HOMILY AGAINST PERIL OF IDOLATRY
from Short-Title Catalogue 13675. Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1.
AN HOMILIE AGAINST
perill of Idolatrie, and superfluous decking
The first part. IN what points the true ornaments of the Church or Temple of GOD do consist and stand, hath beene declared in the two last Homilies, entreating of the right vse of the Temple or house of GOD, and of the due reuerence that all true Christian people are bound to giue vnto the same. The summe whereof is, that the Church or house of GOD, is a place appointed by the holy Scriptures, where the liuely word of GOD ought to bee read, taught, and heard, the Lords holy name called vpon by publike prayer, hearty thankes giuen to his Maiestie for his infinite and vnspeakable benefits bestowed vpon vs, his holy Sacraments duely and reuerently ministred, and that therefore all that be godly indeed, ought both with diligence at times appointed, to repayre together to the sayd Church, and there with all reuerence to vse and behaue themselues before the Lord. And that the sayd Church thus godly vsed by the seruants of the Lord, in the Lords true seruice, for the effectuall presence of GODS grace, wherewith he doeth by his holy word and promises, endue his people there present and assembled, to the attainement, aswell of commodities worldly, necessary for vs, as also of all heauenly gifts, and life euerlasting, is called by the word of GOD (as it is indeed) the Temple of the Lord, and the house of GOD, and that therefore the due reuerence thereof, is stirred vp in the hearts of the godly, by the consideration of these true ornaments of the sayd house of GOD, and not by any outward ceremonies or costly and glorious decking of the sayd house or Temple of the Lord, contrary to the which most manifest doctrine of the Scriptures, and contrary to the vsage of the Primitiue Church, which was most pure and vncorrupt, and contrary to the sentences and iudgements of the most ancient, learned and godly Doctours of the Church (as heereafter shall appeare) the corruption of these latter dayes, hath brought into the Church infinite multitudes of images, and the same, with other parts of the Temple also, haue decked with gold and siluer, painted with colours, set them with stone and pearle, clothed them with silkes and precious vestures, fancying vntruely that to be the chiefe decking and adorning of the Temple or house of GOD, and that all people should bee the more mooued to the due reuerence of the same, if all corners thereof were glorious, and glistering with gold and precious stones. Whereas indeed they by the sayd images, and such glorious decking of the Temple, haue nothing at all profited such as were wise and of vnderstanding: but haue thereby greatly hurt the simple and vnwise, occasioning them thereby to commit most horrible idolatrie. And the couetous persons, by the same occasion, seeming to worship, and peraduenture worshipping indeed, not onely the images, but also the matter of them, gold and siluer, as that vice is of all others in the Scriptures peculiarly called idolatrie or worshipping of images (Ephesians 5.5, Colossians 3.5). Against the which foule abuses and great enormities shall be alleadged vnto you: First, the authority of GODS holy word, aswell out of the old Testament, as of the new. And secondly, the testimonies of the holy and ancient learned Fathers and Doctours, out of their owne workes and ancient histories Ecclesiasticall, both that you may at once know their iudgements, and withall vnderstand what maner of ornaments were in the Temples in the Primitiue Church in those times, which were most pure and syncere. Thirdly, the reasons and arguments made for the defence of images or idols, and the outragious decking of Temples and Churches, with gold, siluer, pearle, and precious stone, shall be confuted, and so this whole matter concluded. But lest any should take occasion by the way, of doubting by wordes or names, it is thought good heere to note first of all, that although in common speech we vse to call the likenesse or similitudes of men or other things images, and not idols: yet the Scriptures vse the sayd two words (idols and images) indifferently for one thing alway. They be words of diuers tongues and sounds, but one in sense and signification in the Scriptures. The one is taken of the Greeke word (ed. note: probably eikwn), an Idol, and the other of the Latine word Imago, an Image, and so both vsed as English termes in the translating of Scriptures indifferently, according as the Septuaginta haue in their translation in Greeke, (ed. note: probably eidwlon), and S. Ierome in his translation of the same places in Latin hath Simulachra, in English, Images. And in the new Testament, that which S. Iohn calleth eidwlon, S. Ierome likewise translateth Simulachrum, as in all other like places of Scripture vsually hee doeth so translate (1 John 5.21). And S. Ierome, a most ancient Doctor, and well learned in both the tongues, Greeke and Latine, interpreting this place of S. Iohn, Beware of Idols, that is to say (sayth S. Ierome) of the images themselues: the Latin words which he vseth, be Effigies and Imago, to say, an Image (S. Ierome, Liber de Corona Militis). And therefore it skilleth not, whether in this processe wee vse the one terme or the other, or both together, seeing they both (though not in common English speech, yet in Scripture) signifie one thing. And though some to blinde mens eyes, haue heretofore craftily gone about to make them to be taken for words of diuers signification in matters of Religion, and haue therefore vsually named the likenesse or similitude of a thing set vp amongst the Heathen in their Temples or other places to bee worshipped, an Idoll. But the like similitude with vs, set vp in the Church, the place of worshipping, they call an Image, as though these two words (Idoll and Image) in Scripture, did differ in proprietie and sense, which as is aforesaid) differ onely in sound and language, and in meaning bee in deed all one, specially in the Scriptures and matters of Religion. And our Images also haue beene, and bee, and if they bee publikely suffered in Churches and Temples, euer will bee also worshipped, and so Idolatrie committed to them, as in the last part of this Homilie shall at large bee declared and prooued. Wherefore our Images in Temples and Churches, bee in deed none other but Idoles, as vnto the which Idolatrie hath beene, is, and euer will be committed.
And first of all, the Scriptures of the olde Testament, condemning and abhorring aswell all Idolatrie or worshipping of Images, as also the very Idoles or Images themselues, specially in Temples, are so many and plentifull; that it weere almost an infinite worke, and to bee conteined in no small volume, to record all the places concerning the same. For when GOD had chosen to himselfe a peculiar and speciall people from amongst all other Nations that knew not GOD, but worshipped Idols and false gods, he gaue vnto them certaine ordinances and Lawes to bee kept and obserued of his said people. But concerning none other matter did hee giue either moe, or more earnest and expresse Lawes to his said people, then those that concerned the true worshipping of him, and the auoyding and fleeing of Idols and Images, and Idolatrie: for that, both the said Idolatrie is most repugnant to the right worshipping of him and his true glorie, aboue all other vices, and that hee knew the pronenesse and inclination of mans corrupt kinde and nature, to that most odious and abominable vice. Of the which ordinances and Lawes, so giuen by the Lord to his people concerning that matter, I will rehearse and alleadge some that bee most speciall for this purpose, that you by them may iudge of the rest.
In the fourth Chapter of the Booke named, is a notable place, and most worthy with all diligence to be marked, which beginneth thus: And now Israel heare the Commandements and Iudgements which I teach thee (saith the Lord) that thou doing them, maist liue, and enter and possesse the land which the Lord GOD of your Fathers will giue you. Yee shall put nothing to the word which I speake to you, neither shall ye take any thing from it. Keepe yee the Commandements of the Lord your GOD, which I commaund you (Deuteronomy 4.1-2, Numbers 22.18, 35, 38). And by and by after hee repeateth the same sentence three or foure times, before hee come to the matter that hee would speacially warne them of, as it were for a Preface, to make them to take the better heed vnto it. Take heed to thy selfe (saith he) and to thy soule, with all carefulnesse, lest thou forgettest the things which thine eyes haue seene, and that they goe not out of thine heart all the dayes of thy life, thou shalt teach them to thy children and nephewes, or posteritie. And shortly after, The Lord spake vnto you out of the middle of fire, but you heard the voyce or sound of his words, but you did see no forme or shape at all. And by and by followeth, Take heed therefore diligently vnto your soules, you saw no manner of Image in the day in the which the Lord spake vnto you in Horeb, out of the middest of the fire, lest peraduenture, you being deceiued, should make to your selues any grauen Image, or likenesse of man or woman, or the likenesse of any beast which is vpon the earth, or of the birds that flee vnder heauen, or of any creeping thing that is mooued on the earth, or of the fishes that doe continue in the waters: least peraduenture thou lifting vp thine eyes to heauen, doe see the Sunne and the Moone, and the Starres of heauen, and so thou, being deceiued by errour, shouldest honour, and worship them which the Lord thy GOD hath created to serue all Nations that be vnder heauen. And againe: Beware that thou forget not the couenant of the Lord thy GOD, which hee made with thee, and so make to thy selfe any carued Image of them which the Lord hath forbidden to bee made: for the Lord thy GOD is a consuming fire, and a iealous GOD. If thou haue children and nephewes, and doe tarry in the land, and being deceiued doe make to your selues and similitude, doing euill before the Lord your GOD, and prouoke him to anger: I doe this day call vpon heauen and earth to witnesse, that ye shall quickly perish out of hte land which you shall possesse, you shall not dwell in it any long time, but the Lord will destroy you, and will scatter you amongst all Nations, and ye shall remaine but a very few amongst the Nations, whither the Lord will leade you away, and then shall you serue gods which are made with mans hands, of wood and stone, which see not, and heare not, neither eat nor smell, and so foorth. This is a notable chapter, and entreateth almost altogether of this matter. But because it is too long to write out the whole, I haue noted you certaine principall points out of it. First, how earnestly and oft he calleth vpon them to marke and to take heed, and that vpon the perill of their soules, to the charge which he giueth them. Then how he forbiddeth by a solemne and long rehearsall of all things in heauen, in earth, and in the water, any Image or likenesse of any thing at all to be made. Thirdly, what penaltie and horrible destruction, he solemnely, with inuocation of heauen and earth, for record, denounceth and threatneth to them, their children and posteritie, if they contrary to this Commandement, do make or worship any Images or similitude, which he so straightly hath forbidden. And when they, this notwithstanding, partly by inclination of mans corrupt nature most prone to Idolatry, and partly occasioned by the Gentiles and heathen people dwelling about them, who were Idolaters, did fall to the making and worshipping of Images: GOD according to his word, brought vpon them all those plagues which hee threatned them with, as appeareth in the bookes of the Kings and the Chronicles, in sundry places at large. And agreeable hereunto are many other notable places in the old Testament, (Deuteronomy 27) "Cursed be he that maketh a carued Image, or a cast or molten Image, which is abomination before the Lord, the worke of the artificers hand, and setteth it vp in a secret corner, and all the people shall say, Amen."
Read the thirteene and fourteene Chapters of the booke of Wisedome, concerning Idoles or Images, how they be made, set vp, called vpon, and offered vnto, and how he praiseth the tree whereof the gibbet is made, as happy, in comparison to the tree that an Image or Idoll is made of, euen by these very words, Happy is the tree wherethrough righteousnesse commeth, (meaning the gibbet) but cursed is the Idoll that is made with hands, yea, both it, and hee that made it, and so foorth (Apocrypha. Wisdom 14.7-8). And by and by hee sheweth how that the things which were the good creatures of GOD before (as Trees or Stones) when they be once altered and fashioned into Images to bee worshipped, become abomination, a temptation vnto the soules of men, and a snare for the feet of the vnwise. And why? the seeking out of Images, is the beginning of whoredome (sayth hee) and the bringing vp of them, is the destruction of life: for they were not from the beginning, neither shall they continue for euer. The wealthy idlenes of men hath found them out vpon earth, therefore shall they come shortly to an end: and so foorth to the end of the Chapter, conteining these points, Now Idoles or Images were first inuented, and offered vnto, how by an vngracious custome they were established, how tyrants compell men to worship them, how the ignorant and the common people are deceiued by the cunning of the workeman, and the beautie of the Image, to doe honour vnto it, and so to erre from the knowledge of GOD, and of other great and many mischiefes that come by Images. And for a conclusion hee saith, that the honouring of abominable Images, is the cause, the beginning, and end of all euill, and that the worshippers of them be either mad, or most wicked. See and view the whole Chapter with diligence, for it is worthy to be well considered, specially that is written of the deceauing of the simple and vnwise common people by Idols and Images, and repeated twise or thrise lest it should be forgotten. And in the Chapter following be these words: The painting of the picture and carued Image with diuers colours, entiseth the ignorant so, that he honoureth and loueth the picture of a dead image that hath no soule (Apocrypha. Wisdom 15.4-5). Neuerthelesse, they that loue such euill things, they that trust in them, they that make them, they that fauour them, and they that honour them, are all worthy of death, and so foorth.
In the booke of Psalmes, the Prophet curseth the Image honourers, in diuers places. Confounded be all they that worship carued Images, and that delight or glory in them (Psalms 97.7, 96.5, 115.8). Like bee they vnto the Images that make them, and all they that put their trust in them (Psalms 135.15, 18). And in the Prophet Esai, sayth the Lord: Euen I am the Lord, and this is my Name, and my glory will I giue to none other, neither my honour to grauen Images (Isaiah 42.8). And by and by: Let them bee confounded with shame that trust in Idoles or Images, or say to them, you are our GODS, And in the xl. Chapter after he hath set foorth the incomprehensible Maiestie of GOD, he asketh, To whom then will yee make GOD like? Or what similitude will yee set vp vnto him (Isaiah 40.18)? Shall the caruer make him a carued Image? and shall the Goldsmith couer him with gold, and cast him into a forme of siluer plates? And for the poore man, shall the Image maker frame an Image of timber, that hee may haue somewhat to set vp also? And after this he cryeth out: O wretches, heard ye neuer of this? Hath it not beene preached vnto you since the beginning, and so foorth, how by the Creation of the world, and the greatnesse of the worke, they might vnderstand the Maiestie of GOD, the the Creatour and maker of all, to be greater then that it should be expressed, or set forth in any Image or bodily similitude? And besides this preaching, euen in the law of GOD written with his owne finger (as the Scripture speaketh) and that in the first Table, and the beginning thereof, is this doctrine aforesaid against Images (not briefly touched) but at large set foorth and preached, and that with denunciation of destruction to the contemners and breakers of this Law, and their posteritie after them (Exodus 20.4). And lest it should yet not be marked or not remembred, the same is written and reported not in one, but in sundry places of the Word of GOD, that by oft reading and hearing of it, wee might once learne and remember it, as you also heare daily read in the Church, GOD spake these words, and said, I am the Lord thy GOD. Thou shalt haue none other GODS but me. Thou shalt not make to thy selfe any grauen Image, nor the likenesse of any thing that is in Heauen aboue, nor in the Earth beneath, nor in the water vnder the Earth, Thou shalt not bowe downe to them, nor worship them: For I the Lord thy GOD am a iealous GOD, and visit the sinne of the fathers vpon the children, vnto the third and fourth generation of them that hate mee, and shew mercie vnto thousands in them that loue mee, and keepe my Commandements (Exodus 20.1-6, Leviticus 26.13, Deuteronomy 5.6-10). All this notwithstanding, neither could the notablenesse of the place, being the very beginning of the very louing Lords Law, make vs to marke it, nor the plaine declaration by recounting of all kind of similitudes, cause vs to vnderstand it, nor the oft repeating and reporting of it in diuers and sundry places, the oft reading and hearing of it, could cause vs to remember it, nor the dread of the horrible penaltie to our selues, our children, and posterity after vs, feare vs from transgressing of it, nor the greatnesse of the rewarde to vs and our children after vs, mooue vs any thing to obedience, and the obseruing of this the Lords great Law: But as though it had beene written in some corner, and not at large expressed, but briefely and obscurely touched, as though no penalty to the transgressours, nor reward to the obedient, had beene adioyned vnto it, like blind men without all knowledge and vnderstanding, like vnreasonable beastes, without dread of punishment or respect of reward, haue diminished and dishonoured the high Maiestie of the liuing GOD, by the basenesse and vilenesse of sundry and diuers images of dead stockes, stones, and metals.
Places of the Scripture against idoles or images. And as the Maiestie of GOD, whom we haue left, forsaken, and dishonoured, and therefore the greatnesse of our sinne and offence against his Maiestie, cannot bee expressed: So is the weakenesse, vilenesse, and foolishnesse, in deuice of the images (whereby wee haue dishonoured him) expressed at large in the Scriptures, namely the Psalmes, the booke of Wisedome, the Prophet Esaias, Ezekiel, and Baruch, specially in these places and Chapters of them: Psalms 115.8, 135.15, Apocrypha: Wisdom 13, 14, 15, Isaiah 40.18, 44.9, and Ezekiel 6.13. The which places, as I exhort you often and diligently to reade, so are they too long at this present to be rehearsed in an Homilie. Notwithstanding, I will make you certaine briefe or short notes out of them, what they say of these idoles or images. First, that they bee made but of small pieces of wood, stone, or mettall, and therefore they cannot be any similitudes of the great Maiestie of GOD, whose seate is heauen, and the earth his footestoole. Secondarily, that they bee dead, haue eyes and see not, hands and feele not, feete and cannot goe, & c. and therefore they cannot be fit similitudes of the liuing GOD. Thirdly, that they haue no power to doe good nor harme to others, though some of them haue an axe, some a sword, some a speare in their hands, yet doe theeues come into their Temples and robbe them, and they cannot once sturre to defend themselues from the thieues: nay, if the Temple or Church bee set afire, that their Priests can run away and saue themselues, but they cannot once mooue, but tary still like blockes as they are, and be burned, and therefore they can bee no meete figures of the puissant and mighty GOD, who alone is able both to saue his seruants, and to destroy his enemies euerlastingly. They bee trimly deckt in Golde, Siluer, and Stone, aswell the images of men, as of women, like wanton wenches (sayth the Prophet Baruch) that loue paramours, and therefore can they not teach vs, nor our wiues and daughters any sobernesse, modestie, and chastitie (Ezekiel 6.9-11). And therefore although it is now commonly sayd that they be the lay mens bookes, yet wee see they teach no good lesson, neither of GOD, nor godlinesse, but all errour and wickednesse. Therefore GOD by his word, as he forbiddeth any idoles or images to bee made or set vp: so doeth hee commaund such as wee finde made and set vp to bee pulled downe, broken, and destroyed.
And it is written in the booke of Numbers, the xxiii. Chapter, that there was no idole in Iacob, nor there was no image seene in Israel, and that the Lord GOD was with the people (Numbers 23.21, ed. note: the Hebrew word 'aven means both trouble/sorrow and idolatry). Where note, that the true Israelites, that is, the people of GOD, haue no images among them, but that GOD was with them, and that therefore their enemies cannot hurt them, as appeareth in the processe of that Chapter. And as concerning Images already set vp, thus saith the Lord in Deuteronomie. Ouerturne their altars, and breake them to pieces, cut downe their groues, burne their images: for thou art an holy people vnto the Lord (Deuteronomy 7.5, 12.2-3). And the same is repeated more vehemently againe in the twelfth Chapter of the same booke. Here not, what the people of GOD ought to doe to images, where they finde them. But lest any priuate persons, vpon colour of destroying images, should make any stirre or disturbance in the common wealth, it must alwayes be remembred, that the redresse of such publique enormities perteineth to the Magistrates, and such as be in authoritie onely, and not to priuate persons, and therefore the good Kings of Iuda, Asa, Ezechias, Iosaphat, and Iosias, are highly commended for the breaking downe and destroying of the altars, idoles, and images. And the Scriptures declare that they, specially in that point, did that which was right before the Lord. And contrariwise, Hieroboam, Achab, Ioas, and other Princes, which either set vp, or suffered such altars or images vndestroyed, are by the word of GOD reported to haue done euill before the Lord (1 Kings 14.9, 2 Kings 13.11, 2 Chro.14, 15.31, 1 Kings 16.32). And if any, contrary to the commaundement of the Lord, will needes set vp such altars or images, or suffer them vndestroyed amongst them, the Lord himselfe threatneth in the first Chapter of the booke of Numbers, and by his holy Prophets, Ezechiel, Micheas, and Abacuc, that he will come himselfe and pull them downe. And how hee will handle, punish, and destroy the people that so set vp, or suffer such altars, images, or idoles vndestroyed, he denounceth by his Prophet Ezechiel on this manner:
I my selfe (sayth the Lord) will bring a sward ouer you, to destroy your high places, I will cast downe your altars, and breake downe your images, your slaine men will I lay before your gods, and the dead carkases of the children of Israel will I cast before their idoles, your bones will I straw round about your altars and dwelling places, your Cities shall bee desolate, the hill Chappels layd waste, your altars destroyed and broken, your gods cast downe and taken away, your Temples layd euen with the ground, your owne workes cleane rooted out, your slayne men shall lye amongst you, that yee may learne to know how that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 6.3-7).
and so foorth to the Chapters ende, worthy with diligence to be read: that they that be neare, shall perish with the sword, they that bee farre off, with the pestilence, they that flee into holds or wildernesse, with hunger: and if any be yet left, that they shalbe caryed away prisoners to seruitude and bondage. So that if either the multitude, or plainnesse of the places might make vs to vnderstand, or the earnest charge that GOD giueth in the sayd places mooue vs to regard, or the horrible plagues, punishments, and dreadfull destruction, threatned to such worshippers of images or idoles, setters vp, or maintainers of them, might ingender any feare in our hearts, wee would once leaue and forsake this wickednesse, being in the Lords sight so great an offence and abomination. Infinite places almost might bee brought out of the Scriptures of the olde Testament concerning this matter, but these few at this time shall serue for all.
You will say peraduenture these things pertaine to the Iewes, what haue wee to doe with them? Indeed they pertaine no lesse to vs Christians, then to them. For if we be the people of GOD, how can the Word and Law of GOD not appertaine to vs? Saint Paul alleadging one text out of the old Testament, concludeth generally for other Scriptures of the old Testament as well as that, saying, Whatsoeuer is written before (meaning in the old Testament) is written for our instruction (Romans 15.4): which sentence is most specially true of such writings of the old Testament, as containe the immutable law and ordinances of GOD, in no age or time to be altered, nor of any persons of any nations or age to bee disobeyed, such as the aboue rehearsed places be. Notwithstanding, for your further satisfying herein, according to my promise, I will out of the Scriptures of the new Testament or Gospel of our Sauiour Christ, likewise make a confirmation of the said doctrine against Idoles or Images, and of our duetie concerning the same. First the Scriptures of the new Testament doe in sundry places make mention with reioycing, as for a most excellent benefit and gift of GOD, that they which receiued the Faith of Christ, were turned from their dumbe and dead Images, vnto the true and liuing GOD, who is to be blessed for euer: namely in these places, the xiiii. and xvii. of the Acts of the Apostles, the eleuenth to the Romanes, the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the twelfth Chapter, to the Galathians, the fourth, and the first to the Thessalonians the first Chapter.
