Sunday, August 26, 2012

“Christians in our own time and country who employ pictures and statuary to-day as helps to devotion have mutilated the ten commandments."

All around us are children who as they study the Sunday School lessons from the gospels, feel their tender hearts drawn out to love Jesus, to confide in him, to follow him though unseen. And for us all, however mature and instructed, it would assuredly be the best fruit of the historical spirit, the summit of true philosophy, the crown of all culture, to read afresh these gospel records with the simplicity of a little child, and learn to love and confide in Jesus.
—John Broadus

There are some things that look as if they were necessary, are very often recommended as helpful, and often employed as helps, that turn out to be dangerous and erroneous. Why can't we use pictures and statuary as helps to devotion? Why can't we employ them as proper means of making the thought of our Saviour near and dear to us? Well, in all the ages of the world, the heathen have tried this. An educated young Hindoo, some years ago, educated in England, wrote an essay in which he complained bitterly that the Hindoos were accused of worshipping images, and quoted Cowper's beautiful poem entitled, "My Mother's Picture":
“O, that those lips had language!
Years have passed since thee I saw." 
And he says, the picture of the poet's mother brought close and made real the thought of one long dead. That is the way, he said, that we use images. But that is not the way that the great mass of men use images in worship. They have often meant that at the outset; but how soon it degenerated and was degraded, and these things that were meant as helps to worship dragged down the aspirations of human hearts, instead of lifting them up! But, it seems to me, if I were to employ such helps in our time, persuading myself that they would be good, that I should feel it was wise to go back to the old ten commandments that we teach our children to repeat, and cut out the second commandment, that expressly forbids the use of graven images, because it necessarily leads to idolatry. I should cut that out. You can inquire, if you are curious to do so—and I say it in no unkindness—you can inquire whether those Christians in our own time and country who employ pictures and statuary to-day as helps to devotion have mutilated the ten commandments. They were obliged to leave out that which their little children would say was forbidding what they do. 
Aye, the world has tried that experiment widely and in every way, and it is found that though you might think that pictures and statuary would be helps to devotion, they turn out to be hurtful. They may help a few; they harm many. They may do a little good; they do much evil.
—John Broadus

The “new school" of Protestantism justifying idolatry

If the Almighty, in the most solemn display of His presence ever given to man-the descent on Sinai-has forbidden the making of an image, not only of Himself, but of anything in heaven or earth, for worship of any kind; if He has declared that such worship is equivalent to hating Him; and if He has ordered that no toleration of variety of opinion on the subject, or scepticism whatever, should be permitted to the Jew-the Jewish idolater being put to death as a heathen and a rebel-how can man suffer himself to conceive that this guilty, irreverent, and irrational practice is not equally forbidden to the Christian, or that its performance does not virtually exclude man from Christianity, as much as once it would have excluded him from Judaism? If the Ten Commandments are the universal law of duty to God and man, under what pretext can this direct insult to the Second Commandment be sustained? The pretext of images being merely for the purpose of reviving the idea of Deity, finds no allowance in the Decalogue. All images for worship of any kind are forbidden. The pretext that the Papist does not worship the wooden block before him, is answered at once by the sight of the worship. What are incense, genuflections, and bowings down to an image, but image-worship? If the Deity himself stood upon the altar, what more palpable worship could be offered to him? 
Yet, at this moment, in Protestant England and Wales, the number of Popish places for image-worship has grown, from 60 at the beginning of the century to no less than ten times the number-610! Even in Protestant Scotland, the number of chapels is already 98, besides 40 stations at which mass is performed-the actual number of Popish chapels in Great Britain being 708-to say nothing of Popish colleges, which in England are 10-of monasteries, which are 17-and of convents, which are 62; and under all those seven hundred roofs, men and women bow down to images! Is not this enough to make a Christian clergy explain with the prophet,-"Oh that mine eyes were fountains of tears"? 
The pretext of the "new school" of Protestantism, that since the Incarnation, images of Christ are justifiable, is answered by St Paul: "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now know we him no more;" his presence and his worship being altogether spiritual. He also pronounces image-worship "the worship of demons." But who ever made an image of Christ in his lifetime? or which of the apostles ever made an image of him after his death? Who ever heard of any Christian image before the fourth century, when the Church was palpably falling into corruption? Yet Protestant Britain has at this hour 708 chapels in which incense is offered to images. Protestantism abhors persecution; but has it not the weapons of Scripture, of reasoning, and of common sense, to beat down this dangerous and desperate abomination? Shall all be silence?—shall the clergy of both England and Scotland look on without a feeling of solemn responsibility for themselves, and of Christian terror for their fellow-men, thus rushing by tens of thousands to spiritual ruin?
William Blackwood, Blackwood's magazine, Volume 72

