Friday, December 24, 2010

Jeremiah Burroughs on Idolatry & Adultery (Hosea 1:2-5)

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.

From Jehovah.

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thomas Manton on the Second Commandment and the Spiritual Idolatry of Christians

God giveth quite in another manner than man doth. It is our fault to measure infiniteness by our last, and to muse of God according as we use ourselves. The soul, in all her conclusions, is directed by principles and premises of sense and experience; and because we converse with limited natures and dispositions, therefore we do not form proper and worthy thoughts of God. It was the gross idolatry of the heathens to 'turn the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of a man.' Rom. i. 23; that is, to fancy God according to the shape and figure of our bodies. And so it is the spiritual idolatry of Christians to fancy God according to the model and size of their own minds and dispositions. I am persuaded there doth nothing disadvantage us so much in believing as this conceit that 'God is altogether like ourselves,' Ps. 1. 21. We, being of eager and revengeful spirits, cannot believe his patience and pardoning mercy; and that, I suppose, was the reason why the apostles (when Christ talked of forgiving our brother seven times in one day), cried out, Luke xvii. 5, 'Lord, increase our faith,' as not being able to believe so great a pardoning mercy either in themselves or God. And therefore, also, I suppose it is that God doth with such vehemency show everywhere that his heart hath other manner of dispositions than man's hath: Isa. Iv. 8, 9, 'My thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways; as far as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts:' I am not straitened in bowels, nor hardened, nor implacable, as men are; as there is a vast space and distance between the earth and the firmament, so between your drop and my ocean. So Hosea xi. 9, 'I am God, and not man; and therefore Ephraim shall not be destroyed;' that is, I have not such a narrow heart, such wrathful implacable dispositions as men have. Well, then, consider, when God giveth, he will give like himself. Do not measure him by the wretched straitness of your own hearts, and confine God within the circle of the creatures. It is said of Araunah that he gave as a king to David, 2 Sam. xxiv. 23. Whatever God doth, he will do as a God, above the rate and measure of the creatures, something befitting the infiniteness and eternity of his own essence. 

—Thomas Manton

For the second point, picturing the Trinity, God hath not only forbidden it, but argued against it: Deut. iv. 15, 16, 'Take therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no similitude, when the Lord spake to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of anything male or female.' See how cautelous God is to prevent this abuse, and yet how boldly men practise it.
—Thomas Manton
Carnal men at the same time approve what they seem to condemn; they hate and fear strictness: "Herod feared John, because he was a just man, and a holy, and observed him" (Mark vi. 20). They scoff at it with their tongues, but have a fear of it in their consciences: they revile at it while they live, but what mind are they of when they come to die? then all speak well of a holy life, and the strictest obedience to the laws of God: "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his" (Num. xxiii. 10); "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out" (Matt. xxv. 8). Oh, that they had a little of that holiness and strictness which they scoffed at, whilst they were pursuing their lusts. How will men desire to die, as parnal and careless sinners, or as mortified saints? Once more, they approve it in thesi, and condemn it in hypothesi. All the scoffers at godliness within the pale of the visible church, have the same Bible, baptism, creed, pretend to believe in the same God and Christ, which they own with those whom they oppose. All the difference is, the one are real Christians, the other are nominal; some profess at large, the others practise what they profess; the one have a religion to talk of, the others to live by. Once more, they approve it in the form, but hate it in the power. A picture of Christ that is drawn by a painter they like, and the forbidden image of God made by a carver they will reverence and honour, and be zealous for; but the image of God framed by the Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, and described in the lives of the heavenly and the sanctified, this they scorn and scoff at.

—Thomas Manton

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thomas Cranmer on the Second Commandment & Third Commandments

From Cranmer's Catechism, The Ten Commandments:

A declaration of the first commandment. To the intent, good children, that you may better understand the law of the ten commandments, you must first of all know, that God gave to Moses the ten commandments, written in two tables of stone: wherefore they are divided in two parts. In the first table were written the three (four) first commandments pertaining to God, which teach us how we should behave ourselves towards God, as well inwardly in heart and mind, as outwardly in words and deeds. In the other table were graven seven (six) precepts pertaining to our neighbours, which teach us how we ought to order ourselves towards our princes, magistrates, and rulers; towards our wives, children, and servants; and towards all states of men; teaching us that we should not be disobedient, that we do wrong to no man, that we hurt no man, that we lie not in wait to kill any man, that we defile not other men's wives, and, to be short, that we hurt not our neighbours, either in body, goods, or good name.

But now let us consider the first commandment, and the declaration of the same, I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other gods but me. This commandment, good children, teaches us how we ought to use our hearts towards God.

First, That we ought to acknowledge with all our heart, that God made heaven and earth and all things contained therein, and to take him only to be the true God, and to be our God.

Secondly, This commandment teaches us to fear him as a living God, because he punishes the ungodly; and to cleave unto him with a sure faith, because he is true and faithful, and does not deceive us in any thing which he hath spoken or promised.

Thirdly, This commandment teaches us to love him with all our heart, for of him we receive our life, our breath, our health, and all other gifts both bodily and spiritual. And we have not the least of his gifts by our deserts, but he pours them all upon us freely, through his infinite goodness and endless mercy.

Contrariwise we ought not to receive into our hearts, as God, any creature either in heaven or in earth; that is to say, we ought to fear no creature, either in heaven or in earth, so much as God. Neither ought we to put such confidence and trust in any thing; neither should we so heartily love any creature, as our Lord God omnipotent. For if we attribute to any creature, so much fear, trust, love, as appertains only to him that made all creatures, we presently make that creature our god, and of it we frame to ourselves an idol; which is a very heinous, an abominable, and horrible sin, directly against the first table, and the first and chief commandment of God.

Therefore such great offences the true and living Lord God will not leave unpunished; for he himself saith, I am the Lord, my title and my name is the Lord, I will not give my glory to another; meaning thereby, that he will not suffer that any other thing should be esteemed as God, besides himself, or that we should give godly honour in heart, affection, word, or deed, to any creature, but only to Him that was never created, and yet did create all things.

But here, peradventure, you will muse, good children, asking this question, How can we have other gods before the Lord, seeing there is but one God, one Lord, who hath made heaven and earth? To this I answer, that indeed there is none other God, but that most excellent and omnipotent Lord. Lay sure hold on this article with a steadfast faith, good children; believe this, doubting nothing therein; cleave surely to this rock. But yet notwithstanding this, fools, infidels, and ungodly men take some other thing for their god, which indeed is not God, nor can be by any means. For, as many times we take some men for honest, rich, or noble, who are not so indeed, so oftentimes we fear something, as much as we do God, which is not God indeed. And of creatures we make gods three manner of ways.

The first is, When a man fears any creature, and thinks thus with himself, If such a thing be taken away from me; if such a great man be angry with me; if I escape not such a danger, then I am utterly undone, then I know not whither to run for aid and succour. Whither then shall I go'! Who shall save or help me? If thou have any such thought of any creature truly in thy heart, thou makest it a god, although with thy mouth thou dost not call it a god. And this affection lies lurking so deeply hid within many men's hearts, that they themselves scarcely feel or perceive it. But this fear ought to be removed far from us. For we must cleave steadfastly by faith to the true and living God, and in all kind of adversity reason on this fashion: Although men of great power be mine enemies; although this or that peril press me very sore; although I see nothing before mine eyes but present death or danger; yet will I not despair, yet will I not mistrust God, yet will I not hurt my soul with sin. For I am sure that this creature, which so sorely persecutes, vexes, or troubles me, is no god, but is under the hand and power of the true living God. I know that one hair of my head cannot be taken away from me, without the will of Him who is only and alone the true living God. He is my Maker, my Lord, and my God. Him will I fear more than the mighty power of any man, more than the crafty imaginations of mine enemies, yea, more

than any creature in heaven or in earth. If I be wrongfully entreated, and suffer unjustly, he can easily deliver me, and so preserve me that no peril shall touch me.

The second way is, When men put their whole confidence in other things than in God, and have these or such like thoughts within themselves,—I would I had such riches or lands; I would such a man were my friend, then should I be rich, happy, and blessed; then should I be sufficiently armed against all chances that may happen to me in this world. They, that think thus, have such riches, lands, and creatures, for a god, although with their tongue they say not so. Yea, although this affection lie hid in our hearts so secretly, that we ourselves should scarcely know of it. But the godly may not suffer any such thoughts to enter into their hearts, but ought thus to reason with themselves : Although I have very great abundance of friends and riches, although I flow in pleasures, honour, and glory, and in all worldly things, which a man can desire; yet by these things I have not true salvation. For these creatures are not God, wherefore they cannot save me; neither deliver me from the tyranny of the devil, or the wrath of God. But the Lord is God alone. If I displease Him, he is able to take all my friends and riches away from me, or else otherwise to bring to pass that all these things shall work my destruction. Wherefore He alone is to be feared, and in him alone we must fasten the anchor of our trust and confidence.

The third way is, When a man so heartily loves and delights in any thing besides God, that for it he does and suffers willingly all things that are to be done or suffered, not greatly regarding whether it pleases or displeases God. Then this man makes this creature, which he so fervently loves, his God, though in words he does not utter it.

But let Christian people weed out from the bottom of their hearts, the roots of such inordinate love of any creature. And let them think after this sort: Wherefore should I offend God for this or that thing? I know that this lucre, or this honour, upon the which I am tempted and do so much set my heart, is not God. It is but a creature which cannot save me, neither deliver me from death, or any other adversity. Wherefore I will love only my God with all mine heart. I will do all things for his sake chiefly, and I will only, above all things, obey him.

Hitherto you have heard, how by these three ways, by fearing, by trusting, and by loving, we may easily make a god of a creature, which indeed is no god, but rather an idol, set up by our own vain fancy. But this is a horrible sin against the first commandment of God, and so much the more perilous, because it lurks in the corners of man's heart most secretly. The world is full of this sin; and especially they that have hypocritical hearts; for all their painted holiness is infected with the rust of these vices. And to the intent that you may the better know these heinous offences against the first commandment, and the sooner avoid them, I will declare them unto you by a few and short examples.

Some there are who do greatly fear the conjunctions and influences of the heavenly planets and bodies above.

Further, There are many that stand in such awe of tyrants, that for fear of them they deny the true word of God.

Some men also put their whole affiance in money, and fancy that those who have plenty of money can lack nothing. Therefore they give themselves wholly to covetousness and to the desire to hoard up riches; they set their mind upon filthy lucre; they scratch what they can, not regarding whether they get by right or by wrong.

Such men worship their riches for their God. But St. Paul, in the 3d chapter to the Colossians, saith, Forsake covetousness, which is a service to idols.

Some set their trust in their own works, thinking that by them they may be delivered from sin, reconciled to the favour of God, justified before him, and by them also to attain eternal salvation. These have their merits and works in the stead of God. This is the greatest idolatry that can be under the sun, and a plain denial of the faith in Christ.

Others there are that be servants to their own bellies, giving themselves wholly to eating and drinking and bodily pleasures; so much so that in comparison with bodily pleasures they either despise, or else forget God. Such men make their belly their god, as St. Paul writes of them, saying, Some there are which, selling the word of God, do teach perversely, whose God is their belly. But that wherein they do now glory shall be their confusion. By these examples you may easily perceive how by too much fearing, trusting, and loving, we make a god of a creature, which indeed is not God.

And besides these abuses, there is another that makes an idol of the true and living God. And that is, when we imagine by our own heads another form and shape of God and his will than is true, and otherwise than he himself has declared to us in his word.

Wherefore, good children, take heed of such imaginations, that you frame not to yourselves within the temple of your hearts any strange god or idol. But suffer the Lord to be your God, for he offers himself very lovingly, and with a fatherly affection, to be your God. Therefore he saith to each of you, I am the Lord thy God, that is to say, I am your Lord and your Father, and I would fain that you should take me for your very God only. If I am your Lord, where is the fear due unto me? Only fear me as your Lord; obey me with all your heart; trust in me; pray to me; call upon me, and love me, good children, as your Father.

