The Third Part of the Homily against Idolatry
The third part of the Homily against Images, and the worshipping of them, containing the confutation of the principal arguments which are used to be made for the maintenance of Images. Which part may serve to instruct the Curates themselves, or men of good understanding.
Now ye have heard how plainly, how vehemently, and that in many places, the word of God speaketh against not only idolatry and worshipping of images, but also against idols and images themselves: (I mean always thus herein, in that we be stirred and provoked by them to worship them, and not as though they were simply for bidden by the New Testament, without such occasion and danger.) And ye have heard likewise out of histories Ecclesiastical, the beginning, proceeding, and success of idolatry by images, and the great contention in the Church of Christ about them: to the great trouble and decay of Christendom: and withal ye have heard the sentences of old ancient Fathers and godly learned Doctors and Bishops, against images and idolatry, taken out of their own writings. It remaineth, that such reasons as be made for the maintenance of images, and excessive painting, gilding and decking, as well of them, as of the Temples or Churches, also be answered and confuted, partly by application of some places before alleged, to their reasons, and partly, by otherwise answering the same. Which part hath the last place in this Treatise, for that it cannot be well understood of the meaner sort, nor the arguments of image maintainers, can without prolixity too much tedious, be answered without the knowledge of the Treatise going before. And al though divers things before mentioned, be here rehearsed again: yet this repetition is not superfluous, but in a manner necessary, for that the simple sort cannot else understand how the foresaid places are to be applied to the arguments of such as do maintain images, wherewith other wise they might be abused.
First, it is alleged by them that maintain images, that all laws, prohibitions, and curses, noted by us out of the holy Scripture, and sentences of the Doctors also by us alleged, against images and the worshipping of them, appertain to the idols of the Gentiles or Pagans, as the idol of Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, etc. and not to our images of God, of Christ , and his Saints. But it shall be declared both by God’s word, and the sentences of the ancient Doctors, and judgement of the Primitive Church, that all images, as well ours, as the idols of the Gentiles, be forbidden and unlawful, namely in Churches and Temples. And first this is to be replied out of God’s word, that the images of God the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost, either severally, or the images of the Trinity, which we had in every Church, be by the Scriptures expressly and directly forbidden, and condemned, as appeareth by these places: (Deut 4) The Lord spake unto you out of the middle of fire, you heard the voice or sound of his words, but you did see no form or shape at all, lest peradventure you being deceived, should make to your self any graven image or likeness: and so forth, as is at large rehearsed n the first part of this treatise against images. And therefore in the old Law, the middle of the propitiatory, which presented God’s seat, was empty, lest any should take occasion to make any similitude or likeness of him. Isaiah, after he hath set forth the incomprehensible Majesty of God, he asketh (Isa 40), to whom then will ye make God like? or what similitude will ye set up unto him? Shall the carver make him a carved image? and shall the goldsmith cover him with gold, or cast him into a form of silver plates? And for the poor man, shall the image maker frame an image of timber, that he may have somewhat to set up also? And after this he crieth out: O wretches, heard ye never of this? Hath it not been preached to you since the beginning, how by the creation of the world, and the greatness of the work, they might understand the Majesty of God, the maker and creator of all, to be greater then that it could be expressed or set forth in any image or bodily similitude? Thus far the Prophet Isaiah, who from the 44th Chapter, to the 49th intreateth in a manner of no other thing. And St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17) evidently teacheth the same, that no similitude can be made unto God, in gold, silver, stone or any other matter. By these and many other places of Scripture it is evident, that no image either ought or can be made un to God. For how can God, a most pure spirit, whom man never saw, be expressed by a gross, bodily, and visible similitude? How can the infinite Majesty and greatness of God, incomprehensible to man’s mind, much more not able to be compassed with the sense, be expressed in a small and little image? How can a dead and dumb image express the living God? What can an image, which when it is fallen, cannot rise up again, which can neither helpe his friends, nor hurt his enemies, express of the most puissant and mighty God, who alone is able to re ward his friends, and to destroy his enemies everlastingly? A man might justly cry with the Prophet Habakkuk (Hab 2), Shall such Images instruct or teach any thing right of God? or shall they become Doctors? Where fore men that have made an image of God, whereby to honour him, have thereby dishonoured him most highly, diminished his Majesty, blemished his glory, and falsified his truth. And therefore St. Paul saith (Rom 1), that such as have framed any similitude or Image of God like a mortal man, or any other likeness, in timber, stone, or other matter, have changed his truth into a lie. For both they thought it to be no longer that which it was, a stock or a stone, and took it to be that which it was not, as God, or an image of God. Wherefore an image of God, is not only a lie, but a double lie also. But the devil is a liar, and the fa ther of lies (Jn 8): wherefore the lying Images which be made of God, to his great dishonour, and horrible danger of his people, came from the devil.
