Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Mistaken Christ

He [Christ] died not only for our justification, but sanctification also. There are two main reasons why the death of Christ hath so little effect upon us—either he is a forgotten Christ or a mistaken Christ. 
[1.] Men do not consider the ends for which he came: 1 John iii. 5, 'He was manifested to take away our sins.' He came to give his Spirit to miserable sinful man to sanctify and cleanse him, and fit him for the service and enjoyment of God. Now things that we mind not do not work upon us. The work of redemption Christ hath performed without our minding or asking. He took our nature, fulfilled the law, satisfied the Lawgiver, and merited grace for us, without our asking or thinking. But in applying this grace he requireth our serious consideration: Heb. iii. 1, 'Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus Christ.' And our faith: John xi. 26, 'Believest thou that I am able to do this for thee?' Our asking: John iv. 10, 'If thou knewest the gift of God, thou wouldst have asked, and he would have given thee living water.' Acceptance of him to these ends: John i. 12, 'To as many as received him,' &c. 
[2.] But the other is a greater evil, a mistaken Christ; when we make use of him only to increase our carnal security and boldness in sinning, as if God were more reconcilable to sin than he was before, because of Christ's dying for sinners. Now this is a great fault; for— 
(1.) Thereby you make Christ a minister, an encourager of sin; which is a blasphemy to be abhorred by all Christians: Gal. ii. 17, 'But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.' 
(2.) You set up Christ against Christ, an imaginary Christ, or an idol of your own making, against the true Christ, who came by water and blood. Not by blood only: 1 John v. 6, 'This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood;' and 'He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye are healed,' 1 Peter ii. 24. You set his death against the ends of his death, and run from and rebel against God, because he came to redeem you, and recover you to God. 
(3) You separate between his benefits, and only cull out that part which suiteth most with your self-love. You have natures to be healed, as well as your peace to be made: Isa. liii. 5, 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.' They that seek holiness from the Redeemer have a more spiritual affection to him. The guilt of sin is against our interest, but its power against that subjection and duty we owe to God. Christ's work is not only to ease our conscience, but free our hearts from slavery, that we may serve God with more liberty and delight. 
(4.) If you do not mind holiness, you defeat your Redeemer of his end, and seek to put him to shame: 1 John iii. 8, 'For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.' To cherish what he came to destroy is vile ingratitude. 
(5.) If you slight holiness, it argueth lessening thoughts of Christ's merit. Christ thought it of such value as to offer himself a mediatorial sacrifice to procure it. Our respect to Christ's blood is judged by the respect we have to the benefits purchased thereby. The two great benefits are the favour of God and the image of God. He that preferreth corruptible things before the favour of God hath no esteem of Christ's merit; and he that doth not esteem the image of God, which standeth in righteousness and true holiness, doth not esteem the blood of Christ: 1 Peter i. 18, 19, 'Forasmuch as ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of the Son of God.'
—Thomas Manton

