Andrew Thomson John Owen.

The works of John Owen, Volume 14 online

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of this horrible innovation in Christian religion spread abroad in the
world but than upon it there was a full assembly of three hundred
bishops of the western provinces assembled at Frankfort in Germany,
wherein the superstition and folly of the Nicene assembly was laid
open, their arguments confuted, their determinations rejected, and
image-worship absolutely condemned as f(»rbidden by the word of
God, and contrary to the ancient^ constant^ known practice of the
whole church of God.

And now, sir, as I said, you may begin to see what you have to
do, if you intend to speak any thing to ^e purpose concerning your
figures and images. Tou must take the decree of your council (d
Trent, and the Nicene canons theroin confirmed, and prove, confirm,
Bnd vindicate them fix)m the opposition made to them by TertuUian,
^Amobiua, Origen, Lactantius, the synod of Frankfort, and others
'<^ the ancients innumerable, by whom they are rejected and con-
tlemned; and yet, when you have done so, if you are able so to do,
^our work is not one quarter alt an end. Tou can make nothing of
this business until you have confuted or burned the Scripture itself
wherein your image-making and image-worship is as fully condemned
as it is possible any superstition or idolatry should be. Tour pres^it
loose discourses^ whereby you endeavour to possess the minds of un-
waiy men that you do not do that which indeed you do every day,
and which almost all the world know that you do, and whidi you
curse others for not doing, will not, with considering persons, redound
at all unto your advantage.

2. That you may the better also discern what is incumbent on
jou, and expected from you the next time you talk of figures^ I shall
-make bold to mind you of what is the doctrine of the chief masters
and instructors of your church ; fi'om whence, certainly, we may bett^
learn what the doctrine and practice of it is, than fix)m one who dis-
covers enough in what he says and writes to keep us fix)m laying any
;great weight on his authority. Now, I confess that you do in this,
as in sundry other points of your religion, give us an egr^ous speci-
men of that consent and imity among yourselves which you so fre-
quently boast o£ Baphael de Torre, in his Sum. Belig., qusost 94,
artia 2, disput 6, dub. 5, gives us an account of five sev^:al opinic»is
Tnaii)tained by your doctors in this matter; of all which he rejects



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' THE WOBSmP OF BCIGES. 43d

that only of Durand and some others, affirming that images are not
worshipped properly but only improperly and abusivelyy as rash and
aavom-ing of heresy* The same doth Bellarmine also; and the truth
is, that that opinion of Durand, Gerson, and some others, is plainly
oondemned by the Tridentine decree, as hath been already declared
The authors of the other four opinions, though they differ among
themselves^ and have several digladiations about some expressions
and distinctions^ firamed merely in their own imaginations, agree well
enough that " images are religiously to be worshipped.'' Worshipped
religiously they ought to be; but whether "per se" and ahsolutelyf
directly and ultimately^ — whether with the same kind of worship
wherewith that is to be worshipped which they represent, — ^they are
not so fully agreed as might be desired in a matter of this importance;
for it is justly to be feared that, whilst your doctors are wrangling,
your people are committing as gross idolatry as any of the heathen
were guilty o£ In the meantime, the most prevalent opinion of
your doctors is that of Thomas and his followers, " That images are
to be adored with the same kind of worship wherewith that which
they represent is to be worshipped," And, therefore, whereas the
Lord Christ is to be worshipped with " latria^" — ^that which is pecu-
liar, in your judgment, to Qod alone, — " it follows," saith he, " that his
image is to be worshipped with the same worship also." And as some
of your learned men do boast that this indeed is the only aj^roved
opinion in this matter in your church, so the truth is, if you will
speak congruously, and at any consistency with yourselves, it must
be so; f(»- whereas you lay the foundation of all your worship of
them, be it of what sort it will, in that figment, that the honour
which is done to the image redounds unto him whose image it is, if
the honour done to the image be of an inferior sort and kind unto
that which is due unto the exampler of it, by refe'rring that honour
thereunto, you debase and dishonour, it by ascribing less unto it than
js its dua I^ then, you intend to answer just expectation in this
matter, the next time you speak of figures^ pray consider what your
Thomas teacheth as tiie doctrine of yoiur church, 3 p. q. 25, aa. 3,
which Azorius says is the constant judgment of divines, Ub. ix. cap. 6 ;
as also the expodtion of the Tridentine decree by Suarez, tom. i d. 54,
sect 4; Vasquez, Costerus, Bellarmine, and others. And, —