Wherefore they be convicted of foolishness and wickedness in making of images of God, or the Trinity: for that no image of God ought or can be made, as by the Scriptures and good reason evidently appeareth: yea, and once to desire an image of God commeth of infidelity, thinking not God to be present, except they might see some sign or image of him, as appeareth by the Hebrews in the wilderness willing Aaron to make them God’s whom they might see go before them.
Where they object, that seeing in Isaiah and Daniel be certain descriptions of God, as sitting on a high seat, etc. Why may not a painter likewise set him forth in colours to be seen, as it were a Judge sitting in a throne, as well as he is described in writing by the Prophets, seeing that Scripture or writing, and picture, differ but a little? First, it is to be answered, that things forbidden by God’s word, as painting of images of God, and things permitted of God, as such descriptions used of the Prophets, be not all one: neither ought, nor can mans reason (although it show never so goodly) prevail any thing against God’s express word, and plain statute Law, as I may well term it. Furthermore, the Scripture although it have certain descriptions of God, yet if you read on forth, it expoundeth itself, declaring that God is a pure spirit, infinite, who replenisheth heaven and earth, which the picture doth not, nor expoundeth itself, but rather when it hath set God forth in a bodily similitude, leaveth a man there, and will easily bring one into the heresy of the Anthropomorphites , thinking God to have hands and feet, and to sit as a man doth. which they that do (saith St. Augustine in his book de fide & symbolo Chap.7.) fall into that sacrilege which the Apostle detesteth, in those, who have changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into the similitude of a corruptible man. For it is wickedness for a Christian to erect such an image to God in a Temple, and much more wickedness to erect such a one in his heart by believing of it.
But to this they reply, that this reason notwithstanding, Images of Christ may be made, for that he took upon him flesh, and became man. It were well that they would first grant, that they have hitherto done most wickedly in making and maintaining of Images of God, and of the Trinity in every place, whereof they are by force of God’s word and good reason convicted: and then to descend to the trial for other images.
Now concerning their objection, that an Image of Christ may be made, the answer is easy. For in God’s word and religion, it is not only required whether a thing may be done or no: but also, whether it be lawful and agreeable to God’s word to be done, or no. For all wickedness may be and is daily done, which yet ought not to be done. And the words of the reasons above alleaged out of the Scriptures are, that Images neither ought, nor can be made unto God. Wherefore to reply that Images of Christ may be made, except withal it be proved, that it is lawful for them to be made, is, rather then to hold ones peace, to say somewhat, but nothing to the purpose. And yet it appeareth that no Image can be made of Christ , but a lying image (as the Scripture peculiarly calleth Images lies) for Christ is God and man (Rom 1). Seeing therefore that for the Godhead, which is the most excellent part, no Images can be made, it is falsely called the image of Christ . Wherefore images of Christ be not only defects, but also lies. Which reason serveth also for the Images of Saints, whose souls, the most excellent parts of them, can by no Images be presented and expressed. Wherefore, they be no Images of Saints, whose souls reign in joy with God, but of the bodies of Saints, which as yet lie putrified in the graves. Further more, no true image can be made of Christ’s body, for it is unknown now of what form and countenance he was. And there be in Greece and at Rome , and in other places, divers Images of Christ , and none of them like to other, and yet every of them affirmeth, that theirs is the true and lively image of Christ , which cannot possible be. Wherefore, as soon as an image of Christ is made, by and by is a lie made of him, which by God’s word is forbidden. Which also is true of the images of any Saints of antiquity, for that it is unknown of what form and countenance they were. Wherefore seeing that Religion ought to be grounded upon truth, Images which cannot be without lies, ought not to be made, or put to any use of Religion, or to be placed in Churches and Temples, places peculiarly appointed to true Religion and service of God. And thus much, that no true image of God, our Saviour Christ , or his Saints can be made: wherewithal is also confuted that their allegation, that Images be the Laymen’s books. For it is evident by that which is afore rehearsed, that they teach no things of God, or our Saviour Christ , and of his Saints, but lies and errors. Where fore either they be no books, or if they be, they be false and lying books, the teachers of all error.
