Andrew Thomson John Owen.

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glyphics, and any representation of things: images represent persons^
— and such alone are those about which we treat; and if a person
be not represented by an image, it is not his imaga Now, I pray,
tell me what personal subsistences these cherubims, with their various
wings and faces, did represent? Do you believe that they give you
the shape and likeness of angels? It is true, John the bishop of
Thessalonica, in your synod of Nice, with the approbation of the rest
of his company, afiSrms that it was the opinion of the catholic church
that angels and archangels were not sdtogether ''incorporeal and
invisible, but to have a slender body of air or fire,'' act 5. But are
you of liie same mind? or do you not rather think that the catholic
church was belied and abused by the synod? And if they are abso-
lutely incorporeal and invisible, how can an image be made of them?
Should a man look on the cherubims as images of angels, would not
tBe first thing they would teach him be a lie, — ^namely, that angels
are like unto them; which is the first language of any image what-
ever? The truth is, the MosMcal cherubims were mere hieroglyphic^
to represent the constant tender love and watchfulness of God over
the ark of his covenant and the people that kept it, and had no-
thing of the nature of images in them. 2. I say, suppose of them
what you please, yet they were not set up to be adored, as your
images ara To which you reply, " It is not to my purpose or yours
that they were not set up to be adored ; for images in Catholic churches
are not set up for any such purpose, nor do I anywhere say sa No
man alive hath any such thought; no tradition, no council, hath de-
livered it; no practice infers it'' And do you think meet to talk at
this rate? Have you no tradition amongst you that you plead for
the adoration of images? hath no coimcil amongst you determined
it? doth not your practice speak it? Were you awake when yoq



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THE WOBSHIP OF DCIQES. 447

wrote these things ? Did you never read your Tridentine decrees, or
the Nicene canons commended by them ? is not the adoration of
images asserted a hmidred times expressly in it? Hath no man alive
such thoughts? Are not only Thomas and Bonaventure, but Bellar-
mine, Gr^ory de Yalentia, Baronius, Suarez, Yasquez, Azorius, with
all the rest of your great champions, now utterly defeated, and have
not one man left to be of their judgment? I would be glad to hear
more of this matter. Speak plainly. Do you renounce all adoration
and worship of images? is that the doctrine of your church? Prove
it so, and I shall publicly acknowledge myself to have been a long
time in a very great mistake. But it was for this cause that I gave
you a little image of the doctrine and practice of your church in this
matter, at the entrance of our discourse, foreseeing how you would
prevaricate in our progresa Come, sir, if image-worship be such a
shameful thing that you dare not avow it, deal ingenuously, and
acknowledge the £Eulings of your church in this matter, and labour
to bring her to amendment If you think otherwise, and, in truth,
yet like it well enough, deal like a man, and dare to defend it at
least as well as you can; and more no man can look for at your hands.
You mention somewhat of the different opinions of your schoolmen
in this matter; which you slight But, sir, I tell you again, that you
and all your masters are agreed that images are to be adored and
venerated, — ^that is, worshipped ; and their disputes about that honour
that rests absolutely on the image, and that which passeth on to the
prototype, with the kind of the one and the other, are such as neither
themselves nor any other do understand. You tell us, indeed, '^ All
catholic councils and practice declare such sacred figures to be expe-
dient assistants to our thoughts in our divine meditations and prayers;
and that is all you know of it" But if you intend councils and
practice truly catholic or primitive, you can give no instance of al-
lowing so much to images as here you ascribe unto them; no, not
one council can you produce to that purpose for some hundreds of
years, but a constant current of testimonies for the rejection of such
pretended expediencies and assistances, the first begmning of their
use arising firom heathens, as Eusebius declares, lib. viL cap. 18. But
if you intend your B^man Catholic councils and practice, your asser-
tion is as devoid of truth as any thing you can possibly utter. What
kind of assistance in devotion these your sacred figures do yield, we
shall anon consider.

