Page images

Divine worship due
To the one God.

To Christ. Thou shalt have no other gods 1 They worshipped him, Luke before me, Exod. xx. 3. || xxiv. 52. Let all the angels of

God worship him, Heb. i. 6. Thou shalt worship the Lord. That all men should honour thy God, and him only shalt thou || the Son, even as they honour the serve, Matt. iv. 10.

Il Father, John v. 23.

QUERY XVI. Whether by these (of the first column) and the like texts,

adoration and worship be not'so appropriated to the one God, as to belong to him only ?

THIS is a very material inquiry, relating to the object of religious worship; than which nothing can be of greater concernment. Here, therefore, if any where, we might expect and demand of you a very full, clear, and satisfactory answer. I shall examine your answer, in due time and place. But, first, it will be proper to show what reasons we have to think that all religious worship is appropriated to God only. I shall inquire into the sense of Scripture, in this article; and next proceed to the judgment and practice of the ancient Church, the best comment upon Scripture.

Exod. xx. ver. 3. hath been already produced. The words are, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (or besides) 6 me.” Which is farther explained, ver. 5. (the reason being the same, both with respect to images and false gods,) “ Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them.” All acts of religious worship are forbidden to be offered to any other being, besides the one supreme God: to him they are appropriated, to him only. So Deut. vi. 13. “ Thou shaļt “ fear the Lord thy God, and serve him:” and again, Deut. X. 20. “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou “ serve.” Which is quoted and explained by our blessed Lord himself, in these words : « Thou shalt worship the “ Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” Matth. iv. 10. This was said in answer to Satan, who did not pretend to be supreme, nor desire to be acknowledged as such: (see Luke iv. 6.) all he required was, that a solemn outward act of adoration and worship should be paid him: and the reason given for refusing it is not that he was a bad spirit, an enemy to God; or that God had not commanded that he should be worshipped; but the reason is general, that none are to be worshipped, but God only. And that these and the like texts were intended to exclude all beings, beside the one supreme God, from being worshipped, either at that time, or at any time after, appears, not only from the reason of the thing, but from plain Scripture. “Before me was there no God formed, neither r shall there be after me,” Isa. xlii. 10. “ If there arise “ among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth “ thee a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder come to “ pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after 6 other gods, (which thou hast not known,) and let us serve 6 them; thou shalt not hearken," &c. Deut. xiii. 1, 2, 3. The worship of the same one God, exclusive of all others, is by this for ever made unchangeable: miracles could not be sufficient to give credit to any one who should pretend to introduce another object of worship, or to set up another god, beside the one supreme God. All creatures whatever are hereby effectually precluded from receiving any religious homage and adoration. This is confirmed by St. Paul, (Rom, i. 21.) &c. who censures those that "knew “ God,” (that is, acknowledged one supreme God,)“ and. “ yet glorified him not as God,” because “ they served the “ creature more than (or besides) the Creator, who is bless“ed for ever.” Wherein the Apostle plainly intimates, that the Creator only is to be served ; and that the idolatry of the heathens lay in their worshipping of the creature. He does not blame them for giving sovereign or absolute worship to the creatures, (they could hardly be so silly as to imagine there could be more than one supreme God,) but for

* See also Exod. xxii. 20. xxxiv. 14. Dan: jii. 28.

giving any worship at all, sovereign or inferior, absolute or relative, to any thing but the creature. To the same purpose, Gal. iv. 8. he condemns those who “ did service “ unto them, which by nature were no gods:' which text I shall take care to explain particularly in another place. All this is confirmed and illustrated by the angel, (Rev. xix. 10. xxii. 9.) who refused to receive so much as the outward act of adoration; giving this rule and maxim upon it, “ Worship God :” intimating thereby, that God only is to be worshipped ; that all acts of religious worship are appropriated to God only. He does not say, Worship God, and whom God shall appoint to be worshipped ; as if he had appointed any besides God: nor, Worship God with sovereign worship; as if any inferior sort of worship was permitted to be paid to creatures: but simply, plainly, and briefly, Worship God. To this I may add, that the reasons which God insists upon and inculcates, in the Old Testament, why he, and he alone, in opposition to all others, is to be worshipped, are such as exclude all creatures. His being Jehovah, a Creator, Sustainer, Preserver of all things, having no God before him nor after him, and the like.