3. That they do not aright improve the death of Christ that seek comfort by it, and not holiness. He died not only for our justification, but sanctification also. There are two reasons why the death of Christ hath so little effect upon us; either he is a forgotten Christ, or a mistaken Christ. A forgotten Christ: men do not consider the ends for which he came: 1 John iii. 5, 'Ye know that he was manifested, to take away our sins;' and ver. 8, 'To this purpose was the Son of God manifested, to destroy the works of the devil;' to give his Spirit to sinful miserable man. Now things that we mind not do not work upon us. The work of redemption Christ hath performed without our minding or asking; he took our nature, fulfilled the law, satisfied the lawgiver, merited grace without our asking or thinking; but in applying this grace, he requireth our consideration: Heb. iii. 1, 'Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession.' Our faith: 'Believest thou that I am able to do this for thee?' Our acceptance: John i. 12, 'To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sous of God.' But the other evil is greater, a mistaken Christ; when we use him to increase our carnal security and boldness in sinning, and are possessed with an ill thought, that God is more reconcilable to sin than he was before, and by reason of Christ's coming there were less evil and malignity in sin, for then you make Christ a minister and encourager of sin: Gal. ii. 17, 'For if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? God forbid!' You set up Christ against Christ, his merit against his doctrine and Spirit; yea, rather you set up the devil against Christ, and varnish his cause with Christ's name, and so it is but an idol-Christ you dote upon. The true Christ ' came by water and blood,' 1 John v. 6; 'Bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness,' 1 Peter ii. 24. And will you set his death against the ends of his death? and run from and rebel against God because Christ came to redeem and recover you to God? Certainly those weak Christians that only make use of Christ to seek comfort, seek him out of self-love; but those that seek holiness from the Redeemer have a more spiritual affection to him. The guilt of sin is against our interest, but the power of sin is against God's glory. He came to sanctify us by his holiness, not only to free our consciences from bondage, but our hearts, that we may serve God with more liberty and delight. This was the great aim of his death: Titus ii. 14, 'He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.' Thus did Christ, that the plaster might be as broad as the sore; we lost in Adam the purity of our natures, as well as the favour of God, and therefore he is made sanctification to us, as well as righteousness, 1 Cor. i. 30.
—Thomas Manton

Well, then, let us see if we be guilty of this sin: 'Take heed,' saith the apostle, Heb. iii. 12, 'lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.' Many have an unbelieving heart when they least think of it. It is easy to declaim against it, but hard to convince men of it, either of the sin or of lying in a state of unbelief; it is the Spirit's work, 'The Spirit shall convince of sin, because they believe not in me,' John xvi. 9. There are many pretences by which men excuse themselves, some more gross, others more subtle. Many think that all infidels are without the pale, among Turks and heathens. Alas! many, too many, are to be found in the very bosom of the church. The Israelites were God's own people, and yet 'destroyed because they believed not.' Others think none are unbelievers but those that are given up to the violences and horrors of despair, and do grossly reject or refuse the comforts of the gospel; but they are mistaken; the whole word is the object of faith, the commandments and threatenings as well as the promises; and carelessness and neglect of the comforts of the gospel is unbelief, as well as doubts and despairing fears: Mat. xxii. 5, 'But they made light of it.' He is the worst unbeliever that scorns and slighteth the tenders of God's grace in Christ as things wherein he is not concerned. Briefly, then, men may make a general profession of the name of Christ, as the Turks do of Mahomet, because it is the religion professed there where they are born; a man may take up the opinions of a Christian country, and not be a whit better than Turks, Jews, or infidels; as he is not the taller of stature that walketh in a higher walk than others do. They may understand their religion, and be able to 'give a reason of the hope that is in them,' and yet lie under the power of unbelief for all that, as many may see countries in a map which they never enter into. The devil hath knowledge, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know,' &c. And those that pretend to knowledge without answerable practice, do but give themselves the lie, 1 John ii. 29. Besides knowledge there may be assent, and yet unbelief still. The devils assent as well as know; they 'believe there is one God,' James ii., and it is not a naked and inefficacious assent, but such as causeth horrors and tremblings. They 'believe and tremble;' and they do not only believe that one article, that there is one God, but other articles also: 'Jesus, thou Son of God, art thou come to torment me before my time?' was the devil's speech; where there is an acknowledging of Christ, and him as the Son of God and judge of the world, and increase of their torment at the last day upon his sentence. Assent is necessary, but not sufficient; laws are not sufficiently owned when they are believed to be the king's laws; there is something to be done as well as believed. In the primitive times, assent was more than it is now, and yet then an inactive assent was never allowed to pass for faith. Confident resting on Christ for salvation, if it be not a resting according to the word, will not serve the turn; there were some that ' leaned upon the Lord,' Micah iii. 11, whom he disclaimeth. It is a mistaken Christ, they rest upon, and upon him by a mistaken faith. It is a mistaken Christ, for the true Christ is the eternal Son of God, that was born of a virgin, and died at Jerusalem,' Bearing our sins in his body upon a tree, that we, being dead unto sin, might be alive unto righteousness,' 1 Peter ii. 24. The true Christ is one that' gave himself for us, that he might purify us to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works,' and is now gone into heaven, there to make intercession for us, and will come again from heaven in a glorious manner to take an account of our works, Titus ii. 13, 14. But now when men lie under the power and reign of their sins, and yet pretend to rest upon Christ for salvation, they set up another Christ than the word holdeth forth. And as the Christ is mistaken, so is the faith. It is not an idle trust, but such as is effectual to purge the heart, for the true 'faith purifieth the heart,' Acts xv. 9. If, besides profession, knowledge, assent, and a loose trust, they should pretend to assurance, or to a strong conceit that Christ died for them, and they shall certainly go to heaven, this will not excuse them from unbelief; this is πρῶτον ψεῦδος, the grand mistake, that the strength of faith lieth in a strong persuasion of the goodness of our condition, and the stronger the persuasion the better the faith. If this were true, hardness of heart would make the best faith, and he that could presume most, and be most secure and free from doubts, would be the truest believer, and the goodness of our condition would lie in the strength of our imagination and conceit. Alas! many make full account they shall go to heaven that shall never come there. The foolish virgins were very confident, and the foolish builder goeth on with the building, never suspecting the foundation. Nay, let me tell you, assurance of a good condition, as long as we lie under the power and reign of sin, is the greatest unbelief in the world, for it is to believe the flat contrary to that which God hath revealed in the word; therefore none abuse the Lord and question his truth so much as these do. Where hath God said that men that live in their sins shall be saved? Nay, he hath expressly said the contrary, 'Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor idolaters,' &c., 1 Cor. vi. 9; so that you give God the lie, or conceit that he will break his word for your sakes; nay, in a sense, you even dare him to make good his truth. He hath said, 'Be not deceived; you shall never enter,' &c., and you say, Though I am an adulterer, a drunkard, a worldling, I shall go to heaven for all that. Now in a little while you shall see whose word shall stand, God's or yours, Jer. xliv. 28.
—Thomas Manton