It is added in the "Animadversions,'' "That it was (3od who ap-
pointed these cherubims to be made, and placed where they were
never seen of the people: and that his special dispensation of a law
constitutes no general rule; so he commanded his people to spoil the
Egyptians, though he forbid all men to steal" This was said on



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4M A YINDIGATIOK OF THS AKDCADYSBSIOKB ON FIAt LUX.

suppoe&tion that tbey were images, or adored, lx>tb whioh I showed
to be false; and it is the answer given by Tertullian, when he was
pleading against all making up of pictures, which we do not. Now,
do you produce Gk>d'8 q)ecial command for the making, use, and
veneration of your images, and this contest will soon be at an end.
But whereas Qod, who'commanded these dierubims to be made, hath
severely interdicted the making of images, as to any use in his wor^
ship unto us, what oondosion you can hence draw I see not To this
you reply in a large discourse, wherein are many things oiheologicoL
I Bbsll briefly pass through what you say. Thus, then, you begin:
'^ We must know, you as well as I, that Gk>d, who forbids men to
steal, did not then command to steal, as you say he did, when he
bade his pe(q[)le q)oil the Egyptians under the species of a loan."
^' Malum omen I'' You stumble at the tiirediold. Did I say that
Qod '' commanded men to steal?" '' Porrige fronteoL" The words (rf*
the ^'Animadversions" lay before you when you wrote this, and you
could not but know that you wrote that which was not trua This
immorality doth not become any man, of what religion soever he b&
Stecding denotes the pravity of taking that whidi is another man'a
This Qod neither doth nor can command; for the taking of that
which formerly belonged to another is not stealing if Gbd oommairil
it, ioT the reason which yourself have stumbled on, as we shall see
afterward. The Egyptians were spoiled by Gknl's command, but the
people did not steal: for his command, who is the sovereign Lord of
all things, the great possessor of heaven and earth, dispensed with his
law of one man's taking that which before belonged unto another,
as to that particular whereunto his command extended, in referaace
whereunto stealing, or the pravity of that act of alienation, ccmsistB;
and so it is in other casea It is murder for a £either to slay his
son ; neither can Qod command a man to murder his son: and yet
he commanded Abraham to slay hi& To so little purpose is your
followiDg attempt to prove that the Hebrews did not steal, and that
Qod did not command them to steal; which you &ncied, or rather
feigned, to be asserted in the " Animadversions," that you mi^t
make a pretence of sajring something: so that it had been much
better to have passed over this whole matter with your vented
silence, which relieves you against the things which you despair of
returning a r^ly unto. You say, " The Hebrews might have right
to those few goods they took in satisfaction for their long oppression,
and it may be their own allowance was not psdd them." But this
right, whatever it may be pretended, was only " ad rem," a general
equity, which they had no warrant to put in execution by any parti*
cular instance; and therefore you add, secondly, ^'Because it is a
thing of danger that any servant should be allowed to right himself



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THE WORSHIP OF IMAGES. 449

by putting his hand to his master's goods, though his case' of wrong
be never so clear, therefore did the command of God intervene to
justify their actioa" But why do you call this " a thing of danger"
only? is it not of more than danger, even expressly sinfvlt Then
is a thing morally dangerous, when there may be sin in it, not when
unavoidably there is; then, indeed, there is danger of punishment,
or rather certainty of it, without repentance; but we do not say then
there is danger of sinning. It may be you do it to comply with your
casuists, who have determined that in some cases it is lawful for a
servant himself to make up his wrongs out of his master's goods;
which caused yoyr friends some trouble, as you know in the case
of John de Alva.^ Tou proceed, and insist upon the command of
God, proceeding from his sovereignty and lordship over all, war-
ranting the Hebrews to take the Egyptians' goods, and so spoil them ;
and that rightly. " But this," say you, " can no way be applied imto
images; nor could God command the Hebrews to make any images
if he had absolutely forbidden to have any at all made." Sir, this is
not our case. God forbade the Hebrews to make any images, so as
to bow down to them in a way o* religious worship, and yet might
command them to make hieroglyphical representations of his care
and watchfulness, and to set them up where they might not be wor-
shipped. But let us suppose that you speak " ad idem," and perti-
nently ; let us see how you prove what you say. " For this," say you,
" concerns not any affiur between neighbour and neighbour, whereof
the supreme Lord hath absolute dominion, but the service only and
adoration due from man to his Maker; which God, being absolutely
good and immutably true, cannot alter or dispense with. Nor doth
it stand with his nature and deity to change, dispense, or vary the
first table of his law concerning himself, as he may the second, which
concerns neighbours, for want of that dominion over himself which
he hath over any creature, to take away its right, to preserve or de-
stroy it, as himself pleaseth; and therefore you conclude, that if God
had commanded his people to set up no images, he could not have
commanded them to set up any, because this would imply a contrar