And in likewise the said is Idoles, Images, and worshipping of them, are in the Scriptures of the new Testament by the spirit of GOD much abhorred and detested, and earnestly forbidden, as appeareth both in the forenamed places, and also many other besides, as in the seuen, and fifteenth of the Actes of the Apostles, the first to the Romanes, where is set foorth the horrible plague of Idolaters, giuen ouer by GOD into a reprobate sense to worke all wickednes and abominations not to be spoken, as vsually spirituall and carnall Fornication goe together.
In the first Epistle to the Corinthians the fifth Chapter, we are forbidden once to keepe company, or to eate and drinke with such as bee called brethren or Christians that doe worship Images. In Galatians 5.20, the worshipping of Images is numbred amongst the workes of the flesh. and in 1 Corinthians 10.19-20, it is called the seruice of deuils, and that such as vse it, shall be destroyed. And in 1 Corinthians 6.9, and Galatians 5.20-21, is denounced, that such Image worshippers shall neuer come into the inheritance of the Kingdome of heauen. And in sundry other places is threatned, that the wrath of GOD shall come vpon all such. And therefore Saint Iohn in 1 John 5.21 exhorteth vs as his deare children to beware of Images. And Saint Paul warneth vs to flee from the worshipping of them, if we be wise, that is to say, if wee care for health, and feare destruction, if we regard the Kingdome of GOD and life euerlasting, and dread the wrath of GOD, and euerlasting damnation (1 Corinthians 10.14). For it is not possible that wee should be worshippers of Images, and the true seruants of GOD also, as S. Paul teacheth, in 2 Corinthians 6.16, affirming expressely that there can bee no more consent or agreement betweene the Temple of GOD (which all true Christians be) and Images, then betweene righteousnesse and vnrighteousnesse, betweene light and darkenesse, betweene the faithfull and the vnfaithfull, or betweene Christ and the deuill. Which place enforceth both that wee should not worship Images, and that we should not haue Images in the Temple, for feare and occasion of worshipping them, though they be of themselues things indifferent: for the Christian is the holy Temple and liuely Image of GOD, as the place well declareth, to such as will reade and weigh it. And whereas all godly men did euer abhorre that any kneeling and worshipping or offering should bee vsed to themselues when they were aliue (for that it was the honour due to GOD only) as appeareth in the Acts of the Apostles by S. Peter forbidding it to Cornelius (Acts 10.25-26), and by S. Paul and Barnabas forbidding the same to the Citizens in Lystra (Acts 14.14-15): Yet wee like madde men fall downe before the dead idols or images of Peter and Paul, and giue that honour to stockes and stones, which they thought abominable to be giuen to themselues being aliue. And the good Angel of GOD, as appeareth in the booke of S. Iohns Reuelation, refused to bee kneeled vnto, when that honour was offered him of Iohn: Beware (sayth the Angel) that thou doe it not, for I am thy fellow seruant. But the euill angel Satan, desireth nothing so much as to bee kneeled vnto, and thereby at once both to robbe GOD of his due honour, and to worke the damnation of such as make him so low curtesie, as in the story of the Gospel appeareth in sundry places. Yea, and hee offered our Sauiour Christ all earthly goods, on the condition that he would kneele down & worship him (Matthew 4.9, Luke 4.7). But our Sauiour repelleth Satan by the Scriptures, saying, It is written, thou shalt worship thy Lord GOD, and him alone shalt thou serue. But we by not worshipping and seruing GOD alone (as the Scriptures teach vs) and by worshipping of images, contrary to the Scriptures, plucke Satan to vs, and are ready without reward to follow his desire: yea, rather then fayle, wee will offer him gifts and oblations to receiue our seruice. But let vs brethren, rather follow the counsell of the good Angel of GOD, then the suggestion of subtill Satan, that wicked angel and old Serpent: Who according to the pride whereby hee first fell, attempteth alway by such sacriledge to depriue GOD (whom he enuieth) of his due honour: and (because his owne face is horrible and vgly) to conuey it to himselfe by the mediation of gilt stockes and stones, and withall to make vs the enemies of GOD, and his own suppliants and slaues, and in the end to procure vs for a reward, euerlasting destruction and damnation. Therefore aboue all things, if wee take our selues to be Christians indeed (as we be named) let vs credit the word, obey the law, and follow the doctrine and example of our Sauiour and master Christ, repelling Satans suggestion to idolatrie, and worshipping of Images, according to the trueth alleadged and taught out of the Testament and Gospel of our sayd heauenly Doctour and Schoolemaster Iesus Christ, who is GOD to be blessed for euer, AMEN.
The second part of the Homilie against perill of Idolatry.
YOU haue heard (welbeloued) in the first part of this Homilie, the doctrine of the word of GOD against idols and images, against Idolatrie, and worshipping of images, taken out of the Scriptures of the old Testament & the New, & confirmed by the examples as well of the Apostles as of our Sauiour Christ himselfe. Now although our Sauiour Christ taketh not, or needeth not any testimony of men, and that which is once confirmed by the certainty of his eternall trueth, hath no more need of the confirmation of mans doctrine and writings, then the bright sunne at noonetide hath neede of the light of a little candle to put away darkenesse, and to increase his light: yet for your further contentation, it shall in this second part bee declared (as in the beginning of the first part was promised) that this trueth and doctrine concerning the forbidding of images and worshipping of them, taken out of the holy Scriptures, aswell of the old Testament as the new, was beleeued and taught of the old holy Fathers, and most ancient learned Doctours, and receiued in the old Primitiue Church, which was most vncorrupt and pure. And this declaration shall bee made out of the sayd holy Doctours owne writings, and out of the ancient histories Ecclesiasticall to the same belonging.
S. Ierome, a most ancient Writer and Doctour of the Church, who liued about one hundred and threescore yeeres after the death of our Sauiour Christ, both in sundry other places of his workes, and specially in his booke written against the maner of crowning, and in another little treatise entituled, Of the souldiers crowne or garland, doth most sharply and vehemently write and inueygh against images or idols (S. Ierome, Liber contra Coronandi Morem). And vpon S. Iohns words, the first Epistle and fifth Chapter, sayth thus, S. Iohn (sayth hee) deepely considering the matter, sayth: My little children, keepe your selues from images or idols (1 John 5.21). Hee sayth not now, keepe your selues from idolatrie, as it were from the seruice and worshipping of them: but from the images or idols themselues, that is, from the very shape and likenesse of them. For it were an vnworthy thing, that the image of the liuing GOD should become the image of a dead idoll. Doe you not thinke those persons which place images and idols in Churches and Temples, yea shrine them euen ouer the Lords table, euen as it were of purpose to the worshipping and honoring of them, take good heed to either of S. Iohns counsell, or S. Ieromes? For so to place images and idols is it to keepe themselues from them, or else to receiue and embrace them. Origenes in his booke against Celsus, sayth thus: Christian men and Iewes, when they heare these words of the Law (Thou shalt feare the Lord thy GOD, and shalt not make any image) doe not onely abhorre the Temples, Altars, and Images of the gods, but if need be, will rather die then they should defile themselues with any impiety. And shortly after he sayth: In the common wealth of the Iewes, the caruer of idols and image maker, was cast farre off and forbidden, lest they should haue any occasion to make images, which might plucke certain foolish persons from GOD, and turne the eyes of their soules to the contemplation of earthly things. And in another place of the same booke: It is not onely (sayth he) a mad and franticke part to worship images, but also once to dissemble or winke at it. And a man may know GOD and his onely son, and those which haue had such honour giuen them by GOD, that they be called gods: But it is not possible that any should by worshipping of images get any knowledge of GOD.
Athanasius in his booke against the Gentiles, hath these words: Let them tell, I pray you, how GOD may be knowen by an image. If it be by the matter of an image, then there needeth no shape or forme, seeing that GOD hath appeared in all materiall creatures which do testifie his glory. Now if they say he is knowen by the forme or fashion: Is he not better to be knowen by the liuing things themselues, whose fashions the images expresse? For of surety, the glory of GOD should bee more euidently knowen, if it were declared by reasonable and liuing creatures, rather then by dead and vnmooueable images. Therefore when yee doe graue or paint images, to the end to know GOD thereby, surely ye doe an vnworthy and vnfit thing. And in another place of the same booke he sayth, The inuention of images came of no good, but of euill, and whatsoeuer hath an euill beginning, can neuer in any thing bee iudged good, seeing it is altogether naught. Thus farre Athanasius, a very ancient, holy, and learned Bishop and Doctour, who iudgeth both the first beginning and the end, and altogether of images or idols, to be naught.
Lactantius likewise, an olde and learned writer, in his booke of the Origine of errour, hath these wordes, GOD is aboue man, and is not placed beneath, but is to bee sought in the highest region. Wherefore there is no doubt, but that no religion is in that place wheresoeuer any image is: For if religion stand in godly things, (and there is no godlinesse but in heauenly things) then be images without religion. These be Lactantius wordes, who was aboue xiii. hundred yeeres ago, and within three hundreth yeeres after our Sauiour Christ (Lactantius, Of the Origin of Error, Bk. 2, Chap. 16).
Cyrillus, an old and holy doctour, vpon the Gospel of Saint Iohn hath these wordes, Many haue left the creatour, and haue worshipped the creature, neither haue they beene abashed to say vnto a stocke: Thou art my father, and vnto a stone, Thou begottest me. For many, yea, almost all (alasse for sorrow) are fallen vnto such folly, that they haue giuen the glory of deity or Godhead, to things without sense or feeling.
Epiphanius Bishop of Salamine in Ciprus, a very holy and learned man, who liued in Theodosius the Emperours time, about three hundred and ninetie yeeres after our Sauiour Christs ascension, writeth this to Iohn Patriarch of Hierusalem: I entred (sayth Epiphanius) into a certaine Church to pray: I found there a linnen cloth hanging in the Church doore, paynted, and hauing in it the image of Christ, as it were, or of some other Saint, (for I remember not well whose image it was) therefore when I did see the image of a man hanging in the Church of Christ, contrary to the authoritie of the Scriptures, I did teare it, and gaue counsell to the keepers of the Church, that they should wind a poore man that was dead in the sayd cloth, and to bury him.
And afterwards the same Epiphanius sending another vnpaynted cloth, for that paynted one which hee had torne, to the sayd Patriarch, writeth thus, I pray you will the Elders of that place to receiue this cloth which I haue sent by this bearer, and commaund them that from hencefoorth no such painted clothes contrary to our religion, be hanged in the Church of Christ . For it becommeth your goodnesse rather to haue this care, that you take away such scrupulositie, which is vnfitting for the Church of Christ, and offensiue to the people committed to your charge. And this Epistle, as worthy to be read of many, did S. Ierome himselfe translate into the Latine tongue.
All notable Bishops were then called Popes. And that ye may know that S. Ierome had this holy and learned Bishop Epiphanius in most high estimation, and therefore did translate this Epistle, as a writing of authoritie: heare what a testimonie the said S. Ierome giueth him in another place, in his Treatie against the errours of Iohn Bishop of Hierusalem, where hee hath these wordes: Thou hast (sayth Saint Ierome) Pope Epiphanius, which doeth openly in his letters call thee an heretike. Surely thou art not to be preferred before him, neither for age nor learning, nor godlinesse of life, nor by the testimonie of the whole world. And shortly after in the same treatie saith S. Ierome: Bishop Epiphanius was euer of so great veneration and estimation, that Valens the Emperour, who was a great persecutour, did not once touch him. For heretikes, being princes, thought it their shame if they should persecute such a notable man. And in the tripartite Ecclesiasticall historie, the ninth booke and xlviii. Chapter, is testified, that Epiphanius being yet aliue did worke miracles, and that after his death deuils, being expelled at his graue or tombe, did roare. Thus you see what authoritie S. Ierome and that most ancient historie giue vnto the holy and learned Bishop Epiphanius, whose iudgement of images in Churches and Temples, then beginning by stealth to creepe in, is worthy to be noted.
First, hee iudged it contrary to Christian religion and the authoritie of the Scriptures, to haue any images in Christs Church. Secondly, hee reiected not onely carued, grauen, and moulten images, but also paynted images, out of Christs Church. Thirdly, that hee regarded not whether it were the image of Christ, or of any other Saint, but being an image, would not suffer it in the Church. Fourthly, that hee did not onely remooue it out of the Church, but with a vehement zeale tare it in sunder and exhorted that a corse should bee wrapped and buried in it, iudging it meete for nothing but to rotte in the earth, following herein the example of the good king Ezechias, who brake the brasen Serpent to pieces, and burned it to ashes, for that idolatrie was committed to it. Last of all, that Epiphanius thinketh it the duetie of vigilant Bishops, to bee carefull that no images be permitted in the Church, for that they be occasion of scruple and offence to the people committed to their charge. Now whereas neither S. Ierome, who did translate the same Epistle, nor the authours of that most ancient historie Ecclesiasticall tripartite (who doe most highly commend Epiphanius, as is aforesayd) nor any other godly or learned Bishoppe at that time, or shortly after, haue written any thing against Epiphanius iudgement concerning images: it is an euident proofe, that in those dayes, which were about foure hundred yeeres after our Sauiour Christ, there were no images publiquely vsed and receiued in the Church of Christ, which was then much lesse corrupt, and more pure then now it is.
And whereas Images beganne at that time secretly and by stealth to creepe out of priuate mens houses into the Churches, and that first in paynted clothes and walles, such Byshops as were godly and vigilant, when they spyed them, remooued them away, as vnlawfull and contrary to Christian religion, as did heere Epiphanius, to whose iudgement you haue not onely Saint Ierome the translatour of his Epistle, and the writer of the historie tripartite, but also all the learned and godly Clarkes, yea and the whole Church of that age, and so vpward to our Sauiour Christes time, by the space of about foure hundred yeeres, consenting and agreeing. This is written the more largely of Epiphanius, for that our image maynteiners now a dayes, seeing themselues so pressed with this most plaine and earnest act and writing of Epiphanius, a Bishop and Doctour of such antiquity, and authoritie, labour by all meanes (but in vaine against the trueth) either to proue that this Epistle was neither of Epiphanius writing, nor Saint Ieromes translation: either if it bee, say they, it is of no great force: for this Epiphanius, say they, was a Iew, and being conuerted to the Christian faith, and made a Bishop, reteined the hatred which Iewes haue to images still in his minde, and so did and wrote against them as a Iew, rather then as a Christian. O Iewish impudencie and malice of such deuisers, it would be prooued, and not sayd onely, that Epiphanius was a Iewe. Furthermore, concerning the reason they make, I would admitte it gladly. For if Epiphanius iudgement against Images is not to bee admitted, for that hee was borne of a Iewe an enemie to Images, which bee GODS enemies, conuerted to Christes religion, then likewise followeth it, that no sentence in the olde Doctours and Fathers sounding for Images, ought to be of any authority: for that in the primitiue Church the most part of learned writers, as S. Ierome, Cyprian, Ambrose, Austen, and infinite others more, were of Gentiles (which bee fauourers and worshippers of Images) conuerted to the Christian faith, and so let somewhat slippe out of their pennes, sounding for Images, rather as Gentiles then Christians, as Eusebius in his Historie Ecclesiasticall, and Saint Ierome sayth plainely, that Images came first from the Gentiles to vs Christians. And much more doeth it follow, that the opinion of all the rablement of the Popish Church, maintaining Images, ought to be esteemed of small or no authority, for that it is no maruell that they which haue from their childhoode beene brought vp amongest Images and Idoles, and haue drunke in idolatry almost with their mothers milke, hold with Images and Idols, and speake and write for them. But in deede it would not bee so much marked whether hee were of a Iewe or a Gentile conuerted vnto Christes Religion, that writeth, as how agreeable or contrarie to GODS word hee doeth write, and so to credite or discredite him. Now what GODS worde sayth of Idoles and Images, and the worshipping of them, you heard at large in the first part of this Homilie.
Saint Ambrose in his treatie of the death of Theodosius the Emperour, saith, Helene found the Crosse and the title on it. Shee worshipped the King, and not the wood surely (for that is an heathenish errour, and the vanitie of the wicked) but shee worshipped him that hanged on the Crosse, and whose name was written in the title, and so foorth. See both the godly Empresse fact, and Saint Ambrose iudgement at once: They thought it had beene an heathenish errour and vanitie of the wicked, to haue worshipped the Crosse it selfe which was embrewed with our Sauiour Christs owne pretious blood. And wee fall downe before euery Crosse peece of timber, which is but an Image of that Crosse.
Saint Augustine, the best learned of all ancient doctours, in his xliiii. Epistle to Maximus sayth, know thou that none of the dead, nor anie thing that is made of GOD, is worshipped as GOD of the Catholique Christians, of whom there is a Church also in your Towne. Note that by Saint Augustine, such as worshipped the dead, or creatures, be not Catholique Christians.
The same Saint Augustine teacheth in the xii. booke of the Citie of God, the tenth Chapter, that neither Temples or Churches ought to bee builded or made for Martyrs or Saints, but to GOD alone: and that there ought no Priestes to bee appointed for Martyr or Saint, but to GOD only. The same Saint Augustine in his booke of the maners of the Catholique Church, hath these wordes: I know that many bee worshippers of tombes and pictures, I know that there bee many that banquet most riotously ouer the graus of the dead, and giuing meat to dead carkases, doe burie themselues vpon the buried, and attribute their gluttonie and drunkennesse to religion. See, hee esteemeth worshipping of Saints tombes, and pictures, as good religion as gluttonie and drunkennesse, and no better at all. Saint Augustine greatly alloweth Marcus Varro, affirming that religion is most pure without images, and saith himselfe: images be of more force to crooken an vnhappy soule, then to teach and instruct it. And saith further: Euery childe, yea euery beast knoweth that it is not GOD that they see. Wherefore then doeth the holy Ghost so often monish vs of that which all men know? Whereunto Saint Augustine himselfe answereth thus (Augustine, Liber de Civi. Deim Chap. 43; Psalms 36 and 113). For (saith hee) when images are placed in Temples, and set in honourable sublimity and begin once to bee worshipped, foorthwith breedeth the most vile affection of errour. This is Saint Augustines iudgement of Images in Churches; that by and by they breed errour and idolatrie. It would be tedious to rehearse all other places, which might bee brought out of the ancient Doctours against Images and idolatrie. Wherefore wee shall holde our selues contented with these fewe at this present. Now as concerning histories Ecclesiasticall, touching this matter, that yee may know why and when, and by whom Images were first vsed priuately, and afterwardes not onely receiued into the Christians Churches and Temples, but in conclusion worshipped also, and how the same was gaine-said, resisted, and forbidden, aswell by godly Bishoppes and learned Doctours, as also by sundry Christian Princes: I will briefely collect into a compendious history, that which is at large and in sundry places written by diuerse ancient writers and historiographers concerning this matter.
As the Iewes, hauing most plaine and expresse commaundement of GOD, that they should neither make nor worshippe any Image (as it is at large before declared) did notwithstanding, by the example of the Gentiles or Heathen people that dwelt about them, fall to the making of Images, and worshipping of them, and so to the committing of most abominable idolatrie, for the which GOD by his holy Prophets doeth most sharpely reprooue and threaten them, and afterwarde did accomplish his sayd threatnings by extreame punishing of them (as is also aboue specified: ) Euen so some of the Christians in olde time, which were conuerted from worshipping of Idoles and false Gods, vnto the true liuing GOD, and to our Sauiour Iesus Christ, did of a certaine blinde zeale (as men long accustomed to Images) paynt or carue Images of our Sauiour Christ, his Mother Marie, and of the Apostles, thinking that this was a point of gratitude and kindnesse towards those, by whom they had receiued the true knowledge of GOD, and the doctrine of the Gospell. But these pictures or Images came not yet into Churches, nor were not yet worshipped of a long time after. And lest you should thinke that I doe say this of mine owne head onely without authoritie, I alleadge for mee Eusebius Bishoppe of Cesarea, and the most ancient Authour of the Ecclesiasticall historie, who liued about the three hundred and thirtieth yeere of our Lord in Constantinus Magnus dayes, and his sonne Constantius Emperours, in the seuenth booke of his history Ecclesiasticall, the xiiii Chapter, and Saint Ierome vpon the tenth Chapter of the Prophet Ieremie: who both expresly say, that the errours of Images (for so Saint Ierome calleth it) hath come in and passed to the Christians from the Gentiles, by an Heathenish vse and custome. The cause and meanes Eusebius sheweth, saying, It is no maruell if they which being Gentiles before, and did beleeue, seemed to offer this, as a gift to our Sauiour, for the benefites which they had receiued of him, Yea and wee doe see now that Images of Peter and Paul, and of our Sauiour himselfe be made, and tables to bee painted, which me thinke to haue beene obserued and kept indifferently by an Heathenish custome. For the Heathen are wont so to honour them whom they iudged honour worthy, for that some tokens of old men should bee kept. For the remembrance of posterity is a token of their honour that were before, and the loue of those that come after.
Thus farre I haue rehearsed Eusebius words. Where note ye, that both Saint Ierome and hee agreeth heerein, that these Images came in amongst Christian men by such as were Gentiles, and accustomed to idols, and being conuerted to the fayth of Christ, reteyned yet some remnants of Gentility not throughly purged: for Saint Ierome calleth it an errour manifestly. And the like example wee see in the Actes of the Apostles, of the Iewes, who when they were conuerted to Christ, would haue brought in their circumcision (whereunto they were so long accustomed) with them, into Christs Religion. With whom the Apostles (namely Saint Paul) had much adoe for the staying of that matter (Acts 15.5). But of Circumcision was lesse maruell, for that it came first in by GODS ordinance and commandement. A man may most iustly wonder of Images so directly against GODS holy word and straite commandement, how they should enter in. But Images were not yet worshipped in Eusebius time, nor publikely set vp in Churches and Temples, and they who priuately had them, did erre of a certaine zeale, and not by malice: but afterwards they crept out of priuate houses into Churches, and so bredde first superstition, and last of all Idolatrie amongst Christians, as heereafter shall appeare.
