Tuesday, May 10, 2011


If any should say, "But doth not nature teach us, that the honour or dishonour done to a picture or image, reflects upon the person represented by it? Is it not an honour to a prince to kiss his picture, and a dishonour to abuse it, or deface it? And therefore is it not an honour to God to do the like, and to give due veneration and adoration unto his image?" For answer to this, take into your consideration these following particulars:—

That it is supposed by this querist,. that an image or picture may be made of God; which ought to be denied, and not taken for granted. "All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." (Isa. xl. 17.) And it follows: "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" (Verse 18.) And why should we make an image of God that is not like him? But our adversaries tell us, that images or pictures made with reference unto God, may be considered two ways: in a proper sense: as if a man should conceive God to have eyes, and ears, and hands, and other bodily parts, as we have, and represent him accordingly by an image. And this our adversaries themselves acknowledge to be an infinite disparagement unto the divine nature; because God, being infinite and invisible, can by no means be represented as he is in himself by any corporeal likeness or figure. Or in a metaphorical and allusive sense: as representing such things as bear a certain analogy or proportion to some divine properties, and thereupon are apt to raise our minds to the knowledge and contemplation of the perfections themselves: as, when God appeared to Daniel as "the Ancient of days," this was to manifest his wisdom and eternity; (Dan. vii. 9 ;) and the Holy Ghost as a dove, this was to signify his purity and simplicity. (Matt. iii. 16.) "Now," say they, "to make an image of God in this sense, is no way dishonourable to him, because it is not made to represent the divine nature by an immediate or proper similitude; but by analogy only, or metaphorical signification; and these images are usually called, by way of distinction, 'symbolical images of God.'" Unto which we say,

1. That the making of any image of God is forbidden in scripture.— "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female:" (Deut. iv. 15, 16:) where God did not forbid them the making of the images of false gods, or that any veneration or worship should be given unto them. This is plain from the text: "Ye saw no manner of similitude ;" the meaning is not that they saw no similitude of any false god, but of the God that spake to them in Horeb. Whereupon the Lord gives them this caution: "Take ye therefore good heed to yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure," &c.

If it be said, that "they were to take heed lest they corrupted themselves by making an image of God in a proper sense, as is before explained, but they were not forbidden to make a symbolical image of God," it is replied,

(1.) I demand where there is any ground in that text for such a distinction between a proper and a symbolical image of God. The words of the law are comprehensive and general: "Take heed, lest you corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure :" and the reason rendered by God is, "For ye saw no manner of similitude in the day the Lord spake to you in Horeb." Mark !" no manner of similitude," no, not so much as symbolical.

(2.) Such an image of God is forbidden, that we are to take great heed to ourselves lest we corrupt ourselves in the making of it. Now there is no such great danger for a man to represent God to himself by an image in a proper sense, as if God had eyes, and hands, and feet, as we have; at least, such are not in danger that are any thing acquainted with the holy scriptures, which expressly tell us, that "God is a Spirit," and that he will be worshipped "in spirit and in truth." (John iv. 24.) It is to be feared, indeed, that the poor ignorant laity amongst the Papists may be in some danger by this means: but knowing persons amongst the Protestants, even those of the laity, are not. If it be said, "It is true, the people of Israel saw no similitude on the day that God spake to them in Horeb; but afterwards God made himself known to them by outward figures and similitudes: to Daniel, as the Ancient of days; (Dan. vii. 9 ;) to our Saviour, in the shape of a dove: (Matt. iii. 16 :) and, besides, the parts and members of man's body are sometimes in scripture ascribed unto God, as eyes, and hands, and feet, &c.: and why may not we represent God as he hath been pleased to represent himself?" to this it is replied, that God may, as he pleaseth, make known himself unto his people by some visible tokens of his extraordinary presence; but then consider,

(i.) That which God was pleased to do sometimes for holy reasons best known unto himself is not the rule of our actions: the word of God is a sufficient rule, and the only rule; and if we would know what sin is, and what duty is, we must take our measures from thence. That in matters of worship we may sin, in imitating God himself otherwise than he hath commanded in his word; we have a famous instance for this in Jeroboam: "Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah;" (1 Kings xii. 32;) and yet you see he is branded for this by the Spirit of God in the scriptures.

(ii.) We never read that Moses and the prophets took care that any figure or image should be made of God, no, not a symbolical image; and it is very strange that they should be so much wanting to themselves, and to the generation wherein they lived, if they were such excellent helps to devotion as some pretend.