It were our bounden duty to pray unto him with most fervent desire that he would vouchsafe to be our God. But his goodness is so much inclined towards us, that he prevents us, and before we desire him he offers himself to us, saying, I am the Lord thy God. Only acknowledge me for God. When he saith, I am thy God, it is as much as if he should say, I will pour all kinds of benefits upon thee: whatsoever kind of adversity troubleth thee, make thy moan to me; whensoever thou lackest any thing, ask it of me. I am not far from thee, I am thy God. At all times I will be present with thee, and I will keep thee in all things.

Now, good children, diligently learn ye this lesson, and grave it in your memories; so you shall love God, and put your trust in him. For this is the meaning of this first commandment, that we ought to fear and love the Lord God above all things, and fasten our hope in him. Wherefore, good children, with all diligence learn you this rule. And when this question shall be demanded of you, How do you understand the first commandment? then shall ye answer thus: In this precept we are commanded to fear and love God with all our heart, and to put our whole trust and confidence in him.

The conclusion. Now ye have heard, good children, in a brief sum, the true, sincere, and plain exposition of the first commandment. Bear away, I pray you, this doctrine, and diligently record it. Walk in the fear of the Lord, that you transgress not these commandments. For whatsoever God biddeth, that is right, just, good, and holy; whatsoever he forbiddeth, that is wrong, unjust, evil, and sin: he himself requires of us to keep his commandments, and not despise them. For he saith, I am the Lord thy God, a strong and a jealous God, which do punish the children that do hate me, even to the third and fourth generation, for the iniquity of their parents. And contrariwise, I do show mercy to a thousand generations of them that love me and keep my commandments. In these words God threatens grievous punishments to all that break these commandments. Wherefore it is our duty to fear his indignation and punishment, and not to provoke his wrath upon us by our disobedience. And on the contrary, he promises his favour and goodness to all them that keep these his commandments. Therefore we ought to love Him, cast our affiance upon him, and obey his commandments. And especially ye, good children, ought to fear God, keep his precepts, and to desire grace and help of him, that you may perform and fulfil them. For the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom, and it makes men godly, and disposes them to all good works. And such, having the favour of God, may profit many both in common and private affairs. Out of this fear of God springs also a good conscience, peace, and quietness of the same, as you have heard out of the psalm which was rehearsed in the beginning of the preface. And if we continue to the end of our lives in this true knowledge and faith of God, then he, over and beside the foresaid benefits, will give unto us life everlasting; the which may He grant unto you, that is blessed for ever. Amen.

(Note, that both the preface and the conclusion, also, of this first sermon should be repeated, the one in the beginning and the other in the latter end, in every sermon made for the residue of the commandments.)


Ye have heard, good children, in the former sermon, that all manner of idolatry is forbidden by this commandment; Thou shalt have none other gods but me. Where also it was declared unto you how you may commit spiritual idolatry, by over-much fearing, trusting, and loving of creatures. But now I will speak of the most gross idolatry which standeth in worshipping of images, either of creatures or of God himself.

And this idolatry is forbidden by express words in this commandment, where God saith thus; Thou shalt make thee no graven image, nor any likeness of any thing, which is in heaven above or in earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down unto it, nor worship it.

These words, by most interpreters of late time, are made to belong to the first commandment, although, after the interpretation of many ancient authors, they are the second commandment.* In which words it is to be noted, that it is not without great cause that God with such plain and express words, hath forbidden worshipping of images. For he saw that man's corrupt nature, from the first time that he fell from God, has ever been inclined and ready to idolatry, and to bow down to creatures, rather than to look up to God that made him. Wherefore He forbids all occasions of the same.

God did also foresee, that, in the latter days, men should come, who would maintain worshipping of images, not only with painted colours, but also with painted words, saying, We kneel not to the image, but before the image. We worship not the image, but the thing which is represented by the image. We worship not the creatures, but the Creator in the creatures. And such like excuses the greatest idolaters did always pretend. But to the intent that they should not so deceive you, God oftentimes in holy Scripture calls upon you, saying, Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image or likeness of any creature. Thou shalt not kneel, nor bow thyself down to it. For what can be more contrary to the dignity of man, than that he, whom God hath made lord over all creatures, should kneel or do reverence to the image of a creature!

God hath so fashioned man, that he hath given him a body standing straight up, and a countenance to look upward into heaven. And why then should he bow himself downward to the earth, or to creatures made of earth, which are rather to be trodden under his feet, than to be worshipped of him? There is nothing more against reason, than that he who hath life, sense, and reason, should worship a thing which can neither see, feel, move, hear, nor understand. Wherefore God saith plainly, Thou shalt not worship images; that is to say, Thou shalt not gild them and set them in costly tabernacles, and deck them

* They are so, restored by most of the Protestant churches.

with coats or skirts: thou shalt not cense them, make vows or pilgrimages to them, set candles before them, and offer unto them. Thou shalt not kiss their feet, and bow down unto them.

For God saith; I am a jealous God, and will not give my honour to any creature, but will grievously punish them that break this my commandment. Yea, I will punish their children and posterity unto the third and fourth generation.

And this indignation of God against idolaters has, at sundry times, been showed by grievous punishments, for our examples.

For Solomon's idolatry the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were divided; and thereof did ensue a continual discord between those two kingdoms. And, for idolatry, God commanded Moses to hang the captains of the people; and of the people were slain twenty-four thousand. And the books of the Judges, Kings, and the Prophets, are full of like histories, how Almighty God, for idolatry, was offended with the Israelites, and gave them into the hands of their enemies, and into the subjection and bondage of all nations about them, who did persecute and kill them. And when they, in their afflictions, cried unto the Lord, he refused them, saying, Go and cry to the gods you have chosen, will they save you in the time of your necessity?

What greater punishment can there be than this, to be cast away from God, when we have most need of his help and comfort? And in Deuteronomy, Almighty God commanded by his prophet Moses, saying, Cursed be he that shall make a graven or molten image, abominable before the Lord, the work of an artificer's hand, and shall set it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

Here you see, how he is accursed of God that sets but one image in a secret corner of his house to worship it. But much more danger it is to set up images in the temple of God, which is the open and common place to honour the only living God.

For as it is forbidden to have any strange gods, so is it also forbidden to have any image of the true living God. And if any will say, that it is forbidden to make an image of God to the intent to worship it, but I do not worship it, nor have it for that intent, but only that it may stir me to the remembrance and knowledge of God: to this I answer, that God forbids the making of his image, lest this peril should follow, that thou shouldst worship it. Therefore thou dost offend although thou dost not worship it, and that not only, because thou doest it against God's word and commandment, but also because thou puttest thyself wilfully in very great peril and danger; especially seeing, that of our corrupt nature we are most highly inclined to idolatry and superstition, as experience, from time to time, hath taught us, even from the beginning of the world. And here appears the abuse of our times which, following rather the fancy of carvers or painters, than the word of God, have set up in churches the image, as they call it, of the Trinity, where they portrayed God the Father like an old man, with a long hoary beard. And what can simple people learn hereby but error and ignorance? Have not many thought that God the Father is a bodily substance, and that he hath a face and beard, hands and feet, because they see him so painted? And for this consideration, saith Augustine, it is a detestable thing for Christian men to have any such image of God in the church; whereby it appeareth that in Augustine's times there were no such images in Christian churches, but that it is an invention of the papists, brought in of later years, which brings us not unto the true knowledge of God, but leads us into errors and ignorance of God.

If you will lift up your minds to God, good children, to know his divine majesty, his infinite power, wisdom, goodness, and his other godly perfections; look not upon a deaf, dumb, blind, lame, and dead image, made by a painter or carver's hands: but look upon heaven and other creatures made by God's own handiwork; look upon man, who can speak, see, smell, hear, feel, and go, and hath life, will, and reason, and whom no man, but God himself, made to be his lively image and similitude.

We have also the holy Scriptures, which declare unto us the wonderful works of God, by which things we may be led to the knowledge of God, without painted or carved images. Now, peradventure, some will say, that Christ hath a body, and so likewise have saints, and therefore of them we may have images, although of God there can be made no image. And further, they will say, that the cause why images were forbidden, was peril of idolatry and worshipping of them. So that where there is no such peril we may have images.

Yet, as I will not utterly deny but they may be had, so I think it more convenient for Christ's religion that they should be taken out of Christian men's churches, than that they should be placed in the temple of God. And of this my opinion, I will show you certain good grounds, to the intent that when you are demanded, why we Englishmen have no images in our churches, you may be able to make thereunto a reasonable answer. And that also, in time to come, you may declare to your children what abuses have crept into the church by the occasion of images; that if any man shall hereafter go about craftily to bring in images again for his own lucre sake, they may the sooner perceive his juggling, and so the better avoid the peril and danger.*

First, It is certain that we neither have commandment, counsel, nor example of the Scripture, nor of the primitive church in the apostles' time, nor many years after, to set up images in our churches. As it may appear by the holy man, Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, a man of great estimation, eleven hundred years since, for his great learning and virtue. He, in an epistle which he wrote to the bishop of Jerusalem, which epistle Jerom translated out of Greek into Latin, writes, that as he passed the country about Jerusalem, he found in a church a cloth painted, having the image of Christ, or of a saint. And when I saw, said he, an image of a man hang in the church of Christ, contrary to the authority of the Scripture, I cut it in pieces, and counselled them to bury some poor dead man therein. And afterwards he wrote to the bishop of Jerusalem, that he should command all the priests not to suffer such images, being contrary to our religion, to hang in the church of Christ. Whereby it appears that in those days images were not allowed to be set up in churches among Christian men, yea, although it were the image of Christ, or any saint, but that the usage of images began after that time.

And if we will believe ancient histories, images were brought into churches by the policy and force of the bishops of Rome, many good Christian emperors withstanding the same to their power. But idolatry, by the bishops of Rome, prevailed, and seduced many Christian realms.

Moreover, many images teach nothing else but erroneous and superstitious doctrine. For instance, what teaches

* See the third part of the homily against Idolatry.

the picture of St. Michael weighing souls, and our Lady putting her beads in the balance? Forsooth, nothing else but superstitiousness of beads, and confidence in our own merits and the merits of saints, and nothing in the merits of Christ.

For whereas our good works be not able to weigh against the devil, our Lady must lay her beads in balance, that is to say, will-works devised of our own brains, not commanded of God, and by them to save us: which doctrine is very false and injurious to Christ. What did the image of St. Sunday* teach? But that Sunday was a holy man, according to which teaching beggars asked their alms for Saint Sunday's sake. But I will leave to speak of the evil doctrine which was taught by images, and I will declare unto you that images have been so abused, that all the goodness which might come by them, was never comparable to the great ignorance and blindness, the superstition and idolatry, which have been brought in and committed by means of them. The which abuses, good children, your own fathers, if you ask them, can well declare unto you. For they themselves were greatly seduced by certain famous and notorious images, as by our lady of Walsingham, our lady of Ipswich, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Anne of Buxton, the Rood of Grace, and such like; whom many of your parents visited yearly, leaving their own houses and families. To them they made vows and pilgrimages, thinking that God would hear their prayers in that place, rather than in another place. They kissed their feet devoutly, and to them they offered candles and images of wax, rings, beads, gold and silver abundantly. And because they, that so taught them, had thereby great advantage, they maintained the same with feigned miracles and erroneous doctrine, teaching the people, that God would hear their prayers made before this image, rather than before another image, or in another place; whereas the prophet Isaiah saith, that God doth hear those that are truly penitent in every place alike. But, peradventure, some will say, They did never teach us to kneel to the image, but before the image. But who, I pray you, gave them commission to teach you to kneel before the image? If you make your prayers to God, why lift you not both your eyes and hands to heaven where

* Probably St. Dominic, the originator of the inquisition! He was the founder of an order of begging friars.

God is? Why look you rather upon the walls, upon stocks and stones, than thitherward, where you know He is, to whom you make your prayers? What needest thou, who art the image of God, to kneel before the image of man?

