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prayer is, and we hope it may be the prayer of every Christian if\ our land, that Al-
mighty God may richly endue him with grace and wisdom; ituiy gfrant him every qua-
lification, and all the support, which his exalted station, and his numerous and arduous
duties demand ; that his administration may redound to the glory o£ God, the pros-
perity of our beloved country, and his own comfort, satisfaction, honour, and everlast-
ing fehcity. The Washington Telegraph stotes— *' We are authorized to say, that the
new Cabinet will consist of Martin Van Buren, of New York, as Secretary of Stated-
Samuel D. Ingham, of Pennsylvania, as Secretary of the Treasury .—John M'Lean, of
Ohio, as Postmaster General. — John H. Eaton, oi* Tennessee, as Secretary of War.—
John Branch, of North Carolina, as Secretary of the Navy.— John M'Pberson Berrien,
of Georgia, as Attorney General. It wUl be seen, tl\at (be Postmaster General is to
be included in the Cabinet. We learn that the President elect on Wednesday i^-
ceived a letter from Mr. Van Buren, accepting the Stalie Department. The other
gentlemen are in this city, and have notified their acceptance in person." Congress
closes its sessions with leaving much important business unfinished, and some un-
touched. We particularly regret that the unhallowed post office law is not repealed.


Page 63, eoL 1, line 15 from bottom, for tk9cipUning read dUcipUnr,
68, „ 21 „ for 1829 read 1S28.

S. L. R is received, and will appear.

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natsasvitiia iia>T(ii)Oiivffi«

APRIL^ 1S£9.

fieligiott^ Communkatiott^.



II, iDOLATaT, as well as Atheism,
18 prohibited in the first command-
ment, according to that part of the
answer before us, which sajrs, that
this precept '* forbids the giving that
worship and glory to aoj other
which IS due to God alone." We
bave already, ihdef;|l, shown that
idolatry is interpretative atheism,
hj the decision of the apostle Paul,
who affirms that the Piphesians,
the noted and zealous worshippers
of the heathen eoddess Diana,
" were atheists in the world," tiU
their conversion to Christianity.

We may give a definition of idol-
atry in the ver^ words of divine in-
spiration — It IS, "to worship and
serve the creature more [or rather*]
than the Creator.^' It is of two
kinds, ^ross or palpabk, and mental
or secret.

I. Gross or palpable idolatry is
the rendering of open and avotpe4
worship, or religious homage, to
some creature. This was, and is,
the great and leading sin of the

* HcUiet, U ih this pkce the msri^nal
tnd correct translation of the onginal
word fr«M.

heathen world. It begaa very early.
Some writers of chaimctor ^e of the
opinion that it existed before the
flood ; and that this it intimated in
, the passage ( 2) which speaks
of the sons of God contracting mar-
riages with the daughters of men.
However this might be, we ieani
from the distinct statement of Holy
Scriptore, that shortly after the ge-
neral deluge, idolatry was so preva-
lent that the family of Abraham
were worshippers of idols in Chal-
dea, till he was called to remove
Attt of that country. The great de-
mga of God in the calfiag of Abra-
ham doubtless waa, to preserve in
the world the knowledge of the true
God. Yet his posterity manifested
a proneness to idolatry that seems
astonishing. Their making and wor-
shipping a golden calf, even when
the thunderings and lightnings of
Sinai were before their e^es, waa a
memorable instance of this prope«-
eity : And although it does not ap-
pear lh«l they ev^r had idols of their
own invention, yet when settled in
the land of Canaan, they, firat or last,
adopted almost all the idols of the
neighboorioe countries. It was their
captivity in Babylon that eventually
€ured them of thia propensitj.

In every other nation of antiqui-
ty, oKcept the Hebrew', the grosseat
idotalry was practised, and that
€ontitiuaUy« Itwaasofiir frombe-
iagnrevented or diminished kf Im-

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Ledures Oft the Shortir Cateehism^


nuni learning or philosophy, that it
b a notorious ftct that the nations
moat distinguished for scienoe and
the arts, were also the most remark-
able for their abominable and mul-
tifarious polytheism. The Greeks
had about thirty thousand ^ods.*—
Jupiter was reckoned the chief, and
then followed a rabble of gods and
goddesses, each presiding over, or
{Mtrticularly attached to, some na-
tion, some season of the year, some
of the elements, or some art or
occupation. These imaginary dei-
ties were represented aa having
husbands ana wives, as possess-
ing oppoaite interests, as often en-
gaged in jealousies, altercations and
quarrels, and as indulging in some
of the worst and basest vices ever
seen among mankind.