(iii.) Though God sometimes by outward figures and similitudes gave notice of his extraordinary presence, yet it was to persons eminent for holiness, and of great and singular wisdom in divine things; as Abraham, Moses, Daniel, and such-like worthies, and such as were able to give a right judgment of things of this nature: but when God spake unto the people in Horeb out of the midst of the fire, they saw no manner of similitude, lest they might corrupt themselves in the making of a graven image, and might have gross and carnal notions concerning God. And, indeed, I cannot but wonder at our adversaries, when they call images "laymen's books," or " the books of the unlearned." Had the use of images been appropriated to the more knowing and learned persons, it would have been more tolerable; there might be some pretence that such persons might from sensible and material representations be raised up to divine and heavenly meditation, even of things surpassing sense: but to conceive that the vulgar and ignorant sort of people, (and the generality of people are so, and ought to be so according to the Popish principles,)—I say, to think that they who are in a manner made up altogether of sense should be taught to worship an infinite, spiritual, invisible Being, by fixing their eyes upon finite, corporeal objects of sense, seems to me to be the first-born of incredibilities.

And whereas it is said that we cannot conceive of God but by forming ideas of him in our minds, which are so many pictures and representations of God: this is true; but then withal we must consider, that these forms and representations of God in our fancies arise from our natural constitution, from our finite and corporeal nature, and ought to be bewailed; and therefore [this] is no argument for worshipping God in any corporeal form; for this may betray us so much the more to gross and undue notions and conceptions concerning God. Nor are our imaginations to guide our understanding; but our understandings must rectify and regulate our imaginations.

(iv.) These outward figures and signs of God's special and extraordinary presence continued only for a time, and for some extraordinary service for which God had designed them, and then disappeared; and it is absurd for any to think that which was by peculiar and extraordinary dispensation should become a constant and ordinary rule unto all generations.

(v.) It is true, that the parts and members of man's body are sometimes ascribed unto God in scripture, as eyes, and hands, and feet, &c.; but it is ridiculous from tropes and metaphors and figurative expressions to form an argument for pictures and images. For if so, we may represent God as the sun, as a fountain, as fire, as a rock; and Christ as a hen, with chickens under his wings; for these are ascribed to God and Christ in scripture; and yet I conceive that Papists themselves would not give any countenance to pictures of this nature. Unto which might be added, that it is not likely that we should be misled into error by such passages as those, when the scripture elsewhere tells us expressly that "God is a Spirit:" but these pretended images of God speak not, nor give us any notice of our danger. Yea, in those very places of scripture, at least some of them, where eyes and hands and feet are ascribed unto God, we may find enough to prove that God is infinite and incomprehensible. For instance: when it is said that heaven is God's throne, and the earth his footstool; (Isai. lxvi. 1 ;) where at first view it seems to be insinuated, as if God had feet, and made use of the earth as his footstool; yet if we seriously consider the whole as it is ascribed unto God, we shall find that it plainly enough speaks God to be an infinite Being. For when it is said, that the whole heaven is God's throne, and the whole earth his footstool, it would not only be absurd, but monstrously ridiculous, for any to conceive that a body like unto man's should be capable of such qualifications, as at the same time to make heaven its throne, and the earth its footstool. So when God is said to deliver Israel by a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm, there is no man can understand it thus, as if God stretched forth his arm out of heaven upon the earth for the deliverance of his people; but that by God's "arm" is meant God's "power," and that it is called his "hand" or "arm" improperly and after the manner of men. Thus the holy scriptures have well provided for the people of God against errors and mistakes concerning God. But how the pretended images of God may acquit themselves in this particular, our adversaries should do well to advise. And therefore let me caution you in God's name, lest you corrupt yourselves in making any graven image of God; and I do it so much the rather, because men have a great fancy to have a god that they may see with their eyes, or at least some visible representations of God; for they think, if he should be out of sight, he would he out of mind also. And hence Papists, and Popishly-affected persons, are more for being at Mass, than for hearing of a sermon; they had rather see their God, than hear another speak eloquently of him: and therefore take heed, lest ye corrupt yourselves in this kind.

And this is the first thing that I would say to this inquiry,—whether it be not an honour to God that due veneration and adoration be given to his image or picture; namely, that this supposes that an image or picture may be made of God, which we deny.