Again, they that are grieved with taking down of images out of the churches, will perchance say, We worshipped not the image, but the saint, whom the image did signify. And who, I pray you, commands you after this fashion to worship any saint? Why should we give that honour to saints, now after their death, which they themselves, when they were alive, did utterly refuse? If a Christian man, although he were indeed a very holy man and a living saint, should set himself upon an altar in the church, you would say to him, Come down, sir, that is no place for you to stand in. And why should then dumb images stand there, when they are dead, where thou canst not suffer the true images and members of Christ and lively saints to be placed? Peter refused to be worshipped of Cornelius, and likewise did Paul and Barnabas to be honoured of men; and the angel also refused to be honoured of a man, forasmuch as special honour and service appertains only to God.

Nevertheless, in civil honour and service we are subject to kings, princes, parents, masters, and all superiors, to honour and serve them of duty, as God requires of us. But all these things cease after their death; and they that will say they neither worship images, nor the saints in images, but God only in the saints and images, they pretend the same excuse that the heathen idolaters did: for they said likewise, that they worshipped not blocks nor stones, but God in them; and yet they were great idolaters.

It is not also taught you in all the Scripture that you should desire St. Rock to preserve you from the pestilence, to pray to St. Barbara to defend you from thunder or gunshot, to offer to St. Loy a horse of wax, a pig to St. Anthony, a candle to St. Sithe. But I should be too long if I were to rehearse unto you all the superstitions that have grown out of the invocation and praying to saints departed, wherewith men have been seduced, and God's honour given to creatures.

Thus, good children, I have declared how we were wont to abuse images; not that hereby I condemn your fathers, who were men of great devotion, and had an earnest love towards God, although their zeal in all points was not ruled and governed by true knowledge; but they were seduced and blinded partly by the common ignorance that reigned in their time, partly by the covetousness of their teachers, who abused the simplicity of the unlearned people to the maintenance of their own lucre and glory. But this have I spoken to show you how crafty the devil and his ministers have been, even of late time, to allure Christian men to idolatry, under the pretence and title of devotion, holiness, and religion; that you, being warned of such abuses, may the better know and avoid them, in case at any time Satan or his messengers would entice you into such superstition again. For if mariners, who have passed the dangers of the seas, and are safely entered into the haven, are naturally moved to show to such as sail to those places from whence they came, what perils they shall pass by, and how also they may avoid the same; how much more ought we, that have already passed the deep seas and dangers of superstition, to warn you, good children, of these perils, and to teach you, who are now, as it were, entering into the troublesome seas of this world, how you may avoid these so great dangers. And it is very necessary for preachers at all times to admonish, exhort, and call upon you to avoid this most heinous and detestable sin of idolatry. For not only the prophets in tho Old Testament were very earnest to call upon the Jews to avoid this sin of idolatry, but the apostles also are very diligent to dissuade Christian men from the same. And we have too much experience in the world, that of images cometh worshipping of them and idolatry. For Augustine, upon the 113th psalm, affirms, that simple men are more moved and stirred to bow down to images and worship them, because they have mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet, than they are moved to contemn them, although they perceive they can neither speak, see, smell, feel, nor go.

It cannot be said that images are necessary, for then we condemn the apostles and all the holy men in the primitive church; yea, and Christ himself also, because they used no such thing: nor yet that they be profitable, for if they had, either Christ would have taught it, or the Holy Ghost would have revealed it unto the apostles, which they did not. And if they did, the apostles were very negligent that would not make some mention of it, and speak some good word for images, seeing that they speak so many against them. And by this means antichrist and his papists had more knowledge or fervent zeal to give us godly things, and profitable for us, than had the very holy saints of Christ, yea, more than Christ himself and the Holy Ghost. Now forasmuch, good children, as images are neither necessary nor profitable in our churches and temples, nor were used at the beginning in Christ's nor the apostles' time, nor many years after, and that at length they were brought in by bishops of Rome against the emperor's power; and seeing also that they are very slanderous to Christ's religion, for by them the name of God is blasphemed among the infidels, Turks, and Jews, who, because of our images, call Christian religion idolatry and worshipping of images. And forasmuch also, as they have been so wonderfully abused within this realm to the high contumely and dishonour of God, and have been a great cause of blindness and of much contention among the king's majesty's loving subjects, and are likely so to be still, if they should remain; and chiefly seeing God's word speaks so much against them, you may hereby right well consider what great causes and grounds the king's majesty had to take them away within his realm; following herein the example of the godly king Hezekiah, who brake down the brazen serpent when he saw it worshipped, and was therefore greatly praised of God, notwithstanding, at the first, the same was made and set up by God's commandment, and was not only a remembrance of God's benefits, before received, but also a figure of Christ to come. And not only Hezekiah, but also Manasseh, and Jehosaphat, and Josiah, the best kings that were of the Jews, pulled down images in the time of their reigns.

So good children, you have heard the true meaning of these words; Thou shaft make to thee no graven image, thou shaft not bow down and worship the same. I pray you engrave them deeply in your memories, that when you are demanded what is meant by the words heretofore rehearsed, you may answer, This commandment forbids all kind of idolatry, as well bodily as spiritual, and inhibits us to give the honour which is due unto God, to any creature, or image of creature; but to worship God alone.

And now note further, good children, to the intent we should honour only God and obey him, that he saith, He is the Lord our God, in whom are all good things, and of whom we have all. He saith also, that he is strong and of such force, that he can punish us at his pleasure, if we disobey him. Moreover, he calls himself jealous, because he can abide no companion; but as a man, the more pure and chaste he is, the more he is grieved, if he perceive his wife to set her love upon any other, even so is God, who hath taken us to be his spouse, if he see us denied with filthy idolatry. Furthermore, he saith, that he will avenge his majesty and glory, if any man will translate them unto any creature, picture, or image; and that with such vengeance, that it shall extend unto their children, nephews, and nephews' children. Like as on the other side he promises his mercy and goodness to their posterity that keep his law and commandments. Employ therefore your whole hearts and minds to his precepts, good children, and eschewing all idolatry or honouring of carvings or paintings, give to God alone, his due honour and glory, now and from henceforth, world without end. Amen.


You have heard the declaration of the first commandment, in which we are taught how we ought to behave ourselves towards God in our hearts; now follows the second (third) commandment, which is this:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for he shall not he guiltless in the sight of the Lord, that taketh his name in vain.

This commandment, good children, teaches us how we ought to behave ourselves towards God in words, bidding us not to speak of the name of God in vain, or without great cause, but to use it only when it tends to the praise and glory of God, and to the profit of our neighbour; that every man may perceive by our words and communication, that we in our hearts do reverently and humbly fear, magnify, and worship God and his holy name. For by this, our good example, other men are excited and encouraged to glorify the name of God. And, contrariwise, when in scoffing and jesting we lightly abuse the name of God, then other men are offended, and thereby also are made more irreverent towards God, and consider less of God and godly things, and so by this means we burden ourselves with another man's sin. For Christ saith in the gospel of St. Matthew, the eighteenth chapter, He that giveth cause of offence to any of the weak brethren, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and so drowned in the bottom of the sea. Wherefore, I pray you, diligently beware that you give no such kind of offence to your brethren. Wherefore ye shall now learn how the name of God is taken in vain, to the intent you may the sooner avoid this sin. For the name of God is taken in vain divers ways.

The first is, when men give the title and name of God to those things which are not God indeed. As the heathen called the sun, the moon, and the stars, gods; also they called certain men, as kings and tyrants, gods; and as the Jews did, who made a calf of gold, and said, This is the god which brought us out of Egypt. And this, good children, is so heinous a fault, that God, in the Old Testament, commanded him to suffer death that should commit this sin; and if any city had so offended, he willed the same city to be burned and utterly destroyed, and all that were found therein to be killed. Therefore let us diligently avoid this offence, or else God will horribly punish us.

The second way of taking the name of God in vain, is, when we forswear ourselves, or swear deceitfully, either in common judgment, or in our daily affairs and communication, intending thereby to deceive our neighbour. Wherefore, you must diligently take heed, that you use not to swear lightly, through an evil custom, but do as Christ teaches us. Let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay. But when necessity drives you to an oath, or the public officer commands you to swear, then be not forsworn, but speak the truth, and faithfully perform and observe that which you have sworn. And if it shall befal, that any of you in time to come, when you shall come to man's estate, be called to any office in the commonwealth, beware that you give no cause nor occasion to others to make oath unnecessarily. For whatsoever sin is committed by such oaths, that God imputes to the officer who exacts the same, and not to the subjects who are bound to obey, not only for fear of punishment, but also for conscience sake.

Thirdly, We abuse the name of God, not only in vain, but also very ungodly, when, with horrible cursing and damning by the name of God, we wish to others the vengeance of God. Which sin now in our time is most used. Insomuch that now-a-days you shall hear not only men, but also women and children, outrageously curse and damn both themselves and others, saying many devilish curses and wishes ;* which offence is not only abominable before God, but also so shameful before the world that good Christian ears abhor to hear such heinous blasphemy. For St. Paul, in the second chapter of the epistle to the Philippians, writes thus; In the name of God all knees do bow down, both in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, that is to say, not only angels and men do worship our Lord and God Jesus Christ, but also the damned spirits and devils in hell do quake at his name, and by their trembling do declare that they most reverently acknowledge the name of his majesty. But these more than devilish swearers, damners, and cursers, without reverence to the most honourable name of God, without courtesy or bowing to him, who with a beck makes all the world to shake, do blow and bluster out of their ungodly mouths such blasphemies, that by the same they do not only highly dishonour God, but also wish to their neighbours all kinds of miseries, plagues, and adversities that can be imagined; whereas our duty is to love our neighbour, and wish well to him as to ourselves. Now consider, what a great wickedness it is to wish evil things to men by the name of God, seeing that by this name we ought to desire and pray for all good things, both to ourselves and to our neighbours. sense to their evil purpose; or when men make a trifle or a laughing sport of the words of holy Scripture. This abuse gives rise to a contempt of the word of God, and it corrupts or diminishes the authority of God's doctrine.

Wherefore, when ye hear any man using such spiteful curses and blasphemies of God's name, doubt not, but that he in the deed is worse than the devil himself. For the devil, when he hears God named, trembles thereat, and dares not so irreverently behave himself to that most holy name; whereas those wretched and most ungodly persons, show no fear or reverence thereto at all. But ye, good children, take heed that you accustom not yourselves to such kind of blasphemies. And when you shall hear others outraging with such horrible curses, fly from them as from pestilence, and think thus with yourselves; I will convey me out of this naughty company, lest, peradventure, I also may be infected with this contagious custom of swearing and cursing, and so may be made at length more abominable in this point than is the devil himself.

Fourthly, The name of God is taken in vain, when men abuse the word of God, purposely making false expositions upon holy Scripture, and wresting the same from the .true

* It is not necessary to repeat the instances here given. Though the imprecations differ from those now unhappily so frequent, they were the same in effect, and equally to be abhorred.

Fifthly, They do misuse the name of God, who abuse it to charms, witchcraft, sorceries, necromancies, enchantments, and conjurings. And this is not only a great sin, but a thing of its own nature most vain and foolish. For persuade yourselves this thing for a surety, good children, that all kind of witchcraft is of its own nature nothing else but lies, guiles, and subtleties, to deceive ignorant and simple men, as many have proved by experience to their great loss and utter undoing. Wherefore, beware of them, believe them not, do not learn them; neither fear that any other man's enchantments are able to hurt you.

Wherefore, good children, fear the Lord, and take not his holy name in vain. Beware of idolatry, forswear not, abstain from oaths and curses, refrain your tongues from all untruths, railings, scoffs, and jests, when you talk of holy Scripture, or matters concerning religion; flee from all kind of witchcraft and enchantments. For to this commandment God has added a special threatening, saying thus: He shall not be guiltless before the Lord, that taketh his name in vain.

Believe surely, good children, that these are very weighty words and of great importance; and think not thus with yourselves, What! is this so great a matter? I spake not these words in earnest, but in sport. I pray you, for Christ's sake, do not defend your fault with such excuses, but beware that you take not in vain the name of God, either in earnest or in sport. For the holy name of God is to be worshipped with all honour and religion; and he that does not obey this commandment, him the Lord shall not count guiltless, but shall punish him grievously. And when God punishes, he sends among us sicknesses, pestilence, hunger, dearth, battle, robberies, sedition, manslaughter, and suchlike; with these plagues he takes vengeance on our sins. Therefore we ought to fear his wrath, and not to take his name in vain.