In the time of Theodosius and Martian, Emperours, who reigned about the yeere of our Lord 460, and 1117. yeeres agoe, when the people of the citie of Nola once a yeere did celebrate the birth day of Saint Felix in the Temple, and vsed to banquet there sumptuously, Pontius Paulinus Bishop of Nola caused the walles of the Temple to be painted with stories taken out of the old Testament, that the people beholding and considering those pictures, might the better abstaine from too much surfetting and riot. And about the same time Aurelius Prudentius, a very learned and Christian Poet, declareth how he did see painted in a Church, the history of the passion of Saint Cassian, a Schoolemaster and Martyr, whom his owne schollers at the commandement of the tyrant, tormented with the pricking or stabbing in front of their pointells or brasen pennes into his body, and so by a thousand wounds and moe (as sayth Prudentius) most cruelly slew him. And these were the first paintings in Churches that were notable of antiquity. And so by this example came in painting, and afterward Images of Timber and Stone, and other matter, into the Churches of Christians. Now and ye well consider this beginning, men are not so ready to worship a picture on a wall, or in a window, as an imbossed and gilt Image, set with pearle and stone. And a processe of a story, painted with the gestures and actions of many persons, and commonly the sum of the story written withall, hath another vse in it, then one dumbe idoll or image standing by it selfe. But from learning by painted stories, it came by little and little to idolatry. Which when godly men (aswell Emperours and learned Bishops as others) perceiued, they commanded that such pictures, images, or idols, should be vsed no more. And I will for a declaration thereof, begin with the decree of the ancient Christian Emperours, Valens and Theodosius the second, who raigned about foure hundred yeeres after our Sauiour Christs ascension, who forbad that any Images should be made or painted priuately: for certaine it is, that there was none in Temples publikely in their time. These Emperours did write vnto the captaine of the armie attending on the Emperours, after this sort, Valens and Theodosius Emperours, vnto the captaine of the armie: Whereas we haue a diligent care to maintaine the religion of GOD aboue, in all things, wee will grant to no man to set foorth, graue, carue, or paint the image of our Sauiour Christ in colours, stone, or any other matter, but in what place soeuer it shall be found, wee command that it be taken away, and that all such as shall attempt any thing contrary to our decrees or commandement heerein, shall bee most sharply punished. This decree is written in the bookes named Libri Augustales, the Emperiall bookes, gathered by Tribonianus, Basilides, Theophilus, Dioscorus, and Satira, men of great authority and learning, at the commandement of the Emperour Iustinian, and is alleadged by Petrus Crinitus, a notable learned man, in the ix. booke and ix. Chapter of his worke, intituled, De honesta disciplina, that is to say, of honest learning. Heere you see what Christian Princes of most ancient times decreed against images, which then began to creepe in amongst the Christians. For it is certaine that by the space of three hundred yeeres and more, after the death of our Sauiour Christ, and before these godly Emperours raigned, there were no images publikely in Churches or Temples. How would the idolaters glory, if they had so much antiquity and authority for them, as is heere against them?
Now shortly after these dayes, the Gothes, Vandales, Hunnes, and other barbarous and wicked nations, burst into Italy, and all partes of the West countries of Europe, with huge and mighty armies, spoyled all places, destroyed Cities, and burned Libraries, so that learning and true Religion went to wracke, and decayed incrediblie. And so the Bishops of those latter dayes, being of lesse learning, and in the middest of the warres, taking lesse heede also then did the Bishops afore, by ignorance of GODS word, and negligence of Bishops, and specially barbarous Princes, not rightly instructed in true Religion bearing the rule, images came into the Church of Christ in the sayd West parts, where these barbarous people ruled, not now in painted clothes onely, but embossed in stone, timber, mettall, and other like matter, and were not only set vp, but began to be worshipped also. And therefore Serenus Bishop of Massile, the head Towne of Gallia Nabonensis (now called the Prouince) a godly and learned man, who was about sixe hundred yeeres after our Sauiour Christ, seeing the people by occasion of images fall to most abominable idolatrie, brake to pieces all the images of Christ and Saints which were in that City, and was therefore complayned vpon to Gregorie, the first of that name, Bishop of Rome, who was the first learned Bishop that did allow the open hauing of Images in Churches, that can be known by any writing or history of antiquity. And vpon this Gregorie doe all image-worshippers at this day ground their defence. But as all things that be amisse, haue from a tolerable beginning growen worse and worse, till they at the last became vntolerable: so did this matter of images. First, men vsed priuately stories painted in tables, clothes, and walles. Afterwards, grosse and embossed images priuately in their owne houses. Then afterwards, pictures first, and after them embossed images began to creepe into Churches, learned and godly men euer speaking against them. Then by vse it was openly maintayned that they might be in Churches, but yet forbidden that they should be worshipped. Of which opinion was Gregorie, as by the sayd Gregories Epistle to the forenamed Serenus Bishop of Massile, plainely appeareth. Which Epistle is to be found in the booke of Epistles of Gregorie, or Register, in the tenth part of the fourth Epistle, where hee hath these wordes: That thou didst forbid images to be worshipped, we prayse altogether, but that thou didst breake them, we blame. For it is one thing to worship the picture, and another thing by the picture of the story, to learne what is to be worshipped. For that which Scripture is to them that reade, the same doth picture performe vnto idiots or the vnlearned beholding, and so foorth. And after a few wordes: therefore it should not haue beene broken, which was set vp, not to be worshipped in Churches, but only to instruct the mindes of the ignorant. And a little after, thus thou shouldest haue sayd, If you will haue images in the Church for that instruction wherefore they were made in old time, I doe permit that they may bee made, and that you may haue them, and shew them, that not the sight of the story, which is opened by the picture: but that worshipping which was inconueniently giuen to the pictures, did mislike you. And if any would make images, not to forbid them, but auoyd by all meanes to worship any image. By these sentences taken heere and there out of Gregories Epistle to Serenus (for it were too long to rehearse the whole) ye may vnderstand whereunto the matter was now come sixe hundred yeeres after Christ : that the hauing of Images or pictures in the Churches, were then maintayned in the West part of the world (for they were not so forward yet in the East Church) but the worshipping of them was vtterly forbidden. And you may withall note, that seeing there is no ground for worshipping of Images in Gregories writing, but a plaine condemnation thereof, that such as doe worship Images, doe vniustly alleadge Gregorie for them. And further, if Images in the Church doe not teach men according to Gregories minde, but rather blinde them: it followeth, that Images should not be in the Church by his sentence, who onely would they should be placed there, to the end that they might teach the ignorant. Wherefore, if it bee declared that Images haue beene and be worshipped, and also that they teach nothing but errours and lies (which shall by GODS grace heereafter be done) I trust that then by Gregories owne determination, all images and image worshippers shall bee ouerthrowen. But in the meane season, Gregories authority was so great in all the West Church, that by his incouragement men set vp images in all places: but their iudgement was not so good to consider why hee would haue them set vp, but they fell all on heapes to manifest idolatrie by worshipping of them, which Bishop Serenus (not without iust cause) feared would come to passe. Now if Serenus his iudgement, thinking it meete that images, whereunto Idolatrie was committed, should be destroyed, had taken place, idolatrie had bin ouerthrowen: For to that which is not, no man committeth idolatrie. But of Gregories opinion, thinking that images might bee suffered in Churches, so it were taught that they should not bee worshipped: what ruine of religion, and what mischiefe ensued afterward to all Christendome, experience hath to our great hurt and sorrow proued. First, by the schisme rising betweene the East and the West Church about the sayd images. Next, by the deuision of the Empire into two partes by the same occasion of images, to the great weakening of all Christendome, whereby last of all, hath followed the vtter ouerthrow of the Christian religion and noble Empire in Greece and all the East partes of the world, and the encrease of Mahomets false religion, and the cruell dominion and tyranny of the Saracens and Turkes, who doe now hang ouer our neckes also & that; dwell in the West partes of the world, ready at all occasions to ouerrunne vs. And all this doe we owe vnto our idolles and images, and our idolatry in worshipping of them.
But now giue you eare a little to the processe of the history, wherein I doe much follow the histories of Paulus Diaconus, and others ioyned with Eutropius an olde writer (Eutropius, Liber de Rebus Rom., 23). For though some of the authours were fauourers of images: yet do they most plainely and at large prosecute the histories of those times whom Baptist Platina also in his historie of Popes (Baptist Platina, Lives of Constantine and Gregory II), as in the liues of Constantine, and Gregorie the second, Bishoppes of Rome, and other places (where hee intreateth of this matter) doeth chiefely follow. After Gregories time, Constantine Bishoppe of Rome assembled a councell of Bishoppes in the West Church, and did condemne Philippicus then Emperour, and Iohn Bishoppe of Constantinople of the heresie of the Monothelites, not without a cause in deede, but very iustly. When hee had so done, by the consent of the learned about him, the said Constantine Bishoppe of Rome, caused the images of the ancient fathers, which had beene at those sixe councels which were allowed and receiued of all men, to bee painted in the entrie of Saint Peters Church at Rome. When the Greekes had knowledge hereof, they beganne to dispute and reason the matter of images with the Latines, and held this opinion, that images could haue no place in Christes Church, and the Latines held the contrarie, and tooke part with the images. So the East and West Churches which agreed euill before, vpon this contention about images fell to vtter enmity, which was neuer well reconciled yet. But in the meane season Philippicus and Arthemius, or Anastatius, Emperours, commanded images and pictures to bee pulled downe, and rased out in euery place of their dominion. After them came Theodosius the third, hee commanded the defaced images to bee painted againe in their places: but this Theodosius raigned but one yeere. Leo the third of that name succeeded him, who was a Syrian borne, a very wise, godly, mercifull, and valiant prince. This Leo by proclamation commanded, that all images set vp in Churches to bee worshipped, should bee plucked downe and defaced: and required specially the Bishop of Romethat hee should doe the same, and himselfe in the meane season caused all images that were in the imperiall citie Constantinople, to be gathered on an heape in the middest of the citie, and there publiquely burned them to ashes, and whited ouer, and rased out all pictures painted vpon the walles of the Temples, and punished sharpely diuers maintainers of images. And when some did therefore report him to bee a tyrant, hee answered, that such of all other were most iustly punished, which neither worshipped GOD aright, nor regarded the imperiall Maiestie and authority, but maliciously rebelled against wholsome and profitable lawes. When Gregorius, the third of that name, Bishop of Rome, heard of the Emperours doings in Greece concerning the images, hee assembled a councell of Italian Bishoppes against him, and there made decrees for images, and that more reuerence and honour should yet be giuen to them then was before, and stirred vp the Italians against the Emperour, first at Rauenna, and moued them to rebellion.
Treason and rebellion for the defence of images. And as Vspurgensis and Anthonius Bishoppe of Florence testifie in their Chronicles, he caused Rome and all Italie, at the least to refuse their obedience and the payment of any more tribute to the Emperour: and so by treason and rebellion maintained their idolatry. Which example, other Bishops of Rome haue continually followed, and gone through withall most stoutly.
After this Leo, who raigned xxxiiii. yeeres, succeeded his sonne Constantine the fifth, who after his fathers example, kept images out of the Temples, and being moued with the councell which Gregorie had assembled in Italie for images against his father: he also assembled a councel of all the learned men and Bishops of Asia and Greece, although some writers place this Councell in Leo Isauricus his fathers latter dayes.
A councell against images. In this great assembly they sate in councell from the fourth of & the; Idus of February, to the sixt of the Idus of August, and made concerning the vse of images this decree. It is not lawfull for them that beleeue in GOD through Iesus Christ, to haue any images, neither of the creator, nor of any creatures, set vp in Temples to bee worshipped: but rather & that; all things by the Law of GOD, and for the auoyding of offence, ought to bee taken out of the Churches. And this decree was executed in all places where any images were found in Asia or Greece. And the Emperour sent the determination of this councell holden at Constantinople, to Paul then Bishop of Rome, and commanded him to cast all images out of the Churches: which hee (trusting in the friendship of Pipine a mighty prince) refused to doe. And both hee and his successour Stephanus the third (who assembled another councell in Italie for images) condemned the Emperour and the councell of Constantinople of heresie, and made a decree that the holy images (for so they called them) of Christ the blessed Virgine, and other Saints, were in deede worthy honour and worshipping.
Or Eirene. When Constantine was dead, Leo the fourth his sonne raigned after him, who maried a woman of the citie of Athens, named Theodora, who also was called Irene, by whom hee had a sonne, named Constantine the sixt, and dying whilest his sonne was yet young, left the regiment of the Empire and gouernance of his yong sonne to his wife Irene. These things were done in the Church about the yeere of our Lord 760. Note here I pray you in this processe of the story, that in the Churches of Asia and Greece, there were no images publiquely by the space of almost seuen hundred yeeres. And there is no doubt but the primitiue Church next the Apostles time was most pure. Note also, that when the contention beganne about images, how of sixe Christian Emperours, who were the chiefe Magistrates by GODS law to bee obeyed, only one, which was Theodosius, who raigned but one yeere, held with images. All the other Emperours, and all the learned men and Bishoppes of the East Church, and that in assembled councels condemned them, besides the two Emperours before mentioned, Valence and Theodosius the second, who were long before these times, who straightly forbade that any images should be made. And vniuersally after this time, all the Emperours of Greece (onely Theodosius excepted) destroyed continually all images. Now on the contrary part, note ye, that the Bishoppes of Rome, being no ordinary Magistrates appoynted of GOD, out ot their diocesse, but vsurpers of Princes authority contrary to GODS word, were the maintainers of images against GODS word, and stirrers vp of sedition and rebellion, and workers of continuall treason against their soueraigne Lords, contrary to GODS Law, and the ordinances of all humane lawes, being not onely enemies to GOD, but also rebelles and traitours against their Princes. These bee the first bringers in of images openly into Churches, These bee the mayntayners of them in the Churches, and these bee the meanes whereby they haue mayntayned them: to wit, conspiracie, treason, and rebellion against GOD and their Princes.
Now to proceede in the history, most worthy to bee knowen. In the nonage of Constantine the sixt, the Empresse Irene his mother, in whose handes the regiment of the Empire remained, was gouerned much by the aduise of Theodore Bishoppe, and Tharasius Patriarche of Constantinople, who practised and held with the Bishoppe of Rome in maintaining of images most earnestly. By whose counsell and intreatie, the Empresse first most wickedly digged vp the body of her father in law Constantine the fift, and commanded it to bee openly burned, and the ashes to be throwen into the sea. Which example (as the constant report goeth) had like to haue been put in practise with Princes corses in our dayes, had the authority of the holy father continued but a little longer. The cause why the Empresse Irene thus vsed her father in law, was, for that hee, when hee was aliue, had destroyed images, and had taken away the sumptuous ornaments of Churches, saying that Christ, whose Temples they were, allowed pouerty, and not pearles and pretious stones. Afterward the sayd Irene at the perswasion of Adrian Bishoppe of Rome, and Paul the Patriarch of Constantinople and his successour Tharasius, assembled a councell of the Bishoppes of Asia and Greece, at the Citie Nicea where the Bishop of Romes legates, being presidentes of the councell, and ordering all things as they listed, the councell which were assembled before vnder the Emperour Constantine the fifth, and had decreed that all images should bee destroyed, was condemned as an hereticall councell and assemblie: And a decree was made, that images should bee put vp in all the Churches of Greece, and that honour and worshippe also should bee giuen vnto the said images.
A decree that Images should bee worshipped. And so the Empresse sparing no diligence in setting vp of images, nor cost in decking them in all Churches, made Constantinople within a short time altogether like Rome it selfe. And now you may see that come to passe which Bishoppe Serenus feared, and Gregorie the first forbade in vaine: to wit, that images should in no wise bee worshipped. For now not onely the simple and vnwise (vnto whom images, as the Scriptures teach, bee specially a snare) but the Bishoppes and learned men also, fall to idolatrie by occasion of images, yea and make decrees and lawes for the maintenance of the same. So hard is it, and in deede impossible any long time to haue images publikelie in Churches and Temples without idolatrie, as by the space of little more then one hundred yeeres betwixt Gregory the first, forbidding most straightly the worshipping of images, and Gregory the third, Paul, and Leo the third, Bishoppes of Rome, with this councell commaunding and decreeing that images should bee worshipped, most euidently appeareth.
Now when Constantine the young Emperour came to the age of twentie yeeres, he was dayly in lesse and lesse estimation. For such as were about his mother, perswaded her, that it was GODS determination that she should reigne alone, and not her sonne with her. The ambitious woman beleeuing the same, depriued her sonne of all Imperiall dignitie, and compelled all the men of warre, with their Captaines, to sweare to her that they would not suffer her Sonne Constantine to reigne during her life. With which indignitie the young Prince being mooued, recouered the regiment of the Empire vnto himselfe by force, and being brought vp in true religion in his fathers time, seeing the superstition of his mother Irene, and the Idolatrie committed by images, cast downe, brake, and burned all the idoles and images that his mother had set vp. But within a few yeeres after, Irene the Empresse, taken againe into her sonnes fauour, after shee had perswaded him to put out Nicephorus his vncles eyes, and to cut out the tongues of his foure other vncles, and to forsake his wife, and by such meanes to bring him into hatred with all his subiects; now further to declare that shee was no changeling, but the same woman that had before digged vp and burned her father in lawes body, and that shee would be as naturall a Mother as shee had beene a kinde Daughter, seeing the images, which shee loued so well, and had with so great cost set vp dayly destroyed by her sonne the Emperour, by the helpe of certaine good companions depriued her Sonne of the Empire: And first, like a kinde and louing mother, put out both his eyes, and layd him in prison, where after long and many torments, she at the last most cruelly slew him.
In this historie, ioyned to Eutropius, it is written, that the Sunne was darkened by the space of xvii. dayes most strangely and dreadfully, and that all men sayd, that for the horriblenesse of that cruell and vnnaturall fact of Irene, and the putting out of the Emperours eyes, the Sunne had lost his light. But indeede, GOD would signifie by the darkenesse of the Sunne, into what darkenesse and blindesse of ignorance and idolatrie, Christendome should fall by the occasion of Images. The bright Sunne of his eternall trueth, and light of his holy worde, by the mystes and blacke cloudes of mens traditions being blemished and darkened, as by sundry most terrible earthquakes that happened about the same time, GOD signified, that the quiet estate of true religion, should by such idolatry be most horribly tossed and turmoyled. And here may you see what a gracious and vertuous Lady this Irene was, how louing a neece to her husbands vncles, how kinde a mother in law to her sonnes wife, how louing a daughter to her father in law, how naturall a mother to her owne sonne, and what a stout and valiant Captaine the Bishops of Rome had of her, for the setting vp and maintenance of their idoles or images. Surely, they could not haue found a meeter patrone for the maintenance of such a matter, then this Irene, whose ambition and desire of rule was insatiable, whose treason continually studied and wrought, was most abominable, whose wicked and vnnaturall crueltie passed Medea and Progne, whose detestable paracides haue ministred matter to Poets, to write their horrible tragedies.
And yet certaine Historiographers, who doe put in writing all these her horrible wickednesses, for loue they had to images, which the mainteyned, doe prayse her as a godly Empresse, and as sent from GOD. Such is the blindnesse of false superstition, if it once take possession in a mans minde, that it will both declare the vices of wicked princes, and also commend them. But not long after, the sayd Irene being suspected to the princes and Lords of Greece of treason, in alienating the Empire to Charles king of the Francons, and for practising a secret marriage betweene her selfe and the sayd king, and being conuicted of the same, was by the sayd Lords deposed and depriued againe of the Empire, and caried into exile into the Iland Lesbos, where she ended her lewde life.
Another councell against images. While these tragedies about images were thus working in Greece, the same question of the vse of images in Churches began to bee mooued in Spaine also. And at Eliberi, a notable citie, now called Granate, was a councell of Spanish Bishops and other learned men assembled, and there, after long deliberation and debating of the matter, it was concluded at length by the whole councell, after this sort, in the 36. article.
Doctours of the councell against images. Wee thinke that pictures ought not to bee in Churches, lest that which is honoured or worshipped be painted on walles. And in the xli. Canon of that councel it is thus written: Wee thought good to admonish the faithfull, that as much as in them lieth, they suffer no images to bee in their houses, but if they feare any violence of their seruants, at the lest let them keepe themselues cleane and pure from Images, if they doe not so, let them be accounted as none of the Church. Note here, I pray you, how a whole and great countrey in the West and South parts of Europe, neerer to Rome a greater deale then to Greece in situation of place, doe agree with the Greekes against Images, and doe not onely forbid them in Churches, but also in priuate houses, and doe excommucate them that doe the contrarie.
Yet another councell against images. And an other councell of the learned men of all Spaine also, called Concilium Toletanum Duodecimum, decreed and determined likewise against Images and Image worshippers. But when these decrees of the Spanish councell at Eliberi came to the knowledge of the Bishop of Rome and his adherents, they fearing lest all Germany also would decree against Images, and forsake them, thought to preuent the matter, and by the consent and helpe of the prince of Francons (whose power was then most great in the West parts of the world) assembled a councell of Germanes at Frankford, and there procured the Spanish councell against Images afore mentioned, to bee condemned by the name of the Foelician heresie, (for that Foelix Bishoppe of Aquitania was chiefe in that councell) and obtained that the actes of the second Nicene councell, assembled by Irene (the holy Empresse whom ye heard of before) and the sentence of the Bishop of Rome for images might be receiued. For much after this sort do the Papists report of the history of the councell of Frankford. Notwithstanding the booke of Carolus Magnus his owne writing, as the title sheweth, which is now put in print, and commonly in mens hands, sheweth the iudgement of that Prince, & of the whole councell of Frankford also, to be against Images, and against the second councell of Nice assembled by Irene for Images, and calleth it an arrogant, foolish, and vngodly councell, and declareth the assembly of the councell of Frankford, to haue beene directly made and gathered against that Nicene councell, and the errours of the same. So that it must needs follow, that either there were in one Princes time two councels assembled at Frankford, one contrary to the other, which by no history doth appeare, or els that after their custome, the Popes and Papistes haue most shamefully corrupted the councell, as their maner is to handle, not onely councels, but also all histories and writings of the olde Doctors, falsifying and corrupting them for the maintenance of their wicked and vngodly purposes, as hath in times of late come to light, and doth in our dayes more and more continually appeare most euidently.
The forged gift of Constantine.&c. Let the forged gift of Constantine, and the notable attempt to falsifie the first Nicene councell for the Popes Supremacie, practised by Popes in Saint Augustines time bee a witnesse hereof: which practise in deed had then taken effect, had not the diligence and wisedome of S. Augustine and other learned and godly Bishops in Affrik, by their great labour and charges also, resisted and stopped the same. Now to come towards and end of this history, and to shew you the principall point that came to passe by the maintenance of images.