It appears that the heavenly bo-
dies, the sun, moon, and stars, were
the first objects of idolatrous wor-
ship ; -then demons or Genii, who
were considered as inferior deities;
then the departed spirits of kings,
heroes, lawgivers, philosophers and
publick benefactors; «na eventu-
ally, almost every object of the
animste and inanimate creation-
rivers, groves, beasts, birds, fishes,
reptilesi and vices of the m^t
loathsome k^nd. Indeed the rites
of pagan idolatry, both in ancient
ana modern times, have always been
connected with the most revolting
impurity, and the most appalling
ertreity. Human sacrifices, espe-
i^ly on occa$ions of great emer-
gMK^y, have often been, and in some
ffhtces stills ^, oiieried to the pre-
tended deities of the heathen. You
can never exceed in your gratitude
to God, my dear youth, that be has
p;iven yon existence at a time, and
in a land, in which*the light of di-
vine revelation has so completely
banished this gross idolatry, that it
seems wonderfol to us that it ever
could have existed t and truly I
know of nothing that exhibits nu-
man nature in a light more dejira-
ding, and demonsUates the blind-
ing and heaottingnaturMf lb more

forcibly, than that rational beings^
should offer religious worship to
some of the most detestable objects
that can be conceived of; and with
many rites which decency will not
permit us so mofsh as to name.— -
Read attentively the whole passage,
in the first chapter of the epistle to
Romans, from which I have quoted
a definition of idolatry; and von
wiU'ind the cause of it assigned by
the pen of inspiration, and a sum-
mary description given of its shock-
ing character and prevalence.

before we leave the topick of
gross and palpable idolatry, it is
with pain that I feel myself con-
strained to say, that a species of it
exists in the Romish and Greek
churches. It is true, indeed, that
many of the objects worshipped are
entirely different from those of the
heathen; although tte religious re-
gard shown to relicks, crucifixes,
Uie pretended wood of the cross,
and places deemed sacred, are
much like some-of the pagan super-
stitions. Neither \i it clear that
many of those who have been ca-
nonized and worshipped as saints,
were worthy of the appellation, to
say nothing of the relmous homage
they have recfived. -But although
the angels, the mother of our bless-
ed Lord, the holy apostles, and
many later saints, are highly wor-
thy of our love and veneration, none
of them are proper objects of any
kind or degree of religious worship;
and could they address those who
offer it, they would doubtless reject
it with abhorrence. Fbu will recol-
lect, that when the apostle John
<* fell down to worship, before the
feet of the angel," that showed him
the things of which we have an ac-
count in the last chapter of the
book of Revelations, the angel said,
«" See thou do it noti for I am thy
fellow servant, and of thy brethren
the ^prophets, and of them which
keep the sayings of this book : wor-
ship God." In like manner, when
religious homage was ofibred to
Paiu and Bamahtt at leoniam

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Ledurts an the Shorter CateekUm.


( AcU xi¥. 8—18.), thev ^ rent their
clothes," in token of tneir utter ab-
horreDce 'of what was intended ;
and in their address to the people,
thej expressly place all such acts
on the same footing with ^ those va-
nities,'? those offerings to heathen
deities, ^hich this ido^itrous peo-
ple were accustomed to make.

I am perfectly awi^re of the dif-
fei:ence which the Papists make, be-
tween what thej denominate daiUia
and {fltrui— that it is the former
only, {d(nUi4h) that they o&r to an^
gels> to the mother of our Lord, and
to other saints; implying no more
than a grateful veneration of their
virtues, and petitions to them to be
intercessors with God and Christ,
in behalf of the petitioners; and
that the latter {latria) is the wor-
ship which they offer imm^iately
to 6od and Christ, as alone able to
fomve sin, and to confer all the be-
nefits of redemption. For this dis-
tinction I cannot admit that there
is »ny sufficient warrant or reason:
but taking it exactly as they make
it, I remark, that by addressine
prayers to angels and saints, at aU
times, and in many places of the
world at the same time, they plain-
ly invest them with the divine at-
tributes of omnipresence and omnjs-
eience; which is idolatry in the
strictest sense of the word— It is
attributine to creatures, what be-
longs to God alone. Considering,
moreover, that these prayers, au-
djressed to saints and angels, are
unspeakably more numerous than
those offered to Jehovah, they bring
thosf who offer.lhem strictly within
the apostle's definition of idolatry,
''they worship and serve the crea-
ture MouE than the Creator,*^'^
more in frequency, and really more
as a matter of importance.

