Idolatry it is as the sin of whoredom, and I cannot open this Scripture except I shew you wherein idolatry is like the sin of whoredom: The idolatry of the Church, not the idolatry of heathens is whoredom. One that committeth adultery doth give her self to another: The Heathens because they were never married to God, their idolatry is not adultery; but the people of God being married to the Lord, their idolatry is adultery.
Adultery first, because it breaks the marriage bond, there is nothing breaks the marriage bond between God and his people but the sin of idolatry, as not between man and wife. Though a wife may be guilty of many failings, and be a grievous trouble and burden to her husband, yet these do not break the marriage knot except she defile the marriage bed: So though a people may be guilty of notorious and vile sins, yet if they keep the worship of God pure, they are not guilty of whoredom, but still God is married to them.
Secondly, Whoredom is a loathsome things, though delightsome to men, yet loathsome to God: Idolatry is so, therefore the Scripture calleth the idols that men set up by a name that signifieth the very excrement that comes from creatures, Ezek. 22, 3. Idolaters think their way of idol-worship to be very delightsome, but that which they call delectable, God calleth detestable, so you shall find if you compare these two Scriptures, Isa. 44. 9. they call their Idols delectable things, but in Ezek. 5. 11. God calleth them detestable things. Idolatry is a detestable loathsome thing.
Thirdly, There is nothing wherein a man is so irreconcilable as in the point of the marriage bed, the defiling of that by adultery causes an irreconcilable breach: Jealousy is the rage of a man, and he will take no ransom. There is nothing wherein God is so irreconcilable to a people, as in the point of false worship.
Fourthly, Adultery it is a besotting sin, Whoredom and new wine take away the heart, saith the prophet, and in that 44. Isa. 19. there, saith God, he hath no understanding to consider and say, What have I not taken one part and roasted flesh with it, and with another part have baked bread upon the coals, and warmed my self with another, and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination, and fall down to the stock of a tree? He hath no understanding to consider this. Idolatry is a besotting sin as well as adultery. And therefore we need not marvel though men of great parts and abilities continue in their superstitious way of worship, for nothing besotteth mens hearts so much as that doth.
Again 5. Whoredom is a most dangerous sin. We have a most dreadful place for that, Prov. 32. 14. The mouth of a strange woman is as a deep pit; he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. Oh most dreadful place to an Adulterer! if there be any Adulterer in this place this day, when thou goest home turn to that Scripture, and let it be as a dart to thy heart, the mouth of a strange woman is as a deep pit; he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein; A sign of a man abhorred of God, and so is Idolatry, for in 2 Thes. 2. 11, 12. God gave them over to believe a lie that they might be damned. Those that follow the Idolatries of Antichrist are given over by God to believe a lie, That lie of Popery altogether is one lie. Hence it is that the Popish party invent so many such strange lies, all to uphold that great lie. Why is this? that they might be damned. It is a dreadful dangerous sin the sin of Idolatry, though they think they please God in and by such ways of worship, yet they are given over by God that they may be damned. If this prove to be a place that concerns those that follow Antichrist, and if Rome proves to be so as by that place is described, it is a dreadful place to all Papists.
Again, Whores use to deck themselves up in pompous attire, in dainty, glorious raiment. So Idolaters use to deck up their Idols in bravery, and lavish gold (as the Scripture speaks) upon their Idols; whereas the Kings daughter is all glorious within, and the simplicity of the Gospel will not permit such things.
And lastly, as whores though they go a whoring from their husbands, yet still they retain (before the divorce) the name of wives, and their children (though bastards) retain the name of children, and bear the fathers name: So Idolaters, they will retain the name of the Church, the Church, and those that they beget, must still be called the only sons of the Church.
But how are his children said to be children of whoredoms? for suppose his wife were a wife of whoredoms, yet being married to her, wherefore should the children be called children of whoredoms?
To that is answered first, some think upon this ground, because the children when they grow up would follow the way of the Mother, as it is an usual thing for children to do. Therefore you need to take heed how you enter into the estate of marriage for your childrens sake, for they will follow the way of the Mother.
Or rather this, because though they were begotten after marriage, yet they will lie under suspicion as those that are illegitimate; the children of one that hath been a whore are always suspected, and so in repute they are the children of whoredom and fornication: so sayeth God, these people are to me as if their children were accounted children of fornication.
For the whole land hath gone a whoring from the Lord.
In going a whoring they go a whoring: Or as Arias Montanus reads it, In going a whoring they will go a whoring. They not only Have, but Will, they are set upon it, they are stouthearted in the way of Idolatry, and it is the land that hath done it, the people of the land.
But why the land?
It is a secret check to them, and an upbraiding them for their unthankfulness, that when God gave them so good a land, the land of Canaan that flowed with milk and honey, the land of promise, that was given to them for that end to nourish up the true worship of God, yet they made this land of God, this land of promise to be a land to nourish up most vile Idolaters.
Gone away a whoring from the Lord.
The more worthy the husband is, the more vile and odious the adultery of the wife. What, to go a whoring from God, the blessed God, in whom is all beauty and excellency, and turn to blind Idols? What, change the glory of the invisible God, into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass? with what indignation doth God speak it? Oh you that go a whoring after your sinful lusts, this one day will lie most dreadfully upon your consciences, that it was from the Lord that you departed, from that infinite glorious eternal Deity, the fountain of all good, to cleave to whoring after base, sinful, and unclean lusts.
—Jeremiah Burroughs, An exposition of the prophesie of Hosea