2. The second thing that I would say by way of reply to this inquiry, is this: that civil honour may be paid to the images of kings and princes; but it doth not follow from hence, that the images of Christ and of the saints may have a religious respect paid to them.—The images of kings and princes are civil things, and therefore may have civil honour. If the images of Christ and the saints were sacred, as the other are civil, there might be some colour for what they say; but that they are sacred or holy is to be proved, and till then we leave it to our adversaries to take it into consideration.

3. That it is granted that the abuse or the defacing of the image of a prince redounds to the dishonour of that prince whom it represents; but I hope no indignity is offered to a prince by breaking apieces those pictures that he had expressly forbidden should be graven, or painted, or made, and that under a severe penalty.—Indeed the abuse of those things that are of divine institution, as of the elements in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, or the water in baptism, doth redound unto God himself; but what is this to an image of man's devising, and that not only without any warrant from God, but expressly against his will and commandments? If a man should break a-pieces or throw into the fire the coin that comes into his hands that is false or counterfeit, though it had the prince's image or stamp upon it, yet it would be no dishonour to the prince to deal so by it, but rather a piece of homage and reverence to his authority.

For the further clearing of this matter in controversy between us and our adversaries of Rome, concerning the veneration and adoration that they say may be given to images, we will consider that images may be worshipped two manner of ways.

1. Terminative; that is, when people "terminate" their worship on an image, as if it were God, without looking any further than it. And this is likely to be the sin of the more brutish sort of the blind Heathens, and of many ignorant Papists to this day. And this kind of idolatry is forbidden by the first commandment. This is plain upon this ground: if the first commandment expressly enjoins us to have no other gods but Jehovah, then to worship an image as God is forbidden by this commandment: so that by "making a graven image," in the second commandment, and "falling down before it," and worshipping of it, something else must be understood than the worshipping of it terminative as God; and therefore,

2. Images may be worshipped relative, and "with respect" to the true God; and in this sense our adversaries of the church of Rome would maintain their worship of images. Now this also is unlawful, and forbidden by the second commandment. In this sense the Papists in our days are guilty of idolatry, and the Jews of old were guilty of idolatry; for the Jews, at least many of them, did not worship the images themselves, but the true God by them; and this will appear by instances out of the Sacred Scripture.

(1.) The first instance that I shall give you shall be that of the golden calf, of which we read in Exod. xxxii. That the worshipping of the calf was idolatry, is plain: "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play;" (1 Cor. x. 7;) where the apostle refers to the people's worshipping of the calf: "They rose early on the morrow, and offered burntofferings, and brought peace-offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play;" (Exod. xxxii. 6 ;) and yet the Israelites did not fall into the heathenish idolatry by so doing, that is, they did not worship the calf as God, but worshipped the true God by the calf. I know, the Papists with great bitterness inveigh against the Protestants for teaching of this doctrine; nor do I wonder at it; for what is likely to become of the Popish darling principle of worshipping the true God by an image, if the Israelites, for doing the same thing, according to the judgment of God himself, were idolaters? Now therefore that which will be proved is this, that the Israelites did not worship the calf as God, but the true God by the calf; and that will appear by these following considerations :—

(i.) Because the calf was dedicated and consecrated to the service of the true God, as appears by what Aaron said and did in that case: "When Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to the Lord," or "unto Jehovah;" (Exod. xxxii. 5 ;) and Aaron useth the name Jehovah, that he might make the best of a bad matter, that the people might not terminate their worship on the idol, but on the true God. And our adversaries seem to yield to the force of this scripture, when they do acknowledge, that Aaron perhaps, and some of the wiser amongst the Israelites, might not be so sottish as to worship the calf as God. But they should consider also, that Aaron did not speak so much his own sense, but by this means would give notice to the people how to regulate and order their devotion; and if they would be so mad as to worship the calf, in so doing they should have respect unto the true God, unto Jehovah, and worship him by it; and accordingly he makes "proclamation," and says, " To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah."

If it be said, "The idol was called by the name Jehovah, and therefore they worshipped that as God ;" we reply, that this is gratis dictum, "said, but not proved :" for Aaron doth not say, "To-morrow is a feast to the calf Jehovah," but, "To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah." And suppose it were so, that the calf was called Jehovah, this may be understood of that religious worship and honour which they gave unto the calf, which is so proper and peculiar unto God,-that either that is God which we thus worship, or else we make it so. In Psalm cvi. 19, 20, it is said of Israel, "They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass." The meaning is not, that the Israelites thought that God in his nature and being was like unto an ox; but by giving the calf religious honour, by worshipping the graven image, by giving that glory which is due to God unto an ox, they did, in a sense, "change their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass." Thus when Israel is charged with "saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth," (Jer. ii. 27,) this is not to be understood strictly: surely, they had been grosser stocks than those that they worshipped, if it entered into their thoughts that a stock made them, or was their father, or a stone brought them forth; but because they gave some religious respect to those stocks and stones, they did in a sense change the glory of God into a stock, and into a stone; and, by interpretation, say "to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth."