Nicene councell like to be falsified. Whereas from Constantinus Magnus time, vntill this day, all authority imperiall and princely dominion of the Empire of Rome, remayned continually in the right and possession of the Emperours, who had their continuance and seate Imperiall at Constantinople the Citie royall. Leo the third, then Bishop of Rome, seeing the Greeke Emperours so bent against his gods of golde and siluer, timber and stone, and hauing the king of the Francons or Frenchmen, named Charles, whose power was exceeding great in the West Countreys, very applyable to his minde, for causes hereafter appearing, vnder the pretence that they of Constantinople were for that matter of images vnder the Popes ban and curse, and therefore vnworthy to bee Emperours, or to beare rule, and for that the Emperours of Greece being farre off, were not ready at a becke to defend the Pope against the Lumbardes his enemies, and other with whom hee had variance: this Leo the third, I say, attempted a thing exceeding strange and vnheard of before, and of vncredible boldnesse and presumption: For he by his Papall authoritie doeth translate the gouernement of the Empire, and the crowne and name Imperiall, from the Greekes, and giueth it vnto Charles the great, King of the Francons, not without the consent of the forenamed Irene, Empresse of Greece, who also sought to be ioyned in mariage with the said Charles. For the which cause the said Irene was by the Lords of Greece deposed and banished, as one that had betrayed the Empire, as ye before haue heard.
These things were done about the 803 yeere of our Lord. And the said princes of Greece did, after the depriuation of the said Irene, by common consent, elect and create (as they alwayes had done) an Emperour, named Nicephorus, whom the Bishop of Rome and they of the West would not acknowledge for their Emperour; For they had already created them another: and so there became two Emperours. And the Empire which was before one, was diuided into two parts, vpon occasion of idols and images, and the worshipping of them: euen as the kingdome of the Israelites was in old time for the like cause of idolatrie diuided in King Roboam his time. And so the Bishop of Rome, hauing the fauour of Charles the great by this meanes assured to him, was wondrously enhanced in power and authority, and did in all the West Church (especially in Italy) what he lust, where images were set vp, garnished, and worshipped of all sorts of men.
Or, Stauratius. But Images were not to fast set vp, and so much honoured in Italie and the West: but Nicephorus Emperour of Constantinople, and his successours Scauratius, the two Michaels, Leo, Theophilus, and other Emperours their successours in the Empire of Greece, continually pulled them downe, brake them, burned them, and destroyed them as fast. And when Theodorus Emperour, would at the Councell of Lions haue agreed with the Bishop of Rome, and haue set vp images: he was by the Nobles of the Empire of Greece depriued, and another chosen in his place, and so rose a ielousie, suspicion, grudge, hatred, and enmity betweene the Christians and Empires of the East countries and West, which could neuer be quenched nor pacified. So that when the Saracens first, and afterward the Turkes, inuaded the Christians, the one part of Christendome would not helpe the other. By reason whereof at the last, the noble Empire of Greece, and the city imperiall Constantinople, was lost, and is come into the hands of the Infidels, who now haue ouerrunne almost all Christendome, and possessing past the middle of Hungary, which is part of the West Empire, doe hang ouer all our heads, to the vtter danger of all Christendome.
Thus wee see what a sea of mischiefes the maintenance of Images hath brought with it, what an horrible Schisme betweene the East and the West Church, what an hatred betweene one Christian and another, Councels against Councels, Church against Church, Christians against Christians, Princes against Princes, rebellions, treasons, vnnaturall and most cruell murders, the daughter digging vp & burning her father the Emperours body, the mother for loue of idols most abominably murdering her owne sonne, being an Emperour, at the last, the tearing in sunder of Christendome and the Empire into two pieces, till the Infidels, Saracens, and Turkes, common enemies to both parts, haue most cruelly vanquished, destroyed and subdued the one part, the whole Empire of Greece, Asia the lesse, Thracia, Macedonia, Epirus, and many other great and goodly countreyes and Prouinces, and haue wonne a great piece of the other Empire, and put the whole in dreadfull feare and most horrible danger. For it is not without a iust and great cause to bee dread, left as the Empire of Rome was euen for the like cause of Images and the worshipping of them torne in pieces and diuided, as was for Idolatrie the kingdome of Israel in old time diuided: so like punishment, as for the like offence fell vpon the Iewes, will also light vpon vs: that is, left the cruell tyrant and enemy of our common wealth and Religion the Turke, by GODS iust vengeance, in likewise partly murder, and partly leade away into captiuity vs Christians, as did the Assyrian and Babylonian Kings murder and leade away the Israelites, and left the Empire of Rome and Christian Religion be so vtterly brought vnder foot, as was then the kingdome of Israel and true Religion of GOD, whereunto the matter already (as I haue declared) shrewdly enclineth on our part, the greater part of Christendome within lesse then three hundred yeers space, being brought into captiuity and most miserable thraldome vnder the Turke, and the noble Empire of Greece cleane euerted. Whereas if the Christians, deuided by these Image matters, had holden together, no Infidels and miscreants could thus haue preuayled against Christendome. And all this mischiefe and misery, which we haue hitherto fallen into doe we owe to our mighty gods of gold and siluer, stocke and stone, in whose helpe and defence (where they can not helpe themselues) wee haue trusted so long, vntill our enemies the Infidels haue ouercome and ouerrunne vs almost altogether. A iust reward for those that haue left the mighty liuing GOD, the Lord of hosts, and haue stooped and giuen the honour due to him, to deade blockes and stockes, who haue eyes and see not, feet and cannot goe, and so foorth, and are cursed of GOD, and all they that make them, and put their trust in them. Thus you vnderstand (welbeloued in our Sauiour Christ ) by the iudgement of the old learned and godly Doctours of the Church, and by ancient histories Ecclesiasticall, agreeing to the verity of GODS word, alleaged out of the old Testament and the new, that Images and Image worshipping were in the Primitiue Church (which was most pure and vncorrupt) abhorred and detested, as abominable and contrary to true Christian Religion. And that when Images began to creepe into the Church, they were not onely spoken and written against by godly and learned Bishops, Doctours, and Clarkes, but also condemned by whole Councels of Bishops and learned men assembled together, yea, the sayd Images by many Christian Emperours and Bishops were defaced, broken, and destroyed, and that aboue seuen hundred and eight hundred yeers agoe, and that therefore it is not of late dayes (as some would beare you in hand) that images and image worshipping haue beene spoken and written against. Finally, you haue heard what mischiefe and misery hath by the occasion of the said Images fallen vpon whole Christendome, besides the losse of infinite soules, which is most horrible of all. Wherefore let vs beseech GOD, that we, being warned by his holy word, forbidding all Idolatry, and by the writing of old godly Doctours and Ecclesiasticall histories written, and preserued by GODS ordinance for our admonition and warning, may flee from all Idolatry, and so escape the horrible punishment and plagues, aswell worldly, as euerlasting, threatned for the same, which GOD our heauenly Father graunt vs, for our onely Sauiour and Mediator Iesus Christs sake. Amen.
The third part of the Homilie against Images, and the worshipping of them, conteyning the confutation of the principall arguments which are vsed to bee made for the maintenance of Images. Which part may serue to instruct the Curates themselues, or men of good vnderstanding.
NOW ye haue heard how plainely, how vehemently, and that in many places, the word of GOD speaketh against not onely idolatrie and worshipping of images, but also against idols and images themselues: (I meane alwaies thus heerein, in that we be stirred and prouoked by them to worship them, and not as though they were simply forbidden by the New Testament, without such occasion and danger.) And ye haue heard likewise out of histories Ecclesiasticall, the beginning, proceeding, and successe of idolatrie by images, and the great contention in the Church of Christ about them: to the great trouble and decay of Christendome: and withall ye haue heard the sentences of old ancient Fathers and godly learned Doctours and Bishops, against images and idolatry, taken out of their owne writings. It remayneth, that such reasons as be made for the maintenance of images, and excessiue painting, gilding and decking, aswell of them, as of the Temples or Churches, also be answered and confuted, partly by application of some places before alleadged, to their reasons, and partly, by otherwise answering the same. Which part hath the last place in this Treatise, for that it cannot be well vnderstood of the meaner sort, nor the arguments of image maintayners, can without prolixitie too much tedious, bee answered without the knowledge of the Treatise going before. And although diuers things before mentioned, bee heere rehearsed againe: yet this repetition is not superfluous, but in a maner necessary, for that the simple sort cannot else vnderstand how the foresayd places are to be applied to the arguments of such as doe maintaine images, wherewith otherwise they might be abused.
First, it is alleadged by them that maintaine images, that all lawes, prohibitions, and curses, noted by vs out of the holy Scripture, and sentences of the Doctours also by vs alleadged, against images and the worshipping of them, appertaine to the idols of the Gentiles or Pagans, as the idoll of Iupiter, Mars, Mercury, etc. and not to our images of GOD, of Christ, and his Saints. But it shall be declared both by GODS word, and the sentences of the ancient Doctours, and iudgement of the Primitiue Church, that all images, aswell ours, as the idoles of the Gentiles, be forbidden and vnlawfull, namely in Churches and Temples. And first this is to be replied out of GODS word, that the images of GOD the Father, the Sonne, and the holy Ghost, either seuerally, or the images of the Trinitie, which we had in euery Church, be by the Scriptures expressely and directly forbidden, and condemned, as appeareth by these places: The Lord spake vnto you out of the middle of fire, you heard the voyce or sound of his wordes, but you did see no forme or shape at all, lest peraduenture you being deceiued, should make to your selfe any grauen image or likenesse (Deuteronomy 4.12, 16): and so foorth, as is at large rehearsed in the first part of this treatise against images. And therefore in the old Law, the middle of the propitiatorie, which presented GODS seate, was emptie, lest any should take occasion to make any similitude or likenesse of him. Esaias, after he hath set forth the incomprehensible Maiestie of GOD, he asketh, to whom then will ye make GOD like? or what similitude will yee set vp vnto him? Shall the caruer make him a carued image? and shall the goldsmith couer him with golde, or cast him into a forme of siluer plates (Isaiah 40.18-20)? And for the poore man, shall the image maker frame an image of timber, that hee may haue somewhat to set vp also? And after this hee cryeth out: O wretches, heard yee neuer of this? Hath it not beene preached to you since the beginning, how by the creation of the world, and the greatnesse of the worke, they might vnderstand the Maiestie of GOD, the maker and creatour of all, to bee greater then that it could bee expressed or set foorth in any image or bodily similitude? Thus farre the Prophet Esaias, who from the xliiii. Chapter, to the xlix. intreateth in a maner of no other thing. And S. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles euidently teacheth the same, that no similitude can be made vnto GOD, in gold, siluer, stone or any other matter (Acts 17.29). By these and many other places of Scripture it is euident, that no image either ought or can be made vnto GOD. For how can GOD, a most pure spirit, whom man neuer saw, be expressed by a grosse, bodily, and visible similitude? How can the infinite Maiestie and greatnesse of GOD, incomprehensible to mans minde, much more not able to be compassed with the sense, be expressed in a small and little image? How can a dead and dumbe image expresse the liuing GOD? What can an image, which when it is fallen, cannot rise vp againe, which can neither helpe his friends, nor hurt his enemies, expresse of the most puissant and mighty GOD, who alone is able to reward his friends, and to destroy his enemies euerlastingly? A man might iustly cry with the Prophet Habacuc, Shall such Images instruct or teach any thing right of GOD? or shall they become doctours? Wherefore men that haue made an image of GOD, whereby to honour him, haue thereby dishonoured him most highly, diminished his Maiestie, blemished his glory, and falsified his trueth (Habakkuk 2.18). And therefore S. Paul sayth, that such as haue framed any similitude or Image of GOD like a mortall man, or any other likenesse, in timber, stone, or other matter, haue changed his trueth into a lie (Romans 1.25). For both they thought it to bee no longer that which it was, a stocke or a stone, and tooke it to be that which it was not, as GOD, or an image of GOD. Wherefore an image of GOD, is not onely a lie, but a double lie also. But the deuill is a lier, and the father of lyes: wherefore the lying Images which bee made of GOD, to his great dishonour, and horrible danger of his people, came from the deuill (John 8.44).
Wherefore they be conuict of foolishnesse and wickednesse in making of images of GOD, or the Trinitie: for that no image of GOD ought or can bee made, as by the Scriptures and good reason euidently appeareth: yea, and once to desire an image of GOD commeth of infidelitie, thinking not GOD to bee present, except they might see some signe or image of him, as appeareth by the Hebrewes in the wildernesse willing Aaron to make them gods whom they might see goe before them. Where they obiect, that seeing in Esaias and Daniel bee certaine descriptions of GOD, as sitting on a high seate, etc. Why may not a painter likewise set him forth in colours to be seene, as it were a Iudge sitting in a throne, aswell as he is described in writing by the Prophets, seeing that Scripture or writing, and picture, differ but a little? First, it is to be answered, that things forbidden by GODS word, as painting of images of GOD, and things permitted of GOD, as such descriptions vsed of the Prophets, be not all one: neither ought, nor can mans reason (although it shew neuer so goodly) preuaile any thing against GODS expresse worde, and plaine statute Law, as I may well terme it. Furthermore, the Scripture although it haue certaine descriptions of GOD, yet if you reade on forth, it expoundeth it selfe, declaring that GOD is a pure spirit, infinite, who replenisheth heauen and earth, which the picture doeth not, nor expoundeth it selfe, but rather when it hath set GOD foorth in a bodily similitude, leaueth a man there, and will easily bring one into the heresie of the Anthropomorphites, thinking GOD to haue hands and feete, and to sit as a man doeth. which they that doe (saith S. Augustine in his booke de fide & symbolo cap.7.) fall into that sacriledge which the Apostle detesteth, in those, who haue changed the glory of the incorruptible GOD, into the similitude of a corruptible man. For it is wickednesse for a Christian to erect such an image to GOD in a Temple, and much more wickednes to erect such a one in his heart by beleeuing of it. But to this they reply, that this reason notwithstanding, Images of Christ may be made, for that he tooke vpon him flesh, and became man. It were well that they would first graunt, that they haue hitherto done most wickedly in making and mayntayning of Images of GOD, and of the Trinitie in euery place, whereof they are by force of GODS word and good reason conuicted: and then to descend to the triall for other images.
Now concerning their obiection, that an Image of Christ may bee made, the answer is easie. For in GODS word and religion, it is not only required whether a thing may be done or no: but also, whether it be lawfull and agreeable to GODS word to bee done, or no. For all wickednesse may be and is dayly done, which yet ought not to be done. And the words of the reasons aboue alleaged out of the Scriptures are, that Images neither ought, nor can be made vnto GOD. Wherefore to replie that Images of Christ may bee made, except withall it bee prooued, that it is lawfull for them to be made, is, rather then to hold ones peace, to say somewhat, but nothing to the purpose. And yet it appeareth that no Image can be made of Christ, but a lying image (as the Scripture peculiarly calleth Images lies) for Christ is GOD and man. Seeing therefore that for the Godhead, which is the most excellent part, no Images can be made, it is falsly called the image of Christ (Romans 1.23). Wherefore images of Christ be not onely defects, but also lies. Which reason serueth also for the Images of Saints, whose soules, the most excellent partes of them, can by no Images be presented and expressed. Wherefore, they bee no Images of Saints, whose soules reigne in ioy with GOD, but of the bodies of Saints, which as yet lie putrified in the graues. Furthermore, no true image can be made of Christs body, for it is vnknowen now of what forme and countenance he was. And there bee in Greece and at Rome, and in other places, diuers Images of Christ, and none of them like to other, and yet euery of them affirmeth, that theirs is the true and liuely image of Christ, which cannot possible be. Wherefore, as soon as an image of Christ is made, by and by is a lie made of him, which by GODS word is forbidden. Which also is true of the images of any Saints of antiquity, for that it is vnknowen of what forme and countenance they were. Wherefore seeing that Religion ought to be grounded vpon trueth, Images which cannot be without lies, ought not to bee made, or put to any vse of Religion, or to bee placed in Churches and Temples, places peculiarly appointed to true Religion and seruice of GOD. And thus much, that no true image of GOD, our Sauiour Christ, or his Saints can be made: wherewithall is also confuted that their allegation, that Images be the Lay mens bookes. For it is euident by that which is afore rehearsed, that they teach no things of GOD, or our Sauiour Christ, and of his Saints, but lies and errours. Wherefore either they be no bookes, or if they be, they be false and lying bookes, the teachers of all errour.
And now if it should be admitted and granted, that an image of Christ could truely bee made, yet it is vnlawfull that it should bee made, yea, or that the Image of any Saint should bee made, specially to bee set vp in Temples, to the great and vnauoydable danger of Idolatry, as heereafter shall be prooued. And first concerning the Image of Christ ; that though it might be had truely, yet it were vnlawfull to haue it in Churches publikely, is a notable place in Ireneus, who reprooued the Heretikes called Gnostici, for that they carried about the Image of Christ, made truely after his owne proportion in Pilates time (as they sayd) and therefore more to be esteemed, then those lying Images of him which we now haue (Irenaeus, Bk. 1, Chap. 24). The which Gnostici also vsed to set garlands vpon the head of the sayd Image, to shew their affection to it. But to goe to GODS word. Bee not, I pray you, the wordes of the Scripture plaine? Beware lest thou being deceiued, make to thy selfe (to say, to any vse of Religion) any grauen Image, or any similitude of any thing, etc (Leviticus 26.1, Deuteronomy 5.8, Sculptile, ed. note: original text also refers to Fusile and Similitudo). And cursed bee the man that maketh a grauen or molten Image, abomination before the Lord, etc (Deuteronomy 27.15). Be not our Images such? Be not our Images of Christ and his Saints, either carued or molten, or cast, or similitudes of men and women? It is happy that we haue not followed the Gentiles in making of Images of beasts, fishes, and vermines also. Notwithstanding, the Image of an Horse, as also the Image of the Asse that Christ rode on, haue in diuers places beene brought into the Church and Temple of GOD. And is not that which is written in the beginning of the Lords most holy Law, and dayly read vnto you, most euident also? Thou shalt not make any likenesse of any thing in heauen aboue, in earth beneath, or in the water vnder the earth, etc. Could any more bee forbidden, and sayd, then this? either of the kindes of Images, which bee either carued, molten or otherwise similitudes? or of things whereof images are forbidden to be made? Are not all things either in heauen, earth, or water vnder the earth (Exodus 20.4)? And be not our Images of Christ and his Saints, likenesses of things in heauen, earth, or in the water? If they continue in their former answer, that these prohibitions concerne the idols of the Gentiles, and not our Images: First that answer is already confuted, concerning the Images of GOD and the Trinity at large, & concerning the Images of Christ also, by Ireneus. And that the Law of GOD is likewise to bee vnderstood against all our Images, as well of Christ, as his Saints, in Temples and Churches, appeareth further by the iudgement of the old Doctours, and the Primitiue Church. Epiphanius renting a painted cloth, wherein was the picture of Christ, or of some Saint, affirming it to bee against our Religion, that any such image should be had in the Temple or Church (as is before at large declared) iudged that not onely idols of the Gentiles, but that all Images of Christ and his Saints also, were forbidden by GODS word and our Religion. Lactantius affirming it to bee certaine that no true Religion can be where any Image or picture is (as is before declared) iudged, that aswell all Images and pictures, as the idols of the Gentiles were forbidden, else would he not so generally haue spoken and pronounced of them. And Saint Augustine (as is before alleaged) greatly alloweth M. Varro, affirming that Religion is most pure without Images: and sayth himselfe, Images be of more force to crooke an vnhappy soule, then to teach and instruct it (Augustine, De Civit. Dei, Bk. 4, Chap. 3, Psalms 36, 113). And hee sayth further, Euery childe, yea euery beast knoweth that it is not GOD that they see. Wherefore then doeth the holy Ghost so often monish vs of that which all men know? Whereunto Saint Augustine answereth thus. For (sayth he) when Images are placed in Temples, and set in honourable sublimity, and begin once to be worshipped, foorthwith breedeth the most vile affection of errour. This is Saint Augustines iudgement of Images in Churches, that by and by they breed errour and Idolatrie. The Christian Emperours, the learned Bishops, all the learned men of Asia, Greece, and Spaine, assembled in Councels at Constantinople and in Spaine, seuen and eight hundred yeeres agoe and more, condemning and destroying all Images, aswell of Christ, as of the Saints, set vp by the Christians (as is before at large declared) testifie, that they vnderstood GODS word so, that it forbad our Images, aswell as the idols of the Gentiles. And as it is written, Sap.14. that images were not from the beginning, neither shall they continue to the end (Apocrypha. Wisdom 14.13): so were they not in the beginning in the Primitiue Church, GOD grant they may in the end bee destroyed. For all Christians in the Primitiue Church, as Origen against Celsus (Origen, `Against Celsus', bks. 4, 8), Cyprian also and Arnobius doe testifie (Cyprian `Against Demetrium'), were sore charged and complayned on, that they had no Altars nor Images. Wherefore did they not (I pray you) conforme themselues to the Gentiles in making of Images, but for lacke of them sustayned their heauy displeasure, if they had taken it to bee lawfull by GODS word to haue Images? It is euident therefore that they tooke all Images to bee vnlawfull in the Church or Temple of GOD, and therefore had none (though the Gentiles there fore were most highly displeased) following this rule, Wee must obey GOD rather then men (Acts 5.29). And Zephirus in his notes vpon the Apologie of S. Ierome, gathereth, that all his vehement perswasion should bee but cold, except we know this once for all, that Christian men in his time did most hate Images, with their ornaments. And Iren'us (as is aboue declared) reprooueth the Heretikes called Gnostici, for that they carried about the image of Christ . And therefore the Primitiue Church, which is specially to be followed as most incorrupt and pure, had publikely in Churches neither idols of the Gentiles, nor any other Images, as things directly forbidden by GODS worde. And thus it is declared by GODS word, the sentences of the Doctours, and the iudgement of the Primitiue Church, which was most pure and syncere, that all Images, aswell ours, as the Idols of the Gentiles, bee by GODS word forbidden, and therefore vnlawfull, specially in Temples and Churches.
Now if they (as their custome is) flee to this answere, that GODS word forbiddeth not absolutely all Images to bee made, but that they should not bee made to bee worshipped, and that therefore wee may haue Images, so wee worship them not, for that they bee things indifferent, which may bee abused, or well vsed. Which seemeth also to be the iudgement of Damascene and Gregorie the first, as is aboue declared (Damascene, `De Fide Orth.', bk. 4, chap. 17, Gregory I, `Epistle to Serenum Massil.'). And this is one of their chiefe allegations for the maintenance of Images, which haue beene alleaged since Gregorie the first his time.