None like Christ, and none but Christ

The excellencies of Christ are hidden excellencies from the men of the world, and no eye can see them but the eye of faith; there must be a light shining in the heart to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, 2 Cor. 4:6. When faith is wrought, then a light is wrought to see the beauties of Christ, the beauty of his person, the beauty of his Offices, the beauty of his Love, of his Death, of his Righteousness, of his Holiness, of his Peace, &c. the veil is removed, and we do with open face as in a glass behold the glory of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3 &c. So that none like Christ, he is the Pearle of great price; and nothing like Christ, no love like his, no enjoyment like the enjoyment of him, &c.
In true Faith the whole heart or soul is carried out unto Christ: True believing is a believing with all the heart; the whole heart yields unto Jesus Christ, the understanding admires at the glory, and at the kindness, and goodness, and love of Christ; the judgement is filled with choicest thoughts, and highest estimations of Christ, None like Christ, and none but Christ; the will falls in with Christ freely, readily, fully; O Christ, thou art my chiefest good and blessedness; and Christ hath all the affections of desire, love, delight, and joy; these are taken up and filled with Christ, &c. Faith brings in all to Christ.
—Obadiah Sedgwick

A Matchless Esteem of Matchless Christ

"Esteem you not your idols more matchless than Christ, and more of worth than he? It is impossible that there can be any lively exercise of faith and not esteem Christ matchless."—Andrew Gray

"Think ye that these hands, that have been the instruments of so much mischief, and committed so much iniquity, shall ever infold that matchless Object who sits upon the throne? O! what will you do, when you get Christ first in your arms? I confess, I know not well, if the first day of your being in heaven, sirs, be the pleasantest day; I think not-even though you never saw your husband before, the longer ye be there, ye will love him the better. What shall I say there is in heaven? There is no outcast in heaven, between Christ and the saints; there is no desertion, no unbelief, no misconstruction of Christ, no debating of his wisdom; in a manner, when we go through the gates of the New Jerusalem, there is the grave of desertion, and the grave of jealousy, and the grave of our misbelief, and the grave of all our idols, and we shall never follow them any more."—Andrew Gray

"Hast thou a matchless esteem of matchless Christ, the Saviour of the world? That is a speaking evidence unto thee, that thou art a partaker of the great salvation."—Andrew Gray

“The most perfect beauty in the creatures, beneath or above, is blackness and deformity, in comparison with Christ"

Consider the glory and dignity of the person of Christ; he is the Son of God by nature, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, Heb. 1:3. "He is the Prince of the kings of the earth," Rev. 1:5. The most glorious monarch that ever swayed a sceptre over men, is but as a worm of the earth, or as a despicable insect in the air, compared with Solomon in his glory; the most perfect beauty in the creatures, beneath or above, is blackness and deformity, in comparison with Christ: The beauty of roses, lilies, sun, stars, angels, is not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with Christ: "Thou art fairer (faith his spouse) than the sons of men." None ever saw him savingly by the eye of faith, but were charmed into his bosom by love. The facial vision of Christ is the feast of blessed souls above. 
The king of glory makes suit for your hearts this day; he woos for your consent; he passed by apostate angels, not once making them a tender of reconciliation or union, but comes to you in his red garments, glorious in his apparel: he shed his invaluable blood to redeem you to God; he loved you, and gave himself for you: if there be a drop of love in your hearts, methinks the excellency of Christ should extract and engage it. Write that man a beast, a senseless stock, that hath no love for Christ.
—John Flavel