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The Doctrine of the Communion of Saints in the Ancient Church: A Study in the History of Dogma

The Doctrine of the Communion of Saints in the Ancient Church: A Study in the History of Dogma

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  • ISBN-13: 9781482666571
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Release Date: Mar 01, 2013
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 0.69 x 9.00 x 6.00 inches


Numerous Christian inscriptions belonging to the second century, and several allusions in Tertullian's writings, show that the custom of praying for the departed and commemorating them at the Eucharist had become a fully developed practice even at that early date. But if those, to whom the doctrines and practices bound up with the belief in the Communion of Saints have a priceless value, are pained by such attacks as I have mentioned, they may well rejoice when they see how elsewhere the saints are gradually coming to "possess the kingdom" from which they seemed all but entirely banished in the sixteenth century. Among the doctrines and practices singled out for special attack at that period we find conspicuous those sanctioned by the Church in connection with the veneration of the saints. There is no need to quote the utterances of protestant reformers both in England and on the Continent in support of this assertion, for it is beyond dispute that all religious veneration of the saints, all reliance on the power of their intercession, and all invocation of them whatsoever was at the beginning of the movement regarded as anti-Christian and idolatrous. Yet, if we follow the development of reformed doctrines in England, we are arrested by the fact that, unlike protestant bodies on the Continent, the teachers of the Anglican Church began, as early as the next generation, to occupy themselves with the question of the veneration due to the saints and the practices to which it gave rise. Gradually the extreme iconoclasm of the protestant reformers gave place to the academic specuations of the Caroline divines, and it seemed as if Anglican theologians in the seventeenth century were in the fair way to agree on certain points of doctrine and practice with regard to the veneration of the saints; such as, that the souls of the blessed possess an intelligent life in a state of bliss; that they intercede, in genere at all events, for the welfare of the Church on earth. They seemed, however, fairly agreed that the souls of the Blessed are excluded from the Beatific Vision until the last judgment, and that all direct addresses to them for their intercession with God are vain and useless, and even dangerous, wrong and derogatory to God's honour.

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