Hitherto you have heard five ways, whereby we may take the name of God in vain; now it shall be declared to you how you should rightly and duly use the name of God. Consider, that we are professed into our religion, and baptized by the name of God: wherefore, good children, listen diligently to this lesson, and learn that we ought to use the name of God three ways, by invocation and calling upon him, by confession of his name and his word, and by thanksgiving.

First, We are bound in all our necessities and perils to call upon the name of God; to fly to him for succour, with all our hope and confidence; and not to run to witchcrafts, charms, sorceries, and such like vanities. For God himself saith, Call upon me in the day of thy tribulation, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. Here you hear, good children, that God commands us to call upon him, and not upon any other creatures besides him; and he saith in express words, Call upon me in the time of thy tribulation, in adversity, when thou art in need and danger. Wherefore no man should despair, whatsoever kind of afflictions befall him, but pray for help from heaven, and call upon the name of the Lord, who by his mighty and strong hand is able, and by his fatherly affection will deliver and help us, whatsoever and how great soever affliction and temptation overwhelm us; and therefore he saith, I will hear thy prayer.

Here mark, good children, that it is your bounden duty to pray to God, and that they do sin heinously who do not pray; wherefore, ye shall learn the Lord's Prayer, which Christ himself taught and appointed, and ye shall say it daily. For this commandment binds us to pray; forasmuch as it forbids the abuse of God's name, and commands his name to be used reverently and religiously. But we can give no greater honour to God's name than to call upon him, and with all our heart to pray to him; wherefore they keep not this commandment who do not daily pray.

Secondly, We must confess the name of God—that is to say, we ought openly to show and declare our faith and belief in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, and not to deny him, although the world would hate us therefore— yea, although tyrants would torment us most cruelly. For Christ has comforted us, and said, Fear not them that kill the body, and have no power to slay the soul. And in another place he saith, One hair of your head shall not perish without the will of your Father; wherefore let us not be afraid, but let us profess openly before all the world, the name and word of God and our faith. Furthermore, every man in his vocation ought to teach and instruct others, that, as much as lieth in us, all may come to the

knowledge of the truth, and when we do not this, then we sin and shall be damned, if we in time repent not. For Christ saith, I say unto you, whosoever confesseth me before men, the Son of man shall also confess him before the angels of God; but he that will deny me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God.

Thirdly, We ought to praise and magnify the name of God, and to thank him for all his benefits, both bodily and spiritual, which he hath given unto us, and ceases not daily and hourly to pour upon us most liberally. For so the Lord hath commanded in the Psalms, saying, Call upon me in the day of thy tribulation, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt honour and glorify me. Here you perceive, good children, that God our heavenly Father hears our prayers, and heaps upon us infinite benefits, for this cause, purpose, and intent, that we should be glad and joyful to praise him, and with all our heart render thanks unto him. Wherefore, whensoever we pray, before we ask any new benefits, we ought to thank him for the old, and to glorify his name for the great treasures of gifts heretofore given unto us. And by this means, both He will be the more willing to hear our prayers, and also our faith shall be the more strengthened and confirmed. For when we call to our remembrance, how God oftentimes heretofore hath heard our supplications, and delivered us out of many and perilous dangers, we are thereby moved the less to doubt of his goodness, and steadfastly to hope that he now also will be as merciful unto us, as he was wont to be in times past. Therefore, saith the prophet David, I will call upon the Lord, praising him, and he will save me from mine enemies. Now therefore, good children, ye shall learn this lesson, and practise it diligently; first of all to praise and thank God for all his benefits, and afterwards to call upon him in all your necessities. So God will be more ready to hear your petitions, and your faith also thereby shall be the more nourished and increased. For he that will truly and effectually pray, before all others must believe and persuade himself for a surety that God will hear his prayer.

Wherefore, good children, now I pray you learn so to understand this commandment, that ye take not the name of God in vain, that ye give not yourselves to idolatry, that ye swear not customably, nor without a necessary cause, that ye never commit perjury, that ye curse nobody, that ye abuse not the name and word of God to untruth, unclean, and unhonest communication, that ye apply not your minds to witchcraft and sorceries. For these faults as yet never escaped unpunished before God. Contrariwise, ye shall reverently use the name of God to his glory, and to the profit of your neighbour, by calling upon him, by praying and giving thanks unto him, and by open profession of his doctrine and religion.

And when ye shall be demanded, How understand ye this commandment? ye shall answer, We ought to love and fear God above all things, and not to abuse his name to idolatry, charms, perjury, oaths, curses, ribaldry, and scoffs. That under the pretence and colour of his name we beguile no man by swearing, forswearing, and lying, but in all our needs we should call upon him, magnify, and praise him, and with our tongues, confess, utter, and declare our faith in him and his doctrine.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

John Newton on "The chief difference between us, and the disciples when our Saviour was upon earth"

The chief difference between us, and the disciples when our Saviour was upon earth, is in this: They then walked by sight, and we are called to walk by faith. They could see him with their bodily eyes, we cannot; but he said before he left them, "It is expedient for you that I go away." How could this be, unless that spiritual communion which he promised to maintain with his people after his ascension, were preferable to that intercourse he allowed them whilst he was visibly with them? But we are sure it is preferable, and they who had tried both were well satisfied he had made good his promise; so that though they had known him after the flesh, they were content not to know him so any more. Yes, [...] though we cannot see him, he sees us, he is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. In a natural state, we have very dark, and indeed dishonourable thoughts of God; we conceive of him as at a distance. But when the heart is awakened, we begin to make Jacob's reflection, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." And when we receive faith, we begin to know that this everpresent God is in Christ; that the government of heaven and earth, the dispensations of the kingdom of nature, providence, and grace, are in the hands of Jesus; that it is he with whom we have to do, who once suffered agony and death for our redemption, and whose compassion and tenderness are the same, now he reigns over all blessed for ever, as when he conversed amongst men in the days of his humiliation. Thus God is made known to us by the gospel, in the endearing views of a Saviour, a Shepherd, a Husband, a Friend; and a way of access is opened for us through the vail, that is, the human nature of our Redeemer, to enter, with humble confidence, into the holiest of all, and to repose all our cares and concerns upon the strength of that everlasting arm which upholds heaven and earth, and upon that infinite love which submitted to the shame, pain, and death of the cross, to redeem sinners from wrath and misery.

John Newton

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thomas Manton on the Eye of Faith

The less sensible evidence there is of the object of faith, the greater and stronger is the faith, if we believe it upon God's word: "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John xx. 29). It extenuateth our faith, when the object must be visible to sense, or it worketh not on us. Faith hath more of the nature of faith, when it is satisfied with God's word, whatever sense and reason say to the contrary: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter i. 8). Whatever faith closeth with upon sure grounds, it is spiritually present to the soul, though few sensible helps. The less we see in the world, the more must we believe. To see things to come as present, and to see things that otherwise cannot be seen, cometh near to God's vision of all things. God saw all things before they were, all things that may be, shall be, visione simplicia intelligentice: "Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth" (Prov. viiL 31). So doth faith eye all things, in the all-sufficiency and promise of God, long before they come to pass, and affects the believer with them.


This is the commendation and praise of christianity, that they can 'walk by faith' when they cannot 'walk by sight;' 2 Cor. v. 7, 'We walk by faith, not by sight.' They see not Christ, because he is absent in body; yet they believe in him, and love him, and send their hearts after him. So 1 Peter i. 8, 'Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' Faith is eagle-eyed, and can look above the clouds. The absence of Christ did not prejudice their comfort and hope. Faith contenteth itself with an intellectual sight and certainty. This is a trial of christians, when they can believe in Christ, and rejoice in Christ as if they did see him with their bodily eyes, and hear him with their bodily ears. Ibi figunt desiderium, quo nequeunt inferre conspectum, saith Leo—They fasten their hearts upon him, though they cannot fasten their eyes. Faith is sight enough.
You may make use of Christ, now he is in heaven, as the disciples did on earth, to ask him questions, to seek his counsel, to commend your prayers and persons to God. It is no disadvantage to faith that Christ is removed out of sight, but only an occasion given whereby it may discover itself with more praise. Therefore let us believe in Christ, though we see him not; we shall one day see him in the heavens to our comfort, and to the terror of the wicked; in the meantime, let faith serve instead of vision. It will be your commendation, 'whom having not seen, ye love,' 1 Peter i. 8. God hath removed Christ out of sight, to make way for the exercise of faith and love; and it is much better by faith to converse with him in heaven, than by sight to see him upon earth: John xx. 29, 'Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believe.' Thomas would make his senses the judge; he must feel the wounds, and put his finger in the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side; which discovered the weakness of his faith. Faith is not grounded on sense, but testimony. Be not discouraged, though you never saw him in the flesh, you shall one day see him in heaven; though you could not hear his gracious words, yet you have whispers and counsels from his Spirit. You saw him not hanging on the cross, yet he is crucified before your eyes, Gal. iii. 1. In the word and sacraments he is notably and plainly laid forth to faith. The gospel is a magical glass, as it were, wherein God will have the soul look, that we may see our absent friend, sic oculos, sic ille mamis, sic ora ferebat; there are the very postures of Christ, Therefore let us make use of our present advantages; you may expect as powerful influences from him as if present in person; as the sun doth not come down from heaven, but only his influence. There is a derivation of virtue from his person; yea, Christ is not like the sun; the farther absent from us in body, the more powerful is his influence: Eph. iv. 10, 'When he ascended up on high, he filled all things.' Briefly then, if you have anything to do with Christ, you know where to seek him. Those that live far from court, never saw their king, yet they enjoy the benefit of his government, and are bound to allegiance. Christ is as meek, as gentle, as easy to be entreated as ever.

Thomas Manton, Sermon XIV Upon John XVII.

William Gouge On Seeing God

Gouge (link):

Sec. 150. Of believers seeing God.

The ground of Moses enduring as he did is thus set down, as seeing him who is invisible.

Of the word, ὁράω, translated seeing, see Chap. ii. 8, Sec. 68, and Ver. 9, Sec. 72.

It is here set down in a participle of the present tense, to declare a continued act.

This seeing must needs be meant of a spiritual sight by the eye of the soul, which is faith. For he whom he eyed is said to be invisible; but an invisible thing cannot be seen with a corporal eye. That would imply contradiction. For that which may be discerned with a bodily eye is visible; but visible and invisible are contradictory.

This particle, ὡς, as, is premised, not by way of diminution, as if it were a seeming to see, but rather by way of amplification. For,

1. This particle doth sometimes imply an identity and reality of a thing; and it is used to set forth the perspicuity and clearness thereof; as where it is said, 'the glory as of the only-begotten son of God,' John i. 14.

2. It implieth a kind of spiritual rapture, as if Moses had been rapt into the highest heaven, and there beheld God himself encouraging him in what he did.

This act of Moses giveth an instance of the virtue of faith, which is to set a man always before God. A true believer is like Enoch, who walked with God, and that continually, as the emphasis of the Hebrew word implieth, Gen. v. 24. 'I have set the Lord always before me,' saith a believer, Ps. xvi. 8. It was Abraham's speech, 'The Lord before whom I walk,' Gen. xxiv. 40.

God is the proper object of faith; the object wherein it delights; the object on which it rests; the object from whom it expects every good thing; the object to which it returns the glory of all.

Here behold the reason of a believer's courage. The world wonders at it, and no marvel, for it seeth not him whom believers see.

God's presence is that which emboldeneth believers, as here Moses was emboldened thereby. See more hereof, Chap. xiii. 6, Sec. 78.

Sec. 151. Of seeing him who is invisible.

This attribute, ἀόρατος, invisible, is derived from the former word, ὁράω, translated seeing; for a privative particle is joined with it, so as it implieth the contrary to seeing, even that which cannot be seen.

The epithet is attributed to God, Col. i. 15, 1 Tim. i. 17, and that in a double respect—

1. In regard of the divine substance, which is spiritual. Every spirit is invisible, Luke xxiv. 39; much more the purest spirit of all.