3. Tou may do well to consider the practice and usage of your
Catholic people all the world over, especially in those places where
you have preserved them firom being disturbed in their devotion by
the arguments and exceptions of Protestants; as also the direction
that is given them for the exercise of their devotion in that prescrip-
tion of rites and prayers which is afforded unto them. Is not your
bowing, kneeling, creeping, kissing, offering, singing, praying to the



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440 A ymDICATION OF THE JLKIiaBTinBIONS OK FIAT LUX.

eto&B and images, notorioiuf yea^ your {dacmg your tnuA and con-
fidence in them? yea, haive yon omitled a»y abominationg of the
heath^i that you have not acted ofer again, to provc^e the Lord to
anger? And, —

4. Do yon think to relieve ikem from the guih of idolatry by a
eompany of distinction^ whidi nather liiey nor you trnderstand ?
The neact time you see one of your CathoUoB worshij^mig an imi^
upon his knees, I pray go to him and tell him that h« must vrorakip
the image with " duUa" or " superdulia,'^ bat not with * latria;'^ or
if witik '' latria^'' yet not by itself and aimpty, but after a sort ana -
logicaUy and reductivdj/y-^oT that he is about a double worship, one
terminated on the image, and the other pasnng by it unto the ex-
emplar of it, — and you will find what thanks he will give you for your
good instruction. And how small a portion are these of that mass of
distinctions whidi you have coined, to free th«n tsom idolatry who
worship images, who all the while understand not one word of what
you intend by them! Nor can any rational man reduce them unto
any thing intelligiUe.

8ir, in this matter of images you talk of coming up dose to your
business, and I was willing to teke a little pains with you to direct
you in your way, that, having a mind to your woik, as you seem to
pietend, you may not mistake and wander away from your duty, but
address yourself unto that which you undertake, and whidi is expected
from you. You are to prove, — 1. That there is a necessity of r0*
eeifiinff the use of images in the wordiip <^ the church, so that who-
soever doth not admit them is to be cast out of the communioH
thereof; and, 2, lliat these images so received are to be teorshipped
md adored with religious veneratioii,^ — ^if not with the very same
w(»^p that is due to the persons represented by th^n, yet with that
which redounds unto them, — and that not only by the outward ges-
ture of the body, but the inward motions of the mind. And when
you shall have proved that the doctrine and practice of your church,
in this matter of making and worshipping images, is not contrary to
the Scripture, or was ever received or approved by the primitave
church for six hundred years, I will promise you, setting aside all
other considerations, immediately to become a Pa{Mst : for the present^
I see no cause so to do, and shall therefore return to consider what
you here say for the further adorning of your picture&

The first thing you reflect upon is my censure of that passage in
your '^ Fiat,"" that " the sight c^ images in the church is apt to cast
the minds of men on that meditation of the apostle, Heb xil^ ' Tea
are come to mount Sion, to the city of the living God, to the h^venly
Jerusalem, the sodety of angels, and church of the first-bom, written
in heaven, to Qod the judge of all, to the qurits of just men mad«



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THE W(^KSHIP OF IXAQE8. 441

perfect^ to Jesus the mediator of the new corenaBt :''' — " These, I tell
you, upon the sight of a house full of images, may be the thoughts
of a man distracted of his wits, not of any that are sober and wisa"'
To' which you reply, ^' Madmen, it seems, can tell what figures repre*
sent; sober and wise men cannot'" But who told you that your
images represent the things m^itioned by the aposde^ — ^f<^ instance,
^ Qod the judge of all, the spirits of just men, angels^ and therchurch
of the first-bom?'' or can any man, unless he be greatly distempered
in his imagination, &ncy any such thing? The house of Micah,
Judges xvii^ was notably fiimished with images of all sorts, Judges
xvii, he had Q^'Pt^ ^^?, ^ a house full of gods," or a diapel adorned
with images; for there was in it ^, '^ a canred image," and "^^y a
"* sacred ornament" for it^ and 0'*py), ^* lesser portable images," and
^^99, a ^ molten statue," Judges xviiL Would it not, think you, not^
withstanding the gaiety of all this pro visbn, have been a mad thought
in Uie Danites i( upon their entrance into this house, they had api-
prehended themselves to be come to the communion of the catholic
church, and therein to the inyimble Qod, to angels, and saints de-
parted ? The truth is^ there is '* aliquid dementisB^" a tincture of
madness, in all idolatry, whence the Scripture testifies that men are
^* mad upon their idok;" but yet we do not find that these Danites,
though resolved upon fsdse worsh^), were so mad as to entertain sudi
vain thoughts as you imagine the chapel full of images might have
suggested unto tiieoL Or do you think Esekiel had any such
thoughts when Ood showed him in visbn the imagery of the house
of Israel, with aU the deities ^^ pourtrayed on the wall," and the elders
worshipping before them ? Ezek. viiL God and the prophet discover
other thoughts in reference unto them. Besides, mr, the Holy Ghost
tells us that ^ a graven image is a teacher of lies," Hab. ii 18; and
how likely it is that a man should learn any truth from that whose
work it is only to teach lies, I do not as yet understand