I tell you many are pleased with Christ, as Jacob was with Leah, while he thought she had been Rachel. It is a mistaken Christ whom they love, even as sure as they love their lusts. No man can serve two masters. And if a new light would spring up in their dark hearts, they would see it to be so. Many love Christ very well, to be a rest to their consciences, while they can get the world and their lusts to be a rest to their hearts. And thus they can do very well between the two. But take away these from them, and their hearts can rest no more than a fish drawn out of the water till it be in it again. Their souls can never truly say as the Psalmist, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Now was ever Christ a covering for the eyes to them. Nor did they ever find such sweetness in Christ as they have in following their lusts.
—Thomas Boston

Many call Christ their sweet Saviour, whose consciences can bear witness, they never sucked so much sweetness from, as from their sweet lusts, which are ten times sweeter to them than their Saviour. He is no other way sweet to them, than as they abuse his death and sufferings, for the peaceable enjoyment of their lusts; that they may live as they list in the world; and when they die, may be kept out of hell. Alas! it is but a mistaken Christ that is sweet to you, whose souls loathe that Christ, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.
—Thomas Boston

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Those of you who have never been out of a Protestant country, can form no idea of the foolish superstitions and idolatries practised by Roman Catholics in those lands, where their false religion has long prevailed. You cannot, for instance, fancy such a scene taking place where you live, as that which is  represented in our picture, and about which you will like to learn something.

Many of you, no doubt, are very fond of dolls, and love to dress and undress them, and carry them about and talk to them as if they were real live babies. But you would never think of being either so silly or so wicked as to set up one of your dolls, and call it Jesus Christ, and then kneel down and say prayers to it. But this is a very common thing among the Roman Catholics; not among the little children, only playing at it, but among the people generally, who are taught to do it by their priests; while splendid bishops and other great men take part in solemnly bowing down to worship dolls, pictures, and images.