And now if it should be admitted and granted, that an image of Christ could truly be made, yet it is unlawful that it should be made, yea, or that the Image of any Saint should be made, specially to be set up in Temples, to the great and unavoidable danger of Idolatry, as hereafter shall be proved.
And first concerning the Image of Christ ; that though it might be had truly, yet it were unlawful to have it in Churches pub likely, is a notable place in Irenaeus (Book 1 Ch 24) , who reproved the Heretics called Gnostics , for that they carried about the Image of Christ , made truly after his own proportion in Pilates time (as they said) and therefore more to be esteemed, then those lying Images of him which we now have. The which Gnostics also used to set garlands upon the head of the said Image, to show their affection to it.
But to go to God’s word. Be not, I pray you, the words of the Scripture plain? (Lev 26, Deut 5) Beware lest thou being deceived, make to thy self (to say, to any use of Religion) any graven Image, or any similitude of any thing, etc. And cursed be the man that maketh a graven or molten Image, abomination before the Lord, etc. Be not our Images such? Be not our Images of Christ and his Saints, either carved or molten, or cast, or similitudes of men and women? (Dt 27) It is happy that we have not followed the Gentiles in making of Images of beasts, fishes, and vermin also. Notwithstanding, the Image of an Horse, as also the Image of the As that Christ rode on, have in divers places been brought into the Church and Temple of God. And is not that which is written in the beginning of the Lords most holy Law, and daily read unto you, most evident also? Thou shalt not make any likeness of any thing in heaven above, in earth beneath, or in the water under the earth, etc. Could any more be forbidden, and said, then this? either of the kindes of Images, which be either carved, molten or other wise similitudes? or of things whereof images are forbidden to be made? Are not all things either in heaven, earth, or water under the earth? (Ex 20) And be not our Images of Christ and his Saints, likenesses of things in heaven, earth, or in the water? If they continue in their former answer, that these prohibitions concern the idols of the Gentiles, and not our Images: First that answer is already confuted, concerning the Images of God and the Trinity at large, & concerning the Images of Christ also, by Irenaeus . And that the Law of God is likewise to be under stood against all our Images, as well of Christ , as his Saints, in Temples and Churches, appeareth further by the judgement of the old Doctors, and the Primitive Church. Epiphanius renting a painted cloth, wherein was the picture of Christ , or of some Saint, affirming it to be against our Religion, that any such image should be had in the Temple or Church (as is before at large declared) judged that not only idols of the Gentiles, but that all Images of Christ and his Saints also, were for bidden by God’s word and our Religion. Lactantius affirming it to be certain that no true Religion can be where any Image or picture is (as is before declared) judged, that aswell all Images and pictures, as the idols of the Gentiles were forbidden, else would he not so generally have spoken and pronounced of them. And Saint Augustine (as is before alleaged) (Book 4, Ch 3, De Civ. Dei.) greatly alloweth M. Varro, affirming that Religion is most pure without Images: and saith himself, Images be of more force to crook an unhappy soul, then to teach and instruct it. (In Ps 36 & 113) And he saith further, Every childe, yea every beast knoweth that it is not God that they see. Wherefore then doth the holy Ghost so often admonish us of that which all men know? Whereunto Saint Augustine answereth thus. For (saith he) when Images are placed in Temples, and set in honourable sublimity, and begin once to be worshipped, forthwith breedeth the most vile affection of error. This is Saint Augustine’s judgement of Images in Churches, that by and by they breed error and Idolatry. The Christian Emperors, the learned Bishops, all the learned men of Asia, Greece, and Spain, assembled in Councils at Constantinople and in Spain , seven and eight hundred years ago and more, condemning and destroying all Images, as well of Christ , as of the Saints, set up by the Christians (as is before at large declared) testify, that they understood God’s word so, that it forbad our Images, as well as the idols of the Gentiles. And as it is written (Wis 14) that images were not from the beginning, neither shall they continue to the end: so were they not in the beginning in the Primitive Church, God grant they may in the end be destroy ed. For all Christians in the Primitive Church, as Origen against Celsus , Cyprian also and Arnobius do testify (Origen contra Celsum 51; 4&8, Cyprian contra Dementrium), were sore charged and complained on, that they had no Altars nor Images. Wherefore did they not (I pray you) conform themselves to the Gentiles