(ii.) It further appears, that the Israelites did not worship the calf itself as God, but the true God by the calf, as by what Aaron said, so by what the people said: "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." (Exod. xxxii. 4.) Now though they say "gods," because the word in the Hebrew is in the plural number; yet, according to the usage of the word in other places of scripture, we must understand by it "one God ;" and so the scripture expounds it elsewhere: "This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt." (Neh. ix. 18.) They called the calf " God" by an usual metonymy, by giving of the name of the thing signified unto the sign; as the images of the chcrubims are called "cherubims," (Exod. xxv. 18,) and the images of oxen are called "oxen." (1 Kings vii. 25.) So then the meaning of this scripture is this: "These be thy gods, O Israel;" that is to say, "This is the sign and token of the presence of thy God, O Israel, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." And, indeed, had the calf been God, according to the notion of the idolatrous Heathens, the calf would rather have kept them in Egypt, than have brought them out of Egypt. For look: as those of the church of Rome have their tutelar saints, some to preside over some countries, and some over others; some to be helpful and assistant in one case, and some in another; so the Heathens had their tutelar and topical gods. The gods of Egypt themselves would not stir out of Egypt; much less were they likely to bring Israel from thence. The Heathens thought that the whole world was of too large a compass for one god to take care of; and therefore .their notion was, that several countries had several gods; yea, several places, it may be, in one and the same country, had several gods. "Their gods," say the Syrians of the Israelites, "are gods of the hills," (possibly collecting the same from the Jews' usual sacrificing in high places,) and not the god of the plain; "let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." (1 Kings xx. 23.) "It is likely that one god cannot be the god of the hills, and the god of the plain." And hence it is that the people that the king of Assyria sent to the cities of Samaria, and placed there, are said not to know the manner of the God of the land, that is, the God of Israel, as distinct from the God of Judah. (2 Kings xvii. 26.) These were the notions that the Heathens had of their gods; and therefore if the Israelites were such gross idolaters as our adversaries pretend they were, how could they say?—"These are thy gods, O Israel, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."

(iii.) It appears yet further, that the Israelites did not worship the calf itself as God, but the true God by the calf, from that text of scripture: "They made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven." (Acts vii. 41, 42.) It is said, that sacrifice notes the highest piece of worship and devotion; this is said; but it is more than evident that the Israelites had a respect to the true God, even when they offered sacrifice unto the idol: for it is said, when the Israelites offered sacrifice unto the calf, that "God gave them up to worship the host of heaven." Now if their idolatry had consisted in worshipping the calf as God, it will be found to be more gross and absurd than to worship the host of heaven; at least, it could not have been an aggravation of their sin that they worshipped the host of heaven above their worshipping of the calf, which is St. Stephen's scope in this place. The meaning therefore of this scripture is this,— that because they corrupted the worship of the true God in worshipping of the calf, contrary to his command, therefore God in judgment gave them up to the worshipping of those that were not gods, namely, the host of heaven.

"But is it not said that 'they forgot God their Saviour?' (Psalm cvi. 21.) And doth not this imply that they had renounced the worship of the true God, and worshipped the calf as God?" I answer, No; this must not be understood as if they did not remember God at all; no, nor yet the great things which he had done in Egypt: hut they are said to forget him, because they were not mindful of his precepts, and had no regard unto his laws; and particularly that law, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image." They who do not obey God, do not, as they ought, remember God; and in this sense the Israelites are said to forget God, not because they worshipped the calf as a false god, but transgressed, in worshipping of the calf, the law of the true God.

"But what need had the Israelites of the calf, as a sign of God's presence going before them, when they had already the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, designed by God for this very end?" But what trifling is this! What need had they to long after the garlic and onions of Egypt, when God had provided for them manna, the food of angels, bread from heaven? What need had David to contrive the death of his good subject Uriah, and after this to marry Bathsheba his wife? Yea, what need have the Papists themselves of crucifixes, when they have the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, memoirs, of divine appointment and institution, of Christ's death and passion? Would it not be ridiculous to say?—"They had no need to do it; therefore they did it not."

