Jonathan Mayhew.

Popish idolatry : a discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard College in Cambridge, New England, May 8, 1765, at the lecture founded by the Honorable Paul Dudley, Esquire online

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Dr, Mayhew's







D I-^ C O U R S E




May 8. 1765.


LECTURE founded by the Honorable

PAUL DUDLEY, Esc^uire,


Jonathan Mayhew, D. D.

Pastor of the West Church in Boston.

^ ' If any man that is called a brother be — an idolater-—

' with fuch an one no not to eat.' Apoftle Paul.
. ' Be not deceived : Neither fornicators, nor idolaters

♦ (hall inherit the kingdom of God.' Idem.
c— — ' Idolaters — fhall have their part in the lake which burnetla

' with fire and brimPione ; which is the fecond death,'

Apoftle John,
. 'Without are dogs and idolaters' Id.

Prioted by R.Sc S. Draper, Edes &GiLL,andT. &J. Fleet



( 5 )

2 Corinth. VI. i6.

^-^What agreement hath the temple of
GOD with idols ?—

0>^xOx^>-<QW O branches of the popifh con-
^ -^-^-^J- 'i troverfy, viz. the infalHbility
6 T T O ^'""^ fupremacy claimed by the
I T_ ^ 5 bifhop and church of Rome,
Q^X^A ^^^^^ handled by the two aged
""^ and learned divines t» whom I
have the honor to fuccecd in this department
of the Dudleian LeBurc. It is now propofed,
by divine affillance, to offer fomething con-
cerning the idolatry of that church ; it being
one of the capital errors objedled againft her.
This branch of the controverfy alone is ^o
fruitful, that it would require many difcourfcs
to handle it in all its extent and variety.
This learned audience will, therefore, expeft
nothing more in a fingle difcourfe, tho' long,
than a general idea of popifh idolatry ; an
imperfed iketch, the outlines of it.


I The Rev. Edwaro Wigguesv/orth, D. D. late
Hoi>Li3 Pfofeflbr of Divinity ; and the J^ey, Mr.

Thomas FoscRcrr^ of Boston,,

6 The Idolatry ofworjhipping

Idolatry confifts in general in the fervice of
idols, or falfe, imaginary deities. But this,. like
all other crimes, admits of various degrees.
The vvorfhip of a creature under the formal
notion of its being the true God, exclufively
of him, is the grofiell kind of idolatry. The
worfhip of any creature in common with him,
as though it were equally God, is a lower, but
flill very high degree of it. A third fpecics
thereof is paying fuch fervice to creatures, un-
der the notion of religion, as God hath forbid-
den, and as tliey are unworthy of ; although
it may be profeftedly paid to them, not as gods,
but in fubordination to him, as the ultimate
obje(fl of worlhip. It is alfo idolatry to wor-
ihip the true God by images, or under any
fuppofed material reprefentations of him. And
it may be laid down as a general rule, that all
fuch practices as the fcripture hath condemned
as idolatrous in Jews or Pagans, are equally
idolatrous in profcfTcd Chriflians.

Proteflants have not accufed Papifts of the
firft and grofTcfl: kind of idolatry, or worlhip-
ping idols exclufively of the true God ; but
they have charged them with all the others :
And to make good this old accufation, is the
"bufinefs now before me. In the profecution
of which, a fummary account will be given of
the doctrine and practice of the church of
Rome refpecling the worHiip of the eucharid,
faints v^nd angels, pi^flures and images.


the Eucharijh y.

