Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Worst New Year's Gift

The sentiments of Queen Elizabeth (whom no one will accuse of puritanism), with respect to images, were most decided. The scene between her and Dean Nowell has become most curiously detailed by an eye and ear witness. She applied herself to the unfortunate dignitary in right earnest, and the mixture of character, the combination of scolding-wife and angry-queen temper exhibited by her, renders the dialogue singularly amusing.

'The Dean, having gotten from a foreigner several fine cuts and pictures, representing the stories and passions of the Saints and Martyrs, had placed them against the Epistles and Gospels of their festivals in a Common-Prayer book. And this book he had caused to be richly bound, and laid on the cushion for the Queen's use, in the place where she commonly sat, intending it for a New Year's Gift to her Majesty, and thinking to have pleased her fancy therewith; but it had not that effect, but the contrary: for she considered how this varied from her late open injunctions and proclamations against the superstitious use of images in churches, and for the taking away all such reliques of popery. When she came to her place she opened the book and perused it, and saw the pictures; but frowned and blushed ; and then shut it (of which several took notice), and calling the verger, had him bring her the old book, wherein she was formerly wont to read. After sermon, whereas she was wont to get immediately on horseback, or into her chariot, she went straight to the vestry, and applying herself the Dean, thus she spoke to him:

Queen. Mr. Dean, how came it to pass that a new Service-book was placed on my cushion? To which the Dean answered—

Dean. May it please your Majesty, I caused it to be placed there. Then said the Queen—

Q. Wherefore did you so?

D. To present your Majesty with a New Year's Gift.

Q. You could never present me with a worse.

D. Why so, Madam?

Q. You know I have an aversion to idolatry; to images and pictures of this kind.

D. Wherein is the idolatry, may it please your Majesty?

Q. In the cuts resembling angels and saints; nay, grosser absurdities, pictures resembling the Blessed Trinity.

D. I meant no harm; nor did I think it would offend your Majesty, when I intended it for a New Year's Gift.

Q. You needs must be ignorant then. Have you forgot our proclamation against images, pictures, and Romish reliques in the churches? Was it not read in your deanery?

D. It was read. But, be your Majesty assured, I meant no harm when I caused the cuts to be bound with the Service-book.

Q. You must needs he very ignorant to do this after our prohibition of them.

D. It being my ignorance, your Majesty may the better pardon me.

Q. I am sorry for it, yet glad to hear it was your ignorance, rather than your opinion.

D. Be your Majesty assured, it was my ignorance.

Q. If so, Mr. Dean, God grant you His Spirit, and more wisdom for the future.

D. Amen, I pray God.

Q. I pray, Mr. Dean, how came you by these pictures? Who engraved them?

D. I know not who engraved them. I bought them.

Q. From whom bought you them?

D. From a German.

Q. It is well it was from a stranger. Had it been any of our subjects, we should have questioned the matter. Pray let no more of these mistakes, or of this kind, be committed within the churches of our realm for the future.

D. There shall not.
—Strype's Annals, vol. i. pp. 272, 274.

Interesting to note that Dean Nowell's Catechism opposed such images (See p. 122-126): http://books.google.com/books?id=n4wUbx8fisAC

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Leonard Ravenhill on Pictures of Christ