Our picture was sketched from a well-known scene at Borne itself [Copied by kind permission, from the Illustrated London News.], taking place once a year in the Church of S. Maria di Ara Cooli, or Saint Mary of the Altar of Heaven. This church stands on one of the seven hills, where formerly was the famous Capitol, and is reached by a marble stair of a hundred and twenty-four steps. A sort of chamber or chapel in this great church is its great attraction, and is opened only at Christmas time. In this chapel are figures, like wax-works, as large as life, representing the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus on her lap, and the shepherds standing by, and even a stuffed donkey and a stuffed cow to make the group complete. Above these are canvass clouds painted with angels, blowing trumpets, and playing fiddles and other musical instruments; while, over all, and most shocking of all, is a figure to represent God Almighty. The exhibition of this chapel is kept open until Epiphany, the day kept in memory of the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem. This is the great day of the show; and three more figures, dressed up as eastern kings, are added, with a star fixed over them. Pieces are recited, day by day, and little religious plays are acted, chiefly by children, on a sort of stage in the church. When Epiphany comes, all the performance is closed by a grand profession, which is witnessed by vast crowds of people. Priests and monks form the procession; but the principal object in it is the Bambino, or doll to represent the Baby Jesus. This doll is taken from the lap of the Virgin in the chapel, and is regarded as very sacred. The people are taught that it was carved by a pilgrim out of a piece of wood from the Mount of Olives; that he fell asleep, and that Saint Luke came and finished his work; so that, when he woke up, he found his wooden doll beautifully painted! This wonderful doll is dressed in the most costly things, being quite covered with precious jewels, all of which have been given as offerings. For you must know that this Bambino has the fame of being able to cure all manner of diseases, and is carried to visit sick persons who are supposed to get great benefit from its visit.

Well, on the great day of the show, this fine doll is carried at the head of a procession of priests and monks, who sing and hold lighted candles. The principal priest, in splendid dress, holds the sacred doll by a strap—no doubt nailed into its little wooden back,—and, coming out to the front of the Church, lifts it up to bless the people, who go down on their knees, and pay worship to this wretched little toy!

And this is the sort of thing which popery would bring back into our own land, if it could. For things as wicked and as stupid were once commonly done and believed in amongst us, and many brave, good men and women, before Britain got rid of the great evil, suffered many cruelties, and laid down their lives for the sake of an open Bible, and liberty to worship God according to His own Word.

Now, for the first time for many years, Rome is open to the preaching of the Gospel—the Gospel which the Roman people have not heard for ages, but have had given to them, instead of it, all these follies of doll-worship, and many other such sinful superstitions.

Already our missions are at work, taking advantage of the great opportunity, to do something to teach the word of Life in Rome. And whatever they accomplish, remember that you Missionary Collectors are helping them to do it. So be diligent, for the work is very great; and be thankful that you are taught a better religion than many thousands of Roman children; and that you have a far better use for dolls than to kneel down to them and worship them.

~Wesleyan Methodist missionary society, The Wesleyan juvenile offering, pp. 54-57

