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is to take its quality from the esteem and intention of the worshipper, and is to be supposed higher and lower accordingly. This, I think, is your real and full meaning, in as few and as plain words as I am capable of expressing it. In answer to it, I observe as follows.
1. I can meet with nothing in Scripture to countenance those fine-spun notions. Prayer we often read of; but there is not a syllable about absolute and relative, supreme and inferior prayer. We are commanded to pray fervently and incessantly; but never sovereignly or absolutely, that I know of. We have no rules left us about raising or lowering our intentions, in proportion to the dignity of the objects. Some instructions to this purpose might have been highly useful; and it is very strange, that, in a matter of so great importance, no directions should be given, either in Scripture, or at least in antiquity, how to regulate our intentions and meanings, with metaphysical exactness; so as to make our worship either high, higher, or highest of all, as occasion should require.
2. But a greater objection against this doctrine is, that the whole tenor of Scripture runs counter to it. This may be understood, in part, from what I have observed above. To make it yet plainer, I shall take into consideration such acts and instances of worship, as I find laid down in Scripture; whether under the old or new dispensation. · Sacrifice was one instance of worship required under the Law; and it is said, “ He that sacrificeth unto any god, :“ save into the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed." Exod. xxii. 20. Now suppose any person, considering with himself that only absolute and sovereign sacrifice was appropriated to God, by this law, should have gone and sacrificed to other gods, and have been convicted of it before the judges; the apology he must have made for it, I suppose, must have run thus : “ Gentlemen, though I 5 have sacrificed to other gods, yet I hope you will ob“ serve, that I did it not absolutely: I meant not any ab$6 solute or supreme sacrifice, (which is all that the Law
“ forbids,) but relative and inferior only. I regulated my “ intentions with all imaginable care, and my esteem with “ the most critical exactness : I considered the other gods, “ whom I sacrificed to, as inferior only, and infinitely so; “ reserving all sovereign sacrifice to the supreme God of “ Israel.” This or the like apology must, I presume, have brought off the criminal with some applause for his acuteness, if your principles be true. Either you must allow this, or you must be content to say, that not only absolute supreme sacrifice, (if there be any sense in that phrase,) but all sacrifice was, by the Law, appropriate to God only. .
Another instance of worship is making of vows, religious vows. We find as little appearance of your famed distinction here, as in the former case. We read nothing of sovereign and inferior, absolute and relative vows; that we should imagine supreme vows to be appropriate to God, inferior permitted to angels, or idols, or to any creature.
Swearing is another instance much of the same kind with the foregoing. Swearing by God's name is a plain thing, and well understood : but if you tell us of sovereign and inferior swearing, according to the inward respect or intention you have, in proportion to the dignity of the person by whose name you swear, it must sound perfectly new to us. All swearing which comes short in its respects, or falls below sovereign, will, I am afraid, be little better than profaneness.
Such being the case in respect of the acts of religious worship already mentioned, I am now to ask you, what is there so peculiar in the case of invocation and adoration, that they should not be thought of the same kind with the other? Why should not absolute and relative prayer and prostration appear as absurd as absolute and relative sacrifice, vows, oaths, or the like? They are acts and instances of religious worship, like the other; appropriated to God in the same manner, and by the same laws, and upon the same grounds and reasons. Well then, will you please to consider, whether you have not begun at the wrong end, and committed an ύςερον πρότερον in your way of thinking? You imagine that acts of religious worship are to derive their signification and quality from the intention and meaning of the worshippers ; whereas the very reverse of it is the truth. Their meaning and signification is fixed and determined by God himself; and therefore we are never to use them with any other meaning, under peril of profaneness or idolatry. God has not left us at liberty to fix what sense we please upon religious worship, to render it high or low, absolute or relative, at discretion; supreme when offered to God, and if to others inferior; as when to angels, or saints, or images, in suitable proportion. No; religion was not made for metaphysical heads only; such as might nicely distinguish the several degrees and elevations of respect and honour among many objects. The short and plain way, which (in pity to human infirmity, and to prevent