Chriftians early began to fpeak too myfli-
cally, not to fay unintelligibly, concerning the
euchariil, or Lord's fupper. They did fo more
and morcjtillthe doctrine of tranfubllanciation,
and the worlhip of the facrament, wereiully
eflablifhed. The council of Trent, confirmed
by pope Pius IV, and confidered as an authen-
tic itandard of popery, defines the doetrine of
the church of Rome as to this, and many other
points, more particularly than had been done
by any former council. In iefTion 13th that
council declareth as follows : ' Principio do-
' cet fanda fynodus,' &c. In the firji place the
holy fynod t cachet h, and openly and Jimply pro-
fejjeth, thdt in the pure Jacrament of the holy
cHcharift^ after the confecratlon of the bread
and luine^ our Lord Jefus Chr'ift, true God and-.
vian, is truly ^ really and fiihftantially contained un-
der the fpecies [or appearances] of thofe fenfihls
things^. This great myftery is increafed in
chapter 3d of the fame feflion, where the coun-
cil attempts to explain it. It is there faid,
* Statim pofl confecrationcm,' &c. That ini-
mediately after confecratlon^ the true body of our.
Lord^ and his true bloody exift under the fpecies of
bread and ivine ^together ^anth his foul andDivinity ;
his body indeed under the fpecies of bread, end his
blood under the fpecies of wine, by virtue of the
I'jords [of confecration ;] but the body itf elf un-
der the fpecies ofivifie, and the blood under the
fpecies oj bread, and the foul under both, by virtue
of thai natural connexion and concomitancj, by 'cuhich


■\ Cone, Trident. S^ciT. 13. .c,?p; i.

8 T^t? Idolatry of worjhipping

the parts of Cbriji the Lord, who prefentJy roje
from the dead to die no more^ are united together ;
and alfb theDivinity, becati/e of the admirable hy-
poftatical union thereof -with the body and foul.
Wherefore it is mofi true, that one and the fame
thing [or as much*] is contained under either
fpecies, and under both : for whole and perfeB
Chrif} exifleth under the fpecies of bread, and un-
der every part of its fpecies ; alfo under the fpe-
cies ofiuine, and under its parts.

Thus thefe venerable fathers. And this
wonderful change of the bread and wine is
faid, in the next chapter, to have been conve-
niently and properly called tranfuhflantiation. It
follows, chapter jth, * Nullus itaque dubitandi
* locus relinquitur,' &c. There is therefore no
room left for doubt, but that ail the faithful of
Chrift, according to the praBice ever received in
the catholic church, fould in reverence give the
worfiip of latria, which is due to the true God,
ta this 7noft holy facrament. For neither is it
therefore the lefs to be adored, becmfe it was in-
flltuted by Chrift the Lord, to be taken [or eaten
and drunk] J. Thus the council : And in the
Roman ritual this lacramcnt is honored with
the title of our Creator.

It muft be obfcrved here, that the church
of Rome diilinguifhes wordiip into latria, du-
lia, hyperdulia and coadoration. By the firll
of which, latria, they underfland the higheft
kind of worfliip, or that which is due to God
alone. And the council of Trent exprefly


* tantwrnOcfn. % ut fumatur.

the Euchar'jft, ^

declares, that the eucharlft is to be worfhipped
therewith. The do(rrrine and pra(5lice of the
church of Rome in this refpe<5l are exactly con-
formable to each other. The eucharift is wor-
fhipped by them in the moftfolemn manner, with
proftrations, prayers and incenfe. The hoft is
often carried in proceflions, with the greated
folemnity : And thofe who are but cafually pre-
fent where it paiTes along, are obliged to kneel
down, as in an ad: of worlhip to God ; unlefs,
perhaps, they will run the rifque of the inqui-
fition, or of being knocked on the head by the
devout rabble that attend it.*

B Their

* it IS well known, that the chief accufation againft the old
reformers, was, that they denied tranfubftantiation ; tho'
feme even of thofe who fuffered death, particularly John Hus
and Jerom of Prague, did not differ matefiaUy from the
oliurch of Rome in this point ; as plainly appears from Monf.
Lenfant's Hiftory of th.e council of Conjiance. And what great
ftrefs the cliurch of Rome lays upon this doflrine, as a mod
ciiriinguilhing and eifenti^l article of faith, will further appear
from the canons, i. e. curfes, of the council of Trent, fefl", 13.
^:oii^L' of which are here faithfully tranflated, partly with that
view, and partly with a view to give the unlearned reader a
clearer idea of what the church of Rome holds, as to this
matter. They are as follows.