I do not have any pictures of Christ in my home, because I don't think you should make any likeness, any graven image. And nobody knows what Christ was like. You see pictures of Jesus as a baby. You seem him as a young man. You see him, sometimes, on the back of an animal riding into Jerusalem. But there's a picture I've only ever seen once and it was so grotesque I didn't look a second time. At the voice of the Son of God they're all going to rise and face the eternal Judge. What will He be like? In Australia they show me the picture that they have. Beachcroft or somebody painted a picture of Christ in Australia. He's got lovely blond hair and bright blue eyes and a lovely flaxen beard. Well, I don't think that was a picture of Jesus. And the Chinese have an interpretation of Christ through their artists. And there are some dreadful pictures I think, that have been given by the "great masters" so-called. And they've given us pictures of Jesus, but I'll tell you what: it's a very different picture in the word of God. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ needs a new revelation of the majesty of God! This is what? This is the King of kings and He's the Judge of judges and He's the Tribunal of tribunals! And there's no court of appeal after it; the verdict is final. There will be no bias judgment. Two people at least have said to me this week 'There is no justice in the earth today!'—maybe there isn't, but I hang on a word that says "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25). The Apostle Paul got a picture of Jesus; not with a lamb in His arms, not like the stained glass windows in our so-called cathedrals, where Jesus looks pathetically feminine! He sees Jesus and he says, here He is, He is the King immortal, invisible, the only wise God, to whom be praise and glory forever. So, we're going to see the King of Kings. He's the Judge of judges in the Court of courts. In the final tribunal—there is no tribunal after this—this is finish. And when I hear people singing, you know, 'put your hand in the hand of him that walks on the water'—forget it. Or the new song that's out, 'shake hands with Jesus'—listen, when you see Jesus you're not going up and say, 'Hey, buddy, I'm glad you died for me'. When you see Jesus you'll be almost paralyzed with fear, unless you have a glorified body and a glorified mind! Who is writing the book? This is a revelation to a man on an island—on a devil's island—the worst place, the gathering of the scum of the Earth. And here he is. And if you had gone to him that morning and had seen him sitting on a rock contemplating, you might have said to him, 'Well, John, I didn't expect to find you in this hell-hole, with all these demon possessed men. And here you are in the isle of Patmos'. He says, 'No, I'm not'. 'Where then are you?' He says, 'I'm in the Spirit'. He was in the Spirit when this enormous revelation was given to him. The picture of Jesus here is not the picture of a pathetic individual pushed around by anybody who want to push Him around. I think sometimes we think we're going to march up and say, 'Well, you know Jesus, do you know how many years I served you, and how many souls I won for you, and how many sermons I preached for you?' Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Well what will He be like in Heaven? Well, I'll tell you what the Book says He'll be like: he says His hair is as white as snow, His feet are like burnished brass, His face is like the Sun in its strength, His eyes are living coals of fire, His tongue is a sharp two-edged sword—and here is John, who use to lean his head on the bosom of Jesus and hear that divine heartbeat—the man that I believe knew more about Jesus than anyone else—and when he saw Jesus there on His throne in His majesty, with His face brighter than the Sun, with His feet like burnished brass, with His eyes like flames of fire, with His tongue majestic and His voice like the sound of many waters—John, the man who had walked with Him and talked with Him for three years, says that "When I saw Him, I fell down at His feet as dead." (Rev. 1:17) What do you think you and I are going to do?
~Leonard Ravenhill, The Judgment Seat of Christ (video) (audio)

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Orthodox Catechism on Idolatry and the Second Commandment

From Baptist minister Hercules Collins' An Orthodox Catechism (a Baptist adaption of the Heidelberg Catechism):
Q. 105 What is idolatry?
A. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in his Word.1
1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19

Q. 106. What is the Second Commandment?
A. Thou shalt make to thee no graven Image, nor the Likeness of any thing which is in Heaven above, or in he Earth beneath, nor in the Waters under the Earth: thou shalt not bow down to them,nor worship them, for I the Lord thy God and a jealous God, and visit the sins of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate me, and shew Mercy to thousands of them which love me, and keep my Commandments. 

Q. 107 What is God's will for us in the second commandment?
A. That we in no way make any image of God1 nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his Word.2
Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:22-23

Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22-23; John 4:23-24  

Q. 108 May we then not make any image at all?
A. God can not and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one's intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.1
Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5

Q. 109 But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?
A. No, we shouldn't try to be wiser than God. He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word—1not by idols that cannot even talk.2

Rom. 10:14-15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19

Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20