in making of Images, but for lack of them sustained their heavy displeasure, if they had taken it to be lawful by God’s word to have Images? It is evident therefore that they took all Images to be unlawful in the Church or Temple of God, and therefore had none (though the Gentiles there fore were most highly displeased) following this rule, We must obey God rather then men (Acts 5). And Zephirus in his notes upon the Apology of Tertullian , gathereth, that all his vehement persuasion should be but cold, except we know this once for all, that Christian men in his time did most hate Images, with their ornaments. And Irenaeus (as is above declared) reproveth the Heretics called Gnostics , for that they carried a bout the image of Christ . And therefore the Primitive Church, which is specially to be followed as most incorrupt and pure, had publicly in Churches neither idols of the Gentiles, nor any other Images, as things directly forbidden by God’s word. And thus it is declared by God’s word, the sentences of the Doctors, and the judgement of the Primitive Church, which was most pure and sincere, that all Images, as well ours, as the Idols of the Gentiles, be by God’s word forbidden, and therefore unlawful, specially in Temples and Churches.
Now if they (as their custom is) flee to this answer, that God’s word forbiddeth not absolutely all Images to be made, but that they should not be made to be worshipped, and that therefore we may have Images, so we worship them not, for that they be things indifferent, which may be abused, or well used. Which seemeth also to be the judgement of Damascene (Damas. book 4 The Orthodox Faith, chap 17) and Gregory (Epist. ad Screnum Massil) the first, as is above declared. And this is one of their chief allegations for the maintenance of Images, which have been alleaged since Gregory the first his time.
Well, then we be come to their second allegation, which in part we would not stick to grant them. For we are not so superstitious or scrupulous, that we do abhor either flowers wrought in carpets, hangings, and other arras, either Images of Princes printed or stamped in their coins, which when Christ did see in a Roman Coin, we read not that he reprehended it, neither do we condemn the arts of painting and image making, as wicked of themselves. But we would admit and grant them, that Images used for no religion, or superstition rather, we mean Images of none worshipped, nor in danger to be worshipped of any, may be suffered. But Images placed publicly in Temples, cannot possibly be without danger of worshipping and idolatry, wherefore they are not publicly to be had or suffered in Temples and Churches. The Jews, to whom this Law was first given (and yet being a moral commandment, and not ceremonial, as all Doctors interpret it, bindeth us as well as them) the Iewes I say, who should have the true sense and meaning of God’s Law so peculiarly given un to them, neither had in the beginning any Images publicly in their Temple, as Origen (Contra Celsum book 4) and Josephus (Antiquities Book 17 ch 8, book 18 chs 5 & 15) at large declareth, neither after the restitution of the Temple, would by any means consent to Herod, Pilate or Petronius , that Images should be placed only in the Temple at Jerusalem , although no worshipping of Images was required at their hands: but rather offered themselves to the death, them to assent that Images should once be placed in the Temple of God, neither would they suffer any Image-maker among them. And Origen added this cause, lest their minds should be plucked from God, to the contemplation of earthly things. And they are much commended for this earnest zeal, in maintaining of God’s honour and true religion. And truth it is, that the Jews and Turks, who abhor Images and Idols as directly forbidden by God’s word, will never come to the truth of our religion, whiles the stumbling blocks of Images remain amongst us, and lie in their way. If they object yet the brazen serpent which Moses did set up, or the Images of the Cherubim, or any other Images which the Jews had in their Temple, the answer is easy. We must in religion obey God’s general Law, which bindeth all men, and not follow examples of particular dispensation, which be no warrants for us; else we may by the same reason resume circumcision and sacrificing of beasts, and other rites permitted to the Jews. Neither can those Images of Cherubim, set in secret where no man might come nor behold, be any example for our public setting up of Images in Churches and Temples. But to let the Jews go. Where they say that I mages, so they be not worshipped, as things indifferent may be tolerable in Temples and Churches: We infer and say for the adversative, that all our Images of God, our Saviour Christ, and his Saints, publicly set up in Temples and Churches, places peculiarly appointed to the true worshipping of God, be not things indifferent, nor tolerable: but against God’s Law and Commandment, taking their own interpretation and exposition of it.