You proceed to another exception. '' ^ The violation of an image,'
say you, * redounds to the prototype, if it be rightly and duly repre*-
sented, not else.'" To whidi you r^ly, " And when, then, for ex*
ample, is Christ crucified rightly and didy represented ? Are you one
of those that can tell what figures represent or not ?" 1. Tou do
not r^tly report my wcmls, though you might as easily have done
it as set down Uiose you have made use o£ My words were, '* That
the violation of an image redoimds to the prototype, provided it be
an image rightly and duly destined to represent him that is intended
to be injured;" which is so deared by an instance there expressed, as
turns your exception out of doors as altogether uselesa for, first, I
require that the image be rtghUy and duly desHn^ to the represmn
tatumo/theprototype^'^^hsit is, by him or by them who have power



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442 A YIKDICATION O^ t&E ANDIADVESSIONS OK HAT LUX

€0 to do, and by tke express consent and will of hiin whose imagie it
is, who otherwise is not concerned in it Now, nothing of all this
can you affirm concerning your imagea 2. I require an intention
of doing injury or contumely unto the person represented by the
image, without which whatever is done to the image reflects not at
all upon him: and so a man may break an image of a king, which he
finds formed against his will, in some ugly shape, to expose him to
contempt and scorn, as I suppose out of loyalty unto him, without
the least violation of his honour; which is the very condition of your
images and those that reject them. And this also may suffice to
what you add about Hanging of traitors in effigy, which is a particular
instance of your general assertion, that the violation of an image
redounds to the prototype: which we grant it doth when the image
is rightly designed to that purpose, by them who have just authority
so to do, and when there is an intention of casting contempt upon
it ; the first whereof is not found amongst your images, nor the latter
among them who reject them.

Besides, if all that were granted you which you express, yet what
you aim at would not ensue. For though it should be suppoeed that
the violation of an image would redound unto the injury of the pro^
totype, upon a mere intention of reflecting upon him, without which
it is a foolish conceit to apprehend any such thing, yet it doth ndt
thence follow that the honour done to an image redounds unto him
that is represented by it, provided that the intention of them that
give the honour be so to (k); for besides our intention in the worship
of God, we have a rule to attend unto, without the observatioii
whereof the other will stand us in little stead. And if this might be
admitted, the grossest idolatry that ever was in the world might
easily be excused. That, for instance, of the Israelites setting up a
golden calf, and worshipping it, must needs be esteemed excellent,
seeing they thought to give honour to Jehovah thereby. When the
things mentioned, then, are wanting, images may be dealt withal as
false money, which his majesty causeth every day to be broken,
though it have his own image and superscription upon it, because
stamped without his warrant

You proceed, and add as my words, ** Where the psalmist com-
plains of God's enemies breaking down his sculptures, he means not
thereby any images or figures, but only wainscot or carved ceiling&''
Would you could find in your heart rightly to report my words I The
reason is evident why you do not, — ^namely, because then you had not
been able to make any pretence of a reply unto them. But yet this
ought not to have prev£uled with you to persist m such unhandsome
dealing. My words are, '* The psalmist, indeed, complains that they
broke down the fi^rnnd^ or 'carved works," P& Ixxiv. 6, on the walls aac^



