Sunday, August 26, 2012

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