Page images
PDF
EPUB

adoring the same as God, so committing idolatry, we may defend, that both for soul and body we are innocent herein. For seeing the body is not made guilty but by a guilty mind, even our body may plead not guilty, seeing our mind, our thoughts, our devotion were totally referred to Christ, whom we truly apprehended by faith, as veiled with the accidents of bread."* If there were any truth in this, it would equally apply to the Israelites, seeing their mind, their thoughts, their devotion were totally referred to Jehovah, whom they truly apprehended by faith, as veiled under the accidents of a calf. But though they referred their worship to Jehovah, yet being offered to a figure of their own making, it is expressly called idolatry. Purity of intention is not to be urged us an excuse in such a case as this. God has prohibited the adoration of any human production, and if men will tread forbidden ground, they must take the consequences.

The method Moses took to cure the people of their idolatry is deserving of notice: “ He took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.” (Exod. xxxii. 20.) The popish God may be subjected to the same process. You may put him into the fire and burn him to a cinder; but he will not stand the fire as well as the Jewish God did. You may then grind the parched host to powder. I dare say the Israelites lost all confidence in their God when they saw him reduced to an innumerable amount of minute particles; but this instead of staggering the faith of a papist, improves it most materially;

for he is taught that "if any one shall deny that in the adorable sacrament of the eucharist whole Christ is contained in each element or species, and in the separate parts of each element or species, a separation being made, he is accursed : so that the papist, instead of having his god destroyed by division, has as many gods as the particles to which he is reduced !

Fisher. Rejoinder, page 302.

Moses finished the case by making his simple people drink their god : he seemed to be persuaded that no one could be so stupid as to think he could literally swallow the supreme Being. The council of Trent would have taught them better, and would have explained how every believer could eat as well as drink a whole divinity! The host, like Aaron's idol, or any other made with hands, may be burned, pulverized, mixed with water and drank. As Moses took this method with the calf to convince the people it was no god, the argument must be equally conclusive against the divinity of anything which may be treated in a similar manner; for if God can really be burned, powdered, and drank, then the piety of the Israelites ought to have been shocked rather than their faith shaken, by the behaviour of their leader to the object of their worship.

Paul taught that, “ They be no gods which are made with hands." (Acts. xix. 26.) The true God has expressly forbidden men to employ their hands in making gods, and calls the product of human manufacture “other gods.” “Go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me to anger with the works of their hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye

have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, to your own hurt." (Jer. xxv. 6, 7.) “Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images," margin, statues, “out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.” (Micah. v. 13.)

“Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our Gods.” (Hosea. xiv. 3.) “ Neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves or the images.” (Isaiah xvii. 8.) “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” (Deut. xxvii. 15.)

« And have cast your gods into the fire, for they were no gods, but the work of

men's hands, wood and stone." (2 Kings xix. 18.) “And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense to other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” (Jer. i. 16.)

It would be easy to multiply texts to the same effect. These however are more than sufficient to show that no human craftsman can make the true God; that all his attempts of this sort provoke the Lord to anger; that the work of human hands is not to be worshipped under pain of the judgment and curse of God. Now for the application of all this: the host is as much the work of man's hands, as any idol that ever was manufactured; the worshippers of it therefore come under all the judgments and curses threatened in the preceeding passages.

I am at a loss to know how a papist will attempt to evade the application of these texts to his wafer God. If he say that the priest does not pretend to make God when he consecrates the host; I answer : neither did Aaron pretend to make Jehovah, when he consecrated the calf: nor did a heathen pretend to create Jupiter, when he consecrated a block of wood or marble, and called it by his name. The god was always supposed to be in existence before the image or statue was made. The materials of which the idols were made were not created by the idols, no more than the bread of the host is made by the priest: all that man's hands can do in the business, is merely to give shape to his lump of matter. And of all the figures given to idols by the whim of man, a wafer is, perhaps, the oddest ! The materials varied much ; from the previous metals to stone and wood. I do not recollect that any, except the papists, have made a god of paste ; but in a religious point of view what the material may be is of no consequence : its being shaped by men's hands and worshipped is the evil; and that is the same whether it be gold, or silver, wood, or dough.

It is not to be supposed that men would be forbidden under pain of the highest displeasure of God, to worship the work of their own hands, if any such production were proper to be adored. And it would be ludicrous to hear Demetrius and his craftsmen complaining of Paul, as persuading the Ephesians and almost all Asia, that “they be no gods which are made with hands," if Paul himself could produce a whole batch of gods every time he celebrated the eucharist!

The manner in which their god is supposed to be present in the sensible object of adoration, is a matter of no moment. Aaron and his people, no doubt, believed Jehovah possessed the calf, or they could not have thought that when they worshipped it, and sacrificed thereunto, they were keeping a feast to the Lord.” (Exod. xxxii. 5, 8.) So the heathens supposed the god possessed the image or statue. The Israelites and heathens did not, and could not intend to worship the metal, of which the idols were constructed, but the divinity without it; and we do not charge the papists with intending to worship bread and wine, but God under these appearances; but, in truth, God is not specially present, either in Jupiter or the host; the juggling of priests, under the pretence of consecration, brings no supernatual power into the idol; after all, therefore, there is nothing really remains but the work of man's hands, and therefore nothing else can receive the worship: hence, in all such cases, the worship is uniformly, in the language of scripture, said to be given to sensible objects, to which it is addressed. If I owe a man five pounds, and leave the money in a house unoccupied, which I mistake for his residence, I may intend he should receive the money, but I have not paid him; the money is really paid to the house, and not to the creditor. This might be called a foolish, but a pardonable mistake. But if he had informed me previously that he did not dwell in the house, and that I must pay the sum into his hands, the case is altered, and there is nothing to extenuate, either its absurdity or its faultiness. Now as God has forbidden us to worship the works of our hands, we may be certain that he is not in them by that peculiar presence with which he has promised to meet his people. The act of devotion in such a case, is an act of rebellion: if we intend it for God, he is not there to receive it, and does not accept it; it remains with the visible idol, which is therefore said to be adored.

With regard to the host, it is as much the work of man, as is any god that was ever made. All that a pagan can do in the manufacture of a divinity is merely to shape the matter he selects for his purpose, and then consecrate it. And the god of the papist cannot be produced without attending to these two points. The host must receive its shape from human hands; and it is never allowed to be a god, and entitled to adoration, prior to consecration. And if you apply the quirks of papists, by which they attempt to evade the charge of idolatry, to any other idolater, they will serve equally well for his exculpation.

A god that is deaf and dumb, that can neither hear prayer, nor give instruction, is not the true God. Such were the gods of the heathens, Hebrews ii. 18, 19; 1 Corinthians xii. 2; and such is the god of the papist. Though he is believed by his votaries to be united to a human soul and body in the host, yet he cannot speak. “Woe unto him that saith to the wafer, awake; to the dumb host, arise, it shall teach !” And though the papist protests that it is all-alive-O! yet " there is no breath at all in the midst of it." If the popish god cannot hear and answer prayer, it must be as foolish as it is wicked to worship him. His reputation upon this point therefore must be supported if possible. Most of my readers have heard of the renowned miracle worker, prince Hohenloe. Most of his signs and wonders are effected by the power of the host, during the celebration of the mass. The following cases deserve attention:“ Dr. Doyle told us,” etc.* In both these instances the cure was to be looked for, and it is affirmed actually took place, “ while the adorable

Onseley's Old Christianity, pages 393, 394.

« PreviousContinue »