Well, then we bee come to their second allegation, which in part we would not sticke to grant them. For wee are not so superstitious or scrupulous, that wee doe abhorre either flowers wrought in carpets, hanginges, and other arasse, either Images of Princes printed or stamped in their coynes, which when Christ did see in a Romane Coyne, we reade not that hee reprehended it, neither doe wee condemne the artes of paynting and image making, as wicked of themselues. But we would admit and graunt them, that Images vsed for no religion, or superstition rather, we meane Images of none worshipped, nor in danger to bee worshipped of any, may be suffered. But Images placed publikely in Temples, cannot possibly bee without danger of worshipping and idolatrie, wherefore they are not publiquely to bee had or suffered in Temples and Churches. The Iewes, to whom this Law was first giuen (and yet being a morrall commandement, and not ceremoniall, as all Doctours interpret it, bindeth vs aswell as them) the Iewes I say, who should haue the true sense and meaning of GODS Law so peculiarly giuen vnto them, neither had in the beginning any Images publiquely in their Temple (as Origenes and Iosephus at large declareth, Origen `Against Celsus', bk. 4, Josephus, `Antiq.', bk. 17, chap. 8, bk. 18, chaps. 5, 15) neither after the restitution of the Temple, would by any meanes consent to Herode, Pilate or Petronius, that Images should bee placed onely in the Temple at Hierusalem, although no worshipping of Images was required at their hands: but rather offered themselues to the death, than to assent that Images should once bee placed in the Temple of GOD, neither would they suffer any Image-maker among them. And Origen added this cause, lest their mindes should bee plucked from GOD, to the contemplation of earthly things. And they are much commended for this earnest zeale, in maintaining of GODS honour and true religion. And trueth it is, that the Iewes and Turkes, who abhorre Images and Idoles as directly forbidden by GODS word, will neuer come to the trueth of our religion, whiles the stumbling blockes of Images remaine amongst vs, and lie in their way. If they obiect yet the brasen serpent which Moses did set vp, or the Images of the Cherubims, or any other Images which the Iewes had in their Temple, the answere is easie. Wee must in religion obey GODS generall Law, which bindeth all men, and not follow examples of particular dispensation, which bee no warrants for vs: els wee may by the same reason resume circumcision and sacrificing of beastes, and other rites permitted to the Iewes. Neither canne those Images of Cherubim, set in secret where no man might come nor behold, bee any example for our publique setting vp of Images in Churches and Temples. But to let the Iewes goe. Where they say that Images, so they be not worshipped, as things indifferent may bee tolerable in Temples and Churches: Wee inferre and say for the aduersatiue, that all our Images of GOD, our Sauiour Christ, and his Saints, publiquely set vp in Temples and Churches, places peculiarly appointed to the true worshipping of GOD, bee not things indifferent, nor tolerable: but against GODS Lawe and Commandement, taking their owne interpretation and exposition of it. First, for that all Images, so set vp publiquely, haue beene worshipped of the vnlearned and simple sort shortly after they haue beene publiquely so set vp, and in conclusion, of the wise and learned also. Secondly, for that they are worshipped in sundry places now in our time also. And thirdly, for that it is impossible that Images of GOD, Christ, or his Saints can be suffered (especially in Temples and Churches) any while or space, without worshipping of them: and that idolatry, which is most abominable before GOD, cannot possibly bee escaped and auoyded, without the abolishing and destruction of Images and pictures in Temples and Churches, for that idolatrie is to Images, specially in Temples and Churches, an inseparable accident (as they terme it) so that Images in Churches, and idolatrie, go alwayes both together, and that therefore the one cannot bee auoyded, except the other (specially in all publike places) bee destroyed. Wherefore, to make Images, and publikely to set them vp in the Temples and Churches, places appointed peculiarly to the seruice of GOD, is to make Images to the vse of religion, and not onely against this precept, Thou shalt make no maner of Images: but against this also, Thou shalt not bowe downe to them, nor worship them. For they being set vp, haue beene, bee, and euer will bee worshipped. And the full proofe of that which in the begining of the first part of this treatie was touched, is here to bee made and perfourmed: To wit, that our Images, and idoles of the Gentiles bee all one, aswell in the things themselues, as also in that our Images haue beene before, bee now, and euer will bee worshipped, in like fourme and maner, as the idoles of the Gentiles were worshipped, so long as they be suffered in Churches and Tempels. Whereupon it followeth, that our Images in Churches haue bene, be, and euer will be none other but abominable Idols, and bee therefore no things indifferent.
Simulachra gentium Argentum & aurum. Fusile. Similitudo, Sculptilo. Similachrum opera mannum hominum. And euery of these parts shall bee prooued in order, as hereafter followeth. And first, that our Images and the idols of the Gentiles bee all one concerning themselues, is most euident, the matter of them being gold, siluer, or other mettall, stone, wood, clay, or plaster, as were the idoles of the Gentiles, and so being either moulten or cast, either carued, grauen, hewen, or other wise formed and fashioned after the similitude and likenesse of man or woman, be dead and dumbe works of mans handes, hauing mouths and speake not, eyes and see not, handes and feele not, feete and goe not, and so aswell in forme as matter, bee altogether like the idoles of the Gentiles. Insomuch that all the titles which bee giuen to the idoles in the Scriptures, may bee verified of our Images. Wherefore, no doubt but the like curses which are mentioned in the Scriptures, will light vpon the makers and worshippers of them both. Secondly, that they haue beene and bee worshipped in our time, in like forme and manner as were the idoles of the Gentiles, is now to bee prooued.
Dii tutelares (ed. note: image maintainers?). And for that idolatrie standeth chiefely in the minde, it shall in this part first bee prooued, that our Image maintainers haue had, and haue the same opinions and iudgement of Saints, whose Images they haue made and worshipped, as Gentiles idolaters had of their Gods. And afterwards shall be declared, that our Image-maintainers and worshippers, haue vsed, and vse the same outward rites and maner of honouring and worshipping their Images, as the Gentiles did vse before their idoles, and that therefore they commit idolatrie, aswell inwardly and outwardly, as did the wicked Gentiles idolaters.
And concerning the first part of the idolatrous opinions of our Image maintainers. What I pray you bee such Saints with vs, to whom wee attribute the defence of certaine countreys, spoyling GOD of his due honour herein, but Dii tutelares of the Gentiles idolaters? Such as were Belus to the Babilonians and Assyrians, Osiris and Isis to the Egyptians: Vulcane to the Lemnians, and to such other.
Dii praesides (ed. note: image rulers/judges?, perhaps in this context, images considered rulers of a locale). What bee such Saints to whom the sauegard of certaine cities are appointed, but Dii Pr'sides, with the Gentiles idolaters? Such as were at Delphos Apollo, at Athens Minerua, at Carthage Iuno, at Rome Quirinus. & c.
Dij patroni. What be such Saints, to whom, contrary to the vse of the Primitiue Church, Temples and Churches bee builded, and Altars erected, but Dij Patroni, of the Gentiles idolaters? Such as were in the Capitoll Iupiter, in Paphus Temple Venus, in Ephesus Temple Diana, and such like. Alas, wee seeme in thus thinking and doing to haue learned our religion not out of GODS word, but out of the Pagan Poets, who say, Excessere omnes adytis, arisque relictis, Dij quibus imperiu hoc steterat. & c. That is to say, All the gods by whose defence this Empire stood, are gone out of the Temples, and haue forsaken their Altars. And where one Saint hath Images in diuers places, the same saint hath diuers names thereof, most like to the Gentiles. When you heare of our Lady of Walsingham, our Lady of Ipswich, our Lady of Wilsdon, and such other: what is it but an imitation of the Gentiles idolaters? Diana Agrotera, Diana Coriphea, Diana Ephesia. & c. Venus Cypria, Venus Paphia, Venus Gnidia. Whereby is euidently meant, that the Saint for the Image sake, should in those places, yea, in the Images themselues, haue a dwelling, which is the ground of their idolatrie. For where no Images bee, they haue no such meanes. Terentius Varro sheweth, that there were three hundred Iupiters in his time, there were no fewer Veneres and Dian', wee had no fewer Christophers, Ladies, and Marie Magdalenes, and other Saints. Oenomaus, and Hesiodus shew, that in their time there were thirtie thousand gods. I thinke wee had no fewer Saints, to whom wee gaue the honour due to GOD. And they haue not onely spoyled the true liuing GOD of his due honour, in Temples, Cities, Countreys, and lands, by such deuises and inuentions as the Gentiles idolaters haue done before them: but the Sea and waters haue aswell speciall Saints with them, as they had gods with the Gentiles, Neptune, Triton, Nereus, Castor, and Pollux, Venus, and such other. In whose places bee come Saint Christopher, Saint Clement, and diuers other, and specially our Lady, to whom shipmen sing Aue maris stella. Neither hath the fire scaped the idolatrous inuentions. For in stead of Vulcan and Vesta, the Gentiles gods of the fire, our men haue placed Saint Agatha, and make letters on her day for to quench fire with. Euery Artificer and profession hath his special Saint, as a peculiar god. As for example, Schollers haue Saint Nicholas and Saint Gregory, Painters Saint Luke, neither lacke souldiers their Mars, nor louers their Venus, amongst Christians. All diseases haue their speciall Saints, as gods the curers of them. The pockes Saint Roche, the falling euil Saint Cornelis, the tooth ache Saint Appolin, & c. Neither doe beastes and cattell lacke their gods with vs, for Saint Loy is the horseleach, and Saint Anthony the swineherd. &c. Where is GODS prouidence and due honour in the meane season? who sayth, The heauens be mine, and the earth is mine, the whole world and all that in it is, I doe giue victorie, and I put to flight, of mee bee all counsels and helpe.&c. Except I keepe the citie, in vaine doeth he watch that keepeth it, thou Lord shalt saue both men and beastes. But we haue left him neither heauen, nor earth, nor water, nor countrey, nor citie, peace nor warre to rule and gouerne, neither men, nor beastes, nor their diseases to cure, that a godly man might iustly for zealous indignation cry out, O heauen, O earth, and seas, what madnesse and wickednesse against GOD are men fallen into? What dishonour doe the creatures to their Creator and maker? And if we remember GOD sometime, yet because wee doubt of his abilitie or will to helpe, wee ioyne to him another helper, as hee were a nowne adiectiue, vsing these sayings: such as learne, GOD and Saint Nicholas be my speede: such as neese, GOD helpe and Saint Iohn: to the horse, GOD and Saint Loy saue thee. Thus are wee become like horses and Mules, which haue no vnderstanding. For, is there not one GOD onely, who by his power and wisedome made all things, and by his prouidence gouerneth the same? and by his goodnesse mainteineth and saueth them? Bee not all things of him, by him, and through him? Why doest thou turne from the Creatour to the creatures? This is the manner of the Gentiles idolaters: but thou art a Christian, and therefore by Christ alone hast accesse to GOD the Father, and helpe of him onely. These things are not written to any reproch of the Saints themselues, who were the true seruants of GOD, and did giue all honour to him, taking none vnto themselues, and are blessed soules with GOD: but against our foolishnesse and wickednes, making of the true seruants of GOD, false gods, by attributing to them the power and honour which is GODS, and due to him onely. And for that wee haue such opinions of the power and ready helpe of Saints, all our Legends, Hymnes, Sequenses, and Masses, did conteine Stories, Laudes, and Prayses of them, and prayers to them: yea, and Sermons also altogether of them, and to their prayses, GODS word being cleane laid aside. And this wee doe altogether agreeable to the Saints, as did the Gentiles idolaters to their false gods. For these opinions which men haue had of mortall persons, were they neuer so holy, the old most godly & learned Christians haue written against the fained gods of the Gentiles, and Christian Princes haue destroyed their images, who if they were now liuing, would doubtlesse likewise both write against our false opinions of Saints, and also destroy their images. For it is euident, that our Image-mainteiners, haue the same opinion of Saintes, which the Gentiles had of their false gods, and thereby are mooued to make them images as the Gentiles did.
Medioximi Dij. If answere bee made, that they make Saints but intercessours to GOD, and meanes for such things as they would obteine of GOD: that is euen after the Gentiles idolatrous vsage, to make them of Saints, Gods, called Dij Medioximi, to be meane intercessours and helpers to GOD, as though he did not heare, or should bee weary if hee did all alone. So did the Gentiles teach, that there was one chiefe power working by other, as meanes, and so they made all gods subiect to fate or destinie: as Lucian in his dialogues faineth that Neptune made suite to Mercurie, that hee might speake with Iupiter. And therefore in this also, it is most euident that our Image mainteiners be all one in opinion with the Gentiles idolaters.
Now remaineth the third part, that their rites and ceremonies in honouring and worshipping of the Images or Saints bee all one with the rites which the Gentiles idolaters vsed in honouring their idoles. First, what meaneth it, that Christians, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, goe on pilgrimage to visite Images, where they haue the like at home, but that they haue a more opinion of holinesse and vertue in some Images, then other some, like as the Gentiles idolaters had? which is the readiest way to bring them to idolatry by worshipping of them, and directly against GODS word, who saith, Seeke mee, and yee shall liue, and doe not seeke Bethel, enter not into Gilgal, neither goe to Bersheba (Amos 5.4-5). And against such as had any superstition in holinesse of the place, as though they should bee heard for the places sake, saying, Our fathers worshipped in this mountaine, and yee say, that at Hierusalem is the place where men should worshippe, our Sauiour Christ pronounceth, Beleeue mee, the houre commeth when you shall worship the father neither in this mountaine, nor at Hierusalem, but true worshippers shall worshippe the father in spirit and trueth (John 4.20-21). But it is too well knowen, that by such pilgrimage going, Lady Venus and her sonne Cupide, were rather worshipped wantonly in the fleshe, then God the Father and our Sauiour Christ his Sonne truely worshipped in the spirit.
And it was very agreeable (as Saint Paul teacheth) that they which fell to Idolatry, which is spirituall fornication, should also fall into carnall fornication, and all vncleannesse, by the iust iudgements of GOD, deliuering them ouer to abominable concupiscenses (Romans 1.24).
What meaneth it that Christian men, after the vse of the Gentiles Idolaters kneele before Images? which if they had any sense and gratitude, would kneele before men, Carpenters, Masons, Plasterers, Founders, and Goldsmithes, their makers and framers, by whose meanes they haue attained this honour, which else should haue beene euilfauoured and rude lumpes of clay, or plaster, pieces of timber, stone, or mettall. without shape or fashion, and so without all estimation and honour, as that Idole in the Pagane Poete confesseth (Horatius.), saying, I was once a vile blocke, but now I am become a GOD, etc.
Adorare, Genesis 23.7, 12 and 33.3, 7, 9, 10. What a fonde thing is it for man, who hath life and reason, to bow himselfe to a dead and vnsensible Image, the worke of his owne hand? is not this stouping and kneeling before them, adoration of them, which is forbidden so earnestly by GODS word? Let such as so fall downe before Images of Saintes, know and confesse that they exhibite that honour to dead stocks and stones, which the Saintes themselues, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas would not to be giuen them being aliue (Acts 10.25, 14.14): which the Angel of GOD forbiddeth to be giuen to him (Revelations 19.10). And if they say, they exhibite such honour not to the Image, but to the Saint whom it representeth, they are conuicted of folly, to beleeue that they please Saints with that honour, which they abhorre as a spoile of GODS honour: for they bee no changelings: but now both hauing greater vnderstanding, and more feruent loue of GOD, do more abhorre to depriue him of his due honor: & being now like vnto the Angels of GOD, do with angels flee to take vnto them by sacriledge the honour due to GOD, And herewithall is confuted their lewde distinction of Latria & Dulia, where it is euident, that the Saints of GOD can not abide, that as much as any outward worshipping bee done or exhibited to them. But Satan, GODS enemie, desiring to robbe GOD of his honor, desireth exceedingly that such honour might bee giuen to him (Matthew 4.9). Wherefore those which giue the honour due to the creator, to any creature, doe seruice acceptable to no Saintes, who bee the friends of GOD, but vnto Satan, GOD and mans mortall and sworne enemie. And to attribute such desire of diuine honour to Saintes, is to blot them with a most odious and diuelish ignominie and villanie, and in deede of Saintes, to make them Satans and very deuils, whose propertie is to challenge to themselues the honour which is due to GOD onely. And furthermore, in that they say that they doe not worship the Images, as the Gentiles did their Idoles, but GOD and the Saints whom the Images doe represent, and therefore that their doings before Images, be not like the Idolatrie of the Gentiles before their Idoles, Saint Augustine, Lactantius, and Clemens, doe prooue euidently, that by this their answere, they be al one with the Gentiles Idolaters. The Gentiles (saith S. Augustine) which seeme to be of the purer religion say, We worship not the Images, but by the corporall Image, we doe behold the signes of the things which wee ought to worship (Augustine, on Psalm (1)35). And Lactantius saith, The Gentiles say, wee feare not the Images, but them after whose likenesse the Images be made, and to whose names they bee consecrated (Lactantius `Insti.', bk. 2). Thus farre Lactantius. And Clemens saith, That serpent the deuill vttereth these words by the mouth of certaine men, Wee to the honour of the inuisible GOD, worship visible Images: Which surely is most false. See how in vsing the same excuses which the Gentiles Idolaters pretended, they shewe themselues to ioyne with them in Idolatery. For notwithstanding this excuse, Saint Augustine, Clemens, and Lactantius prooue them Idolaters. And Clemens saith, that the Serpent the deuill putteth such excuses in the mouth of Idolaters. And the scriptures say, they worship the stockes and stones (notwithstanding this excuse) euen as our Image mainteiners doe. And Ezekiel therefore calleth the GODS of the Assyrians, stockes and stones, although they were but Images of their GODS. So are our Images of GOD and the Saintes named by the names of GOD and his Saintes, after the vse of the Gentiles. And the same Clemens saith thus in the same booke, They dare not giue the name of the Emperour to any other, for hee punisheth his offendour and traytour by and by: but they dare giue the name of GOD to other, because hee for repentance suffereth his offendours. And euen so doe our Image worshippers giue both names of GOD and the Saintes, and also the honour due to GOD, to their Images, euen as did the Gentiles, Idolaters to their Idoles. What should it meane that they, according as did the Gentiles Idolaters, light candles at noone time, or at midnight, before them, but therewith to honour them? for other vse is there none in so doing. For in the day it needeth not, but was euer a prouerbe of foolishnes, to light a candle at noone time. And in the night, it auayleth not to light a candle before the blinde: and GOD hath neither vse nor honour thereof. And concerning this candle lighting, it is notable that Lactantius aboue a thousand yeeres agoe hath written, after this maner, If they would behold the heauenly light of the Sunne, then should they perceiue that GOD hath no neede of their candles, who for the vse of man hath made so goodly a light (Lactantius, `Instit.', bk. 6, chap. 2). And whereas in so little a circle of the Sunne, which for the great distance, seemeth to bee no greater then a mans head, there is so great brightnesse, that the sight of mans eye is not able to behold it, but if one stedfastly looke vpon it a while, his eyes will be dulled and blinded with darknesse. Now great light, how great clearenesse may wee thinke to bee with GOD, with whom is no night nor darkenesse? and so forth. And by and by he sayth, Seemeth hee therefore to bee in his right minde, who offereth vp to the giuer of light the light of a ware candle for a gift? He requireth another light of vs, which is not smokie, but bright and cleare, euen the light of the minde and vnderstanding. And shortly after he saith, But their goddes, because they bee earthly, haue neede of light, lest they remaine in darkenesse, whose worshippers, because they vnderstand no heauenly thing, doe drawe religion, which they vse, downe to the earth, in the which beeing darke of nature, is neede of light. Wherefore they giue to their goddes no heauenly, but the earthly vnderstanding of mortall men. And therefore they beleeue those things to bee necessary and pleasant vnto them, which are so to vs, who haue neede either of meate when wee bee hungrie, or drinke when wee be thirstie, or clothing when wee bee acolde, or when the Sunne is set, candle light, that wee may see. Thus farre Lactantius, and much more, too long heere to write, of candle lighting in Temples before Images and Idoles for religion: whereby appeareth both the foolishnesse thereof, and also, that in opinion and acte, wee doe agree altogether in our candle religion, with the Gentiles idolaters. What meaneth it that they, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, burne incense offer vp golde to Images, hang vp crouches, chaines, and ships, legges, armes, and whole men and women of waxe, before images, as though by them, or Saints (as they say) they were deliuered from lamenesse, sicknesse, captiuity, or shipwracke? Is not this Colere imagines, to worship images, so earnestly forbidden in GODS word?
Colere. If they denie it, let them reade the xi. Chapter of Daniel the Prophet, who saith of Antichrist: He shall worship God whom his fathers knew not, with golde, siluer, and with precious stone, and other things of pleasure. in which place the Latine worde is Colet.
Cultus. And in the second of Paralipomenon the xxix. Chapter, all the outward rites and ceremonies, as burning of incense, and such other, wherewith GOD in the Temple was honoured, is called Cultus (to say) worshipping, which is forbidden straitly by GODS word to bee giuen to images.