The sin of worshipping God. by
images, will come to be considered
at length, in attending to the prbhi-
bitioBS of the second command-
ment But as it is a breach of the
first, to {^ve divine honour to anj
thing that is not God, and as it is

notorious that such honour is attri-
buted, in the-Romish church, to the
images and pictures of saints and
angels, and .to the impious paint-
ings, in which attempts have been
made to represent the persons of
the adorable Trinity, it is clear that
there, is a violation of both these
commandments at once, in the in-
stancea to which I have referred.

£. Mental or secret idolatry, is«
practised without hesitation or re-
morse, by multitudes \?ho would
receive with horror or contempt,
a proposal to fall down and wor-
ship stocks and stones. This men-
tal or secret idolatry, consists
ii^ giving to any creature object
that place in our nearts or affeeUons,
whicn of right belongs to God alone.
Him we are required to love sn«
premely— with all our heart, and
soul, and strength, and mind; and
when we refuse to do this, but love
and serve, something else more than
God, we are, in his sight, as really
chargeable with the sin of idolatry,
as if we had made and worshipped
a graven image. The apostle Paul
eipressi V declares that " covetous-
nessis idolatry," and of courses eve-
ry other affection or passion which
is exercised with equal strength on
a created object, must possess the
same character. To attempt, there-
fore, to specify in detail all the
ways in which the sin of mental or
secret idolatry may be committed,
would be nothing less than to endea-
vour to enumerate all the prefer-
ences of creatures to the Creator,
which may take place in the minds
of different individuals, in all that
diversity of disposition, character
and pursuit, which is found in the
human iamiiy. The impracticatn-
lity of this is obvious: and yet, as
general representations make but
uttle impression, and the subject
before us is highly important and
practical, I shall very briefly point
your attention to several examples
of idolatry, of the kind indicated by
this part of our subject
(1.) Avarice, as we have seen* has

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been declaitd to be HeHaXrf. hj the
Toieeof inBpintiDn* "The mam-
iMii of QorighteoiiiiieM*'' is the |od
that thoataDds» eren in a Christian
land, constantly and devetedl j wor*
ship. Its devotees often sacrifiGe
to it er%rj sentimentt both of pietj
and hasnanitf. To accumiilate
wealth, justice is disreprded, the
poor and the helpless are treated
<with cruelty, and m some cases, not
only their families, but their own
pirsons, are sub|eoted to pinching
want and privatioD, by the wretch*
ed penuriousness ofthoie whose
god is gain. But in eases innome-
rabiei where no such eitreme is
reached, nay, among these who bars
a standing, and are etta office bear-
ers in the church of Christ, there is
an attachment to wealth, a Talne
iet upon it^ and a manner of spend-
ing iti which is truly idolatrons* It
is not consecrated to Gk>d, but
boat^ed, and loved, and used, not
to promote the divine glory, the
cause of Christ, and the good of man-
kind, bat to serve merely the self-
ish purposes of its owner, or of his
immediate family or dependant^ -
to cherish luxury or worldly -mind**
edness, and to subserve personal
anrandizement and vain distinc-


(2.) The love of fame is the idol of
etners. It is so especially of men
of science and teaming, of states-
men, legislators, philoMphers, ora-
tarst poets, historians, and writers
of all descriptions, and perhaps of
DO class of men so much, as of those
who fatelottg to the military profes-
sion. They often make no sora»
pie to avow that fame, or cha-
racter, and high reputation, in
the various pursuits to which they
have addicted themselves, is their
idol<«»the supreme object of their
regard, to which they determine
that every thing else shall be subor-
dinate, and to which, if it be neces«
sanr, tbey am ready to sacrifice Kfe

S. Theloveof pleasure— sensual
pl«senre*^s the idol of others-*

They are ^ Idvers of pleasures, more
than lovers of God." This, roj
young friends, is the kind of idola-
try by which persons at your pe-
riod of life are most apt to be se-
duced into sin. Young persons are
especially prone to foiget God, ne-
glect and contemn his worfhip, and
violate his laws, through the solici-
tations of <*the losts of the flesh,
the lusts of the em and the pride-
of life.'' For what ar& esteemed
youthful pleasures, or that which is
denominated, although most prepos-
terously, a Ufe cf pleasure, thou-
sands, in the morning of their days,
renounce all allowance to the Ciod
who made them, and give them-
selves up, in one form or another, to
licentious indulgence. TKjrougb
every gradation of vicious pro-
pensity, from an attaohment to
routes and dances, nocturnal par-
ties and days of dissipation, to
the grosser abominations of the
theatre, the brothel, the gambling
house, and the resort of the glutton
and the drunkard, the idolaters of
unhallowed pleasure are found. As
you value the salvation of your
souls then, O be deaf to the syren
song of sinful pleasure !<^or in the
end ** it stingeth like a serpent and
biteth like an adder."