And supposing that the people should be so stupid, as some pretend they were, as to think that there was a divine virtue inherent in the calf; yet this doth not prove that they worshipped the calf as God: for if so, the Jews might conclude that the hem of Christ's garment, and the handkerchief and shadow of the apostles, were gods, because a divine virtue seemed to go forth from them; yea, and the brasen serpent might be thought to have been God, because the stung Israelite was healed by looking up to the brasen serpent.

And whereas it is urged that "the Israelites served the gods of the Egyptians whilst they were in Egypt: 'Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth : and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt;' (Joshua xxiv. 11;) and the scripture, speaking of Israel, tells us, 'They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image;'" (Psalm cvi. 19;) in answer to this, we say, that it is not unusual for God to charge a people going on in ways of wickedness and disobedience with that which is suitable enough with what they do and the intention of the work, though far enough off from the design and intention of the worker. Thus the apostle tells us, that covetousness is idolatry, and that there are some that make their belly their god; and yet the persons concerned [are] far enough off either from professing or designing any thing of this nature. Thus the Israelites "made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image," because they gave religious worship to it; though their design and intention was far different from the idolatry of the Heathens, that worshipped idols, or false gods. Thus I have endeavoured to clear the first instance that may be given of the Jews' committing idolatryby their worshipping of images, though they did not worship the images themselves, but the true God by them ; and having been so large in this, there needs but a few words to be spoken to the rest.

(2.) A second instance may be that of Jeroboam, in his infamous sin in setting up calves at Dan and Bethel, whereby he made Israel to sin. Now it was not Jeroboam's design to withdraw the people altogether from the worship of the true God, or the worshipping of those calves as gods; but to worship the true God by them: and that for these reasons :—

(i.) The great design of Jeroboam in this was, that he might secure the ten tribes unto himself, so that they might not think of returning to unite themselves any more to the house of David, which might possibly come to pass by their going up to Jerusalem; as appears from 1 Kings xii. 26, 27: "And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people return again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah:" and hence that saying of his: "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem;" (verse 28 ;) as if he should say, "Ye may worship God nearer home."

(ii.) That it was not Jeroboam's design to withdraw the people altogether from the worship of the true God will further appear, because the idolatry of Jeroboam is distinguished from the idolatry of the Heathens abroad that worshipped false gods; yea, from the idolatry of their idolatrous kings at home, as that of Ahab: "And Ahab the son of Orari did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him;" (1 Kings xvi. 30 :) so that Ahab's idolatry was more heinous than Jeroboam's. And what other reason can likely be rendered for it than this, namely, Ahab's setting up of false gods? For whereas it is pretended that "Ahab's sin was greater than Jeroboam's, because Ahab's sin was the worshipping of many gods, whereas Jeroboam's sin was worshipping the calf; as he is a greater and more heinous sinner that commits adultery with many, than he that commits it but with one:" this is but a pretence; for it remains to be proved, that the Israelites did at any time, yea, in the worst of times, altogether renounce the true and living God; but, in their conceit, yea, in their profession, [did] acknowledge the true God still. And hence it is that you shall read, that Ahab's prophets, that were the prophets of Baal, did yet prophesy in the name of the Lord: "And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Syrians until thou have consumed them. And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper; for the Lord will deliver it into the king's hand." (1 Kings xxii. 11, 12.) So that the difference between Jeroboam's and Ahab's idolatry lay here: Jeroboam's idolatry consisted in worshipping of the true God by an image; but Ahab's idolatry was not only in worshipping the true God by an image, as Jeroboam's did, but in worshipping other gods beside him, namely, Baal-gods.