First, for that all Images, so set up publicly, have been worshipped of the unlearned and simple sort shortly after they have been publicly so set up, and in conclusion, of the wise and learned also.
Secondly, for that they are worshipped in sundry places now in our time also.
And thirdly, for that it is impossible that Images of God, Christ , or his Saints can be suffered (especially in Temples and Churches) any while or space, with out worshipping of them: and that idolatry, which is most abominable before God, cannot possibly be escaped and avoided, without the abolishing and destruction of Images and pictures in Temples and Churches, for that idolatry is to Images, specially in Temples and Churches, an inseparable accident (as they term it) so that Images in Churches, and idolatry, go always both together, and that therefore the one cannot be avoided, except the other (specially in all public places) be destroyed. Wherefore, to make Images, and publicly to set them up in the Temples and Churches, places appointed peculiarly to the service of God, is to make Images to the use of religion, and not only against this precept, Thou shalt make no manner of Images: but against this also, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them. For they being set up, have been, be, and ever will be worshipped. And the full proof of that which in the beginning of the first part of this treaty was touched, is here to be made and performed: To wit, that our Images, and idols of the Gentiles be all one, as well in the things themselves, as also in that our Images have been before, be now, and ever will be worshipped, in like form and manner, as the idols of the Gentiles were worshipped, so long as they be suffered in Churches and Temples. Whereupon it followeth, that our Images in Churches have been, be, and ever will be none other but abominable Idols, and be therefore no things indifferent. And every of these parts shall be proved in order, as hereafter followeth.
And first, that our Images and the idols of the Gentiles be all one concerning themselves, is most evident, the matter of them being gold, silver, or other metal, stone, wood, clay, or plaster, as were the idols of the Gentiles, and so being either molten or cast, either carved, graven, hewn, or other wise formed and fashioned after the similitude and likeness’ of man or woman, be dead and dumb works of mans hands, having mouths and speak not, eyes and see not, hands and feel not, feet and go not, and so as well in form as matter, be altogether like the idols of the Gentiles. Insomuch that all the titles which be given to the idols in the Scriptures, may be verified of our Images. Wherefore, no doubt but the like curses which are mentioned in the Scriptures, will light upon the makers and worshippers of them both. Secondly, that they have been and be worshipped in our time, in like form and manner as were the idols of the Gentiles, is now to be proved. And for that idolatry standeth chiefly in the mind, it shall in this part first be proved, that our Image maintainers have had, and have the same opinions and judgement of Saints, whose Images they have made and worshipped, as? Gentiles idolaters had of their God’s. And afterwards shall be declared, that our Image-maintainers and worshippers, have used, and use the same outward rites and manner of honouring and worshipping their Images, as the Gentiles did use before their idols, and that therefore they commit idolatry, as well inwardly and outwardly, as did the wicked Gentiles idolaters.
And concerning the first part of the idolatrous opinions of our Image maintainers. What I pray you be such Saints with us, to whom we attribute the defence of certain countries, spoiling God of his due honour herein, but Dii Tutelares of the Gentiles idolaters? Such as were Belus to the Babilonians and Assyrians, Osiris and Isis to the Egyptians, Vulcan to the Lemnians , and to such other. What be such Saints to whom the safeguard of certain cities are appointed, but Dii Praesides , with the Gentiles idolaters? Such as were at Delphos, Apollo; at Athens Minerva , at Carthage, Juno; at Rome, Quirinus, &c. What be such Saints, to whom, contrary to the use of the Primitive Church, Temples and Churches be builded, and Altars erected, but Dii Patroni, of the Gentiles Idolaters? Such as were in the Capitol, Jupiter; in Paphus Temple, Venus; in Ephesus Temple, Diana , and such like. Alas, we seem in thus thinking and doing to have learned our religion not out of God’s word, but out of the Pagan Poets, who say,
Excessere omnes, adytis arisque relictis,
Dii, quibuis imperium hoc steterat, &c.