This is the Scripture-account of the object of worship: there is neither rule nor example in it for the worshipping any creature whatever; but all the texts relating to this matter are full, strong, and clear for the worship of God only. Now, whatever reasons human wisdom may invent for the worshipping of creatures, besides the Creator, (as Celsus and Porphyry of old, and the Romanists of later times have pretended, those are never to be set against a clear and plain law; or opposed to the unerring wisdom of God, who best knows to whom worship is proper to be paid, and to whom not.

I shall not here argue the point from the nature of the thing itself. I will suppose (without granting) that creatures may be wise enough to know, ready enough to

• See Isa. xl. xlv. 5, 6,7: 2 Kings xix. 15. Jer. x. 10, 11, 12.

hear, and able to relieve our wants, át any distance. I will suppose also, that one creature may be appointed to bear 'rule, and to have dominion over many; as some have thought particular angels to preside over such and such kingdoms or countries. I will suppose likewise, that it may seem to human wisdom very fit and proper, that such creatures as can assist, or have the charge of others, should be respected, worshipped, and adored by them. I will suppose also, that we may be so ignorant as not to perceive any great harm in these suppositions, from the nature of the thing, barely and singly considered. But God's “ thoughts are not our thoughts:" he has been pleased to enter an express caveat and prohibition in the case; and has, no doubt, good reason for it. Possibly he may apprehend it to be more for his own glory, and more for our good, that our whole worship and service be paid to him, than a part only. Possibly he may know, (such is human infirmity,) that if any part, or kind, or degree of religious worship was permitted to be given to creatures, it might insensibly alienate our minds from the Creator; or eat out all our reverence and respect for God. Or, it may be, that while our acknowledgments are ordered to be paid to him, and to him alone, we may thereby be induced to live more in dependence on him ; become more immediately united to him; and have the greater love and esteem for him. He will not, perhaps, leave his favours in the hands, or in the disposal of his creatures, l'est we should forget whom we are principally obliged to; ôr lest we should imagine that he is not always every where present, to hear all our petitions, and to answer them, according to his own good pleasure. These, or a thousand better reasons, infinite Wisdom may have, for appropriating all acts of religious worship to God. It is sufficient for us to know that he has done it: and of this holy Scripture has given abundant proof, as we have before seen.

Now I come to consider what you have to except against so clear a truth. All is comprised in one short

. OF SOME QUERIES. 167 sentence; one remarkable distinction. “ Absolute su“preme honour is plainly appropriated to the person of " the Father only, (by Exod. xx. 3. Matt. iy. 10.) as the “absolute supreme Being, or the one God." (P. 94.) From which I am to infer, that relative inferior worship may be paid to the creatures, notwithstanding what has been urged, from the whole tenor of Scripture and antiquity, to the contrary. This is the famed distinction, pleaded by the heathens of old, for Pagan, by the Romanists of late, for Popish, and by you, for Arian idolatry. I shall endeavour to convince you how little there is, either of truth or probability, in this so celebrated distinction ; and then put an end to the argument of this Query.

You set out unfortunately under a mistake, as if we were inquiring about respect and esteem, when the question is entirely about acts of religious worship. My words were worship and adoration : instead thereof you put honour, an ambiguous word; and so slip over the difficulty, which you was pinched with; and insensibly lead your reader off from the point it concerned you to speak to. Please to remember that we are disputing about acts of worship, religious worship. Let us keep to the terms we began with; lest, by the changing of words, we make a change of ideas, and alter the very state of the question, This being premised, now I come directly to the point in hand. Your pretence is, that ultimate, absolute, supreme, sovereign worship is due to the Father only; mediate, relative, inferior, petty worship may be paid to creatures : the outward acts and circumstances supposed alike in both, so far as to make them religious, not civil worship. Your considering the Father as supreme, and your intending him the highest respect imaginable, are to make his worship become supreme, absolute, sovereign worship: but your considering another being as inferior, dependent, and a creature only, and your intending him no more than a proportionate respect, are to make the worship of him become inferior, relative, petty worship. Worship therefore

« PreviousContinue »