Canon i. "Si quis negaverir,' &c. * If any one {hall deny, that
in the moil holy facrament of the eucharift the body and blood,
together with the foul and divinity of our Lord Jefus Chrift,
are truly, really and fubftantiaUy contained, and therefore
■whole Chrift ; but fhall fay, they are in it only as in a fign,
or figure, or in virtue ; let him be anathema,''

Can. II. ' If anyone lliall fay, that the fubUance of bread and
wine remain in the holy facrament of the eucharift, together
with the body and blood of our Lord Jefus Chrill ; and fhall
deny that admirable and fingular converfion of the whole
fublUcce of bread into body, aod of the whole fubftance of


io The Idolatry of worjlnpping

, Their dot^rine and worfhip being harmo-
nious in this refpe^l ; it follows, that if the
do<51rine of tranfubliantiation is falfe, their wor-
fhip grounded thereon is idolatry. It is be-
yond the defign of this difcourfe to enter into
a particular difcufiion of that do6lnne, or the
arguments by which it is defended : It Ihall
fuffice to obferve a few things with relation

This do(5trine is as plainly abfurd, felf-re-
pugnant, and impoffible to be true, as any one
that can be imagined. For what can be more
.fo, than that bread and wine fhould be changed
into the very body and blood of Chrift; while
yet all the known properties of bread and wine
remain, without the fubje6t or fubftance ; and
none of the peculiar properties of flefh or
blood are perceived ? What more impoilible,
than that this bread and wine fhould alfo be
changed, at the fame time, into an human foul,
and into the very fubftance of the Deity ? This


wine into blood, the fpecies [or appearance] only of bread
and wine remaining; which converfion, indeed, the catholic
church moft fiUy calls tranfubftantiation; \eth.\vciht anathema.^

Can. III. ♦ if any one fhall deny, that in the venerable facra-
ment of the evicharift whole Chrift is contained under each
fpecies, and under the feveral parts of each fpecies ; let him
be anathema.^

On. VI, ' If any one (hall fay, that in the holy facrament of
the eucharift, Chrift the only begotten Son of God is not to
be adored with the worfhip of latria, even external ; — let
him be anathema.*

So important a dodrine is this, in the church of Rome : And
more perfons, it is apprehended, have fuffered death from her
for denying it, and refufmg to worfiiip the eucharift, than for
^rty other Ibppofed hsrefy whatever.

the Eucharljl, 1 1

d[0(5lrlne fuppofcs alfo, that the fame undivided
body of Chrifl: may be wholly in heaven and
wholly on earth, and in ten million different
places on earth, at the fame time. It fuppofes;
that tho' the bread is wholly changed into body,
and the wine wholly into blood ; yet both the
body and blood of Chrifl:, the foul and Divinity,
exifl: wholly and perfectly under each of the
fpecies feperately confidered, and under every
part thereof, be they ever fo minute and nume-
rous: Every apparent crumb of confecrated
wafer, and each drop of confecrated wine, how-
ever fmall, contains whole, in tire Chrifl un-
der that fpecies ; body, blood, foul and Divi-
nity ; and yet it is owned, that there is but one
Chrifl ! Befides ; this doctrine fuppofes, that
when our Lord inflitutcd the fupper, he took
his whole body into his ov/n hand, which was
but a part of it ; put himfelf into his own
mouth, fwallowed down his intire body in-
to his flomach, and at the fame time gave his
body and blood to be wholly eaten and drunk
by each of his apoflles ! Could the mofl fertile
imagination invent groffer, more ridiculous, or
more impious incongruities ?

The evidence of fenfe is the moft certain,
that we are capable of; and by this we know
that tranfubflantiation is falfe. The Romanifl's
do not pretend to deny, but that all the five
fenfes bear teflimony againft it, as much as they
pofTibly could if it were falfe, or if the bread
and wine remained after the iu^olinfj, hocu?-