2. In regard of a divine property, which is to be incomprehensible, in which respect Christ saith, 'No man hath seen God at any time,' John i. 18; and he is said to 'dwell in the light which no man can approach unto,' 1 Tim. vi. 16.

1. This is a strong argument against all the conceits of anthropomorphites, who would make God like unto man. See more of those, Chap. i. 10, Sec. 133.

2. It is as strong an argument against all representations of God. God himself thus presseth this argument, 'Ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you,' Deut. iv. 15.

3. It is also against all apprehensions, in the mind, of God in the likeness of any visible object.

4. It shews that we must conceive God as he is revealed in his word. He, being invisible, is an object not for the eyes but for the ears, not for the brain but for the heart. The mystery of unity in trinity, and the divine properties, duly considered in the mind, will raise up a great admiration and a high esteem of God, and a due respect towards him.

5. This invisibility of God doth not keep him from seeing us. Though visible things cannot see things invisible, yet he that is invisible can and doth see them that are visible: ' The eyes of the Lord in every place behold the evil and the good,' Prov. xv. 3. No obstacle hindereth the sight of him who is invisible. How should this stir us up so to carry ourselves in all places, and at all times, and in all actions, as seen by him whom with our bodily eyes we see not! He that is invisible seeth thee, when thou neither seest him nor thinkest of him.

Sec. 152. Of faith raising a man above sense.

This joining together of things that seem to be contradictory, namely, seeing and invisible, in this phrase, seeing him who is invisible, giveth an evident proof of the vigour of faith in raising a man above sense.

On this ground, saith the apostle, 'whom having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable,' 1 Peter i. 8. On this ground Christ himself pronounceth them blessed 'who have not seen, and yet have believed,' John xx. 29.

God's word is the proper object of faith; what God's word revealeth, faith believeth.

1. Hereby we have a demonstration of the excellency of faith. It is of an infinite capacity; for they are infinite and incomprehensible mysteries which the word revealeth, yet faith believeth them all; no grace is like unto it.

2. This sheweth the reason of faith's vigour in supporting against sense. It seeth beyond things seen and visible. God by many judgments seems to be angry; faith seeth him pacified in Christ. We are here in this world subject to many visible miseries; faith seeth a spiritual happiness in them, and a celestial felicity following upon them. - Our bodies putrefy in the grave, yet faith beholdeth a resurrection of them.

3. Hereby learn how sure a ground the martyrs had of suffering so much as they did, and that with constancy to the end. They saw (as Christ did, Heb. xii. 2) a joy that was set before them, which swallowed up the terror of all things sensible.

4. Have we not good and great reason to do what we can to get, keep, nourish, and strengthen faith!

Sec. 133. Of anthropomorphites.

The anthropomorphites* do hereupon err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God, in that they literally and properly apply to God such parts of men as are metaphorically, and only by way of resemblance, for teaching's sake, attributed to him. They feign God to themselves by a carnal cogitation to be after the image of a corruptible man, and that God is altogether a body, imagining that whatsoever is not a body is no substance at all. But they are much deceived, for spirits are not only true substances, but every way the most excellent substances; bodiliness doth but add grossness, heaviness, drowsiness, and sundry other weaknesses to a substance.

Concerning the members of God which the Scripture frequently mentioneth, that no man should believe that we, according to the form and figure of flesh, are like to God, the same scripture saith, that God hath wings, which we have not. Therefore when we hear of wings, we understand protection, Ps. ix. 4. So when we hear of hands, we must understand operation; and if the Scripture mentions any other like thing, I suppose it to be spiritually understood.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sir Walter Raleigh on The Original of idolatry

From Raleigh's First Book of the History of the WORLD:


The Original of Idolatry, and Reliques of Antiquity in Fables.

The Greeks and others, corrupting the Story of Creation, and mingling their Fables with them, suppos'd that After-Ages would take those discourses of God and Nature for Inventions of Philosophers and Poets. but as skillful Chymists can extract healthful Medicines out of Poison, and Poison out of wholesome herbs, &c. so may much Truth be found out of those Fables.

S. 2. The Antiquity of Corruption was even from Noah's Family. For the liberal Grace of God being withdrawn after Man's Fall, such a perpetual Eclipse of spiritual things follow'd, and produc'd such effects as the general Deluge could not cleanse them, even in the selected Family of Noah, wherein were found those that renewed the Defection from God, for which they had seen the Worlds destruction. Hence the Caldeans, Egyptians, and Phoenicians soon after became Idolaters, and the Greeks received their 12 Gods from Egypt, and erected to them Altars, Images and Temples saith Herodotus.

S. 3. As Men, departed out of the way of Truth, stray on in unknown Vices to Eternal Perdition; so these blind Idolaters being fallen from the God of Heaven, to seek God's on Earth to Worship, beginning with Men, they proceed to Beasts, Fouls, Fishes, Trees, Herbs, the Four Elements, Winds, Morning, Evening Stars; Yea, Affections, Passions, Sorrow, Sickness, besides Spirits infernal; and among Terrestrials even the basest wanted not divine Honour, as Dogs, Cats, Swine, Leeks, Onions, &c. which barbarous Blasphemy, Juvenal thus derided,

O happy Nations, which of their own sowing,Have store of Gods in every Garden growing.

S. 4. Of Jupiter and other Gods. That Egypt had knowledge of the First Age, by Misraim the Son of Cham, who had lived 100 Years in it, we doubt not. Having therefore learned that Cain did first build Cities, they made him ancient Jupiter, whom the Athenians also called Pollyeus and Herceios, Founder and Fortifier of Cities. This Jupiter married his Sister, as did Cain: His Father Adam they made Saturn, and his Sons Jubal. Tubal, and Tubal-Cain were made Mercury, Vulcan and Apollo, Inventors of Pastorage, Smiths-craft and Musick. Naome, Augustine expounds Venusta, which was Venus Vulcan's Wife, and Eva was Rhea; the Dragon which kept the Golden Apple, was the Serpent that beguiled Eva. Paradise was the Garden of Hesperides: So Saturn's dividing the World between Three Sons, came of Noah and his Sons; and Nimrod's Tower was the attempt of Giants against Heaven. The Egyptians also Worshipped Seth as their most Ancient Parent, from whom they called their chief Province Setheitica; and in Bithinia we find the City Cethia.

S. 5. Of the Three Chief Jupiters; the First was Son of Æther & Dies; the Second of Cælum an Arcadian, and King of Athens; the Third Famous in the Greek Fables, was of Creet or Candia, as some say; but there is not certainty, &c.

S. 6. Jupiter Chammon, more Ancient than all the Grecian Jupiters, was Cham, Father of Misraim in Egypt; and before Jupiter Belus, Son of Saturnus babilonicus or Nimrod: As for the latter Grecian Jupiter, he was a little before the Wars of Troy.

S. 7. The Philosophers opinion of God, Pythagoras, Plato, Orpheus, &c. believed not the Fooleries of their Times, though they mingled their Inventions with Scripture: Pythagoras hung Homer and Hesiod in Hell, forever to be stung with Serpents, for their Fictions; yet Homer had seen Moses, as Justine Martyr sheweth in a Treatise converted by Mirandula. Plato dissembled his Knowledge for fear of the Areopagits Inquisition; yet Augustin excused him. He delighted much in the Doctrine of one God, though he durst not be known of it, or of Moses the the Author of it, as may be gathered out of Justin Martyr, Origen, Eusebius, and Cyril, though he had from Moses what he writ of God, and of Divinity; as Ambrose also judged of Pythagoras. Justine Martyr observed, that Moses described God to be, I am he who is. It is as hard to find out this Creator of the World, as it is impossible, if he were found, to speak of him worthily, said Plato; who also said, God is absolutely good, and so the Cause of all that is Good; but no Cause at all of any thing that is Evil. The Love of God is the cause of the Worlds Creation, and Original of all things. Apuleius saith, The most high God is also Infinite, not only by exclusion of Place, but also by dignity of Nature; neither is any thing more like or more acceptable to God, than a Man of a perfect Heart. Thales said, God comprehended all things, because he never had a Beginning: And he beholdeth all the thoughts of Men, said Zeno; therefore said Athenodorus, All men ought to be careful of their Actions, because God was every where present, and beholding all things.

Orpheus calling Men to behold the King of the World, describes him to be one begotten of himself, from whom all things spring, who is in all, beholds all, but is beheld of none, &c, Who is the First and Last; Head and Middle; from whom all things be: Foundation of Earth and Skye, Male and Female, which never dyeth: He is the Spirit of all, of Sun, Moon, &c. The Original and End of all; in whom all things were hidden 'till he produced them to Light. Cleanthes calls God Good, Just, Holy, possessing himself, always doing good, and Charity it self. Pindarus saith, he is one God and Father, most high Creator and best Artificer, who giveth to all things divers proceedings, &c. Antisthenes saith, God cannot be likened to anything, and therefore not elsewhere to be known, but only in the everlasting Country, of whom thou hast no Image. God, said Xenophon, shaketh and setteth all things at rest: Is great and mighty, as is manifest to all; but of what Form he is, none knoweth but himself, who illuminateth all things with his Light. God, saith Plato, is the Cause, Ground, and Original of the whole nature of things, the most high Father of the Soul, the eternal preserver of living Creatures, and continual framer of the World; a Begetter without propagation, comprehended neither in place nor time; whom few conceive, none can express him. Thus, as Jerome said, We find among the Heathen, part of the Vessels of God: But of them all, none have with more Reverence acknowledged, or more learnedly expressed One True God, and everlasting Being, all ever-causing and sustaining, than Hermes the Egyptian. But of all these, see Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexandrinus, Lactantius, Eusebius, Du Pless. Danæus.

S. 8. Hethanism and Judaism, when confounded. Touching the Religions of the Heathen, they being the Inventions of Mortal Men, they are no less Mortal than themselves. The Caldean Fire is quenched; and as the Bodies of Jupiter and the rest, were by Death devoured, so were their Images and lasting Marble Temples by Time. The Trade of Riddles for Oracles, and Predictions by Apollo's Priests, is now taken up by Counterfeit Egyptians and Cozening Astrologers; yet was it long before the Devil gave way. For after Six several spoilings and sackings of his Temple at Delphos, and as many repairings thereof, at last when Julian sought unto it, God from Heaven, consum'd all with Fire. So when the same Apostate incourag'd the Jews to re-build a Temple, God, by Earth-quake over-threw all, and slew many Thousands.

S. 9. Satan's last Refuge to uphold his Kingdom; who being driven off the open Stage of the World, crept into the Minds of Men, and there set up the high and shining Idol of Glory, and all commanding Image of Gold. He tells men, that Truth is the Goddess of Danger and Oppression: Chastity is an Enemy to Nature, and all Virtue is without Taste; but Pleasure delighteth every Sense, and true Wisdom gets Power and Riches to fulfill all our Desires. And if this Arch-politician find Remorse in any of his People, or any fear of future Judgment, he persuadeth them that God hath such need of Souls to re-plenish heaven, that he will accept them at any time, and upon any Condition: And to interrupt their return to God, he layeth those great Blocks of rugged Poverty and Contempt in the narrow way which leadeth to his Divine Presence: Neither was he ever more industrious and diligent than now, when the long Day of Man-kind draweth fast to the Evening, and the World's Tragedy and Time near to an end.

From Chap. X. Of Nimrod, Belus, and Ninus.

S. 6. Belus, I judge to be a Name, rather given by Ninus, for Honour to his Father, than taken by him. Cyrill calls him Arbelus; and saith he was the first that would be called God. Bel, say the Learned, signifying the Sun in Chalde, and there Worshiped for God: And many words in Scripture grew from it, Bel, Baal, Belzebub, Baalim, which Name was given to God, till upon abuse he forbade it. The first Idolatry grew from hence, &c. The Old, the most Ancient of every Family, and Kings which Founded Cities, were called Saturns, their Sons Jupiters, and Valiant Nephews Hercules.