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THE WOBSHIP OF IMAGES. 44^

ceilings of the temple*' (thougli the Greeks render fi^rwnfi, r&g Si^a;
a&njc, " her doors," the verb signifying principally " to open ") ; " but
that those / apertiones' or ^ indsurse* were not pictures and images for
the people to adore and venerate, or appointed for their instruction,
you may learn.'' You see, sir, I grant that the word may denote
** carved works;" and if so, I think they must be either on the walls
or ceiling. That which only I deny was, that these tD^nviB^ or " carved
works," were proposed to ihe people to be adored or venerated. This
you should have confuted, or held your peace. But you take another
course: having misreported my words, to gain some cotmtenaDce
thereby unto what you had to except against them, you add, '* Surely
the prophet wanted a word then to express himself, or translators to
express the prophet If we must guess at his meaning without heed-
ing his words, one might think it as probable that the house of Qod
was adorned with sculptures of cherubims and other angels, to repre-
sent his true house that is above, as with the circles, eta of wainscot"
Sir, the prophet wanted not a word rightly to express his meaning
and intention. 'TD? is originally "aperire," to " open," and " solvere,"
to '' loose," and because engravings are made by opening the matter
engraved with incisiona It signifies also to ** engrave," as 2 Chron.
iii 7, MVna rww^ — "he graved cherubims" (and thence is '7™?,
Zech. iii 9, ** engraving," or " Work engraving") ; the word here used
by the psahmst expressing the effect of what is affirmed, 2 Chron.
iii 7, and elsewhere. And this is well enough expressed by sundry
translators. And you speak very feuntly when you talk of the guessing
at the psalmist's meaning about the temple's being adorned with en-
graven cherubims, as though you knew not cerCainly that it was so,
or as though it were a thing at all questionable. Sir, the text is
express for it, both in the Kings, Chronicles, and Ezekiel; neither
was it ever called in questioiL But withal, the same places inform us
that there were as many palm-trees as cherubims, and those attended
with flowers and pomegranates; and the cherubims in Ezekiel's vision
had each one two faces, — the one of a man, the other of a young lion,
— ^the one face looking towards " one palm-tree, the other towards an-
other:" all which we grant were used for ornament in that wonder-
ful and magnificent structure; but so to imagine that they were pro-
posed to the people to adore and venerate is a little flowing, if not
foaming, of the madness we lately discoiursed of That cherubims
were not images I shall show you by-and-by* And I desire to be
informed of you what palm-trees and flowers, or angels with two faces,
one of a man, another of a lion, you think there are in heaven, that
you should suppose them represented by these below? You may easily
discern how well you have evinced the conclusion manifested before,
to expect some proof at your hands, by fEuntly intimating that the



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444 A YINDIGAtlON OF THX ANIMAPySBSIOKB ON FUT LUX.

walk of the temple were engraven with cheralmnfl^ palm-trees, and
flowers, and therefore, doubUees, he that will not worship images de-
aenres to be anathematised.

You add nextly, as my words, *' The eye may not have her qpedas
as well as the ear; beoauise God hath commanded the one and not
the other/' Ton know full well that you do not express my words
nor meaning as you ought But I shall now cease to expect better
dealing firom you, and make the best that I may of what you ar^
pleased to set down. Speaking in general, I do not nor did deny
that the eye might have its use, and the species of it, to help and fur<>
ther our &ith and devotion in the worship of (}od,^t hath 00 in the
sacraments by him instituted: but I tell you it can have no use to
these ends in things which Qod hath forbidden, as he hath done th^
making of images for religious adoration. But you miy, ** ' Fiat Lux'
makes it appear that God commands both, and the nature of man
requireth both; nor can I give any reason why I may not look upon
him who was crucified, as well as hear him." Fray, sir, talk not of
'' Fiat Lux'' making it appear; the, design of ** Fiat Lux" is rather
to hide than to make any thing appear. And you might have don^
well to direct us unto that place in your '^ Fiat" where you fsincied
that you had made it appear that God commands that use of images
in his worship which you plead for; and as for what the nature of
man requireth, we suppose God knows as well at least as the pop^
and is as careful to make suitable provision for its relief and help in
the duties he calls us to the performance o£ And it is an easy thing
to give you a reason why you may not look on him that was cruci-
fied (that is, with your bodily eyes), as well as hear him by the preach-
ing of the word; and it is because you caimot You yourself tell us^
when you think it for your purpose, that ^* Christ as to his human
nature is now invisible;'' and that is it I think you intend ^ow,
how you will look with your bodily eyes on that which unto you
and us is at present invisible, I cannot understand. J know that
one of the great fietthers of your second Nicene fdth publicly affirmed
in the council, with the approbation of his associates^ that Christ is
so present with or related unto his image, that he tiiat should speak
of it and should say, *' This is Christy" should not err. But I know
also he did it with as much wisdom as he whom the prophet derides
for carving a stock into the likeness of a man, and then saying unto
it, *' Thou art my god." Bo, sir, you may not with your Indily eyes
look on him that was crucified, because you cannot; and as lookhig
on the picture of him which, you mean, is nothing of that which we
contend about, so I fear it is unto you only a means of taking you
firom looking alter his perean in a way of believing, which be so ear-
nestly calls us unto.