B 2 pOCU=J

X2 The Idolatry of -worjhippmg

pocusf trick, which they term confecration.
It is, therefore, at beft weak and puerile, in fuch
a cafe as this, to urge the teflimony of fcripture,
or divine revelation. For the truth oftheChrif-
tian revelation itfelf depends on the truth of
certain fads, by which there was an appeal made
to the fenfcs of men ; particularly the miracles
and refurrecftion of our Saviour. The evidence
of fenfe being fet afide as precarious, it cannot
be proved that ever our Lord uttered thofc
words, * This is my body' ; that he had any
body at all ; or that there was ever fuch a per-
fon in the world, as ' the man Chrift Jefus,' In
diftindlion from a mere phantafm, or, in the
language of our adverfarics, from the /pedes of
a man. Thus does the church of Rome, by
this doiftrinc, fubvert the very foundations of
chriflianity. We cannot be more certain, that
any one thing in nature is what it appears
to be, and not another, the mod different
therefrom, than that true bread and wine re-
main after ccufecration ; and confcquently,
that tranfubllantiation is the grofFcfl: impofition
and infult, that ever the priclHiood itfelf put
ppon the fuperlHtious creiiulity of mankind.

This do(flrine then, being plainly falfe, the
church of Rome is certainly guilty of idolatry^
in worfliipping the eucharift as true God. For
what is idolatry, if it be not fo, to believe a
creature to be the Creator, and to pay divine
hom.agc thereto accordingly I Befides ; when,


f Hocus-pocus ftems onl/ a rornint pronunciatu-n uf livs
■Jj} cor^m, • ■

the Euchariji, 15

to juftify their worlhip of the cucharift, fo
often objected again ft as idolatry, they alledge
tranfubftantiation ; making this fuppofed change
the ground of their worfhip ; this is an implicit
acknowledgment, that their worfhip would
actually be idolatrous, M there were no fuch
change : For why is this alledged, to exculpate
themfelves, if their worfhip of the eucharift
would not be idolatry without it ?

Some Roman-catholics have, indeed, ex-
prefly owned this confequencc. Cofterus par-
ricularly, a iearned jel'uit, exprelTeth himfelf
very llrongly, as cited by doflcr H. More.
Saith he, ' The errors of thofe were more to-
*■ ierable, who worfhipped fome golden or filvcr

* ilatue, or fome image of any other materials,

* for their God, as the heathen worfhipped

* their gods ; or a red cloth hung upon the
' top of a fpear, as is reported of the Laplan-

* dcrs ; or fome IPve animal, as of old the

* Egyptians did ; than thofe who worfhip a

* bit of bread, as hitherto the Chriftians have

* done all over the world, if the doftrine of

* tranfubftantiation be not true.' Thus do
fome Roman-catholics fully agree with us in
this confequence ; but others deny it. And
the fubftance of what the latter fay, is, That
tlio' tranfubftatiation fhould be falfe ; yet the
Deity is certainly there prefent in the bread and
wine, fo that they do not mifs of the proper
oh]tt\ of adoration, while they feem to wor-
ship thcfe materi'^i objcfts • And, that they


1^ The Idolatry of ivorpiipping

cannot be juftly charged with idolatry, becaufe
they do not intentionally worlhip a creature,
knowing it to, be fo, but firmly believing it to
be true God. Thus they try to exculpate
themfelves, on the very difagreeable fuppofition
that tranfubftantiation is an error, and their in-
fallibility miftakcn ; whether effectually, or not,
jpiay appear from the following confidcrations.
The divine nature is efTentialiy eyery-where ;
intimately and equally prefent in all fenfible
pbje(fls throughout the univerfe. And if mere-
ly the divine prefence in an object, will excufe
its worlhippcrs from idolatry, then all other
creatures may be worfhipped without idolatry,
as well as the eucharift ; provided the wor-r
fhippcrs intentionally dir€<^ their devotions
ultimately, not to thefe objeCls abftra<^tly con-
fidered, but as fymbols of the, Deity prefent in
^hern. This is a plain confequence, and allow-
ed by fome Koman-catholics. Thus, np perfon,
who is a believer in the true God, an omni-
prefent being, can ever be guilty of idolatry,
how m.any material objeds ioever he may
worfhip in the fame fenfe that the Romanics
worjfhip bread and wine in the eucharift. Tho'
^e^ch of thefe objecfls is fuppofed to be God,
.'and worfhipped under that perfuafion ; and
tho' the votary would be millaken in this
refpc<5l ; yet he would not mifs of the proper
objecl of adoration, becaufe, the v/orft come to
the worft, God is prefent therein, whom he
intends to worfliip ; which is fufficicnt to clear