confusion) it has pleased God to take with us, is to make all religious worship his own; and so it is sovereign of course. This I take to be the true scriptural, as well as only reasonable account of the object of worship. We need not concern ourselves (it is but vain to pretend to it) about determining the sense and meaning of religious worship. God himself has took care of it; and it is already fixed and determined to our hands. It means, whether we will or no, it means, by divine institution and appointment, the divinity, the supremacy, the sovereignty of its object. To misapply those marks of dignity, those appropriate ensigns of divine majesty; to compliment any creature with them, and thereby to make common what God has made proper, is to deify the works of God's hands, and to serve the creature instead of the Creator, God blessed for ever. We have no occasion to talk of sovereign, absolute, ultimate prayers, and such other odd fancies : prayer is an address to God, and does not admit of those novel distinctions. In short, then, here is no room left for your distinguishing between sove
reign and inferior adoration. You must first prove, what you have hitherto presumed only and taken for granted, that you are at liberty to fix what meaning and signification you please to the acts of religious worship; to make them high or low at discretion. This you will find a very difficult undertaking. Scripture is beforehand with you; and, to fix it more, the concurring judgment of the earliest and best Christian writers. All religious worship is hereby determined to be what you call absolute and sovereign. Inferior or relative worship appears now to be contradiction in sense, as it is novel in sound; like an inferior or relative God. To what hath been said I may add a few farther considerations from Scripture. The Apostles Barnabas and Paul, when the b Lycaonians would have done sacrifice unto them, did not tell them that sacrifice was of equivocal meaning; and that they might proceed in it, provided only that they would rectify their intentions, and consider them as apostles only; but they forbade them to sacrifice to them at all. The angel, in the Revelations, did not direct St. John to consider him only as an angel, and then to go innocently on in his worship of him ; but he ordered him to worship God. Our blessed Lord did not tell the Devil that all external worship was equivocal, and might be offered to angels or men, provided the intention was regulated, and respect proportioned; but he told him plainly that all religious worship was appropriate to God. In fine, nothing is more evident, than that the design, both of the Law and the Gospel, was to establish this great truth, and to root out creature-worship. “And this was," as Dr. Cudworth rightly observes, “ the grand reason why the ancient Faus thers so zealously opposed Arianism; because that « Christianity, which was intended by God Almighty for “ a means to extirpate Pagan idolatry, was thereby itself « paganized and idolatrized ; and made highly guilty of ¢ that very thing which is so much condemned in the
“ Pagans, that is, creature-worship. This might be proved “ by sundry testimonies of Athanasius, Basil, Gregory 66 Nyssen, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, “ Hilary, Ambrose, Austin, Faustinus, and Cyril of Alex. « andria ; all of them charging the Arians, as guilty of “ the very same idolatry with the Gentiles, or Pagans, in “ giving religious worship, even to the Word and Son of 66 God himself, (and consequently to our Saviour Christ,) “ as he was supposed by them to be a creaturec.”.
But in answer, perhaps, to this, it may be said, by such as run things off in a confused manner, and do not stay to distinguish, that certainly there is a wide and great difference between giving honour to heathen idols, and doing it to our Saviour Christ, though a creature only. No doubt but there is; and God forbid that any Christian should say or think otherwise. But that is not the point. The worship even of saints and angels is much preferable to Pagan worship. But still they are both equally, though not equally culpable, idolatry; and are breaches of the first Commandment. Whatever love, respect, gratitude, &c. may be due for what our Lord and Saviour has wrought for us, if he be still a créature, all cannot come up to worship, which is appropriate to God alone. Well, but it may be farther pleaded, that here is God's command in the case, which makes it widely different from any of the former. Very true; there is so; and we shall make a proper use of that hereafter : but the question is, what is the fundamental rule of religious worship? Is it to worship God only ? Or is it to worship God, and whomsoever besides, God shall appoint to be worshipped ? They who pretend the latter must show some foundation, if they can, in Scripture for it. Where is it intimated, either in the Old or New Testament, that worship should be paid to any besides God? Neither the Law nor the Prophets, neither Christ nor his Apostles ever intimated any thing like it. Our Saviour did not say, Worship God, and
• Cudw. Intell. Syst. p. 628.