Doe not all stories Ecclesiasticall declare, that our holy Martyrs, rather then they would bow and kneele, or offer vp one crumme of incense before an image or idole, haue suffered a thousand kinds of most horrible and dreadful death? And what excuses soeuer they make, yet that all this running on pilgrimage, burning of incense and candles, hanging vp of crouches, chaines, ships, armes, legges, and whole men and women of waxe, kneeling and holding vp of handes, is done to the Images, appeareth by this, that where no Images bee, or where they haue beene, and bee taken away, they doe no such things at all. But all the places frequented when the Images were there, now they be taken away, be forsaken and left desert, nay, now they hate and abhorre the place deadly, which is an euident proofe, that that which they did before, was done in respect of the Images. Wherefore, when we see men and women on heapes to goe on pilgrimage to images, kneele before them, hold vp their hands before them, set vp candles, burne incense before them, offer vp golde and siluer vnto them, hang vp ships, crouches,chaines, men and women of waxe before them, attributing health and safegard, the gifts of GOD, to them, or the Saintes whom they represent, as they rather would haue it: who I say, who can doubt, but that our Image mainteiners, agreeing in all idolatrous opinions, outward rites, and ceremonies with the Gentiles idolaters, agree also with them in committing most abominable idolatry? And to increase this madnesse, wicked men which haue the keeping of such Images, for their more lucre and aduantage, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, haue reported and spread abroad, aswell by lying tales, as written fables, diuers miracles of Images. As that such an Image miraculously was sent from heauen, euen like Paladium, or magna Diana Ephesiorum. Such an other was as miraculously found in the earth, as the mans head was in Capitol, or the horse head in Capua. Such an Image was brought by Angels. Such an one came it selfe farre from the East to the West, as dame Fortune fledde to Rome. Such an Image of our Lady was painted by Saint Luke, whom of a Physicion they haue made a Painter for that purpose. Such an one an hundred yokes of oxen could not moue, like bona Dea, whom the ship could not carry, or Iupiter Olympius, which laught the artificers to scorne that went about to remoue him to Rome. Some images, though they were hard and stonie, yet for tender heart and pitie, wept. Some like Castor and Pollux, helping their friends in battaile, sweat, as marble pillars doe in dankish weather. Some spake more monstrously then euer did Balaams Asse, who had life and breath in him. Such a criple came and saluted this Saint of oke, and by and by he was made whole, and loe, here hangeth his crouch. Such an one in a tempest vowed to Saint Christopher, and scaped, and behold here is his ship of waxe. Such an one by S. Leonards helpe brake out of prison, and see where his fetters hang. And infinite thousands moe miracles, by like or more shamelesse lyes were reported. Thus doe our Image mainteiners, in earnest apply to their images, all such miracles as the Gentiles haue fained of their idoles. And if it were to bee admitted, that some miraculous actes were by illusion of the deuill done where Images bee: (For it is euident that the most part were fained lyes, and craftie iuglings of men) yet followeth it not therefore, that such images are either to bee honoured, or suffered to remaine, no more them Ezechias left the brasen Serpent vndestroyed, when it was worshipped, although it were both set vp by GODS commandement, and also approoued by a great and true miracle, for as many as beheld it, were by and by healed: neither ought miracles perswade vs to doe contrary to GODS worde. For the Scriptures haue for a warning hereof foreshewed, that the kingdome of Antichrist shall bee mighty in miracles and wonders, to the strong illusion of all the reprobate. But in this they passe the folly and wickednesse of the Gentiles, that they honour and worship the reliques and bones of our Saintes, which prooue that they bee mortall men and dead, and therefore no Gods to be worshipped, which the Gentiles would neuer confesse of their gods for very shame. But the reliques wee must kisse and offer vnto, specially on relique Sunday. And while wee offer (that wee should not bee weary or repent vs of our cost) the musicke and minstrelsie goeth merrily all the offertorie time, with praysing and calling vpon those Saints, whose reliques be then in presence. Yea, and the water also wherein those reliques haue beene dipped, must with great reuerence bee reserued, as very holy and effectuall. Is this agreeable to Saint Chrysostome, who writeth thus of reliques (Chrysostome, Homily of the Seven Machabees)? Doe not regard the ashes of the Saintes bodies, nor the reliques of their flesh and bones, consumed with time: but open the eyes of thy faith, and behold them clothed with heauenly vertue, and the grace of the holy Ghost, and shining with the brightnesse of the heauenly light. But our idolaters found too much vantage of reliques and relique water, to follow Saint Chrysostomes counsell. And because reliques were so gainefull, few places were there but they had reliques prouided for them. And for more plenty of reliques, some one Saint had many heads, one in one place, and another in another place. Some had sixe armes, and xxvi. fingers. And where our lord bare his crosse alone, if all the pieces of the reliques thereof were gathered together, the greatest ship in England would scarcely beare them, and yet the greatest part of it, they say, doeth yet remaine in the handes of Infidels, for the which they pray in their beades bidding, that they may get it also into their hands, for such godly vse and purpose. And not onely the bones of the Saints, but euery thing appertaining to them was an holy relique. In some place they offer a sword, in some the scabberd, in some a shooe, in some a saddle that had bene set vpon some holy horse, in some the coales wherewith Saint Laurence was rosted, in some place the taile of the Asse which our Lord Iesus Christ sate on, to bee kissed and offered vnto for a relique. For rather then they would lacke a relique, they would offer you a horse bone, in stead of a virgins arme, or the taile of the Asse to bee kissed and offered vnto for reliques. O wicked, impudent, and most shameles men, the deuisers of these things, O seely, foolish, and dastardly dawes, and more beastly then the Asse whose taile they kissed, that beleeue such things. Now GOD be mercifull to such miserable and seely Christians, who by the fraud and falshood of those which should haue taught them the way of trueth and life, haue beene made not onely more wicked then the Gentiles idolaters, but also no wiser then asses, horses, and mules, which haue no vnderstanding.
Of these thinges already rehearsed, it is euident, that our Imagemaintainers haue not onely made Images, and set them vp in Temples, as did the Gentiles idolaters their idoles: but also that they haue had the same idolatrous opinions of the Saints, to whom they haue made Images, which the Gentiles idolaters had of their false gods, and haue not onely worshipped their Images with the same rites, ceremonies, superstition, and all circumstances, as did the Gentiles Idolaters their Idoles: but in many poynts also haue farre exceeded them in all wickednesse, foolishnesse, and madnesse. And if this bee not sufficient to prooue them Image worshippers, that is to say, Idolaters: loe, you shall heare their owne open confession, I meane, not onely, the decrees of the second Nicene councell vnder Irene, the Romane councell vnder Gregorie the shipped, as is before declared: so yet doe they it warily and fearefully, in comparison to the blasphemous bolde blasing of manifest idolatry to bee done to Images, set foorth of late, euen in these our dayes, the light of GODS trueth so shining, that aboue other abominable doings, and writings, a man would marueile most at their impudent, shamelesse, and most shamefull blustering boldnesse, who would not at the least haue chosen them a time of more darkenesse, as meeter to vtter their horrible blasphemies in: but haue now taken an harlotes face, not purposed to blush, in setting abroad the furniture of their spirituall whoredome. And heare the plaine blasphemie of the reuerend father in GOD, Iames Naclantus Bishop of Clugium, written in his exposition of Saint Pauls Epistle to the Romanes and the first Chapter, and put in print now of late at Venice, may stand instead of all, whose words of image worshipping be these in Latine, as he did write them, not one syllable altered:
Ergo non solum fatendum est, fideles in Ecclesia adorare coram imagine (vt nonnulli ad cautelam forte loquuntur) sed & adorare imaginem, sine quo volueris scrupulo, quin & eo illam venerantur cultu, quo & prototypon eius propter quod si illud habet adorare latria, & illa latria: si dulia, vel hyperdulia, & illa pariter eiusmodi cultu adoranda est.
The sense whereof in English is this:
Therefore it is not onely to bee confessed, that the faithfull in the Church do worshippe before an Image (as some peraduenture doe warily speake) but also doe worship the Image it selfe, without any scruple or doubt at all: Yea, and they worshippe the Image with the same kinde of worship, wherewith they worship the copy of the Image, or the thing whereafter the Image is made. Wherefore if the copie it selfe is to be worshipped with diuine honour (as is GOD the Father, Christ, and the holy Ghost) the Image of them is also to bee worshipped with diuine honour. If the copie ought to bee worshipped with inferiour honour, or higher worshippe: the Image also is to bee worshipped with the same honour or worshippe.
Thus farre hath Naclantus, whose blasphemies let Pope Gregorius the first confute, & by his authority damne them to hell, as his successours haue horribly thundred (Gregory). For although Gregorie permitteth Images to be had, yet he forbiddeth them by any meanes to be worshipped, and praiseth much Bishop Serenus for the forbidding the worshipping of them, and willeth him to teach the people to auoyde by all meanes to worship any Image (Gregory, `Epistle to Serenus Massil.').
Of Image worshipping. But Naclantus bloweth forth his blaphemous Idolatry, willing Images to be worshipped with the highest kinde of adoration & worship: and least such wholesome doctrine should lacke authoritie, he groundeth it vpon Aristotle, in his booke de somno & vigilia, that is, of sleeping and waking as by his printed Booke noted in the margin, is to bee seene: whose impudent wickednesse and idolatrous iudgement, I haue therefore more largely set foorth, that yee may (as Virgil speaketh of Simon) of one know all these Image - worshippers and idolaters, and vnderstande to what point in conclusion the publike hauing of Images in Temples and Churches hath brought vs: comparing the times and writings of Gregory the first, with our dayes, the blasphemies of such idolaters as this instrument of Belial, named Naclantus, is. Wherefore, now it is by the testimony of the old godly Fathers and Doctours, by the open confession of Bishops assembled in Councels, by most euident signes and arguments, opinions, idolatrous actes, deedes, and worshipping done to their Images, and by their owne open confession and doctrine set foorth in their books, declared and shewed, that their Images haue beene, and bee commonly worshipped, yea, and that they ought so to bee: I will out of GODS word make this generall argument against all such makers, setters vp, and maintayners of Images in publike places. And first of all I will begin with the words of our Sauiour Christ, Woe bee to that man by whom an offence is giuen, woe be to him that offendeth one of these little ones, or weake ones: better were it for him, that a milstone were hanged about his necke, and hee cast into the middle of the sea and drowned, then he should offend one of these little ones, or weake ones(Matthew 18.6-7). And in Deut. GOD himselfe denounceth him accursed that maketh the blinde to wander in his way (Deuteronomy 27.18). And in Leuit. Thou shalt not lay a stumbling block or stone before the blinde (Leviticus 19.14). But images in Churches and Temples haue beene, and be, and (as afterward shall be prooued) euer will bee offences and stumbling blockes, specially to the weake, simple, and blinde common people, deceiuing their hearts by the cunning of the artificer (as the Scripture expresly in sundry places doeth testifie) and so bringing them to Idolatrie. Therefore woe be to the erecter, setter vp, and maintayner of Images in Churches and Temples, for a greater penalty remayneth for him then the death of the body (Apocrypha, Wisdom 13.10, 14.8).
If answer be yet made, that this offence may bee taken away by diligent and syncere doctrine and preaching of GODS word, as by other meanes: and that Images in Churches and Temples therfore bee not things absolutely euill to all men, although dangerous to some: and therefore that it were to bee holden, that the publike hauing of them in Churches and Temples, is not expedient, as a thing perillous, rather then vnlawfull, and a thing vtterly wicked. Then followeth the third article to be prooued, which is in this: That it is not possible, if Images be suffered in Churches and Temples, either by preaching of GODS word, or by any other meanes, to keepe the people from worshipping of them, and so to auoyd Idolatrie. And first concerning Preaching. If it should be admitted, that although Images were suffered in Churches, yet might Idolatrie by diligent and syncere preaching of GODS word be auoyded: It should follow of necessity, that syncere doctrine might alwayes be had and continue, aswell as Images, and so that wheresoeuer, to offence, were erected an Image, there also, of reason, a godly and syncere Preacher should and might bee continually maintayned. For it is reason, that the warning be as common as the stumbling blocke, the remedy as large as is the offence, the medicine as generall as the poyson: but that is not possible, as both reason and experience teacheth. Wherefore preaching cannot stay Idolatry, Images being publikely suffered. For an Image, which will last for many hundred yeeres, may for a little be bought: but a good Preacher cannot without much bee continually maintayned. Item, if the Prince will suffer it, there will bee by and by many, yea, infinite Images: but syncere Preachers were and euer shall be but a few in respect of the multitude to be taught. For our Sauiour Christ sayth, The haruest is plentifull, but the workemen bee but few: which hath beene hitherto continually true, and will bee to the worlds end: And in our time, and heere in our country so true, that euery Shire should scarcely haue one good Preacher, if they were diuided.
Now Images will continually to the beholders preach their doctrine, that is, the worshipping of Images and Idolatrie, to the which Preaching mankinde is exceeding prone, and enclined to giue eare and credit: as experience of all nations and ages doth too much prooue. But a true Preacher to stay this mischiefe, is in very many places scarcely heard once in a whole yeere, and some where not once in seuen yeeres, as is euident to bee prooued. And that euill opinion which hath beene long rooted in mens hearts, cannot suddenly by one Sermon be rooted out clean. And as few are enclined to credit sound doctrine: as many, and almost all, be prone to superstition and idolatry. So that heerein appeareth not onely a difficulty, but also an impossibility of the remedy. Further, it appeareth not by any story of credit, that true and syncere Preaching hath endured in any one place aboue one hundred yeeres: But it is euident, that Images, superstition, and worshipping of Images and idolatrie, haue continued many hundred yeeres. For all writings and experience doe testifie, that good things doe by little and little euer decay, vntill they be cleane banished: and contrariwise, euill things doe more and more increase, till they come to a full perfection and wickednesse. Neither neede wee to seeke examples farre off for a proofe heereof, our present matter is an example. For Preaching of GODS word (most syncere in the beginning) by processe of time, waxed lesse and lesse pure, and after corrupt, and last of all, altogether layd downe and left off, and other inuentions of men crept in place of it. And on the other part, Images among Christian men were first painted, and that in whole stories together, which had some signification in them: Afterwards, they were embossed, and made of timber, stone, playster, and mettall. And first they were onely kept priuately in priuate mens houses: And then after, they crept into Churches and Temples, but first by paynting, and after by embossing: and yet were they no where at the first worshipped. But shortly after, they began to be worshipped of the ignorant sort of men: as appeareth by the Epistle that Gregory the first of that name Bishop of Rome, did write to Serenus Bishop of Marcelles. Of the which two Bishops, Serenus for idolatrie committed to Images, brake them, and burned them, Gregory although he thought it tolerable to let them stand: yet he iudged it abominable that they should be worshipped, and thought (as is now alleaged) that the worshipping of them might be stayed, by teaching of GODS word, according as he exhorteth Serenus to teach the people, as in the same Epistle appeareth. But whether Gregories opinion, or Serenus iudgement were better heerein, consider ye, I pray you, for experience by and by confuteth Gregories opinion. For notwithstanding Gregories writing, and the Preaching of others, Images being once publikely set vp in Temples and Churches, simple men and women shortly after fell on heaps to worshipping of them: And at the last, the learned also were carried away with the publike errour, as with a violent streame or flood. And at the second Councell Nicene, the Bishops and Clergie decreed, that Images should bee worshipped: and so by occasion of these stumbling blockes, not only the vnlearned and simple, but the learned and wise, not the people onely, but the Bishops, not the sheepe, but also the shepheards themselues (who should haue beene guides in the right way, and light to shine in darkenesse) being blinded by the bewitching of Images, as blind guides of the blinde, fell both into the pit of damnable Idolatry. In the which all the world, as it were drowned, continued vntill our age, by the space of aboue eight hundred yeeres, vnspoken against in a manner. And this successe had Gregories order: which mischiefe had neuer come to passe, had Bishop Serenus way beene taken, and all idols and Images beene vtterly destroyed and abolished: for no man worshippeth that that is not. And thus you see, how from hauing of Images priuately, it came to publike setting of them vp in Churches and Temples, although without harme at the first, as was then of some wise and learned men iudged: and from simple hauing them there, it came at the last to worshipping of them. First, by the rude people, who specially (as the Scripture teacheth) are in danger of superstition and idolatry, and afterwards by the Bishops, the learned, and by the whole Clergie (Apocrypha. Wisdom 13.10, 14.16). So that Layty and Clergie, learned and vnlearned, all ages, sectes, and degrees of men, women, and children, of whole Christendome (an horrible and most dreadfull thing to think) haue beene at once drowned in abominable idolatrie, of all other vices most detested of GOD, and most damnable to man and that by the space of eight hundred yeeres and more. And to this end is come that beginning of setting vp of Images in Churches then iudged harmelesse, in experience prooued not onely harmfull, but exitious and pestilent, and to the destruction and subuersion of all good religion vniuersally. So that I conclude, as it may be possible in some one City or little Country, to haue Images set vp in Temples and Churches, and yet idolatry by earnest and continuall preaching of GODS true word, and the syncere Gospel of our Sauiour Christ, may be kept away for a short time: So is it impossible, that (Images once set vp and suffered in Temples and Churches) any great countreyes, much lesse the whole world, can any long time bee kept from idolatry. And the godly will respect, not onely their owne City, countrey and time, and the health of men of their age: but be carefull for all places and times, and the saluation of men of all ages. At the least, they will not lay such stumbling blockes and snares, for the feet of other countrymen and ages, which experience hath already prooued to haue beene the ruine of the world. Wherefore I make a generall conclusion of all that I haue hitherto sayd: If the stumbling blockes, and poysons of mens soules, by setting vp of Images, will bee many, yea, infinite if they be suffered, and the warnings of the same stumbling blockes, and remedies for the sayd poysons by preaching but few, as is already declared: if the stumbling blockes be easie to be layd, the poysons soone prouided, and the warnings and remedies hard to know or come by: if the stumbling blockes lie continually in the way, and poyson bee ready at hand euery where, and warnings and remedies but seldome giuen: and if all men be more ready of themselues to stumble and be offended, then to bee warned, all men more ready to drinke of the poyson, then to taste of the remedy (as is before partly, and shall heereafter more fully be declared) and so in fine, the poyson continually and deepely drunke of many, the remedy seldome and faintly tasted of a few: How can it be but that infinite of the weake and infirme shalbe offended, infinite by ruine shall breake their neckes, infinite by deadly venome by poysoned in their soules? And how is the charity of GOD, or loue of our neighbour in our hearts then, if when we may remooue such dangerous stumbling blockes, such pestilent poysons, we will not remooue them: What shall I say of them which will lay stumbling blockes, where before there was none, and set snares for the feet, nay, for the soules of weake and simple ones, and worke the danger of their euerlasting destruction, for whom our Sauiour Christ shedde his most pretious blood, where better it were that the arts of painting, plaistering, caruing, grauing, and founding, had neuer beene found nor vsed, then one of them, whose soules in the sight of GOD are so pretious, should by occasion of image or picture perish and bee lost. And thus is it declared that Preaching cannot possibly stay Idolatry, if Images be set vp publikely in Temples and Churches. And as true is it, that no other remedy, as writing against idolatry, Councels assembled, Decrees made against it, seuere Lawes likewise and Proclamations of Princes and Emperours, neither extreme punishments and penalties, nor any other remedy could or can be possible deuised for the auoyding of idolatry, if Images bee publikely set vp and suffered. For concerning writing against Images, and Idolatrie to them committed, there hath beene alleaged vnto you in the second part of this Treatise a great many places, out of S. Ierome, Origen, Lactantius, S. Augustine, Epiphanius, S. Ambrose, Clemens, and diuers other learned and holy Bishops and Doctours of the Church. And besides these, all histories Ecclesiasticall, and books of other godly and learned Bishops and Doctours are full of notable examples and sentences against Images and the worshipping of them. And as they haue most earnestly written, so did they syncerely and most diligently in their time teach and preach, according to their writings and examples. For they were then Preaching Bishops, and more often seene in Pulpits, then in Princes palaces, more often occupied in his legacy, who sayd, Goe ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to all men, then in Embassages and affayres of Princes of this world. And as they were most zealous and diligent, so were they of excellent learning and godlinesse of life, and by both of great authority and credit with the people, and so of more force and likelihood to perswade the people, and the people more like to beleeue and follow their doctrine. But if their preachings could not helpe, much lesse could their writings, which doe but come to the knowledge of a few that be learned, in comparison to continual preaching, wherof the whole multitude is partaker. Neither did the old Fathers, Bishops, and Doctours, seuerally onely by preaching and writing, but also together, great numbers of them assembled in Synods and Councels, make Decrees and Ecclesiasticall Lawes against Images, and the worshipping of them, neither did they so once or twise, but diuers times, and in diuers ages and Countreyes, assembled Synodes and Councels, and made seuere Decrees against Images and worshipping of them, as hath beene at large in the second part of this Homilie before declared. But all their writing, preaching, assembling in Councels, decreeing and making of Lawes Ecclesiasticall, could nothing helpe, either to pull downe Images to whom Idolatrie was committed, or against Idolatrie whilest Images stood. For those blinde bookes and dumbe Schoolemasters, I meane Images and Idols (for they call them Lay mens books, and Schoolemasters) by their carued and painted writings, teaching and preaching Idolatry, preuayled against all their written bookes, and preaching with liuely voice, as they call it. Well, if preaching and writing could not keepe men from worshipping of Images and Idolatry, if pen and words could not doe it, you would thinke that penalty and sword might doe it, I meane, that Princes by seuere Lawes and punishments, might stay this vnbridled affection of all men to idolatry, though Images were set vp and suffered. But experience prooueth, that this can no more helpe against Idolatrie, then writing and preaching. For Christian Emperours (whose authoritie ought of reason, and by GODS Law, to be greatest) aboue eight in number, and sixe of them successiuely raigning one after another (as is in the histories before rehearsed) making most seuere Lawes and Proclamations against Idols, and Idolatry, Images, and the worshipping of Images, and executing most grieuous punishments, yea, the penalty of death, vpon the maintayners of Images, and vpon Idolaters and Image-worshippers: could not bring to passe, that either Images once set vp, might throughly be destroyed, or that men should refrayne from the worshipping of them, being set vp. And what thinke you then will come to passe, if men of learning should teach the people to make them, and should maintaine the setting vp of them, as things necessary in religion? To conclude, it appeareth euidently by all stories and writings, and experience in times past, that neither preaching, neither writing, neither the consent of the learned, nor authority of the godly, nor the decrees of Councels, neither the Lawes of Princes, nor extreme punishments of the offendours in that behalfe, nor any other remedy or meanes, can helpe against Idolatrie, if Images be suffered publikely. And it is truely sayd, that times past are Schoolemasters of wisedome to vs that follow and liue after. Therefore if in times past, the most vertuous and best learned, the most diligent also, and in number almost infinite, ancient Fathers, Bishops, and Doctors, with their writing, preaching, industry, earnestnesse, authority, assemblies and Councels could doe nothing against Images and Idolatry, to Images once set vp: what can we, neither in learning, nor holinesse of life, neither in diligence, neither authority, to bee compared with them, but men in contempt, and of no estimation (as the world goeth now) a few also in number, in so great a multitude and malice of men. What can we doe, I say, or bring to passe to the stay of Idolatrie or worshipping of Images, if they be allowed to stand publikely in Temples and Churches? And if so many, so mighty Emperours, by so seuere Lawes and Proclamations, so rigorous and extreme punishments and executions could not stay the people from setting vp and worshipping of Images: what will ensue, thinke you, when men shall commend them as necessary bookes of the lay men. Let vs therefore of these latter dayes learne this lesson of the experience of ancient antiquitie, that Idolatrie can not possibly bee separated from Images any long time: but that as an vnseparable accident, or as a shadow followeth the bodie when the Sunne shineth, so Idolatrie followeth and cleaueth to the publique hauing of Images in Temples and Churches. And finally, as Idolatrie is to be abhorred and auoyded, so are Images (which can not bee long without Idolatry) to be put away and destroyed. Besides the which experiments and proofe of times before, the very nature and origine of Images themselues draweth to Idolatry most violently, and mens nature and inclination also is bent to Idolatrie so vehemently, that it is not possible to seuer or part Images, nor to keepe men from Idolatrie, if Images bee suffered publikely. That I speake of the nature and origine of Images, is this: Euen as the first inuention of them is nought, and no good can come of that which had an euill beginning, for they bee altogether nought, as Athanasius in his booke against the Gentiles declareth, and Saint Ierome also vpon the prophet Ieremie the sixt Chapter, and Eusebius the seuenth booke of his Ecclesiasticall Historie the xviii. Chapter testifieth, that as they first came from the Gentiles, which were idolaters and worshippers of Images, vnto vs, and as the inuention of them was the beginning of spirituall fornication, as the word of GOD testifieth: (Apocrypha, Wisdom 14.12) So will they naturally (as it were of necessity) turne to their origine from whence they came, and draw vs with them most violently to Idolatrie, abominable to GOD and all godly men. For if the origine of Images, and worshipping of them, as it is recorded in the eight Chapter of the booke of Wisedome, began of a blinde loue of a fond father, framing for his comfort an Image of his sonne, being dead, and so at the last men fell to the worshipping of the Image of him whom they did know to bee dead: How much more will men and women fall to the worshipping of the Images of GOD, our Sauiour Christ, and his Saints, if they bee suffered to stand in Churches and Temples publiquely? For the greater the opinion is of the maiestie and holinesse of the person to whom an Image is made, the sooner will the people fall to the worshipping of the sayd Image. Wherefore the Images of GOD, our Sauiour Christ, the blessed virgin Marie, the Apostles, Martyrs, and other of notable holinesse, are of all other Images most dangerous for the perill of Idolatrie, and therefore greatest heede to bee taken that none of them bee suffered to stand publiquely in Churches and Temples. For there is no great dread lest any should fall to the worshipping of the images of Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, or Iudas the traytor, if they were set vp. But to the other, it is already at full prooued, that Idolatrie hath beene, is, and is most like continually to bee committed. Now as was before touched, and is heere most largely to bee declared, the nature of man is none otherwise bent to worshipping of Images (if hee may haue them, and see them) then it is bent to whoredome and adulterie in the company of harlots. And as vnto a man giuen to the lust of the flesh, seeing a wanton harlot, sitting by her, and imbracing her, it profiteth little for one to say, Beware of fornication, GOD will condemne fornicatours and adulterers: for neither will hee, being ouercome with greater intisements of the strumpet giue eare or take heede to such godly admonitions, and when hee is left afterwardes alone with the harlotte, nothing can follow but wickednesse (1 Corinthians 6.9-10, 1 Thessalonians 4.3, 1.Cor. 5.1, Hebrews 13.4): euen so, suffer Images to bee set in the Churches and Temples, ye shall in vaine bid them beware of Images, as Saint Iohn doeth, and flee Idolatrie (1 John 5.21), as all the Scriptures warne vs, yee shall in vaine preach and teach them against Idolatry. For a number will notwithstanding fall headlong vnto it, what by the nature of Images, and what by the inclination of their owne corrupt nature.