the lEuchariji. ij

him from idolatry. For example ; if one per-
fon fhould worfhip the fun, another an image
of wood or brafs, a third a man, a fourth, i.
beaft, and the fifth a devil, even with latria j
each of the devonionifts being fo infatuated a'S
to believe the object of his worfhip the living
and true God ; Roman-catholics could not,
upon the principle aforelaid, chargic them with
idolatry ; or do it without condemning them-
felves. They would, indeed, be miftaken, but
not idolaters ; becaufe it was their intention to
worfhip the true God.

But all idolatry, when people are flnccrc in
their worfhip, fuppofeth fome miflake, or error
in the judgment, either as to the obje^ or the
a6t of worfhip. Without fome erroneous bpi-
nions there can be no idolatry : And, as a
learned divine hath juftly obferved, where this
fin is committed the mofi in good earneji^ there
is the greatelt miftake in the judgment of the
worfhippcr. But they who alledge, thdt a
miftake with refpe(5t to tranfubftantiatioh, if it
be really one, excufes the worfhippers of the
bread and wine from idolatry, becaufe they
think they are worfhipping God ; do in effed
fay, that idolatry cannot be committed by any
one, who is fo erroneous as to believe the
creature he worfhippeth to be God mofi high.
This is quite abfurd : For according to this
way of rcafoning, the more ignorantly and ftu-
pidly any worfhip mere creatures, believing their
proper D^ity, and ths more devoutly they adore

them I

1 6 The Idolatry of -worjhipplng

them ; fo much lefs liable they are to the im-
putation of idolatry. But the direft contrary
is manifeftly true : By how much more fin-
cerely any believe a creature to be the true
God, and worfhip it as fuch ; by fo much the
more grofs is their idolatry. Let us fuppofe,
for illuftration, that among the Ifraelites of old,
who worfhlpped golden calves, there were per-
fbns of different opinions ; that fome adored
them merely as fymbols, or reprefentations of
the true God ; but that others were fo fottlfii
as to believe the calf, to which they bowed
down, was really Jehovah himfelf under the
appearance ot /pedes of a calf; even the very
God that created, and brought them out of
Egypt. Now, on this fuppofition, would any
fenfible man fay, that the former were, indeed,
guilty of idolatry, but not the latter ; becaufe
they believed this four-footed beaft to be their
Creator \ Ought it not to be faid, on the con-
trary, that they were, for that very reafon,
more brutifh idolaters than the others, who
worfhipped it only as an image or fymbol of
the Godhead ? Or let us apply this to the
heathens. The ignorant vulgar, who worfhip-
ped fenfible objefts as real deities, were ever
and juftly accounted more fottifh idolaters than
thofe fpeculative perfons, who had no fuch high
opinion of thefe objefts, but worfhipped them
merely as reprefentations of the gods ; or rather,
as fome of them feem to have done, of the vari-
ous powers, virtues and perfeflions of one


the Euchariji. 17

almighty, fpirkual and Invlfible being. Thus, if
among the andent Perfians fome adored the
rifing fun, only as the moft glorious fymboi of
rile Deity, and a principal mean or inftrument
cf his munificence, while others worfhipped it
as' being itfelf God ; the idolatry of the latter
was certainly more grofs than that of the for-
mer. By the fame rule, the more fincerely
any believe tranlubftantiation, and worfhip the
eiicharifl- as God ; the more fottifh is their ido-
latry. Their idolatry would be lefs fcandalous,
thb' real, if they worfhipped it merely as a re-
prefentation oFthe Deity, or a facred memorial
of our redemption by Chrift. And here it is
natural to obferve, that the idolatry of the Ro-
manifts is more grofs in this refpecfl-, than that
of the Ifraelites in worihipping golden calves,
or than many perfons, even among the Pagans,
were chargeable with. There is no good rea-
foil' to think, that the Ifraelites believed a gol-
den calf, which they had juft made, to be the
triieGod, theirCreator ; as the Papifh do, bread
and wine. And it is certain, that fome of the
more intelligent heathens difclaimed, with much
indignation, the thought of worfhipping any
material obje(5ls , otherwife than as fymbols of
the Deity ; while the vulgar adored them, as
having divinity belonging to them. So that
popifh idolatry, in this refped, approachedi
nearer to that of vulgar Pagans, than to that of
the more enlightened among them. And in-
deed, none of them were ever fo brutal and
favage, as to eat what he took for a deity : at
C leait

