debita servitus, nec colimus, nec colendum docemus nisi unum Deum.” — Contr. Faustum, Lib. XXI. c. 20, Tom. VIII. p. 347; Bingham, XIII. iii. 2.
  130. Epist. 37, ad Riparium, Tom. IV. pt. II. p. 279.
  131. “Docentes eos, sanctos una cum Christo regnantes orationes suas pro hominibus offerre, bonum atque utile esse suppliciter eos invocare, et ob beneficia impetranda a Deo per Filium ejus Jesum Christum, Dominum Nostrum, qui solus noster Redemptor et Salvator est, ad eorum orationes, opem auxiliumque confugere,” &c. — Sess. XXV. De Invocatione Sanctorum, &c.
  132. “Similiter et sanctos una cum Christo regnantes venerandos et invocandos esse, eosque orationes Deo pro nobis offerre, eorumque reliquias esse venerandas.” — Bulla Pii Iv. Super Forma Juramenti Professionis Fidei.
  133. See Bellarmine, De Sanct. Beatit. Lib. I. cap. 12.
  134. Ibid. c. 17.

E. Harold Browne

(Edward) Harold Browne was an English bishop, born at Aylesbury and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was ordained in 1836, and two years later was elected senior tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From 1843 to 1849 he was vice-principal of St David’s College, Lampeter, and in 1854 was appointed Norrisian professor of divinity at Cambridge. His best-known book is the Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (vol. i., Cambridge, 1850; vol. ii., London, 1853), which remained for many years a standard work on the subject and is still beloved today. In 1864 he was consecrated bishop of Ely.

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