Wherefore as for a man giuen to lust, to sit downe by a strumpet, is to tempt GOD: So is it likewise to erect an Idole in this pronenesse of mans nature to Idolatrie, nothing but a tempting. Now if any will say that this similitude prooueth nothing, yet I pray them let the word of GOD, out of the which the similitude is taken, prooue something. Doeth not the worde of GOD call Idolatrie spirituall fornication (Leviticus 17.7, 20.3, Numbers 25.2, Deuteronomy 31.16, Ezekiel 6.9)? Doeth it not call a gylte or painted Idole or Image, a strumpet with a painted face? Bee not the spirituall wickednesses of an Idols intising, like the flatteries of a wanton harlot? Bee not men and women as prone to spirituall fornication (I meane Idolatrie) as to carnall fornication? If this bee denyed, let all nations vpon the earth which haue beene Idolaters (as by all Stories appeareth) prooue it true. Let the Iewes and the people of GOD which were so often and so earnestly warned, so dreadfully threatned concerning images and idolatry, and so extremely punished therefore (and yet fell vnto it) prooue it to be true: as in almost all the bookes of the old Testament, namely the Kings and the Chronicles, and the Prophets, it appeareth most euidently. Let all ages and times, and men of all ages and times, of all degrees and conditions, wise men, learned men, Princes, Idiotes, vnlearned, and comminalty, proue it to be true. If you require examples: For wise men, ye haue the Egyptians, and the Indian Gymnosophistes, the wisest men of the world, you haue Solomon the wisest of all other. For learned men, the Greekes, and namely the Athenians, exceeding all other nations in superstition and idolatrie, as in the historie of the Actes of the Apostles S. Paul chargeth them (Acts 17.16, Romans 1.23). For Princes and gouernours, you haue the Romanes, the rulers of the rost, (as they say) you haue the same forenamed king Solomon, and all the kings of Israel and Iuda after him, sauing Dauid, Ezechias and Iosias, and one or two more. All these (I say) and infinite others, wise, learned, Princes, and Gouernours, being all Idolaters, haue you for examples and a proofe of mens inclination to idolatrie. That I may passe ouer with silence in the meane time, infinite multitudes and millions of Idiotes and vnlearned, the ignorant and grosse people, like vnto Horses and Mules in whom is no vnderstanding, whose perill and danger to fall on heapes to Idolatrie by occasion of Images, the Scriptures specially foreshew and giue warning of (Psalms 32.9). And indeede how should the vnlearned, simple, and foolish scape the nettes and snares of Idolles, and Images, in the which the wisest and the best learned haue beene so entangled, trapped, and wrapped (Apocrypha. Wisdom 13.17-19, 14.1, 27)? Wherefore the argument holdeth this ground sure, that men bee as inclined of their corrupt nature to spirituall fornication, as to carnall, which the wisedome of GOD foreseeing, to the generall prohibition, that none should make to themselues and Image or similitude, addeth a cause, depending of mans corrupt nature. Lest (sayeth GOD) thou being deceiued with errour, honour and worshippe them (Deuteronomy 4.16, 19). And of this ground of mans corrupt inclination, aswell to spirituall fornication, as to carnall, it must needes follow, tht as it is the duetie of the godly Magistrate, louing honestie, and hating whoredome, to remooue all strumpets and harlots, specially out of places notoriously suspected, or resorted vnto of naughty packes, for the auoyding of carnall fornication: so it is the duetie of the same godly Magistrate, after the examples of the godly Kings, Ezechias and Iosias, to driue away all spirituall harlots, (I meane Idoles and Images) especially out of suspected places, Churches and Temples, daungerous for idolatry to bee committed to Images placed there, as it were in the appointed place and height of honour and worship (as Saint Augustine sayth) where the liuing GOD onely (and not dead stones and stockes) is to bee worshipped: It is (I say) the office of godly Magistrates likewise to auoide Images and Idoles out of Churches and Temples, as spirituall harlots out of suspected places for the auoyding of Idolatrie, which is spirituall Fornication (Augustine, on Psalms 36 and 113 in `De Civitatis Dei', Bk. 4, Chap. 3). And as he were the enemy of all honesty, that should bring strumpets and harlots out of their secret corners into the publique market place, there freely to dwell and practise their filthy Marchandise: So is the enemy of the true worshipping of GOD, that bringeth Idols and Images into the Temple and Church, the house of GOD, there openly to be worshipped, and to robbe the zealous GOD of his honour, who will not giue it to any other, nor his glory to carued Images, who is as much forsaken, and the bond of loue betweene man and him as much broken by Idolatry, which is spirituall Fornication, as is the knot and bond of marriage broken by carnall Fornication. Let all this be taken as a lie, if the word of GOD enforce it not to be true. Cursed be the man, saith GOD in Deuteronomie, that maketh a carued or molten Image, and placeth it in a secret corner: and all the people shall say, Amen (Deuteronomy 27.15). Thus saith GOD, for at that time no man durst haue or worship Images openly, but in corners onely: and the whole world being the great Temple of GOD, hee that in any corner thereof robbeth GOD of his glorie, and giueth it to stockes and stones, is pronounced by GODS word accursed. Now hee that will bring these spirituall harlots out of their lurking corners, into publique Churches and Temples, that spirituall Fornication may there openly of all men and women without shame be committed with them, no doubt that person is cursed of GOD, and twise cursed, and all good and godly men and women will say, Amen, and their Amen will take effect also. Yea, and furthermore the madnesse of all men professing the Religion of Christ, now by the space of a sort of hundred yeeres, and yet euen in our time in so great light of the Gospell, very many running on heapes by sea and land, to the great losse of their time, expence and waste of their goods, destitution of their Wiues, Children, and Families, and danger of their owne bodies and liues, to Compostella, Rome, Hierusalem, and other farre Countreys, to visite dumbe and dead stockes and stones, doeth sufficiently prooue the pronenesse of mans corrupt nature to the seeking of Idolles once set by, and the worshipping of them. And thus aswell by the origine and nature of Idolles and Images themselues, as by the pronenesse and inclination of mans corrupt nature to Idolatrie, it is euident, that neyther Images, if they bee publiquely set vp, can bee separated, nor men, if they see Images in Temples and Churches, can bee staide and kept from Idolatrie. Now whereas they yet alleadge, that howsoeuer the people, Princes, learned, and wise of olde time, haue fallen into Idolatrie by occasion of Images, that yet in our time the most part, specially the learned, wise, and of any authoritie, take no hurt nor offence by Idolles and Images, neyther doe runne into farre Countreys to them, and worship them: And that they know well what an Idoll or Image is, and how to bee vsed, and that therefore it followeth, Images in Churches and Temples to be an indifferent thing, as the which of some is not abused: and that therefore they may iustly hold (as was in the beginning of this part by them alleadged) that it is not vnlawfull or wicked absolutely to haue Images in Churches and Temples, though it may for the danger of the simple sort seeme to be not altogether expedient.
Whereunto may bee well replyed, that Solomon also the wisest of all men, did well know what an Idoll or Image was, and neither tooke any harme thereof a great while himselfe, and also with his godly writings armed others against the daunger of them. But yet afterward the same Solomon suffering his wanton Paramours to bring their Idolles into his Court and Palace, was by carnall harlots perswaded, and brought at the last to the committing of Spirituall Fornication with Idolles, and of the wisest and godliest Prince, became the most foolishest and wickeddest also (Apocrypha. Wisdom 13.14). Wherefore it is better euen for the wisest to regard this warning, Hee that loueth danger shall perish therein: and Let him that standeth, beware lest he fall, rather then wittingly and willingly to lay such a stumbling blocke for his owne feet and others, that may perhappes bring at last to breake necke (Apocrypha. Ecclesiasticus 3.26, 13.13, 1 Corinthians 10.12). The good King Ezechias did know well enough, that the brasen Serpent was but a dead Image, and therefore hee tooke no hurt himselfe thereby through Idolatrie to it (2 Kings 18.4): Did hee therefore let it stand, because himselfe tooke no hurte thereof? No not so: but beeing a good King, and therefore regarding the health of his seelie Subiects, deceiued by that Image, and committing Idolatrie thereto, hee did not onely take it downe, but also brake it to pieces. And this hee did to that Image that was set vp by the commandement of GOD, in the presence whereof great Myracles were wrought, as that which was a figure of our Sauiour Christ to come, who should deliuer vs from the mortall sting of the old Serpent Satan. Neither did hee spare it in respect of the ancientnesse or antiquity of it, which had continued aboue seuen hundreth yeeres, nor for that it had beene suffered, and preserued by so many godly Kings before his time. Now (thinke you) would that godly Prince (if hee were now liuing) handle our Idols, set vp against GODS commandement directly, and being figures of nothing but follie, and for fooles to gaze on, till they become as wise as the blockes themselues which they stare on, and so fall downe as dared Larkes in that gase, and being themselues aliue, worship a dead stocke or stone, gold or siluer, and so become Idolaters, abominable and cursed before the liuing GOD, giuing the honour due vnto him which made them when they were nothing, and to our Sauiour Christ who redeemed them being lost, to the dead and dumbe Idoll, the worke of mans hand, which neuer did nor can doe any thing for them, no, is not able to stirre nor once to mooue, and therefore worse then a vile worme which can mooue and creepe? The excellent King Iosias also did take himselfe no hurt of Images and Idols, for he did know well what they were: did hee therefore because of his owne knowledge let Idolles and Images stand? much lesse did he set any vp? Or rather did hee not by his knowledge and authoritie also succour the ignorance of such as did not know what they were, by vtter taking away of all such stumbling blockes as might be occasion of ruine to his people and Subiects? Will they because a few tooke no hurt by Images or Idols, breake the generall Law of GOD, Thou shalt make to thee no similitude, etc. They might aswell, because Moses was not seduced by Iethroes daughter, nor Boos by Ruth, being strangers, reason, that all the Iewes might breake the generall Law of GOD, forbidding his people to ioyne their children in marriage with strangers, lest they seduce their children that they should not follow GOD. Wherefore they which thus reason, thought it bee not expedient, yet it is lawfull to haue Images publikely, and doe proue that lawfulnesse by a few picked and chosen men: if they obiect that indifferently to all men, which a very few can haue without hurt and offence, they seeme to take the multitude for vile soules (as he saith in Virgil) of whose losse and safegard no reputation is to be had, for whom yet Christ paid as dearely as for the mightiest Prince, or the wisest and best learned in the earth. And they that will haue it generally to bee taken for indifferent, that a very few take no hurt of it, though infinite multitudes beside perish thereby, shew that they put little difference betweene the multitude of Christians and bruit beasts, whose danger they doe so little esteeme. Besides this, if they be Bishops or Parsons, or otherwise hauing charge of mens consciences that thus reason, It is lawfull to haue Images publikely, though it be not expedient, what manner of pastours shew they themselues to be to their flocke, which thrust vnto them that which they themselues confesse not to be expedient for them, but to the vtter ruine of the soules committed to their charge, for whom they shall giue a strait account before the Prince of Pastours at the last day? For indeede to obiect to the weake, and readie to fall of themselues, such stumbling blockes, is a thing not onely not expedient, but vnlawfull, yea, and most wicked also. Wherefore it is to be wondered how they can call Images, set vp in Churches and Temples to no profite or benefit of any, and to so great perill and daunger, yea hurt and destruction of many, or rather infinite, things indifferent. Is not the publike setting vp of them rather a snare for all men, and the tempting of GOD? I beseech these reasoners to call to minde their owne accustomed ordinance and Decree, whereby they determined that the Scripture, though by GOD himselfe commaunded to bee knowen of all men, women, and children, should not be read of the simple, nor had in the vulgar tongue, for that (as they said) it was dangerous, by bringing the simple people into errours (Deuteronomy 31.11-12). And will they not forbid Images to bee set vp in Churches and Temples, which are not commanded, but forbidden most straitly by GOD, but let them still be there, yea, and maintaine them also, seeing the people are brought, not in danger onely, but in deed into most abominable errours and detestable Idolatry thereby? Shall GODS word, by GOD commanded to be read vnto all, and knowen of all, for danger of Heresie (as they say) be shut vp? and Idols and Images, notwithstanding they be forbidden by GOD, and notwithstanding the danger of Idolatrie by them, shall they yet be set vp, suffered, and maintained in Churches and Temples? O worldly and fleshly wisedome, euen bent to maintaine the inuentions and traditions of men by carnall reason, and by the same to disanull or deface the holy ordinances, lawes, and honour of the Eternall GOD, who is to bee honoured and praised foreuer. Amen.
Now it remayneth for the conclusion of this Treatie, to declare aswell the abuse of Churches and Temples, by too costly and sumptuous decking and adorning of them, as also the lewde paynting, gilding, and clothing of Idoles and Images, and so to conclude the whole treatie.
In S. Ieromes time, an hundreth and threescore yeeres after Christ, Christians had none other Temples but common houses, whither they for the most part secretly resorted (S. Ierome, `Apolog.', chap. 39, Tertul.Apo). And so farre off was it that they had before his time any goodly or gorgious decked Temples, that lawes were made in Antonius, Verus and Commodus the Emperours times, that no Christians should dwell in houses, come in publique bathes, or bee seene in streetes, or any where abroad, and that if they were once accused to be Christians, they should by no meanes be suffered to escape (Eusebius, `Eccles. Hist.', bk. 5, Hieronymus). As was practised on Apolonius a noble Senatour of Rome, who being accused of his owne bondman and slaue that hee was a Christian, could neither by his defence and apologie learnedly and eloquently written and read publiquely in the Senate, nor in respect that hee was a Citizen, nor for the dignitie of his order, nor for the vilenesse and vnlawfulnesse of his accuser, being his owne slaue, by likelihood of malice mooued to forge lyes against his Lord, nor for no other respect or helpe, could be deliuered from death. So that Christians were then driuen to dwell in caues and dennes: so farre off was it that they had any publique Temples adorned and decked as they now be. Which is here rehearsed to the confutation of those, which report such glorious glosed fables, of the goodly and gorgious Temple, that Saint Peter, Linus, Cletus, and those thirtie Bishoppes their successours had at Rome, vntill the time of the Emperour Constantine, and which Saint Policarpe should haue in Asia, or Ireneus in France, by such lyes, contrary to all true Histories, to mayntaine the superfluous gilding and decking of Temples now a dayes, wherein they put almost the whole summe and pith of our religion. But in those times the world was wonne to Christendome, not by gorgious, gilded, and paynted Temples of Christians, which had scarcely houses to dwell in: but by the godly, and as it were golden mindes, and firme faith of such as in all aduersitie and persecution professed the trueth of our religion. And after these times in Maximinian and Constantius the Emperours proclamation, the places where Christians resorted to publique prayer, were called conuenticles (Eusebius, `Eccles. Hist.', bk. 8, chap. 19, and bk. 9. chap. 9). And in Galerius Maximinus the Emperours Epistle, they are called Oratories and Dominicae, to say, places dedicate to the seruice of the Lord. And heere by the way it is to bee noted, that at that time there were no Churches or Temples erected vnto any Saint, but to GOD onely, as Saint Augustine also recordeth, saying, Wee build no Temples vnto our Martyrs (Augustine, `De Civitate', bk. 8, chap. 1). And Eusebius himselfe calleth Churches, houses of prayer, and sheweth that in Constantine the Emperours time, all men reioyced, seeing in stead of low conuenticles, which tyrants had destroyed, high Temples to bee builded.
Crypt. Loe, vnto the time of Constantine, by the space of aboue three hundred yeeres after our Sauiour Christ, when Christian religion was most pure, and indeede golden, Christians had but low and poore conuenticles, and simple Oratories, yea caues vnder the ground, called Crypt', where they for feare of persecution assembled secretly together.
Basilic'. A figure whereof remayneth in the vaultes which yet are builded vnder great Churches, to put vs in remembrance of the olde state of the primitiue Church before Constantine, whereas in Constantines time, and after him, were builded great and goodly Temples for Christians, called Basilic', either for that the Greekes vsed to call all great and goodly places Basilicas, or for that the high and euerlasting King GOD and our Sauiour Christ was serued in them. But although Constantine, and other Princes, of good zeale to our religion, did sumptuously decke and adorne Christians Temples, ye did they dedicate at that time all Churches and Temples to GOD or our Sauiour Christ, and to no Saint, for that abuse began long after in Iustinians time. And that gorgiousnesse then vsed, as it was borne with, as rising of a good zeale: so was it signified of the godly learned euen at that time, that such cost might otherwise haue beene better bestowed (`Novel. Constit.', 3, 47). Let Saint Ierome (although otherwise too great a liker and allower of externall and outward things) bee a proofe hereof, who hath these wordes in his Epistle to Demetriades, Let other (sayth Saint Ierome) build Churches, couer walles with tables of Marble, carrie together huge pillars, and gild their tops or heads, which doe not feele or vnderstand their precious decking and adorning, let them decke the doores with Iuorie, and Siluer, and set the golden Altars with precious stones, I blame it not, let euery man abound in his owne sense, and better is it so to doe, then carefully to keepe their riches layd vp in store. But thou hast another way appoynted thee, to clothe Christ in the poore, to visit him in the sicke, feede him in the hungry, lodge him in those who doe lacke harbour, and especially such as bee of the houshold of faith.
And the same Saint Ierome toucheth the same matter somewhat more freely in his treatie of the life of Clerkes to Nepotian, saying thus, Many build walles, and erect pillars of Churchers, the smoothe Marbles doe glister, the roofe shineth with gold, the altar is set with precious stones: But of the ministers of Christ, there is no election or choyse. Neither let any man obiect and alleadge against mee the rich Temple that was in Iurie, the table, candlestickes, incense, shippes, platters, cups, morters, and other things all of golde. Then were these things allowed of the Lord, when the Priests offered sacrifices, and the blood of beastes was accounted the redemption of sinnes. Howbeit all these things went before in figure, and they were written for vs, vpon whom the end of the world is come. And now when that our Lord being poore, hath dedicate the pouerty of his house, let vs remember his crosse, & we shall esteeme riches as mire and dung. What do we maruell at that which Christ calleth wicked Mammon? Whereto do we so highly esteeme and loue that which S. Peter doeth for a glory testifie that he had not? Hitherto S. Ierome. Thus you see how S. Ierome teacheth the sumptuousnesse amongst the Iewes to bee a figure to signifie, and not an example to follow, and that those outward things were suffered for a time, vntill Christ our Lord came, who turned all those outward things into spirit, faith and trueth. And the same Saint Ierome vpon the seuenth Chapter of Ieremy saith, GOD commaunded both the Iewes at that time, and now vs who are placed in the Church, that wee haue no trust in the goodlinesse of building and guilt rooffes, and in walles couered with tables of marble, and say: the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord. For that is the Temple of the Lord, wherein dwelleth true faith, godly conuersation, and the company of all vertues. And vpon the Prophet Agge, hee describeth the true and right decking or ornaments of the Temple after this sort: I (saith Saint Ierome) doe thinke the Siluer wherewith the house of GOD is decked, to bee the doctrine of the Scriptures, of the which it is spoken, The doctrine of the Lord is a pure doctrine, Siluer tried in the fire, purged from drosse, purified seuen times. And I doe take gold to bee that which remaineth in the hid sence of the Saintes, and the secret of the heart, and shineth with the true light of GOD. Which is euident that the Apostle also meant of the Saints that build vpon the foundation of Christ, some siluer, some gold, some pretious stones: that by the gold, the hid sense, by siluer, godly vtterance, by pretious stones, workes which please God, might bee signified. With these metals, the Church of our Sauiour is made more goodly and gorgeous, then was the Synagogue in olde time. With these liuely stones, is the Church and house of Christ builded, and peace is giuen to it for euer. All these be Saint Ieromes sayings. No more did the old godly Bishopes and Doctours of the Church allow the ouersumptuous furniture of Temples and Churches, with plate, vessels of gold, siluer, and pretious vestments. S. Chrysostome saith, in the ministery of the holy Sacraments, there is no neede of golden vessels, but of golden mindes (Chrysostome, `2 Offi.', chap. 28'). And Saint Ambrose saith, Christ sent his Apostles without golde, and gathered his Church without gold. The Church hath gold, not to keepe it, but to bestow it on the necessities of the poore. The sacraments looke for no gold, neither doe they please GOD for the commendation of gold, which are not bought for golde. The adorning and decking of the Sacraments, is the redemption of Captiues. Thus much saith Saint Ambrose.