S. 7. Image-Worship began from Belus in Babel, &c. Schoolmen shift off this fearful Custom strangely. For seeing the very Workman-ship is forbidden, how can the heart of a wise Christian satisfie it self with the distinction of Douleia, and Latrua, and Hyperdouleia, which can imply but a difference of Worship; and it is most strange, that Learned Men do strain their Wits to defend what Scripture oftentimes expressly forbids, and Curses the practicers. And where they say, the Prophets condemn heathen Idols only, it is manifest Moses spake of the Living God, saying, You saw no Image when the Lord spake to you in Horeb. Basil forbids us to imagine any Form of God, lest we limit him in our Minds; what Presumption then is it, to put him under the Greasy Pensil of a Painter, or the rusty Tool of a Carver? Rome for 170 Years by Numa's Law, held it impiety, till Tarquin, Priscus, and Varro, condemned it, as Augustin shews: So Seneca, Sybil, Sophocles. And though Papists say, that Heathen Images are instead of Letters; yet as Heathen Pictures proved notorious Idols, so those Stocks, Stones, &c. called Pictures of Christ, our Lady, &c. were by the Ignorant, not only Worshiped, but thought to live. It is safest then for Christians to believe Gods Commandments directly against Images, and that which the Prophets and St. Paul speak plainly and convincingly.

S. 8. Ninus the first idolater, and Invader of others, and public Adulterer: Of whom nothing is certain which is written; for Berofus who chiefly followed him in the Assyrian Succession from Nimrod to Ascalodius, in the days of Joshua, is disproved by many. Ctesias, who lived with Cyrus the Younger, a gross flatterer of Princes, speaks of incredible numbers in Ninus and Semiramis's Wars. He, with the help of Aricus King of Arabia, subdued Syria, Barzanes of Armenia, and Zoroaster of Baetria, at his second Expedition, by the Valour of Semiramis, whom he took from Menon her Husband, who for Grief drowned himself. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An observation by Vinet that strikes at the "symbolism" defense of idols

Alexander Vinet:
One thought which allows itself to be penetrated by another is no true thought. A system which receives all systems favourably is not one itself, but rather, whatever the appearance it puts on and the claims it urges, a negation of all system. A religion which does not deduce its character from its object, but its object from its character, cannot pretend to the name of religion. Involuntary impressions, an involuntary state of the soul, point out no distinct object, and may be produced by objects the most different. The unknown and obscure object of these various emotions may take such or such a given name, but the name does not make the object. Under the undefined name of God, it is perhaps in the universe that I believe, in my sensations, in myself. Everything reduces itself to shadows, to mere appearances, in this religious syncretism. There, where everything is symbol, where the object always escapes, the object itself becomes a symbol, and God is only another name for the universe. And, moreover, while defining nothing, and consequently allowing everything, one does not fail to exclude; one excludes by this very manner of allowing, for positive doctrines will not be treated thus; they consent, indeed, to be denied, but not to be reduced to the value of pure forms; it is the very politeness shown them that wounds, and this species of intellectual toleration accorded them offends them more than enmity.

Alexander Vinet: Jesus Invisible & "invisible Saviour"

Alexander Vinet:


''It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you."-John xvi. 7.

At the idea of the persecution and sufferings which Jesus Christ had just set before his disciples in endless perspective their heart is overwhelmed. Amazement closes it against love. Taken up entirely with themselves, they think not of their Master. He himself, though present and close to each of them, requires to remind them of his presence, and putting into their mouth a question which they themselves ought to have asked, he says, "None of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?" And then anticipating, or following their thought, he himself answers the question which he had thus suggested, or rather another question which he perceives to be included in the first. "Whither goest thou" has doubtless this meaning: Why do you go away? Why do you not remain in the midst of us? Why do you leave us alone upon the earth? A question, brethren, implying great trouble and anxiety; a question which will appear very natural if we can put ourselves in the place of the disciples, and which our Lord answers even before he has heard it, apparently without any expression either of reproof or surprise.

The disciples were not then what they afterwards became. Jesus Christ had constrained them, so to speak, to believe in his bloody death as an event certain, necessary, and near. But Jesus Christ was to come forth from the tomb, to re-appear among the living; and why, when he had resumed possession of life, should he not prolong his stay in the midst of them in the bosom of his Church? How could this Church dispense with him? What was to become of it, or rather must it not be annihilated by the absence of its Head? They find not in themselves any answer to these questions; or, to speak more properly, they do find one; they find in the feeling of their feebleness and unbelief the most disheartening of answers, and they are obliged to say that if the future prospects of the Church depend only on them, frail and shaking reeds, the Church has no future.

Such was their weakness that Jesus Christ could not, at least at this time and with his own mouth, fully solve the difficulty which rises in their breasts. His reply, though complete in itself, is to them necessarily incomplete and temporary. It calms and re-assures rather than gladdens and edifies them. The Master has spoken. That is something. The Master has explained that a great advantage is to result from his departure; this is much, if they have regard to the authority of him who speaks, but it is little for persons in such a situation as theirs, and (remarkable circumstance!) before they have received or enjoyed the compensation which is promised them, I mean the mission of the Comforter, they are not in a condition either to appreciate this compensation, or form an idea of it. It is for the Comforter himself to make them know the Comforter; it is for the benefit promised to furnish them by actual enjoyment with the proper measure of its value. The words of Jesus are no doubt precious, precious as instruction, precious as a prophecy, the accomplishment of which will gloriously display the infallibility of the divine Prophet, but it is at a later period that its full value will be felt. At the time of delivery it is to the apostles like many other prophecies, "a light shining in a dark place."

Let us do justly, brethren; all of us would, like them, have been apt to ask Jesus, "Lord, why goest thou away? Remain with us, Lord! for without thee we are nothing, and far from thee we perish!" And perhaps we are tempted to ask even in the present day; perhaps the absence of Jesus, and of every visible sign of his invisible presence, alarms our faith, and this longing to see, which suggested to the heart of the disciples the mournful question, "Whither goest thou?" perhaps this longing agitates ourselves, and dictates to us on different occasions many objections, it may be many murmurings, analogous to the question put by the disciples.

Let us suppose, then, that the question is ours, and that the answer is given to us, the only difference being that we do not say like the disciples, "Whither goest thou, Lord?" but "Lord, why hast thou gone away, and why dost thou not remain amidst us till the end of time?” Let us listen to the reply of Jesus.

But no: before his reply let us listen to our own. He alone will tell us the whole truth, and even any answer which we might give ourselves comes from him. We are wise only with his wisdom. There can be no question of concealing any thing from him; but it may be proper to see whether before knowing the proper answer of Jesus Christ to the question of his disciples, we and they also might not have some means of accounting for the departure and disappearance of Jesus Christ.

Let us suppose, then, that the Son of man, in condescension to the weakness of his disciples, and our secret wish, had consented after his resurrection to remain upon earth until the last day of the last age reserved for its existence. He could not thus remain except to die daily, or to be for ever triumphant. On which of these two alternatives must we fix? You know too well, brethren. Jesus Christ, always equally entitled to be loved, will always be equally hated. The same thirst for his blood will exist in all places and at all times; so that were Jesus Christ to appear successively in different countries, each of them would in its turn be moistened with his precious blood. Horrible to think, and horrible to say! Jesus, each time he sprung again from the bosom of the earth, (become his mother,) would again yield up his innocent and hallowed flesh to the wicked; all forms of execution would alternately be tried on his adorable body; all the fearful varieties of human corruption would be exercised, and, if possible, exhausted in this eternal parricide, and the Church called, according to the words of St. Paul, to fill up what is wanting in the sufferings of her Head; in other words, to represent and continue him in this part of his work, the Church would suffer with him, unless indeed she were, as the example of the first disciples might lead us to suppose, to flee far from his cross, leaving there at most some St. John to whom Jesus, more a stranger upon the earth than before, would not be able to give the charge of another Mary.

If it accords with piety to believe that the Son of God died once, the just for the unjust, if that is the very basis and foundation of the mystery of godliness, it is impious to believe that the Son of God could more than once be clothed with mortal flesh, and that the blessed seed of the woman was more than once to allow his heel to be bruised by the angel of darkness. Let us hasten then to reject this first alternative, though the most probable and the only one admissible, and Jesus, as we have supposed, continuing to honor the earth with his presence, let us conceive that, instead of enduring an eternal passion, he is to enjoy an everlasting triumph.

He has conquered; while living and clothed with our humanity, he has put infidelity completely to flight. The hosannah of some hundreds of Israelites on the road to Jerusalem has become the cry of all nations. Jesus reigns; he is the King of all the earth; he is the King of kings. His peaceful dominion is absolute. He has no more enemies, no more rivals, and what has been emphatically said in the Jewish book of an earthly king is strictly true of Jesus: "The earth is silent before him." His kingdom, whatever he may have said to the contrary, is of this world. Still this kingdom, glorious as it appears, is but a place of exile. For if humanity before it attains to glory in the heavenly places is an exile for the just, how much more must it be so for the Prince of the just? Jesus Christ is not in his proper place, and therefore methinks I hear Him exclaim as in the days of his ministry, "How long shall I be with you?" The subjects of this King of the world have here an advantage over him, and it is found, though in contradiction to the very words of Jesus, that the servant is more than his Master. For Jesus Christ having suffered once, what can those around him have to suffer? A single look from him crowns them with glory; to have been seen and noticed by him, to have received from him an order, a question, a sign merely, is enough to be in the eyes of all other men something more than a king; fidelity always recompensed, always sure of being applauded, no longer costs any thing; the idea, and even the name of disobedience have disappeared from all minds; there is no longer, on the part of the friends of Jesus, either difficulty to be surmounted or struggle to be maintained. It is no longer by fire that men are saved, nor by much tribulation that they enter into glory. The sacrifice is no longer salted with salt, or rather, there is no longer a victim. Religion is no longer a sacrifice; the blessing of the narrow way, and the kingdom of heaven taken by violence, are henceforth only empty sounds. After having asked what Jesus Christ is doing here below, it only remains to ask what his disciples are doing, and why, if we may so express it, earth is not already transformed into heaven?

Such are the replies which the most superficial knowledge of the Gospel at once suggests. Let us now listen to Jesus Christ. His reply alone is complete, and goes to the very bottom of the question. His answer alone can be called an answer. The question of the disciples had reference to themselves. "Why dost thou go away?" meant, Why dost thou leave us alone? what will become of us without thee? This is only part of the question which we have not already answered. We have omitted to place ourselves in the position of the disciples. The first thing which Jesus Christ does is to place himself in it, as is clearly shown by the very first words of his reply; "It is expedient for you that I go away." Let us see in what this expediency consists; an expediency not confined to the first disciples, but applicable to our case also.

"If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."

Remain with us, Lord, and we will be comforted. Such, brethren, would perhaps have been our answer; for we indeed feel a general need of consolation. Alas! in their unhappiest moments it is for being alive and existing that many would wish to be consoled. But who can console better than Jesus? Jesus absent is only one misery more, and who can console us for the absence of Jesus?

Jesus might have answered, Are you consoled? does my presence suffice you? is the void of your heart filled? Is the disquietude of your spirit calmed? have you peace? No; and yet I am in the midst of you. You can every day see me, speak to me, and hear me, and after your manner you love me how is it, then, that while I am alive and present, something within you still cries for peace and comfort? Thus it appears you still require to ask, still to receive the Comforter.

Here the words following the text remind us that we must not give a strict interpretation to the term Comforter. The comfort in question is not merely that which compensates for a lost good, or makes it be forgotten. It is that which puts an end to the soul's solitariness, unites it to its object and its end, and puts it in possession of its true good. It implies all the light, strength, and life, of which it is susceptible; new eyes, a new heart, a second birth; the omnipotence of God in the feebleness of man. The Comforter is the Holy Spirit.

The signs or effects of his presence are numerous and varied. But as the object is to prove that the departure of Jesus is the condition of this Supreme grace, and that it is necessary for him (remarkable circumstance!) to go away in order to give place to the Holy Spirit, let us ascend from mere particular acts of grace which may seem to be compatible with the personal presence of Jesus Christ, to the more general acts which are the principle and source of all the rest. We shall then have no difficulty in understanding how these, and consequently all others, could only be formed and developed after the departure of the Son of man, and we will conclude with saying to this Divine friend, Yes, Lord, thy departure was necessary; it has been good for us that thou didst go away.