1 John de Alva was a servant in the Jesoit College of Clermont, who pilfered from his
masters, and, on his examination before the oiTil court, quoted in his d^enoe the maxim
of a Jesuit, Father Bauny, who held it lawM for a serrant to purloin from his master,
if the theft were simply to make amends for any insufficiency in his wages. The story
is humorously given in the "Provincial Letters," (Let. vl) There is a singular paralld
to be found in the history of another Alva, feonous for his atrocities in the Low Coun-
tries. When he was recalled from the disgrace which he had incurred for them, to
reduce Portugal under the Spanish crown, he seixed an immense treasure at Lisbon, and
refused to give any account of it, holding it as the reward due to him for his services,
and compensation for his four years' disgrace and imprisonment " If the king," said
he, " ask me for an acoount, I will make him a statement of kingdoms preserved and
conquered, of signal victories, of successful sieges, and of sixty years' serviee." No foulher
inquiries were made. — ^Ed. »

VOL. XIV. 29



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450 A VINDICATION OF THE ANDEADVEBSIONS ON FIAT LtJZ.

diction in himself" A very profound theological discourse, which
might become one of the angelical or seraphical doctors of your
church I But who, I pray, told you that there was the same r^uson
of all the commands of Uie first table ? Vows and oaths are a part
of the worship of Qod prescribed in the third commandment; yet,
whatever Qod can do, your pope takes upon himself to dispense with
them every day. He so dispensed with the oath of Ladislaus, king
of Hungaiy, inade in his peace with the Turks, to the extreme clanger
of his whole kingdom, the irreparable loss and almost ruin of all
Christendom. So he dispensed with the oath of Hauy IL of France,
whidi ended in his expulsion out of Italy, his loss of the fiunous
battle of St Quentin, and the danger of his whole kingdom. Hie
strict observation of the Sabbath by the Jews was commanded unto
them in a precept of the first table, and was not a matter between
neighbours, but belonged inmiediately to the worship of God him-
eelf : according to your divinity, God could not dispense with them
to do any labour that day; but our Lord Jesus Christ hath taught
us, that by his command the priests were to labour on that day in
killing the sacrifices, by virtue of an after-exception. And your book
of Maccabees will inform you that the whole people judged them-
selves dispensed withal in case of imminent danger. I^ie whole
fabric of Mosaical worship was a thing that belonged immediately to
God himself, and was not a matter between neighbours, which had
its foundation in the second commandment; and yet I suj^x)se you
will grant that God hath altered it, changed it, and taken it away.
So excellent is your rule as to all the precepts of the first table, whidi
indeed holds only in the first command ! Things that naturally and
necessarily belong to the dependence of the rational creature on God,
as the first cause, last end, and supreme Lord of all, are absolutely
indispensable; which are in general all comprised, as to their nature,
in the first precept^ wherein we are commanded to receive him alone
as our God, and consequently to yield him that obedience of faith,
love, honour, which is due to him as God: but the outward modes
and ways of expressing and testifying that subjection and obedi^ace
which we owe unto him, depending on his arbitrary institution, are
changeable, dispensable, and liable to be varied at his pleasure; which
they were at several seasons, before the last hand was put to the
revelation of his will by his Son. And then, though God did abso-
lutely forbid his people the making of images, as to any use of them
in his worship and service, he might, by particular exception, have
made some himself, or i^pointed them to be made, and have de-
signed them to what use he pleased ; firom whence it would not follow
in the least, that they who were to regulate their obedience by his
command, and not by that instance of his own particular exception