(4.) The opinion of the world is
often idolized. It is not possible
to specify all the methods, or ways,
in which men are influenced by a
desire to ** receive honour one of
another, and seek not the honour
that Cometh from God only." It is
an idolatry of human opinion that
leads multitudes, even of those^who
pay some regard to religion, into
an unlawful conformity^ to the
vrorld, in its customs, 'fashions,
roaxifhs and opinions. They want
resolution to take the word of God
simply, as the standhrd of opinion
and action*— to come out from the
world and be separate^ and touch
not the unclean thing. Q2 Cor. vi.
17.) Other multitudes there are»
who really are ^ided by scarcely
any thing else in the sentiments

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Leel»rts m the /Shorter Catechism.


tbej wiafU and the wiiole coarse of
life and conduct thej nurauei than
a r^ard to their worldly reputa?*
tion« What will injare their esti-
mation in society they desire to
ayoid. and what will promote that
estimation, they are most of all
aaxions ta achieve^ Homan opi-
nion, and not (he law of God» is
their rule, or staodand, by which
they judge and ac^^^e idol that
they worship*

(5.) Kindred»relati^s, or friends,
are often idolized. *' He (said the
Saviour) that loyeth father* or mo-
ther more than me, is not worthy o£
me, and he that loreth son or daugh-
ter mere than me, is not worthy oC
Hie." In the early periods of the
Christian church, and in some other
periods since, no alternative has re*
mained, but either to renounce
Christ, or to renounce the friend*
ship of the dearest earthly connex-
ions, and even submit to be formal-
ly and forever excluded ffom their
presence and favour. Cases like
this- sometimes still occur, abd
whenever they do, he is an idolater
who prefers a creature, however
dear, to the Creator. But in in-
stances innumerable, where no en*
tire renunciation of the beloved ob-
ject is required; nay, where a well
regulated affecfion is an absolute
doty, this idolatry is often prac-
tised — between husbands and wives,
parents and children, brothers and
sbters, and friends who are bound
to each other, not by nature's ties,
hutby those of affection onljT* How
often has the death of one, in some
of these relations, made a survivor
feel, and sometimes expressly say,
that he has lost an idol» Nor can I
forbear k point your .attention in
particular, my young friends, to
that flattering and impassioned lan-

foage which you will sometimes
ear, and perhaps find need by po-
pular writers, in the addresses
made by the one sex to the* other,
in which idololry and uSaration
is explicitly avowed. Language
.»f this kind is the more <detest«-

aUe, because it is commoftly as
hypocritical as it is impious. 'Let
religious principle unite with a
sense of propriety and the princi-
ples of good taste, to cherish in
your minds an utter abhorrence of
addressinff others, or being address-^
ed yourselves, in a manner, so ma-
nifestly nnsuited to those who, how-
ever lovely, should still remember
that they are bat creatures of a day,
who are soon to return to the dust
from which they were taken.

Thus have I pointed out, in a few
particulars, some of the most usual
forms, or instances, of secret or
mental idolatry. But you must be
careful to remember, that the parti*
ciilars mentioned are no more than
examfdest which should lead you to
consider the subject for Yourselves,
and to watch your own hearts, that
no creature objects usurp in them,
the place that rightfully belongs to
God-— The objects and pursuits
may be innumerable, but the ^in is
the same. Remember also,- that it
is a sin which reigns unsubdued in
every unrenewed mind. The very
essence of human depravity, con*
sista in a heart alienated from Qod,
and given wholly to other objects.
This awful bias of.our corrupt na-
ture must be changed, and God be
enthroned in the heart, before we
can ever serve him acceptably. But
even in the people of God them^
selves, there is a constant prone*
ness to idolatry; against which they
have need to watch and pray with*
out ceasing.

* Let us now, very briefly, eonsi*
•der the next answer in the Cate-
chism, which is, that ^ theae words,
nBFORE MB, in the first command-
ment, teach us, that God, who seeth
all things, taketh notice of, and is
much displeased with the sin, of
having any other God.''