(3.) A third instance might be that of Micah and his mother. (Judges xvii.) Though his mother made a graven image, yet that it was for the worshipping of the God of Israel appears by the whole story. She professes, in verse 3, that she had wholly dedicated the silver that was to make a graven image and a molten image unto the Lord; and Micah himself consecrates a Levite for his priest, that is, seeming thereby to have respect to the true God in the worship he had designed; and when he had done so, he professes, "Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest:" (verse 13 :) yet upon this account his mother and himself also were idolaters.
Now the counsel that I give you, or rather St. John [gives you], is this: "Keep yourselves from idols:" they that would not be idolaters, must keep themselves from idols, from, all things that may be enticements to that sin: in the commandments where a sin is forbidden, all enticements and provocations to that sin are also forbidden. When God says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," the meaning of this commandment, according to the exposition that our Saviour himself makes of it, is, that we must not "look upon a woman to lust after her." And Solomon, speaking of a harlot, gives this counsel: "Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house." (Prov. v. 8.) And holy Job "made a covenant with his eyes," not to "think upon a maid." (Job xxxi. 1.) When God would forbid the sin of injustice, see how he expresses it: "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small." (Deut. xxv. 13.) It was a sin for a man to have a great and a small weight in his bag: and why so? Suppose a great and a small •weight were found in a man's bag, he might say, "How doth it appear that I have sold wares by one weight, and taken up wares by another?" But God would not have them lay such a snare before themselves; and therefore forbids them to have in their bags "divers weights, a great and a small." So it is in this case, when we have a caution given us against idols: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols;" the Holy Ghost seems to meet with a secret objection that might be made by some: "We hate idolatry: but yet to have images to put us in mind of God, and to quicken our devotion, provided we give them not religious worship, as others do,—we hope there is no harm in this." Yes, there is. You must not only keep yourselves from idolatry, but you must "keep yourselves from idols." Those of the church of Rome charge Protestants as if they had a mind to abolish and root out of the minds of men the memory of the blessed apostles, confessors, and martyrs, by inveighing against sacred images and holy relics; but this is just as if a man should take upon him the boldness to say, that because God buried the body of Moses "in a valley in the land of Moab, and no man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day," (Deut. xxxiv. 6,) God's design in all this was to blot out the memorials of Moses from the face of the whole earth.

Use Vii. Let us pray unto God, that he would famish all the gods of the earth.—Famishing of idols is a scripture-phrase: "The Lord will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him." (Zeph. ii. 11.) The Psalmist, speaking of God's providence over his creatures, tells us: "The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season:" (Psalm cxlv. 15 :) but an idol is none of God's creatures: an idol hath eyes and sees not, ears and hears not, mouth and tastes not. But you will say, "How then can God famish them?" Thus: if we would know what it is to famish the gods of the earth, then we must consider what their meat is: their meat is that worship, and service, and honour, which is given them by the sons of men. Now, when God is made the sole object of religious worship, when men turn from dumb idols to serve the living God, and him only, then God famishes the gods of the earth, takes away their meat from them, and then men shall worship him: and let all good people say, "Amen. So be it."

NEEDLER, BENJAMIN (1620-1682), ejected minister, son of Thomas Needler, of Laleham, Middlesex, was born on 29 Nov. 1620. He was admitted to Merchant Taylors' School on 11 Sept. 1634, was head scholar in 1640, and was elected to St. John's College, Oxford, on 11 June 1612, matriculating on 1 July. He was elected fellow of his college in 1645, but appears to have been non-resident, as his submission is not registered. Joining the presbyterian party, he was summoned to assist the parliamentary visitors of the university in 1648, and was by them created B.C.L. on 14 April of the same year. On 8 Aug. he was ppointed to the recotory of St. Margaret Moses, Friday Street, London. It is not known whether he took episcopal orders or not. he was one of the ministers in London who in January 1648-9 signed the 'Serious and Faithful Representation' to General Fairfax, petitioning for the life of the king and the maintenance of parliament. On his marriage in 1651 with Marie, sister of Nathanael Culverwell [q. v.], Needler resigned his fellowship at St. John's College.

In August 1662 he was ejected from his rectory by the Act of Uniformity, and afterwards retired to North Warnborough in Hampshire, where he preached privately till the time of his death. He was buried at Odiham, near Winchfield, on 20 Oct. 1682. Needler had several children. The baptisms of six are recorded in the registers of St. Margaret Moses between January 1651-2 and May 1662, and the burials of two of them in 1658 and 1659 respectively.

He was an able preacher, and, according to Baxter, a very humble, grave and peaceable divine (SYLVESTER, Reliq. Baxt. iii. 94). He published 'Expository Notes with Practical Observations towards the opening of the five first Chapters of Genesis,' London, 1655, and three sermons which are reprinted in various editions of 'Morning Exercises' (cf. these of 1660, 1661, 1675, 1676, 1677, and 1844). Dunn speaks highly of all these sermons. Needler also wrote some verses on the death of Jeremiah Whitaker, which were published in Simon Ashe's funeral sermon on Whitaker, entitled 'Living Loves between Christ and Dying Christians,' London 1654.

(Dictionary of national biography, Volume 40 by Sir Sidney Lee)