I 8 l.'he Idolatry oj worjhipping

leaft we read of no fuch fed: as that of God-
eaters, even in the moft barbarous nations
and ages. And ic is certain that theEgy ptians,
who worfliipped many forts of animals, roots
and vegetables, that were good for food, as
gods ; yet thought it impious at once to adore
and devour them : But the Papiits, it fccms,
are lefs delicate, or fqueamifh.

Let me difmifs this part of thcfubjecl with
a remark of the late Dr. Middleton, agreeable
to what was juil: now faid, in his excellent
Letter from Kome, fliewing an exac^l con-
formity between popery and paganifm in
many particulars. ' As to that celebrated

* ad of popifh idolatry, the worfliip of the
' hofl,' faith he, ' I mud confefs, that I can-

* not find the lead refemblance of it in any

* part of the pagan worfhip : and as often as
^ I have been llanding by at mafs, and feen

* the whole congregation proftrate on the

* ground, in the humbled pollute of adoring;

* I could not help reflecting on a padage of

* Tully, when fpeaking of the ablurdity of
' the heathens in the choice of their gods :

* But lUcis inaii, fays he, ever fo mad as to take

* ti)at which he feeds upon far a god ? § This

* was an extravagance refcrved for popery a-
^ lone: And what an c/^ Roman could not
' but think too grofs even for Egyptian idola-

* try to fwallow, is now become the princi-
' pal part of worlhip, and the mod didinguiih-

* ing article of faith, in modern Rome.*


^ Scd ecquem tarn amentcctt cflc putas, qui iHu-i, quo vefcatur,
Dcum crcdat ciTc. Cic. dc Na. Pcor. jjj.

Saints and Angels, 19

LET us now proceed to the worfliip of
faints and angels, as pradifed in tiie fame
church ; by which the charge of idolatry will
be further fixed upon her.

The worfliip of demons, or the fouls of
renowned perfons after their deceafe, is a very
ancient fpecies of idolatry ; as fome fuppofe,
even more ancient than the flood. Be that as
it may, this became afterward almoft an uni-
verfal pradice. For it is pall difpute, that
the greater part of the gods and goddeffes
worfhipped by the heathens, were demons ;
deceafed heroes and kings, the inventors of
arts, and other famous perfons, male and fe-
male. This kind of worfliip was flriclly pro-
hibited to the Ifraelites ; but yet they forae-
times fell into it, in conformity to their hea-
then neighbours. Chriftianity, which was
defigned to be the religion of the world, not
of one nation only, was particularly adapted
to put an end to this, and all other kinds of
fuperfl:itious,falfe worfliip among the Gentiles;
and to eftablifli that of one God, by one Me-
diator, thro'out the earth. * For there is one

* God, and one Mediator between God and
' men, the man Chrift Jefus ; who gave him-

* felf a ranfom for all, to be teilified in due

* time.'f And * there is none other God but

* one. Fortho' there be that are called gods,

* whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be

* god$ many, and lords many,) but to us there

* is but one God, the Father, of v*'hom are

C 2 * all

t I Tim. ii. ^.

20 l^he Idolatry of worjhipping

* all things, and we by him ; and oneLord, Jefus

* Chrilt, &c. ' * The primary bufmefs oi the
apoftlcs, when they went among the Gentiles,
W'as ro convert them from the worlliip of de-

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Online LibraryJonathan MayhewPopish idolatry : a discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard College in Cambridge, New England, May 8, 1765, at the lecture founded by the Honorable Paul Dudley, Esquire → online text (page 1 of 4)