Thursday, October 10, 2013

David Brainerd on Imaginary Notions of Christ's Human Nature

Besides what has been already related of Mr Brainerd's sentiments in his dying state concerning true and false religion, we have his deliberate and solemn thoughts on this subject, further appearing by his Preface to Mr. Shepard's Diary before mentioned; which, when he wrote it, he supposed to be (as it proved) one of the last things he should ever write. I shall here insert a part of that Preface as follows:
How much stress is laid by many upon some things as being effects and evidences of exalted degrees of religion, when they are so far from being of any importance in it, that they are really irreligious, a mixture of self-love, imagination and spiritual pride, or perhaps the influence of Satan transformed into an angel of light. How much stress is laid on these things by many, I shall not determine : but it is much to be feared, that while God was carrying on a glorious work of grace, and undoubtedly gathering a harvest of souls to himself, (which we should always remember with thankfulness) numbers of others have at the same time been fatally deluded by the devices of the devil, and their own corrupt hearts. It is to be feared that the conversions of some have no better foundation than this; viz. that after they have been under some concern for their souls for awhile, and it may be, manifested some very great and uncommon distress and agonies, they have on a sudden imagined they saw Christ, in some posture or other, perhaps on the cross, bleeding and dying for their sins; or it may be, smiling on them, and thereby signifying his love to them: and that these and the like things, though mere imaginations, which have nothing spiritual in them, have instantly removed all their fears and distresses, filled them with raptures of joy, and made them imagine that they loved Christ with all their hearts; when the bottom of all was nothing but self-love. For when they imagined that Christ had been so good to them as to save them, and as it were to single them out of all the world, they could not but feel some kind of natural gratitude to him; although they never had any spiritual view of his divine glory, excellency and beauty, and consequently never had any love to him for himself. Or that instead of having some such imaginary view of Christ as has been mentioned, in order to remove their distress and give them joy, some having had a passage or perhaps many passages of Scripture brought to their minds "with power," as they express it, they have immediately applied these passages to themselves, supposing that God hereby manifested his peculiar favour to them, as if mentioned by name: never considering, that they are now giving heed to new revelations, their being no such thing revealed in the word of God as that this or that particular person has or ever shall have his sins forgiven; nor yet remembering that Satan can, with a great deal of seeming pertinency, (and perhaps also with considerable power) bring Scripture to the minds of men as he did to Christ himself. Thus they rejoice in having some Scripture suddenly suggested to them, or impressed upon their minds, supposing they are now the children of God, just as did the other upon their imaginary views of Christ. And it is said that some speak of seeing a great light which filled all the place where they were, and dispelled all their darkness, fears and distresses, and almost ravished their souls. While others have had it warmly suggested to their minds, not by any passage of Scripture, but as it were by a whisper or voice from heaven, "That God loves them, that Christ is theirs," &c. which groundless imaginations and suggestions of Satan have had the same effect upon them, that the delusions before mentioned had on the others.

And as is the conversion of this sort of persons, so are their after-experiences; the whole being built upon imagination, strong impressions, and sudden suggestions made to their minds; whence they are usually very confident (as if immediately informed from God) not only of the goodness of their own state, but of their infallible knowledge and absolute certainty of the truth of every thing they pretend to under the notion of religion; and thus all reasoning with some of them is utterly excluded.

But it is remarkable of these, that they are extremely deficient in regard of true poverty of spirit, a sense of exceeding vileness in themselves, such as frequently makes truly gracious souls to groan, being burdened; as also in regard of meekness, love and gentleness towards mankind, and tenderness of conscience in their ordinary affairs and dealings in the world. It is also rare to see them deeply concerned about the principles and ends of their actions, and apprehensive lest they should not eye the glory of God chiefly, but live to themselves. This at least is the case in their ordinary conduct, whether civil or religious. But if any one of their particular notions, which their zeal has espoused, be attacked, they are then so conscientious that they must burn, if called to it, for the defense of it. Yet while they are so extremely deficient in regard of those divine tempers which have been mentioned, they are usually full of zeal, concern and fervency in the things of religion, and often discourse of them with much warmth and earnestness : and to those who do not know or do not consider wherein the essence of true religion consists, viz. in being conformed to the image of Christ, not in point of zeal and fervency only, but in all divine tempers and practices; I say, to those who do not duly observe and distinguish, they often appear like the best of men.
—David Brainderd, Johnathan Edward's The life of the Rev. David Brainerd, missionary to the Indians

Yet it must be acknowledged, that, when this work became so universal and prevalent, and gained such general credit and esteem among the Indians as Satan seemed to have little advantage of working against it in his own proper garb, he then transformed himself 'into an angel of light,' and made some vigorous attempts to introduce turbulent commotions of the passions in the room of genuine convictions of sin, imaginary and fanciful notions of Christ, as appearing to the mental eye in a human shape, and in some particular postures, etc. in the room of spiritual and supernatural discoveries of his divine glory and excellency, as well as divers other delusions. I have reason to think, that, if these things had met with countenance and encouragement, there would have been a very considerable harvest of this kind of converts here.