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THE WOBSHIP OF UIAQES. 451

nnto his institution, might set up any other images for the same end
and purpose, no more than they might set up other altars for sacri-
fice besides that appointed by him, when he had commanded that
they should not do sa Supposing, then, that which is not true, and
which you can give no colour of proof to, namely, that the " cheru-
bims were images properly so called," and set up by Qod's command
to be adored, yet they were no less still under iiie force of his prohi-
bition against the making of images, than if he had never appointed
any to be made at all. It was no more fi:ee for them to do so than
it is for you now, under the New Testament, to make five sacraments
more, of your own heads, because he hath appointed two. So im-
happy are you in the confirmation of your own supposition, which
yet, as I have showed you, is by no means to be granted And this
is the substance of your plea for this practice and usage of your
church; which, whether it will justify you in your open iromsgression
of so many express commands that lie against you in this matter, the
day that shall discover all things will manifest

You proceed to the vindication of another passage in your '^ Fiat,"
firom the animadversions upon it, with as littie success as the former
you have attempted. '' 'Fiat Lux' says, ' Qod forbade foreign
images, such as Moloch, Dagon, and Ashtaroth, but he commanded his
own'" (sir, Moloch and Ashtaroth were not images properly so called,
whatever may be said of Dagon, — ^the one was the sun, the otjber the
host of heaven, or the moon and stars) ; '' but the ' Animadversions'
say, ' that Qod forbade any likeness of himself to be made.'" They do
so, and what say you to tiie contrary ? Why, " You may know and
consider that the statues and graven images of the heathen, towards
whose land Israel, then in the wilderness, was journeying, were ever
made by the Pagans to represent Ood, and not any devUs, although
they were deluded in it" But, — 1. Your good fiiends will give you
littie thanks for this concession, whose strongest plea to vindicate
themselves and you from idolatry in your image-worship is, that the
images of the heathen were not made to represent Qod, but that an
idol was really and absolutely nothing. 2. Qod did not forbid the
people in particular the making images unto Moloch, Dagon, or Adi^
taroth, but prohibits the worshipping of the idols themselves in any
way ; but he forbids the making of any images and similitudes of him-
self in the first place, and of all other things, to worship them. But
what of all this ? "Why then," say you, " there was good reason that
the Hebrews, who shoidd be cautioned from such snares, should be
forbidden to make to themselves any similitude or likeness of Qod."
Well, then, they were so forbidden; this is that which the "Animad-
versions" affirmed before, and " Fiat Lux" denied, affirming that
they were the ''ugly faces of Moloch" that were forbidden. " Moses,"



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462 A VINDICATION OP THE ANIMADVERSIONS ON FUT LUX.

say you, p. 294, " forbade profane and foreign images, but he com-
manded his own;" but here you grant that Qod forbade the making
of any dmilitude or likeness of himself, — ^the reason of it we shaJl not
much dispute whilst the thing is confessed, though I must inform
you that himself insists upon another, and not that which you sug>
gest, which you will find if you will but peruse the places I formerly
directed you unto. But say you, " What figure or similitude the true
Qod hath allowed his people, that let them hold and use until the
fulness of time should come, when the figure of his substance, the
splendour of his glory, and only image of his nature, should s^pear;
and now, since God hath been pleased to show us his face, pray give
Christians leave to keep and honour it'' I presume you know not
that your discourse is sophistical and atheological, and I shall th^e-
fore give you a little light into your mistakes : — 1. What do you mean
by ^' figure or similitude'' that the true God had allowed his people ?
Was it any figure or simihtude of himself, not of Moloch, which you
were speaking of immediately before, and which your following words
interpret your meaning of, where you affirm that in the " fulness of
time" he hath given us the " image of himself?" have you not denied
it in the words last mentioned ? Have you no regard how you jumUe
contradictions together, so you may make a show of saying some-
thing? Do you intend any other likeness or similitude? why then do
you deal sophistically in using the same expression to denote div^se
things ? 2. It is atheological, that you affirm Christ to be the " image
of the nature of God." He is, and is said to be, the " image of his
Father's person," Heb. i 3. And when he is said to be the " image
of the invisible God," the term God is to be taken v^oeranxZg for
the person of the Father, and not obtfrndZg for the nature, or sub-
stance, or essence of God. 3. Christ is the essential image of the
Father in his divine nature, inasmuch as he is partaker wiUi him of
all the same divine properties and excellencies, and morally in his
whole person God and man, as mediator, in that the love, grace, will,
and wisdom of the Father are in him fully represented unto us, and
not in the outward lineaments of his human nature, Isa. lii liiL And
what is all this to your images that give us the shape and form of
a man, and of what individual person neither you nor we know ?

