Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lancelot Andrewes on the Ten Commandments and Idols

Read and download Lancelot Andrewes' commentary on the Ten Commandments (including the Second Commandment) here (HT: Book Academny) or here.

Of the general thing here forbidden.

The general thing here forbidden is the making of images But a further thing is set down Col. ii. 23 invented worship for 'to make' in this place signifieth 'to invent.' By the fault here expressed and forbidden we must understand all sins of like nature ; for so by a synecdoche in other commandments under one gross sin expressly forbidden the rest of inferior or equal impiety are forbidden So that , 'will worship' Col. ii. 23 is forbidden ; man must not think himself so wise to devise a worship for God nor must he be so humble as to bow down to any representation of God ; this honour is only due to one Lord God.
To take away all images, God made sure work by forbidding all manner of likeness in heaven, earth, waters ;

a. In heaven; then,
not of the Deity, Isa. xl. 18 "to whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?"
Among the councils they [papists] only allege the second council of Nice at the which there were more unlearned and evil disposed men than ever at any Constantia was their president an heathen and unnatural woman who plucked out her son's eye because he loved not images This council is so absurd that it hath more than the papists would have it viz unam adorationem et unum honor em Dei et imaginis 'one adoration and one honour of God and the image.'
Other councils directly are against images.
3. That they worship not the image itself.

Object. But now the learneder sort seeing this distinction fail them, have found out another shift, non colere et adorare imagines sed Christum et sanctos per imagines, 'not to worship and adore images but Christ and the saints by the images.'

Answ. And this was the very allegation of the heathen, non idola sed numen aliquod cui idolum cedificatur,' not the idol but some deity to whom the idol was erected Lactantius De orig. error., cap. 2; non simulachra sed Mortem et Venerem per simulachra, 'not the images but Mars and Venus by the images,' saith Chrysostom, Hom. xviii. in Epist. ad Eph. b And indeed it was plainly the error of the Israelites ; they would not worship the calf, for they did not think it to be God, but by the calf they would worship God, the calf being used as a representation of God.
4. That the ignorant need the help of an image.

Object. And here the Romans fly to a third shift which is that the ignorant people must have something to help them to remember God.

Answ. But if the people must be put in mind, of what shall it be?

a. Not of the Deity, for they themselves are weary of that, and Hosius saith, In Decalog., cap. 66, such images crept in, dormientibus pastoribus, 'while the pastors slept.'
b. Not of Christ as God, for His attributes are infinite ; and that were but to divide Christ, seeing His deity cannot be painted, and so they fall into that anathema, 1 Ephes. Coucil.
c. Not of Christ as man and now glorified, for as Eusebius saith to Constantia, His glory is now greater than it was upon the mount, when the disciples could not look upon Him.
d. Nor as He was man in the flesh for that were to teach lies, Abac. ii. 18; and it teacheth us to forget His passions, which cannot be painted.
From another work:

God in the goodness of his fatherly love made Heaven, and Earth, and all in them; And that he might have a Creature above all others, to whom he might impart and bestow them, he made Man after his own likeness; so he made all things, non suo commodo, Job. 35. 6, 7. for we can doe him no good; neither did he give them us nostro merito, Esay 40. 5, 6. For how could we deserve any thing, when he gave all things to us before we were, and when we were made we were but vanity; therefore it was his mere and gratious goodness that brought forth Heaven and Earth for us at the beginning. Psal. 115. 15. We are the blessed of the Lord, which made Heaven and Earth: So in that Psalm is distinguished the true God from all idolls; for they cannot move, nor speak, nor doe any thing; but God did all with his word. So St. Paul, by the same reason, exhorteth the Lycaonians to turn from idolls to the true God, Acts 14. 15. But most plainly Jeremiah 10. 11. teacheth this use to be made of the knowledge of Gods Creation. In captivitie, saith he, you shall be tempted to serve their Idols; but he telleth them what answer they must make, which is written in the Caldee tongue, all the rest of the book being in Hebrew, which answer is this: Our God made Heaven and Earth, and all in them is; but your Gods can doe nothing, but their names shall vanish away, and not be heard upon the Earth. By which we see, that this maketh a plain difference between the true God of Heaven, and Idols, their names shall perish before the earth; but as our God was before the Earth was made, so the Earth and Heavens shall pass away before him, which endureth for ever. The Gentils made their gods the ofspring of heaven & Earth; but we know that Heaven and Earth are the ofspring of our God, which made all; and this is the difference to discerne the true God from the false; thus we have seen what we are to learn out of this, for the grounding of our judgement and sound knowledge, and perfecting our understanding in the Creation.

—Lancelot Andrewes, Apospasmatia sacra, or A collection of posthumous and orphan lectures