Spiritual pride also discovered itself in various instances. Some persons who had been under great affections, seemed very desirous from thence of being thought truly gracious: who, when I could not but express to them my fears respecting their spiritual state, discovered their resentments to a considerable degree upon that occasion. There also appeared in one or two of them an unbecoming ambition of being teachers of others. So that Satan has been a busy adversary here, as well as elsewhere. But blessed be God, though something of this nature has appeared, yet nothing of it has prevailed, nor indeed made any considerable progress at all. My people are now apprised of these things, are made acquainted, that Satan in such a manner 'transformed himself into an angel of light,' in the first season of the great outpouring of the divine Spirit in the days of the apostles; and that something of this nature, in a greater or less degree, has attended almost every revival and remarkable propagation of true religion ever since. They have learned so to distinguish between the gold and dross, that the credit of the latter 'is trodden down like the mire of the streets;' and, as it is natural for this kind of stuff to die with its credit, there is now scarce any appearance of it among them.

As there has been no prevalence of irregular heats, imaginary notions, spiritual pride, and Satanical delusions among my people; so there have been very few instances of scandalous and irregular behavior among those who have made a profession, or even an appearance of seriousness. I do not know of more than three or four such persons who have been guilty of any open misconduct, since their first acquaintance with Christianity; and not one who persists in anything of that nature. Perhaps the remarkable purity of this work in the latter respect, its freedom from frequent instances of scandal, is very much owing to its purity in the former respect, its freedom from corrupt mixtures of spiritual pride, wild fire, and delusion, which naturally lay a foundation for scandalous practices.
May this blessed work in the power and purity of it prevail among the poor Indians here, as well as spread elsewhere, till their remotest tribes shall see the salvation of God! Amen.
—David Brainerd, Brainerd's Journal

Of all the persons I have seen under spiritual exercise, I scarce ever saw one appear more bowed and broken under convictions of sin and misery (or what is usually called a preparatory work) than this woman. Nor scarce any who seemed to have a greater acquaintance with her own heart than she had. She would frequently complain to me of the hardness and rebellion of her heart. Would tell me, her heart rose and quarrelled with God, when she thought he would do with her as he pleased, and send her to hell notwithstanding her prayers, good frames, &c. That her heart was not willing to come to Christ for salvation, but tried every where else for help.
And as she seemed to be remarkably sensible of her stubbornness and contrariety to God, under conviction, so she appeared to be no less remarkably bowed and reconciled to divine sovereignty before she obtained any relief or comfort. Something of which I have before noticed in my Journal of Feb. 9. Since which time she has seemed constantly to breathe the spirit and temper of the new creature: crying after Christ, not through fear of hell as before, but with strong desires after him as her only satisfying portion; and has many times wept and sobbed bitterly, because (as she apprehended) she did not and could not love him.—When I have sometimes asked her, Why she appeared so sorrowful, and whether it was because she was afraid of hell? She would answer, "No, I be not distressed about that; but my heart is so wicked I cannot love Christ;" and thereupon burst out into tears.—But although this has been the habitual frame of her mind for several weeks together, so that the exercise of grace appeared evident to others, yet she seemed wholly insensible of it herself, and never had any remarkable comfort, and sensible satisfaction till this evening.
This sweet and surprising ecstasy, appeared to spring from a true spiritual discovery of the glory, ravishing beauty and excellency of Christ: and not from any gross imaginary notions of his human nature; such as that of seeing him in such a place or posture, as hanging on the cross, as bleeding, dying, as gently smiling, and the like; which delusions some have been carried away with. Nor did it rise from sordid, selfish apprehensions of her having any benefit whatsoever conferred on her, but from a view of his personal excellency, and transcendent loveliness, which drew forth those vehement desires of enjoying him she now manifested, and made her long "to be absent from the body, that she might be present with the Lord."
—David Brainerd, Brainerd's Journal, Lord's day, March 9, 1746.