4. And is it not a fine business, to talk of seeing the " face of God,**
which shone forth in Christ, in a carved image, or a painted figure?
Is not this to confess plainly that your images are teachers of lies ?

5. Your logic is like your divinity. Inartificial argument or testimony
you use none in this place, and I desire you would draw your dis-
course into a syllogism : " * Christ is the brightness of the gloiy of
(Jod ; God shows us his face in him:' therefore we ought to make
images of wood and stone, carved and painted, and set them up in



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THE WOBSHIP OF IMAGES. 453

cturches to be adored." 'O^nff idtt dtT^eu; And hereby you may also
discern wbat is to be judged of your defence of what you had affirmed
in your " Fiat," — ^namely, ** That we had a command that we should
have images, and a command that we should not have images;" wtich
I never imagined that you would put upon a various lection of the
text, and thought it sufficient to manifest your failing to intimate
unto you the express preciseness of the prohibition, with which your
£Bmcied command for images is wholly inconsistent Ood hath strictly
forbidden us to make any image, either of himself or of any other
person or thing, to adore or worship it, or to put it unto use purely
religious: this is an everlasting rule of our obedience. His ''own
making of cherubims," and placing them in the most holy place, whilst
the Judaical economy continued, gives us no dispensation as to the
obedience which we owe to that command and rule whereby we
must be judged at the last day.

Your last exception is laid agamst what I affirmed concerning the
relation you fancy between the image and its prototype, whereby
you would excuse the honour and worship which you give unto it,
which I said is a mere effect of your own imagination. To which
you reply, that, '' speaking of a formal representation or relation, and
not of the efficient cause of it, you cannot but wonder at this illogical
assertion." But, sir, this your " formal representation or relation,"
which you fancy, must have an efficient cause, and hath so, — ^a real
one if it be real, an imaginary one if it be fictitious^ — and this I in-
quired after; and I think it is not illogical to affirm that the relation
you pretend is fictitious, because it hath no cause but your own ima-
gination, on which alone it depends. A divine institution constituting
such a.relation you have none, nor doth it ensue on the nature of the
thing itself; for the carving of a stock into the likeness of a man
gives it no such relation to this or that individual man, as that which
is done unto the one should have any respect imto the other. But
you add, " Is the picture made by the sp^^tor's imagination to re-
present this or that thing, or the imagination rather guided to it by
the picture? By this rule of yours, the image of Csesar, did not my
imagination help it, would no more represent a man than a mouse."
But you quite mistake the matter. The relation you fimcy includes
two things: — First, that this image represents not a man in ge-
neral, but this or that individual man in particular, and that exclu-
sively to all others; for instance, Simon Peter, and not Simon Magus,
who was a man no less than he or any other man whatever. Now,
though herein the imagination may be assisted when it hath any
certain grounds of discerning a particular likeness in an image unto
one man when he was living more than to another, yet you in most
of your images are destitute of any such assistance. You know not



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464 A VINDICATION OF THE ANIVADVEB8I0NS ON FIAT LUX.

at all that your images represent any thing peculiar in the persons
whereof you pretend them to be the images ; which sufficiently appearo
by the variety that is in the images whereby you represent the same
person, even Christ himself, in several places: so that though eveiy
man in his right wits may conceive that an image is the image of a
man and not of a mouse, yet that it should be the image of this or
that man, of Christ himself or Peter, he hath no ground to imagine
but what is suggested unto him by his imagination, directed by the
circumstances of its place and title. When Clodius had thrust Cicero
into banishment, to do him the greater spite he demolished his house,
and dedicated it as a devoted place to their gods, setting up in it the
image of the goddess Libertaa The orator, upon his return, in his
Oration ad Pontifioes for the recovery of his house, to overthrow this
pretended dedication and devotion of it, pleads two things: — Firsts
that the image pretended by Clodius to be the image of Liliertas was'



Online LibraryAndrew Thomson John OwenThe works of John Owen, Volume 14 → online text (page 55 of 67)