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tHB woRsmp or imaqes. 445

Your next progreas is to some worde of mine about th$ end of
preaching, which you set down t '* Nor is the sole end of preaching, aa
' Fiat Lux' would hare it> only to move the mind of hearers unto cor^
responding aflfections;'' whereas, indeed, tiiey are, *^ He is mistaken
if he think the sole end of preaching the cross and death of Christ is
to work out such representations to the mind as oratory may effect
for the moving of correspondmg afiTections;'' — ^which if you know not
to differ very much from what you have expressed, I wish you would
let these matters alone, and talk of what you understand However,
your reply unto what you are pleased to express is such a piece of
ridiculous scurrility as I AbII not stain paper with a recital o£ In
sum, you deny there is any other end of preaching, and excuse your-
self that you thought not of those other ends wUch you suppose I
might have in my heart, but yet oouoeal; and then instance in such
a rabblement of foolish, wicked &ncie6 as I wonder how your thoughts
came to be conversant about As to the thing itself, I must tell you,
sir, whether you are willing to hear it at no, that if you know no
other end of preaching the cross and death of Christ but merely to
work upon the minds of meai so as to stir up their afiections, you
are a person better skilled in the ma»4>ook than the gospel, and
much fitter to be employed in sacrificing aoo(miing to the order of
that than in preaching of the mystery and doctrine of this. Did
never any man inform you tiiat one end of preaching the word was
to regenerate the whole eotde of men, and to beget them anew unto
Qod? that it was also to open tiieir eyes, and to illuminate them with
the saving knowledge of Qod in Christ? that it was to b^;et and in^
crease faith in them? that it was to be a means of their growth in
grace, and in the knowledge of Qod? that the word preached is '' pro*
fitable for reproof, correction, doctrine, and instruction in r^hteous-
ness?'' that it i? appointed as the great means of working the souls of
men into a likeness and conformity unto the Lord Jesus, or the
changing of them into his image? that it is appointed for the refresh*
ment of the weary, and consolation of the sorrowful, and making wise
of the simple? Did you never hear that the word preached hath its
effect upon the understanding and will as well as upon the affections,
and upon these consequentially only unto its e£Bcacy on thaoci, if they
are not deluded? Is growth in knowledge, faith, grace, holiness,
conformity unto Christ, communion with Qod, — for which end the
word is commanded to be preached, — nothing at all with you? Is
being made wise in the mystery of the love of Qod in Christ, to have
an insight into, and scnne understanding of, the imsearchable trea-
sures of his grace, and by all this the building up of souls in their
most holy faith, of no value with you? Are you a stranger unto
these things, and yet think yours^ a meet person to persuade your



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4i4& A VINDICATION OF THE ANnCADVEBSIONS ON HAT LUX.

countrymen to forsake the religion they have long professed, and to
follow you they know not whither? or do you know them, and yet
dare to thrust in your scurrility to their exclusion? Plainly, sir, the
most charitable judgment that I can make of this discourse of yours
is, that it proceeds from ignorance of the most important truths and
most necessary works of the gospel.

Tou next proceed to your plea from the cherubims set up by Moses
in the holy place over the ark ; and thence you will needs wrest
an argument for your images and the worship of them, although your
Yasquez is ashamed of it, and hath cashiered it long ago, and diat
worthily, as not at all belonging unto this matter. For, — 1. The
cherubims were not images; to which you say, " Since the real che-
rubims are not made of beaten gold, those set up by Moses must be
only figure&'' But it is of images that we are speaking precisely,
and not in general of figures. Figures may include types and hiero-



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 54 of 67)