Saint Ierome commendeth Exuperius Bishop of Tolose, that he carried the Sacrament of the Lordes body in a wicker basket, and the Sacrament of his blood in a glasse, and so cast couetousnesse out of the Church (unidentified, Tit. de consecra. can. Triburien.). And Bonifacius Bishop and Martyr, as it is recorded in the decrees, testifieth, that in olde time the ministers vsed wodden, and not golden vessels. And Zepherinus the xvi. Bishop of Rome made a decree, that they should vse vessels of glasse. Likewise were the vestures vsed in the Church in olde time very plaine and single, and nothing costly (Lactantius? `Insti.', bk. 1, chap. 14). And Rabanus at large declareth, tht this costly and manifold furniture of vestments of late vsed in the Church, was set from the Iewish vsage, and agreeth with Aarons apparelling almost altogether. For the maintenance of the which Innocentius the Pope pronounceth boldly, that all the customes of the old Law bee not abolished, that wee might in such apparell, of Christians the more willingly become Iewish. This is noted, not against Churches and Temples, which are most necessary, and ought to haue their due vse and honour, as is in another Homily for that purpose declared, nor against the conuenient cleanesse & ornaments thereof: but against the sumptuousnesse and abuses of the Temples and Churches. For it is a Church or Temple also that glittereth with no marble, shineth with no Gold nor Siluer, glistereth with no Pearles nor pretious stones: but with plainenesse and frugality, signifieth no proud doctrine nor people, but humble, frugall, and nothing esteeming earthly and outward things, but gloriously decked with inward ornaments, according as the Prophet declareth, saying, The kings daughter is altogether glorious inwardly.
Now concerning excessiue decking of Images and Idoles, with painting, gilding, adorning, with pretious vestures, pearle, and stone, what is it else, but for the further prouocation and intisement to spirituall fornication, to decke spirituall harlots most costly and wantonly, which the idolatrous Church vnderstandeth well ynough. For shee being in deede not onely an harlot (as the Scripture calleth her) but also a foule, filthie, olde withered harlot (for she is indeede of ancient yeeres) and vnderstanding her lacke of nature and true beautie, and great lothsomenesse which of her selfe shee hath, doeth (after the custome of such harlots) paint her selfe, and decke and tyre her selfe with gold, pearle, stone, and all kinde of pretious iewells, that she shining with the outward beauty and glory of them, may please the foolish fantasie of fonde louers, and so entise them to spirituall fornication with her. Who, if they saw her (I will not say naked) but in simple apparell, would abhorre her, as the fowlest and filthiest harlot that euer was seene, According as appeareth by the discription of the garnishing of the great strumpet of all strumpets, the Mother of Whoredome, set foorth by Saint Iohn in Revelations 17.2, who by her glory prouoked the Princes of the earth to commit whoredome with her. Whereas on the contrary part, the true Church of GOD, as a chaste matron, espoused (as the Scripture teacheth) to one husband, our Sauiour Iesus Christ, whom alone shee is content onely to please and serue, and looketh not to delight the eyes or phantasies of any other strange louers, or wooers is content with her naturall ornaments, not doubting, by such sincere simplicitie, best to please him, who can well skill of the difference betweene a painted visage, and true naturall beauty. And concerning such glorious gilding and decking of Images, both GODS worde written in the tenth Chapter of the Prophet Ieremie, and Saint Hieroms commentaries vpon the same, are most worthy to bee noted. First, the wordes of the Scriptures bee these, The workeman with his axe hewed the timber out of the wood with the worke of his hands, he decked it with gold and siluer, he ioyned it with nayles and pinnes, and the stroke an hammer, that it might holde together. They bee made smoth as the Palme, and they can not speake: if they bee borne they remooue, for they cannot goe. Feare yee them not, for they can neither doe euill nor good: thus saith the Prophet (Jeremiah 10.3-5), Upon which text, Saint Hierome hath these words, This is the description of Idoles, which the Gentiles worship, their matter is vile and corruptible. And whereas the Artificer is mortall, the things hee maketh must needs be corruptible: hee decketh it with siluer and gold, that with the glittering or shining of both mettals, hee may deceaue the simple. Which errour indeed hath passed ouer from the Gentiles, that we should iudge Religion to stand in riches. And by and by after hee saith, They haue the beautie of mettalles, and be beautified by the Arte of Painting, but good or profite is there none in them. And shortly after againe, They make great promises, and deuise an Image of vaine worshipping of their owne fantasies, they make great bragges to deceiue euery simple body, they dull and amaze the vnderstanding of the vnlearned, as it were with golden sentences, and eloquence, shining with the brightnes of siluer. And of their own deuisers and makers are these Images aduanced and magnified, in the which is no vtilitie nor profit at all, and the worshipping of the which, properly pertaineth to the Gentiles and Heathen, and such as know not GOD.
Thus farre of Saint Ieromes words. Whereupon you may note aswell his iudgement of Images themselues, as also of the painting, gilding, and decking of them: that it is an errour which came from the Gentiles, that it perswadeth Religion to remaine in riches, that it amazeth and deceiueth the simple and vnlearned with golden sentences, and siluer shining eloquence, and that it appertaineth properly to the Gentiles and Heathens, and such as know not GOD. Wherefore the hauing, paynting, gilding, and decking of Images, by Saint Ieromes iudgement, is erroneus, seducing and bringing into errour (specially the simple and vnlearned) Hethenish, and voyde of the knowledge of GOD.
Surely the Prophet Daniel in the eleuenth Chapter declareth such sumptuous decking of Images with gold, siluer, and precious stones, to be a token of Antichrists kingdome, who (as the Prophet foresheweth) shal worship GOD with such gorgeous things. Now vsually such excessiue adorning and decking of Images, hath risen and beene maintained, either of offerings prouoked by superstition and giuen in Idolatrie, or of spoyles, robberies, vsurie, or goods otherwise vniustly gotten, whereof wicked men haue giuen part to the Images or Saints, (as they call them) that they might be pardoned of the whole: as of diuers writings and old monuments concerning the cause and end of certaine great gifts, may well appeare. And in deed such money so wickedly gotten, is most meet to be put to so wicked a vse. And that which they take to bee amends for the whole before GOD, is more abominable in his sight, then both the wicked getting, and the more wicked spending of all the rest. For how the Lord alloweth such gifts, hee declareth euidently in the Prophet Esaias, saying, I (saith the Lord) doe loue iudgement, and I hate spoile and rauenie offered in Sacrifice: which the very Gentiles vnderstood. For Plato sheweth, that such men as suppose that GOD doeth pardon wicked men, if they giue part of their spoyles and rapine to him, take him to bee like a dogge, that would bee entreated and hired with part of the pray, to suffer the wolues to weary the sheepe (Plato, `De Legib.', 10). And in case the goods wherewith Images bee decked, were iustly gotten, yet it is extreme madnesse, so foolishly and wickedly to bestow goods purchased by wisedome and trueth. Of such leudnesse Lactantius writeth thus, Men doe in vaine decke Images of the Gods with gold, Iuorie, and precious stone, as though they could take any pleasure in those things (Lactantius, `Inst.', bk. 2, chap. 4). For what vse haue they of precious gifts, which vnderstand nor feele nothing? Euen the same that dead men haue. For with like reason doe they bury dead bodies, farced with spices and odours, and clothed with precious vestures, and decke images, which neither felt or knew when they were made, nor vnderstand when they bee honoured, for they get no sense and vnderstanding by their consecration. Thus farre Lactantius, and much more, too long here to rehearse, declaring, that as little girles play with little puppets, so be these decked images great puppets for old fooles to play with. And that wee may knowe what, not onely men of our religion, but Ethnikes also, iudge of such decking of dead images, it is not vnprofitable to heare what Seneca, a wise and excellent learned Senatour of Rome, and Philosopher, saith concerning the foolishnesse of ancient and graue men, vsed in his time in worshipping and decking of images: Wee (saith Seneca) bee not twise children (as the common saying is) but alwayes children: but this is the difference, that wee beeing elder, play the children: and in these playes they bring in before great and well decked puppets (for so hee calleth images) ointments, incense, and odours. To these puppets they offer up sacrifice, which haue a mouth, but not the vse of teeth. Upon these they put attiring and precious apparell, which haue no vse of clothes. To these they giue gold and siluer, which they who receiue it (meaning the images) lacke, as well as they that haue giuen it from them. And Seneca much commendeth Dionysius king of Sicile, for his merrie robbing of such decked and iewelled puppets. But you will aske, what doeth this appertaine to our Images, which is written against the Idoles of the Gentiles? Altogether surely. For what vse or pleasure haue our images of their decking and precious ornaments? Did our images vnderstand when they were made? or knowe when they bee so trimmed and decked? Bee not these things bestowed vpon them, as much in vaine, as vpon dead men which haue no sense? Wherefore it followeth, that there is like foolishnesse and lewdnesse in decking of our images, as great puppets for old fooles, like children, to play the wicked play of idolatry before, as was among the Ethnikes and Gentiles. Our Churches stand full of such great puppets, wonderously decked and adorned, Garlands and Coronets bee set on their heads, precious pearles hanging about their neckes, their fingers shine with rings, set with precious stones, their dead and stiffe bodies are clothed with garments stiffe with golde. You would beleeue that the images of our men Saints, were some Princes of Persia land with their proud apparell, and the idoles of our women Saints, were nice and well trimmed harlots, tempting their paramours to wantonnesse: Whereby the Saints of GOD are not honoured, but most dishonoured, and their godlinesse, sobernesse, chastitie, contempt of riches, and of the vanitie of the world, defaced and brought in doubt by such monstrous decking, most differing from their sober and godly liues. And because the whole pageant must throughly bee playd, it is not enough thus to decke idoles, but at the last come in the Priests themselues, likewise decked with gold and pearle, that they may be meete seruants for such Lords and Ladies, and fit worshippers of such gods and goddesses. And with a solemne pace they passe forth before these golden puppets, and fall downe to the ground on their marrow bones before these honourable idoles, and then rising vp againe, offer vp odours and incense vnto them, to giue the people and example of double idolatrie, by worshipping not onely the idole, but the gold also, and riches wherewith it is garnished. Which things, the most part of our olde Martyrs rather then they would doe, or once kneele, or offer vp one crumbe of incense before an image, suffered most cruell and terrible deaths, as the histories of them at large doe declare. And here againe their allegation out of Gregorie the first and Damascen, that images bee the Lay-mens Bookes, and that pictures are the Scripture of idiotes and simple persons, is worthy to bee considered (Gregory, `Epistle to Serenus Masile', Damascene, `De Fide Ortho.', bk. 4, chap. 17). For as it hath beene touched in diuers places before, how they bee bookes teaching nothing but lyes, as by Saint Paul in the first Chapter to the Romanes euidently appeareth, of the images of GOD: So what manner of bookes and Scripture these painted and gilt images of Saints be vnto the common people, note well I pray you. For after that our preachers shall haue instructed and exhorted the people to the following of the vertues of the Saints, as contempt of this world, pouerty, sobernesse, chastitie, and such like vertues, which vndoubtedly were in the Saints: Thinke you, assoone as they turne their faces from the Preacher, and looke vpon the grauen bookes and painted Scripture of the glorious gilt images and idoles, all shining and glittering with mettall and stone, and couered with precious vestures, or else with Choerea in Terence, behold a paynted table, wherein is set foorth by the arte of the painter, an image with a nice and wanton apparell and countenance, more like to Venus or Flora, then Mary Magdalen, or if like to Mary Magdalen, it is when she played the harlot, rather then when she wept for her sinnes. When I say they turne about from the preacher, to these bookes and schoolemasters and painted scriptures: shal they not find them lying books? teaching other maner of lessons, of esteeming of riches, of pride, and vanity in apparell, of nicenesse and wantonnesse, and peraduenture of whoredome, as Choerea of like pictures was taught. And to Lucian, one learned of Venus Gnidia a lesson, too abominable here to be remembered. Bee not these thinke you pretie bookes and scriptures for simple people, and especially for wiues and young maydens to looke in, reade on, and learne such lessons of? What will they thinke either of the preacher, who taught them contrary lessons of the Saints, and therefore by these carued doctours, are charged with a lye, or of the Saints themselues, if they beleeue these grauen bookes and painted scriptures of them, who make the Saintes now reigning in heauen with GOD, to their great dishonour, schoolemasters of such vanitie, which they in their life time most abhorred? For what lessons of contempt of riches and vanitie of this world, can such bookes, so besmeared with golde, set with precious stones, couered with silkes, teach? What lessons of sobernesse and chastitie, can our women learne of these pictured sons of sobernesse and chastitie, can our women learne of these pictured scriptures, with their nice apparell and wanton lookes? But a way for shame with these coloured clokes of Idolatrie, of the bookes and scriptures of Images and pictures, to teach idiots, nay to make idiots and starke fooles and beastes of Christians. Doe men, I pray you, when they haue the same bookes at home with them, runne on pilgrimage to seeke like bookes at Rome, Compostella, or Hierusalem, to be taught by them, when they haue the like to learne at home? Doe men reuerence some bookes, and despite and set light by other of the same sort? Doe men kneele before their bookes, light candles at noone time, burne incense, offer vp golde and siluer, and other giftes to their bookes? Doe men either feigne or beleeue miracles to be wrought by their bookes? I am sure that the new Testament of our Sauiour Iesus Christ, conteining the worde of life, is a more liuely, expresse, and true Image of our Sauiour, then all carued, grauen, moulten, and painted images in the world bee, and yet none of all these things be done to that booke or scripture of the Gospel of our Sauiour, which bee done to images and pictures, the bookes and scriptures of lay men and idiots, as they call them. Wherefore call them what they list, it is most euident by their deedes, that they make of them no other bookes nor scripture, then such as teach most filthy and horrible idolatry, as the vsers of such bookes dayly prooue by continuall practising the same. O bookes and scriptures, in the which the deuilish schoolemaster Sathan, hath penned the lewd lessons of wicked idolatry, for his dastardly disciples and schollers to behold, reade, and learne, to GODS most high dishonour, and their most horrible damnation. Haue not we beene much bound, thinke you, to those which should haue taught vs the trueth out of GODS booke and his holy Scripture, that they haue shut vp that booke and Scripture from vs, and none of vs so bolde as once to open it, or reade on it? and in stead thereof, to spread vs abroad these goodly, caruen, and gilten bookes and painted scriptures, to teach vs such good and godly lessons? Haue not they done well, after they ceased to stand in pulpets themselues, and to teach the people committed to their instruction, keeping silence of GODS word, and become dumbe dogs (as the Prophet calleth them) to set vp in their stead. on euery pillar and corner of the Church, such goodly doctours, as dumbe, but more wicked then themselues be? We neede not to complaine of the lacke of one dumbe Parson, hauing so many dumbe deuilish Vicars (I meane these idoles and painted puppets) to teach in their stead. Now in the meane season, whilest the dumbe and dead idoles stand thus decked and clothed, contrary to GODS law and commandement, the poore Christian people, the liuely images of GOD, commended to vs so tenderly by our Sauiour Christ as most deare to him, stand naked, shiuering for cold, and their teeth chattering in their heads, and no man couereth them, are pined with hunger and thirst, and no man giueth them a peny to refresh them, whereas pounds bee ready at all times (contrary to GODS will) to decke and trimme dead stockes and stones, which neither feele cold, hunger nor thirst.
Clemens hath a notable sentence concerning this matter, saying thus, That serpent the Diuell doth by the mouth of certaine men vtter these words: We for the honour of the inuisible GOD, doe worship visible images: which doubtlesse is most false. For if you will truely honour the image of GOD, you should by doing well to man, honour the true image of GOD in him. For the image of GOD is in euery man: But the likenesse of GOD is not in euery one, but in those only which haue a godly heart and pure minde. If you will therefore truely honour the Image of GOD, we doe declare to you the truth, that ye do well to man, who is made after the image of GOD, that you giue honour and reuerence to him, and refresh the hungry with meat, the thirsty with drinke, the naked with clothes, the sicke with attendance, the stranger harbourlesse with lodging, the prisoners with necessaries: and this shall bee accounted as truely bestowed vpon GOD. And these things are so directly appertayning to GODS honour, that whosoeuer doth not this, shal seeme to haue reproched and done villany to the image of GOD. For what honour of GOD is this, to runne to images of stocke and stone, and to honour vaine and dead figures of GOD, and to despise man, in whom is the true image of GOD? And by and by after he sayth, Understand ye therefore that this is the suggestion of the serpent Satan, lurking within you, which perswadeth you that you are godly, when you honour insensible and dead images, and that you be not vngodly, when you hurt or leaue vnsuccoured the liuely and reasonable creatures. All these bee the words of Clemens.
Note, I pray you, how this most ancient and learned Doctour, within one hundred yeeres of our Sauiour Christes time, most plainely teacheth, that no seruice of GOD, or Religion acceptable to him, can bee in honouring of dead images: but in succouring of the poore the liuely images of GOD, according to Saint Iames, who sayth, This is the pure and true Religion before GOD the Father, to succour fatherlesse and motherlesse children, and widowes in their affliction, and to keepe himselfe vndefiled from this world.
True Religion then and pleasing of GOD, standeth not in making, setting vp, painting, gilding, clothing and decking of dumbe and dead images (which bee but great puppets and babies for old fooles in dotage, and wicked idolatrie, to dally and play with) nor in kissing of them, capping, kneeling, offering to them, in sensing of them, setting vp of candles, hanging vp of legges, armes, or whole bodies of waxe before them, or praying, and asking of them or of Saints, things belonging onely to GOD to giue. But all these things bee vaine and abominable, and most damnable before GOD. Wherefore all such doe not onely bestow their money and labour in vaine: but with their paines and cost purchase to themselues GODS wrath and vtter indignation, and euerlasting damnation both of body and soule. For yee haue heard it euidently prooued in these Homilies against idolatrie, by GODS word, the Doctoures of the Church, Ecclesiasticall histories, reason, and experience, that Images haue beene and bee worshipped, and so idolatry committed to them by infinite multitudes, to the great offence of GODS Maiestie, and danger of infinite soules, and that idolatrie can not possibly bee separated from Images set vp in Churches and Temples, gilded and decked gloriously, and that therefore our Images bee in deede very Idoles, and so all the prohibitions, lawes, curses, threatnings of horrible plagues, aswell temporall as eternall, contained in the holy Scripture, concerning idoles, and the makers, and maintainers, and worshippers of them, appertaine also to our Images set vp in Churches and Temples, and to the makers, maintainers, and worshippers of them. And all those names of abomination, which GODS word in the holy Scriptures giueth to the idoles of the Gentiles, appertaine to our Images, being idoles like to them, and hauing like idolatry committed vnto them. And GODS owne mouth in the holy Scriptures calleth them vanities, lies, deceites, vncleannesse, filthinesse, dung, mischiefe, and abomination before the Lord. Wherefore GODS horrible wrath, and our most dreadfull danger can not bee auoided, without the destruction and vtter abolishing of all such Images and idoles out of the Church and Temple of GOD, which to accomplish, GOD put in the mindes of all Christian princes. And in the meane time, let vs take heede and be wise, O yee beloued of the Lord, and let vs haue no strange gods, but one onely GOD, who made vs when wee were nothing, the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, who redeemed vs when wee were lost, and with his holy Spirit who doeth sanctifie vs. For this is life euerlasting, to know him to bee the onely true GOD, and Iesus Christ whom hee hath sent (John 17.3). Let vs honour and worship for Religions sake none but him, and him let vs worship and honour as he will himselfe, and hath declared by his worde, that hee will bee honoured and worshipped, not in, nor by Images or idoles, which he hath most straightly forbidden, neither in kneeling, lighting of candels, burning of incense, offering vp of gifts vnto Images and Idoles, to beleeue that wee shall please him, for all these bee abomination before GOD: but let vs honour and worshippe GOD in spirit and trueth, fearing and louing him aboue all things, trusting in him onely, calling vpon him, and praying to him onely, praising and lauding of him onely, and all other in him, and for him. For such worshippers doeth our heauenly Father loue, who is a most pure Spirit, and therefore will bee worshipped in spirit and trueth (John 4.24). And such worshippers were Abraham, Moses, Dauid, Helias, Peter, Paul, Iohn, and all other the holy Patriarches, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, and all true Saints of GOD, who all, as the true friends of GOD, were enemies and destroyers of images and idols, as the enemies of GOD and his true Religion. Wherefore take heed and bee wise, O yee beloued of the Lord, and that which others, contrary to GODS word, bestow wickedly, and to their damnation, vpon dead stockes and stones, (no images, but enemies of GOD and his Saints) that bestow ye, as the faithfull seruants of GOD, according to GODS word, mercifully vpon poore men and women, fatherlesse children, widowes, sicke persons, strangers, prisoners, and such others that bee in any necessity, that ye may at that great day of the Lord, heare that most blessed and comfortable saying of our Sauiour Christ: Come yee blessed into the kingdome of my father, prepared for you before the beginning of the world. For I was hungrie, and ye gaue me meat, thirsty, and ye gaue me drinke, naked, and ye clothed me, harbourlesse, and ye lodged me, in prison, and ye visited me, sicke, and ye comforted me. For whatsoeuer yee haue done for the poore and needy in my name, and for my sake, that haue ye done for me. To the which his heauenly kingdome, GOD the Father of mercies bring vs, for Iesus Christs sake our onely Sauiour, Mediatour, and Aduocate, to whom with the holy Ghost, one immortall, inuisible and most glorious GOD, be all honour and thankesgiuing, and glory, world without end. Amen.
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