The Church of England absolutely condemns all Images of the Trinity

That the Church of England absolutely condemns all Images of the Trinity, or any Person in it, (Father, Son, or Holy Ghost) as absolutely unlawful, and expressly condemned in Scripture. Such Images are not to be tolerated neither in nor out of Churches.
 ~Thomas Barlow, The case concerning setting up images or painting of them in churches

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On the real meaning of the second commandment, as applicable to paintings, images, and supposed likenesses of Christ, in Churches and houses.

The design of a law must be learned from the circumstances under which it is enacted. The Israelites were surrounded by idolaters, who made to themselves the graven images of their objects of worship, whether the hosts of heaven, or the creatures upon earth. The first design, therefore, of the second commandment, was to prevent the Israelites from complying with similar practices. But the command is of universal and perpetual obligation, though the immediate necessity of its enactment, in consequence of the cessation of idolatry, may be said to have ceased. The object of the law appears to have been, the elevation of the minds and souls of the worshippers of Jehovah above all the objects of sense. They saw no manner of likeness, when the glory of the God of Israel appeared. They were to endure as "seeing Him who is invisible." Their God was the God of heaven; the Spirit who was to be "worshipped in spirit and in truth ;" the God whom the senses could not grasp ; and who, though both sometimes visible as the Jehovah Angel to the eye, touched by the hand, as by Jacob, and heard with the ear, as by Moses and the prophets; was still so superhuman that no likeness nor image could represent or describe Him. I extend, therefore, the meaning of the second commandment to the Christian Church. Christ, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, was once upon earth. He lived, suffered, died, as a man. He is now the ascended and the glorified Saviour; and the soul of the Christian is required to be unfettered by any representations of the painter or the sculptor; and his ideas of the God he worships are never to be identified with the senses. He is to behold a glorified Christ by the eye of faith, and to endure as seeing Him who is now invisible.—To me, the confusion of thought produced by the recollection of the portraits of Christ, which the painters of various countries have invented and imagined, is both most shocking and most painful. Whether it be the head of Christ, by Carlo Dolce, holding the bread at Burleigh ; the full-length bearer of the cross at Magdalen College, Oxford; (and these are two of the most beautiful of these works of art;)—whether it be the Flemish Christ of Rubens, the infant Christ of Murillo, the innumerable Christs of painters of all countries, crowned with thorns, scourged at the pillar, expiring on the cross, or conversing with Mary; or whether it be the inexpressive innocence of the unmeaning faces of West, or the fearful agony of the Veronicas, all, all, are unendurable. If the painter describes tenderness, he loses the majesty of that countenance; if he describes majesty, he loses tenderness. Even the sublimity of the features of the Christ in the Transfiguration of Raphael, failed to delineate to me the heavenliness of that visage, which, though it was more marred than that of any other, was "fairest of ten thousand, and altogether lovely;" which made Pilate exclaim, "Who art Thou?" which prostrated the soldiers who came to arrest Him, with wonder and awe, to the ground; which none of the Evangelists have described; and which no painter, therefore, could delineate from reality.
It is most remarkable, that the last times that Christ appeared, He seemed to widen and increase, as it were, the distance between the human and the divine, as if He would command us to consider Him, not as flesh, but as Deity; and to look upon Him, not through the imaginations of painters and sculptors, appealing to the senses, but as God in heaven, visible only to the eye of faith. To Stephen He appeared in glory, to St. Paul with the brightness of the sun, to St. John, in Patmos, in the mystical majesty which made the beloved disciple to lose all remembrance of the familiarity with which he leaned upon his bosom as a man, and which caused him to fall at his feet as dead. We shall see Him, "we shall see Him as He is;" but no painter nor sculptor can convey to my soul the representation of the face or form, the humility and the glory, the dignity and the sorrow, the sympathy with Mary and the scorn of the Sadducee, the meekness before Pilate and the reply to the adjuration of the high priest, the bowing of the head when He gave back the human soul, and the serenity of the parting blessing, when He lifted up his hands, and was borne from his gazing disciples.—We must die and live again before we can understand that countenance. We must walk by faith, and not by sight, whenever we would believe ourselves in the presence, or realize the appearance of, our Saviour and our Judge.

—George Townsend, Scriptural communion with God, pp. 190-191