"A Reformed Catholic", William Perkins (12) Intercession of the Saints.
Our Confession confirms Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone. (Ch XXI, Sec II)
Archbishop Bishop Ussher reminds us that prayer is such a principle part of worship that it is often put for the whole and the public place of worship is known as the house of prayer. And with any part of divine worship it is not to be communicated to any creature.
And who is able to hear prayer, which is the pouring out of the soul the secret groans of the spirit which cannot be uttered, but God, who searches the hearts, and who knows what is in the mind of the Spirit for he and he only knows the hearts of the children of men.
The Reformed Church therefore rejects the doctrine of Rome, that the Saints make intercession to God for particular men, according to their needs and that they receive men's prayers, and present them to God, as being contrary to the first commandment and a doctrine that is not only unable to be justified on biblical grounds, but is flatly contrary to 1 Tim 2, 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
In this Chapter of A Reformed Catholic Perkins addresses this Romish idolatrous error.
Our consent with Rome
Our consent with them I will set down in two conclusions.
The saints departed pray unto God, by giving thanks unto him for their own redemption, and for the redemption of the whole Church of God upon earth, Rev. 5. 8. The four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the lamb—, vs 9. and they sung a new song, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: because thou wast killed and hast redeemed us to God—. vs 13. And all the creatures which are in heaven—, heard I saying, Praise and honour and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for evermore.
The Saints departed pray generally for the state of the whole Church, Rev. 6. 9. And I saw under the Altar, the souls of them that were killed for the word of God and THEY CRIED, How long Lord holy and true! dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? whereby we see they desire a final deliverance of the Church, and a destruction of the enemies thereof; that they themselves with all the people of God might be advanced to fulness of glory in body and soul. Yea the dumb creatures, Rom. 8. 23. are said to groan and sigh, waiting for the adoption even the redemption of our bodies: much more than do the Saints in heaven desire the same. And this far we consent.
II. The Dissent or Difference with the Church of Rome.
They hold and teach, that the Saints in heaven, as the Virgin Mary, Peter, Paul, &c. do make intercession to God for particular men, according to their several wants: and that having received particular men's prayers, they present them unto God. But this doctrine we flatly renounce upon these grounds and reasons.
Isai 63. 16. The church saith to God, doubtless thou art our father, though ABRAHAM BE IGNORANT of us, and Israel KNOW US NOT. Now if Abraham knew not his posterity: neither Mary, nor Peter, nor any other of the Saints departed know us and our estate: and consequently they cannot make any particular intercession for us. If they say that Abraham and Jacob were then in Limbo, which they will have to be a part of hell: what joy could Lazarus have in Abraham's bosom, Luke 16. 25. and with what comfort could Jacob say on his death bed: O Lord I have waited for thy salvation. Gen. 46. 18.
2. King. 22. 20. Huldah the prophetess tells Josias, he must be gathered to his fathers, and put in his grave in peace, that his eyes may not see all the evil which God would bring on this place. Therefore the Saints departed see not the state of the Church on earth, much less do they know the thoughts and prayers of men. This conclusion Augustine confirms at large.
No creature, Saint, or angel can be a mediator for us to God, saving Christ alone, who is indeed the only Advocate of his Church. For in a true and sufficient mediator there must be three properties. First of all, the word of God must reveal and propound him unto the Church, that we may in conscience be assured, that praying to him and to God in his name, we shall be heard. Now there is no scripture that mentions either Saints or Angels as mediator in our behalf, save Christ alone. Secondly, a mediator must be perfectly just, so as no sin be found in him at all, 1. John 2. 1. If any man sin we have an advocate with the father Jesus Christ THE RIGHTEOUS. Now the Saints in heaven, howsoever they be fully sanctified by Christ, yet in themselves they were conceived and born in sin: and therefore must needs eternally stand before God by the mediation and merit of an other. Thirdly, a mediator must be a propitiator, that is, bring something to God, that may appease and satisfy the wrath and justice of God for our sins: therefore John adds, and he is a PROPITIATION for our sins. But neither Saint nor Angel can satisfy for the least of our sins: Christ only is the propitiation for them all. The Virgin Mary and the rest of the Saints being sinners, could not satisfy so much as for them∣selves.
The judgement of the ancient church.
All Christian men commend each other in their prayers to God. And who PRAYS FOR ALL, and for whom NONE PRAYS, he is that one and true mediator.
This saith thy Saviour, thou hast NO WHERE to go but to me, thou hast NO WAY to go BUT BY ME.
Thou hast NO NEED OF PATRONS to God, or much discourse that thou shouldest sooth others: but though thou be a∣one and want a patron, and by thyself pray unto God, thou shalt obtain thy desire.
And on the saying of John, If any sin, &c. Thy prayers have no effect unless they be such as THE LORD COMMENDS unto thy Father. And Augustine on the same place has these words, He being such a man said not, ye have an Advocate, but if any sin we have: he said not ye have, neither said he, YE HAVE ME.
III. Objections of Papists Answered.
Rev. 5. 8, 9. The four and twenty elders fall down before the lamb, having every one harps and golden vials, full of odours which are the prayers of the Saints. Hence the Papists gather, that the Saints in heaven receive the prayers of men on earth, and offer them unto the Father.
Answer. There by prayers of the Saints, are meant their own prayers, in which they sing praises to God and to the Lamb, as the verses following plainly declare. And these prayers are also presented unto God only from the hand of the angel, which is Christ himself.
Luke 16. 27. Dives in hell prays for his brethren upon earth, much more do the Saints in heaven pray for us.
Answer. Out of a parable nothing can be gathered, but that which is agreeable to the intent and scope thereof: for by the same reason it may as well be gathered that the soul of Dives being in hell had a tongue. Again, if it were true which they gather, we may gather also that the wicked in hell have compassion and love to their brethren on earth, and a zeal to God's glory: all which are false.
The angels in heaven know every man's estate: they know when any sinner repents and rejoice thereat and pray for particular men: therefore the Saints in heaven do the like, for they are equal to the good angels, Luke. 20, 36.
Answer. The place in Luke is to be understood of the estate of holy men at the day of the last judgement as appears, Matt. 22. 30. where it is said, that the servants of God in the resurrection are as the angels in heaven. Secondly they are like the angels not in office and ministry, by which they are ministering spirits for the good of men: but they are like them in glory.
Secondly we dissent from the Papists because they are not content to say that the Saints departed pray for us in particular; but they add further, that they make intercession for us by their merits in heaven. Now Jesuits deny this but let them hear Lombard, I think (saith he, speaking of one that is but of mean goodness) that he as it were passing by the fire shall be saved by the MERITS and intercessions of the heavenly Church; which does always make intercession for the faithful by request and merit, till Christ shall be complete in his members. And the Roman Catechism says as much. Saints are so much the more to be worshipped and called upon; because they make prayers daily for the salvation of men: and God for their merit and favour bestows many benefits upon us. We deny not, that men upon earth have help and benefit by the faith and piety which the Saints departed showed, when they were in this life. For God shows mercy on them that keep his commandments to a thousand generations. And Augustine saith, it was good for the Jews, that they were loved of Moses, whom God loved. But we utterly deny, that we are helped by merits of Saints either living or departed. For Saints in glory have received the full reward of all their merits; if they could merit: and therefore there is nothing further that they can merit.