Two consolations of the Comforter, two gifts of the Holy Spirit, compose the whole new man. The one is faith; the other is that love in the Spirit of which St. Paul has said that it gives life. Jesus Christ is the object of both, but it is on condition of becoming invisible to us.

The first of the gifts of the new covenant is faith. The property of faith is to attach itself before all and above all to what God has said, be it command, instruction, or promise, and whether written on some material substance or engraven on the tablet of our heart. To believe is to repose entirely on the infallibility and faithfulness of God; it is to place his testimony above all kinds of certainty or guarantee; it is to regard every word proceeding from his mouth as more substantial and real than the reality itself; it is in practice to regard duty in the form in which God has enjoined it as the clearest and most imperative of all obligations; it is, consequently, to go forward with unflinching eye, and meet coming events as we would meet God himself; it is not to ask for sight, but to consider sight either as the special recompense of faith, or as a merciful solace which God, when he deems it necessary, may concede to our weakness; it is, in terms still more general, to live in the Spirit, which is the best part of ourselves; to renounce the tyrannical domination of the senses, and uniformly look to the foundation, the very essence of the truth, instead of looking to external accidents or signs; it is to prefer the invisible, which is eternal, to the visible, which passes away, and the possession of the sovereign good to the sensible signs of its presence: in fine, in regard to what especially concerns Jesus Christ, it is to bless God that the Word was made flesh, and that eternal Wisdom dwelt with the children of men, but not to regard Jesus Christ, although perfect man, as an ordinary individual, whose presence is indissolubly-attached to the body which represents him, as if he would be less present, less near, and less united to us when our eyes should cease to behold him. Now, such was the disposition of the disciples, and such, brethren, is human nature in general, that had Jesus Christ remained upon the earth, faith, the divine principle of a new life, would have remained for ever in an infant state. Its case would have been that of a young bird whose parent will not permit it to try its wings. Men would have reposed on the corporeal presence of Christ; not upon his spiritual, which is his real presence. Even with a Jesus Christ, poor and humble, we would have walked by sight; the man would have obscured the God ; the pure idea would never have been entirely disengaged from the external fact; all the thoughts of the Christian would have remained contracted and temporal; never would he have risen to that glorious liberty of the spirit which was to be the glory of the Gospel economy. In fine, the natural weakness of the disciples would have made them at every moment fall back upon this visible and present Jesus, who behooved, as such, to suffice for all our wants, and whose presence must therefore have made our state of minority perpetual. In regard to the present day, moreover, it would not be we who believed, but he who believed for us, who would live for us, and be the Christian while there were no Christians. The magnificent developments of the Christian Church would thus be strangled in the birth; or, to speak more properly, there would be no Christian Church; if by the Church we mean the assembly of those who walk by faith, and live in the Spirit.

After faith, I have named love in the Spirit. This is the second characteristic of the new man. He loves ; but the essential difference in this respect between him and other men is, that he loves spiritually. All human affection is carnal in its principle. The soul, which is of the earth, is the seat of this love; it does not go the length of the spirit, which is the sense of divine things. To love spiritually, is to love as God loves and wishes to be loved. All in love that is only nature, instinct, taste, self-complacency, all that in love is made in the image of the world and of time, disappears or is subordinate. Love, purified and made divine, rises and attaches itself to what is invisible and immortal; it becomes at once more tender and more holy, more intimate and more respectful; it loves God in every soul, and loves every soul in God. The believer who sees all things with the very eye of God, loves, if we dare so express it, with the very heart of God. And, to quote an example which brings us near our subject, almost all the world loves Jesus. Even the enemies of Christianity have a kind of love for Jesus. How is it possible not to love him who was meek and lowly in heart; who loved little children, and loved the poor; who chose to lead their life, and used his power only to succor and bless? In fine, how is it possible not to love him whose gentle name, for the eighteen centuries during which it has been pronounced, awakens in all minds ideas of clemency and peace, justice and mercy? But none of these men of the world, who after their manner love Jesus Christ, could have more love for him than the son of Jonas; and do we not know that Jesus deserved to be loved otherwise than he was by St. Peter; that though doubtless affected by his simple-hearted attachment, he however repulsed it, or at least restrained it; and felt indignant at this disciple when he was unwilling that his Master should taste of death? The affection of Peter was not spiritual; that of the world for Jesus is, if possible, still less so. It is a human attachment which Jesus does not count sufficient, and which he cannot accept; for this attachment does not contain any of the principles of the new life which he came to confer upon men, no spark of that fire which he hastened to kindle on the earth. This attachment does not lead to God. And how should it lead those whom, in the day when Divine wrath was threatened and pardon offered, it could not lead to the foot of the cross? But this attachment remained human so long as Jesus himself remained in a human condition. It could not take wings and fly away into heaven till Jesus himself should have ascended. Till then, Christ was only a person, and not the way, the truth, and the life. He was not loved as the way, the truth, and the life are loved; but loved as a person is loved. The visible, corporeal, limited person, behooved to disappear, in order to make room for the idea which it represented, and at the same time concealed. It was necessary that the love of Christ should not be liable in any way to division or change. In one word, it was necessary that in Christ men should truly love Christ. Human weakness in some measure demanded this salutary privation of Christ; a privation resembling that which the child suffers when the milk of its mother is withheld, in order to accustom it to more solid nourishment. The disciples at first did not understand this necessity, and how should they have understood it? But shortly after they saw it as if it had been transparent. I know no man after the flesh ;" exclaims the Apostle of the Gentiles, "yea, though I have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know I him no more." Do you hear? He congratulates himself on the fact, and glories in it. Another man would have gloried of having seen Christ. St. Paul, who probably had seen him, sets no value on his bodily presence. He considers it far more important to inform us that he does not know him according to the flesh; and this, doubtless, in order that he might teach us also to know and love him, not in that bodily way, but spiritually.

If faith and spiritual affection are the life of the Church, it was for the advantage of the Church that Jesus, instead of remaining in the midst of her, should go away. This has been well proved by fact. Where was the Church before the departure of Jesus? Nowhere; not even in the bosom of that college of Apostles who we have reason to believe knew Jesus far less, and loved him less completely than a poor Christian peasant now knows and loves him. If, as we are too naturally inclined to believe, corporeal presence is of great moment, and far superior to remembrance, the Apostles, having Jesus in the midst of them, must have been stronger than the Apostles separated from Jesus. And then we ought not to forget that the Spirit (for we are speaking of the Spirit,) had not been given to Jesus by measure, and that he had full power to take of his own, and to give to his friends. Why did he not do so? Why had his lessons less effect on the Apostles than those of the Apostles themselves afterwards had on others? Why was not his mere presence equivalent to an abundant and perpetual effusion of the gifts of the Comforter? Why is it that we may say of Jesus what at a later period was said of St. Paul, "His bodily presence is weak, but his letters are powerful." For, indeed, the facts cannot be disputed. Before the departure of Jesus Christ there is no Church, but there is one immediately after. Those men who after a long residence with their Master, put questions to him, and start doubts which almost make us blush for them, are after his departure enlightened, intelligent, resolute men. This Church, in which he leaves only his remembrance, and in which the visible signs of his power lasted only a very short time, still subsists, and even now, amid the decline of all belief and the overthrow of all systems, is the only thing which has strength, life, and a future. It is at least evident that the existence of the Church did not depend on the visible presence of its Head, and Jesus knew well what he was saying when he declared to his disciples that it was expedient for them that he should go away. "What! shall we suffer less? Shall we be less despised? Will our task be more easy?" Methinks I hear them putting these questions, which, however, Jesus had already answered by anticipation. So far from suffering less they were to suffer much more, and suffer with joy. Such is the advantage which they derived from their Master's departure. Facts thus afford a striking confirmation of what our Saviour foresaw, and prove that his departure was expedient.

But it is said that we suppress the miracle of Pentecost. We do not suppress it. Then it is said we overlook the meaning of the words, "I will send you another Comforter." We do not overlook it. We have not pretended that God is not the Master of his gifts, that he cannot withhold them, and that this one has no date. We believe that the manifestation of divine power on the day of Pentecost was necessary, and that nothing superfluous was then done; for the wonderful magnificence of God always restricts itself to what is necessary. But we have an important observation to make; it is, that God never forces any thing, never attacks our liberty, and that his grace is nothing but an eloquence altogether divine, a spirit speaking to a spirit, the Spirit of God to the spirit of man. He knocks at the door, but does not force it; he knows too well how to make it open. Though every thing is mysterious, there is nothing magical in the work of conversion; the laws of our nature are observed, and we cease not for one instant to be men. We apply this to the great revolution which took place in the heart of the disciples. It was the work of God, but this work God had himself prepared. God had rendered it naturally possible, by withdrawing his Son from the earth and reducing his disciples to mere faith and love. From him alone could they receive what they in fact received, but they could not receive it before their Master had exchanged his residence upon earth for the mansions of heaven: then only could their human confidence become faith, their human affection become love in the Spirit. This is all that we wished to establish, and we think that our trouble has been well bestowed.

The view of Christ risen, was decisive alike in regard to the calling of the disciples, and their future prospects. Without this view, nothing is possible ; and the Lord's tomb, empty though his friends knew it not, buried for ever both their hope and the Church. This event may suffice to explain their joy, their first ardor and devotedness. But let us not lose sight of the ideas which have been occupying our attention. What is Christianity when realized in the heart, but just the triumph of the invisible over the visible, and the reign of faith? What is the new life which attaches itself to this principle, but just a love superior by its purity and spiritual character to all earthly loves? The only question is, whether the germ of these two virtues, which constitute the whole of Christianity, could have been developed in a Church in which Jesus should have been personally present, even to the end of the world? We have tried to prove the contrary, and our only remaining question is: If this is not the meaning of our Lord's words, what do they mean? Apart from those ideas, how can we understand that it would have been advantageous for the disciples to see their Master go away, and that it can be advantageous to us to be deprived of his presence? Without dwelling on the fact that the earth could not retain Jesus Christ beyond the term fixed by eternal prescience, do we not perceive that his presence prolonged, (we mean his corporeal presence,) might be an obstacle to the accomplishment of some of the ends for which he had come in the flesh? Was not his departure the natural signal for the advent of the Holy Spirit? And was it not when the earth should possess spiritual men, who are the people of the new covenant, when the works of the Spirit should be manifest, and its fruits abundant on the earth, that this same Spirit should be able, in the words of our Saviour, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment? We leave you, brethren, to answer these questions, being impatient to arrive at the practical lessons which flow, as it were, spontaneously from our text.

Could we venture to maintain, brethren, that is was good for the disciples that Christ should go away, and that what was necessary and expedient for them is useless and bad for us? None of us certainly will say so. It is too evident that the situation, the wants, are still the same, and that we cannot any more then the Apostles dispense with the painful privation which their Master imposed on then.

No Christian whoever consents to it willingly. The resolution to do so depends on the measure of his spirituality, in other words, in proportion as Jesus Christ is possessed by the heart, is the distinctness of vision belonging to the eye of faith. But nothing is more universal or more natural than regret for not having seen Jesus Christ, than the desire of one day seeing him, I would almost say a feeling of envy in regard to the privileged persons who beheld him in the form of a servant. Forgetting how weak these persons were during the lifetime of their Master, and that all their strength dates from a period when their divine Head was no longer present on the earth, excepting by his Spirit, many imagine that they could do all with Jesus Christ were he to become visible, that there would then be neither doubt nor fear, that they would thenceforth be all ardor for the service of their great Master. That on a first impression man should think and speak thus, is conceivable, and may be pardoned; but after reflection how can they continue to use this language? and when they do use it, how far must they be from a full understanding of the Gospel!

What is the human body? A living statue. The body is an image, a memorial of the existence and presence of a moral being, to which through the body, so to speak, are addressed all the feelings which this being can inspire. That the soul never is without the body, and that their indissoluble union is an essential condition, an ineffaceable characteristic of human nature, we entertain no doubt, and we have even the sanction of the Gospel itself, which does not speak of the immortality of the soul, as philosophers do, but of the resurrection of the flesh. This flesh, however, this organization, though necessary to enable man to manifest himself and fulfill his destiny, does not constitute the man. This we all admit when we refuse to estimate a man's worth by his body, or any thing apparently dependent on his body, and make it wholly depend on his intellect and will. How can the element which we refuse to take into account in the valuation be the man himself, the whole man? On the other hand, is not the man, the whole man, in that intellect and will, which alone we introduce into the account?