Omnipresence and omniscience
are essential attributes of the Deity,
and are necessarily connected with
each other. As God is present
in every place-— 4aost inHwutte-^
ly present - -80 that ''in Him wo-

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On FreC'WiU.


live» Ad move, and have our be-^
ing," and could not subsist for a
moment, if he should withdraw his
support, it follows of course, '< that
he seeth all things." There is not
an action of our lives, or a word, of
our lips, or a thought of our hearts,
"but lo! he knoweth it altogether/'
^-it is qiore perfectly known to him
than it is to ourselves. Now, as he
is thus the present and immediate
witness of every thing we either do
or think, so we must believe that,
in an especial manner, " he taketh
notice o^' what is directlv deroga-
tory to himself. But << the sin of
having any other God," is directly
derogatory to himself. It is a de*
nial of his worthiness to be .the su-
preme object of our affections; it is
robbing him of what is his due, and
giving it to one of his creatures as
a rival ; and it is this high affront
and insult offered, if I may so ex-
press it, to his y^Tj face. It is al-
ways considered as markinji; the
last stage of impudent profli(^cy,
even among men, when one of infe-
rior station and bad character, wilt
do wickedly in the very presence
and under the known observation
of a superior of elevated rank, and of
distinsuished virtue and goodness.
And if the wickedness consists in a
direct affront or insult to the ob-
serving superior, it demonstrates
the extinction of shame and of all
moral sensibility, in the abandoned
transgressor. Now all this, and un-
speakablv worse than, this, is the af-
front offered to the Lord Jehovah
by the sins of atheism and idolatry*'
-—I say unspeakably worse, because
the reverence doe from man to God,
is not to be compared jwith' that
which is due from any one man
to another. Hence we find, that
throughout the holy scriptures, die
sin of idolatry (as being directly
levelled, and that in the most pro-
voking manner, against the claims
and authority of the Most High
God) is represented as of the most
aggravated kind, and as being visit-
eq with the ^rest jodgments, even

in this life-wind if not repented of
and forsaken, as subjecting the
transgressor to the nM>st fearful
condemnation, in the life that is to
come. The remainders of this sin
which cleave to the people of God
themselves, bv grieving his Holy
Spirit to withdraw his enlightening
and consoling influence, are the
real cause of much, perhaps of most,
of the doubt, and fear, and spiritual
darkness and dejection, which they
experience^ and of many of the
sore chastisements, of an external
kind, which a faithful and covenant
keeping God inflicts upon them,
that he may teach them the va-<
nity of the creatures thev have
idolized, and thus recall tnem to

The result of the whole is, that
as «God who seeth all things, taketh
notice of and is much displeased
with the sin of having anv other
God," we should make it the sub*
ject*of constant and earnest prayer,
that we may be enabled to ** set the
LArd always before us;"- and that,
considering him as the heart search-
ing and rein trying God, who is
jealous for his honour, we may be
deterred from every act of idolatry,
may be disposed to give up every
unnalloweJ attachment to created
things, and may be enabled full^ to
obey the injunction of the disciple
whom Jesus loved, when speaking
bv the Holy Ghost he said— •« Lit-
tle children, keep yourselves from
idols. Amen.^^


Mr. Editor^— Who has not heard
of the controversies which have so
often agitated the church, respect-
ing the nature of human liberty?
It is not my intenUon to stir themt
I -should jovfiiUy say » '< Peace to
their ashes.'" were I only assured
that they had gone to rest. In the
mean time» it may not be wholly

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it pro!

meots of 8ome of the eood and great
meD, who breasted the storms that
raged around the infancy and youth
of the Reformation, upon this sob-,
ject, in connexion with what may
be considered the views of the re-
Tiring church of Christ in France.
Although some of the terms used
hj our worthy predecessors may be
liable to objection* yet, in almost
every case* it will he found, that
the things -which they intended by
these terms, were facts, established
upon a sound interpretation of the
word of God. Thus, in the present
case, w« may justly object to the
term Jfree-wiUf for the will, to be,
what it is, must be free. Butihe
thing, which the Reformers intend-
ed b^ this term, viz., the liberty of
willing and doing what is spiritually
^ood, and which they denied to be
m unregenerate men, is a truth
taught in Scripture, and obvious to

Online LibraryAshbel GreenThe Christian advocate → online text (page 19 of 93)