« PreviousContinue »
the Jews in a short time made of that representation, shows the fatal tendency of the practice of the Romish church, in justification of which it is adduced. The Jews, overlooking the design of God in the erection of the brazen serpent, converted it into an object of idolatrous veneration :-“ The children of Israel did burn incense unto it;" therefore, by the divine command, Hezekiah “ brake it into pieces, and called it Nehushtan," i. e. brass-work. (2 Kings xviii. 4.) This fact alone will go far to show the fallacy of the pretext usually assigned in justification of the setting up of images and pictures in the worship of God; namely, that it assists in fixing the wandering thoughts of the worshippers, and in raising their affections towards the objects of worship represented by them. That must be a languid and morbid piety indeed, which needs as auxiliaries to fix and enliven it, what is in direct violation of the command of God, and the direct tendency of which is to the commission of idolatry.
By whatever pleas it may be attempted to justify the practice, nothing appears more evident than this, that the reverential bowings, bendings of the knee, and prostrations before images and relics, in the church of Rome, is a direct violation of the express words of the second commandment. In the first precept of the decalogue, Jehovah interdicts acts of religious worship to any being, whether existing in reality or in the imagination, besides himself, the one, only, and true God :-“ Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” In the second command, every material representation of the true object of religious worship, whether by images, statues, or pictures, and every thing expressing an act of worship to such representation, are as clearly prohibited :-“ Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth : thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.” (Exod. xx. 3, 4.)* How careful God was to guard the Jews against such idolatry may be inferred from the repetition of this command : (Levit. xvi. 1:) “ Ye shall make you no idols, nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it; for I am the Lord your God.” That these commands were not merely ceremonial, and confined to the Jews, is clear from the language of our Lord when tempted by the devil to an idolatrous act of worship; he rebuked the tempter, by saying, “ It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. The bowing of the head, bending of the knee, the prostrations of the body, and other expressions of adoration, to the pictures of Christ, of the Virgin, and other saints, as practised in the church of Rome, are clearly in direct violation of these express commands of God,
and as clearly convict that church of the guilt of idolatry. Among the many proofs which might be adduced in proof of this grave charge, it will be sufficient to name only one-the adoration of the cross on Good Friday. The following extract from the office used on that day will show this :
“ After the prayers, the priest puts off his vestment, and taking from the altar the cross covered with a veil, he goes to the corner of the epistle, where he uncovers the top of it, and shows it to the people, singing the antiphon :-Ecce lignum crucis-behold the wood of the cross. Then the deacon and sub-deacon join with him in singing the rest-In quố salus mundi pependit-on which the salvation of the world was hanged. And the choir, prostrate on the ground, answers,—Venite, adoremus-come, let us adore. From thence the priest proceeds to the side of the epistle, where he uncovers the right-arm of the cross, singing a second time, Ecce lignum, as before. Lastly, he goes to the middle of the altar, and uncovers the whole cross, singing a third time, as before, Ecce lignum. After which he carries it to a place prepared before the altar, where he adores first himself, and then the clergy and laity, two and two, all kneeling thrice on both knees, and kissing the feet of the crucifix." To remove all mistake as to the nature of the worship thus rendered to the cross, the Roman pontificale declares, that the
adoration to be given to the cross is latria, or the highest adoration which is given to God himself !
The church of England protests more at length against the idolatrous, practice of worshipping images and relics, than against any other corruption of the church of Rome. In her homily against the peril of idolatry, she enters fully into the history of the rise and progress of idolatry in the Christian church, and most clearly convicts the church of Rome of that sin in worshipping saints, images, and relics. From this elaborate discourse the following extract alone can here be introduced :
“ Wherefore they be convict of foolishness and wickedness in making images of God and the Trinity, for that no image of God ought or can be made, as by the Scriptures and good reason evidently appeareth : yea, and once to desire an image of God, cometh of infidelity, thinking not God to be present, except they might see some sign or image of him : no image can be made of Christ but a lying image, (as the Scripture peculiarly calleth images lies,) for Christ is God and man. Seeing, therefore, that of the Godhead, which is the most excellent part, no images can be made, it is falsely called the image of Christ. Wherefore, images of Christ be not only defects, but also lies. Which reason serveth also for the images of saints, whose souls, the more excellent parts of them, can by no images be represented and expressed. Wherefore they be no images of saints, whose souls reign in joy with God, but of the bodies of saints, which yet lie putrefied in their graves. Furthermore, no true image can be made of Christ's body, for it is unknown now of what form or countenance he was. Wherefore, seeing that religion ought to be grounded upon truth, images which cannot be without lies, ought not to be made, or put to any use of religion, or to be placed in churches or temples, places peculiarly appointed to true religion, and service of God. And thus much, that no true image of God, our Saviour Christ, or his saints, can be made : wherewithal is also confuted that their allegation, that images be the laymen's books. For, it is evident, by that which is afore rehearsed, that they teach no things of God, of our Saviour Christ, and of his saints, but lies and errors. Wherefore, either they be no books, or, if they be, they be false and lying books, the teachers of all error.” *