Moreover, in our attachments we rise superior to the impressions which body can produce upon body; the more we rise (if I may so express it) above the statue to the man whom it represents, the more we feel satisfied with ourselves. An affection on which neither the external decay of the object loved, nor its absence, nor death, would have any power, such an affection would justly be entitled to the highest honor. It would not, I admit, be love in the Spirit in the gospel acceptation, but nothing would more strongly resemble it, nothing be more proper to give the idea of it, or even according to circumstances originate the desire or presentiment of it.

If any being should be loved purely, it is undoubtedly the Son of God. The worship in spirit, which he has recommended and rendered possible, is nothing less than the spiritual adoration addressed to the Spirit. If the Son of God appeared in the flesh, it was not to make us adore his flesh or corporeal presence, but to dwell among us, to be man like us, to lead a human life, and submit to death. He has given this as a support to our love; but our love should attach itself to that in him which thinks, invites, and loves. If it is not eternal truth and the eternal God that we love in Jesus Christ, we do not yet love him as he desires to be loved.

But since we are at this moment considering not so much principles as consequences, let us reply to those who exclaim, "O how strong we would be if we could only see Jesus Christ!" Alas! how many saw him, saw him at full leisure, and remained weak! So would it be with you, brethren, were Jesus Christ to appear and converse with you, if he did not at the same time communicate the Holy Spirit, which, as you know, was given to the first disciples only under the condition of his own absence. No doubt it was a high honor, as well as a great comfort to have seen the Son of man under the form of a servant, which is the foundation of his own glory. The first Apostles had so seen him; it was necessary for the execution of the apostolate; and we hear St. Paul, when misapprehended by a portion of the primitive Church, exclaiming, "Have not I too seen Jesus Christ?" But that has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the question which we are considering. The question is this: The Spirit having been able to supply the place of Christ, and complete his work, could Christ, by his presence, have supplied the place of the Holy Spirit? Could his presence produce in us what the Holy Spirit might not have produced in us, or could not produce? Nothing, absolutely nothing, authorizes us to think so. Any analogy would be deceptive. The mere aspect of a great personage, the mere report of his presence, has sometimes, on grave emergencies, exercised a decisive influence. But however great the results might be, they were human. The means and the effect were not disproportioned to each other. But spiritual effects demand a spiritual cause, and the fact of Christ's corporeal presence, considered in itself, is not so. There is nothing spiritual in it. If it did not absolutely exclude the agency of the Spirit, it could not supply its place; but we are satisfied that the establishment of the reign of the Spirit in the Church is dependent on the presence of Jesus Christ at the right hand of his Father, and not on his presence in the midst of us.

This absence of a visible and corporeal Christ is regarded as a privation, a loss. But it is the flesh itself, it is the charm of the present life that makes us deem it so. Jesus Christ absent is not diminished, or rather, though absent, is not absent. His Spirit is himself. He is wholly present in the presence of his Spirit. It has been said of a great captain, that his ghost could have gained battles; but the Holy Spirit is not the ghost of Jesus Christ, who left us more than his portrait when he left us the Comforter. And if it is true that a perpetual warfare is allotted to Jesus Christ on the earth; if, as we doubt not, he is ever engaged in fighting battles, it is not his shade, but himself, that fights and wins them. In giving us his Spirit, he does more than take of his own to give it to us, he gives himself; yes, just as personally, just as effectually as on that memorable day when the sun was extinguished in the heavens. He still gives himself, though without shedding of blood, in glory and in power, invisible to the eyes of the flesh, but visible to the eyes of the soul, and immediately and personally apprehended by faith.

It is true that the hope of Christ's return must have some value. Whatever may be the form of that return, in whatever manner Christ may manifest himself on the great day, it has been promised to our faith, and will make that day differ from those whose fleeting hours compose the period of our pilgrimage. There will be a manifestation, a sight. Sight has always been the recompense, the encouragement of faith. But the first thing necessary was to believe.

Jesus Christ did few miracles, in other words, granted little to sight, when he met with much unbelief. After all, faith is life. Sight is royalty; but in order to reign, and before reigning, it is necessary to live; and sight is glory and felicity only to him to whom long before seeing it has been given to believe.

"Enough of this," you say, "perhaps too much. None of us have the idea, far less the hope, of withdrawing the Son of man from the blessed light of heaven to make him dwell a second time in the sad darkness of this life." I believe it, brethren; but do you not claim something which, in effect, is the very thing which you disavow?

If you presume not to claim the visibility of Jesus Christ's personal presence, you wish it in some other manner; in other words, you wish visible signs of his invisible presence. If the signs for which you call are only those fruits of the Spirit, those good works, that holy activity which constitutes and manifests Christianity in the heart, assuredly you are right. These signs, and many of them, are required, and we have only one observation to make in regard to them, and it is, that these signs of the presence of Jesus Christ you ought in the first instance to ask from yourselves.

But it is not of this holy desire that we speak. There is another less pure, that which suggested to the Israelites the rash demand, Make us gods to walk before us. There is not a man who does not, at the bottom of his heart, ask gods who may walk before him, nor a Christian who, at certain moments, would not ask them if he dared.

What is asked is not (God forbid) something like the golden calf; it is not even the ark of the living God, nor even the cloud. We are no longer in that position. What is it, then? I will tell you. It is any thing which will give a distinct form and tangible shape to the spiritual kingdom which Jesus Christ came to establish on the earth.

In the first rank are the institutions and customs which time has consecrated in the bosom of the Christian Church. These circumstances, which are wholly external and are not the Church itself, we so overvalue that we mistake them for the Church: if certain barriers, certain words, certain sounds, happen to fail, we think it is the Church herself that fails; it seems as if the strength of our communion, or Jesus Christ himself, is attached to these means or symbols, and that the event which has substituted for these other means, other symbols, has thereby deprived us both of that spiritual communion whose seat is in the heart, and of Jesus Christ himself, who is present in the midst of us only in so far as he dwells in our heart. We then feel, as it were, buried in darkness and lost in vacuity. We no longer know how to act; the earth seems to give way under our feet, our heart melts within us, and we can scarcely help exclaiming, with the woman at the sepulcher, "They have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him!"

Sometimes we consider Jesus Christ to be represented by men who are devoted to his service, and whom we believe to be penetrated with his Spirit. Every Christian, in a certain sense, represents Jesus Christ, and represents him the better the more implicitly he submits to him. The error lies in making a mere man the object of feelings which are due only to our Lord, and in regarding any instrument of whatever nature as necessary. This error is common, and alienates from Jesus Christ while it appears to pay him an homage of which he ought to be the sole object. How often in this manner is our adoration misplaced and led astray! How often do we make the altar of the living God the pedestal of an idol! And when the righteous hand of God throws down this idol and breaks it to pieces, when this man, supposed necessary, has disappeared, all has disappeared with him. He was the god who walked before us; his inspirations were all our wisdom, his voice, in spite of us, perhaps, had silenced the voice of the Spirit within us. Has he forsaken us? The silence is complete and the darkness profound. He had become to us unconsciously Jesus present, Jesus visible; and death, or absence, or some other dispensation, by removing away this man, has left us alone with ourselves, even after we had received the words of Christ, "I am with you to the end of the world."

The success, the internal prosperity of Christianity are also a kind of visible Christ to us. We are willing not to believe him absent so long as we see his religion honored, multitudes thronging his churches, society at least tacitly recognizing him as its head, infidelity blushing to avow itself, and hatred (for we cannot be ignorant that he has enemies,) blaspheming only in secret. Our faith takes courage at the sight; alas! this sight is all the faith possessed by the greater number. How readily our hope fails, and our faith is shaken, how soon we fall away, when, in consequence of any great change in the condition of society, enmity grows bold, and of a sudden "the hearts of many are revealed!" In all this, however, there is nothing new. Jesus Christ has no more enemies than he had; those who are hostile to-day were so yesterday; the only difference is that they are now known, and know themselves. But the very circumstance of its being believed that Jesus Christ has more enemies, diminishes the number of his friends. What do I say? It seems as if this host of enemies had carried Jesus Christ away. Like Enoch, he disappears and is not. It seems as if he had never appeared, as if he had never been, and as if, dreadful to say, his removal from the earth took away not a real being, but a name! After hearing and hearing again that the kingdom of God cometh not with observation, that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, that the Church is not the world, that the doctrine of the cross is to the natural man foolishness, that the truth is always offensive, and that to the end true believers will be a small and select number, that humiliation and contempt are the inheritance of the Church upon earth, all this fades away from the memory, and it plainly appears that these expressions had hitherto been used without being understood or believed. All are not shaken in an equal degree, but the firmest feel their knees bending, and more than one of those who still believe, (because faith cannot die,) more than one cries to Jesus, as the disciples once did, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent!" Luke xxiv. 29.

But Jesus Christ, who cannot permit us either to serve him as an idol, or to put idols in his place, or to seek indubitable evidence of his presence any where but in ourselves; Jesus Christ, as on that day when the multitude erroneously wished to make him a king, "withdraws to a mountain." By this new retreat he extinguishes the bright light which he had kindled; he obliges us to seek him on the mountain, in other words, in our faith, and constrains us to look at him with other eyes than those of flesh. Those days, strongly resembling nights, are days of trial, but thereby days of blessing. True faith is astonished, we admit, but it recovers itself, or rather recovers the invisible Saviour from whom it had allowed itself to be drawn far away towards reflected objects and symbols. A similar day has been given to us. The darkness is gathering. The lights are being extinguished. The world is more completely than ever the world, and Christians are again in its eyes a peculiar people. It is not the substance but the aspect of things that has changed. The respective amounts of faith and unbelief have doubtless somewhat varied; but unbelief has with many changed its character; it is serious, it affirms, it believes, it removes mountains. These mountains will crush it to pieces, for it is strong only in denying, and when it rises to affirmation, it calls forth a unanimous and crushing denial from facts and from nature. Be this as it may, what grounds have we not for saying to the power of falsehood, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." Luke xxii. 53. This is one of those evenings, those gloomy evenings, in which the Church requires to be illumined by the light which she carries within her, but it is also one of those evenings whose darkness, so to speak, kindles a thousand fires in the sky of the Church. Do you not see them one after another start up and illumine the darkness? Do you not see life and motion springing up on every side, a reviving interest in the works of which the glory of Jesus Christ is the object, the spirit of enterprise and conquest again becoming the spirit of a Christian people so long a stranger to the divine impatience which sees the fields already white, though others think there are still three months till harvest? Who would dare to say that the Church, the true Church, ever dies? None, not even its proudest enemies. What although the flame burns flickering, and on a narrow hearth? What matters it if it is as pure, as vigorous, as devouring as ever?

Brethren, let us, with all the strength which God has given, resist the dangerous temptations of that "lust of the eye," which, from our carnal nature, we carry even into the purest of religions. Majestic power, ancient memorials, space and number, brilliant actions and fascinating talents, are all so many modes in which we would have Jesus Christ to become visible to our eyes. Notwithstanding his glorious ascension, we insist on clothing him in mortal flesh, in order that we may be able to know, according to the flesh, him who desires to be known and loved only according to the Spirit. We invest him with a mortal flesh, and thereby make him mortal. Yes, we render him subject to death a second time, and for ever; and when he does come to die in that flesh with which we have against his will invested him, alas! is there not ground to fear that he will also die in our hearts? Bible Christians, we look with pity on the believers in the real presence, and yet we differ from them only in form, since, like them, we call up a Jesus Christ in flesh, in order to secure his dying still more certainly on the altar of our hearts. A taste, a love, a reverence for the invisible, is still rare among the very men who are always repeating that they must set their affections on the invisible realities of eternity, and that their true life is hid with Christ in God. Brethren, we have all, in this respect, much progress to make. May we desire it! May we ask it! This were almost to have accomplished it.