That is to say, All the God’s by whose defence this Empire stood, are gone out of the Temples, and have forsaken their Altars. And where one Saint hath Images in divers places, the same saint hath divers names thereof, most like to the Gentiles. When you hear of our Lady of Walsingham , our Lady of Ipswich , our Lady of Wilsdon, and such other: what is it but an imitation of the Gentiles idolaters? Diana Agrotera, Diana Coriphea, Diana Ephesia. & c. Venus Cypria, Venus Paphia, Venus Gnidia? Whereby is evidently meant, that the Saint for the Image sake, should in those places, yea, in the Images themselves, have a dwelling, which is the ground of their idolatry. For where no Images be, they have no such means. Terentius Varro sheweth, that there were three hundred Jupiters in his time, there were no fewer Veneres and Dianae, we had no fewer Christophers , Ladies, and Marie Magdalens, and other Saints. Oenomaus and Hesiodus shew, that in their time there were thirty thousand gods. I think we had no fewer Saints, to whom we gave the honour due to God. And they have not only spoiled the true living God of his due honour, in Temples, Cities, Countries, and lands, by such devices and inventions as the Gentiles idolaters have done be fore them: but the Sea and waters have as well special Saints with them, as they had God’s with the Gentiles, Neptune, Triton, Nereus, Castor and Pollux, Venus, and such other. In whose places be come Saint Christopher, Saint Clement, and divers other, and specially our Lady, to whom shipmen sing Ave, maris stella. Neither hath the fire scaped the idolatrous inventions. For in stead of Vulcan and Vesta , the Gentiles God’s of the fire, our men have placed Saint Agatha , and make letters on her day for to quench fire with. Every Artificer and profession hath his special Saint, as a peculiar god. As for example, Scholars have Saint Nicholas and Saint Gregory, Painters Saint Luke , neither lack soldiers their Mars, nor lovers their Venus, amongst Christians. All diseases have their special Saints, as gods the curers of them. The pocks Saint Roche, the falling evil Saint Cornelis, the tooth ache Saint Appolin, & c. Neither do beasts and cattle lack their gods with us, for Saint Loy is the horseleech, and Saint Anthony the swineherd &c. Where is God’s providence and due honour in the mean season? who saith, The heavens be mine, and the earth is mine, the whole world and all that in it is, I do give victory, and I put to flight, of me be all counsels and help &c. Except I keep the city, in vain doth he watch that keepeth it, thou Lord shalt save both men and beasts. But we have left him neither heaven, nor earth, nor water, nor country, nor city, peace nor war to rule and govern, neither men, nor beasts, nor their diseases to cure, that a godly man might justly for zealous indignation cry out, O heaven, O earth, and seas, what madness and wickedness against God are men fallen into? What dishonour do the creatures to their Creator and maker? And if we remember God sometime, yet because we doubt of his ability or will to help, we join to him another helper, as he were a known adjective, using these sayings: such as learn, God and Saint Nicholas be my speed: such as neese (sneeze), God help and Saint John: to the horse, God and Saint Loy save thee. Thus are we become like horses and Mules, which have no understanding. For, is there not one God only, who by his power and wisdom made all things, and by his providence governeth the same? and by his goodness mainteineth and saveth them? Be not all things of him, by him, and through him? Why dost thou turn from the Creator to the creatures? This is the manner of the Gentiles idolaters: but thou art a Christian, and therefore by Christ alone hast access to God the Father, and help of him only.
These things are not written to any reproach of the Saints themselves, who were the true servants of God, and did give all honour to him, taking none unto themselves, and are blessed souls with God: but against our foolishness and wickedness, making of the true servants of God, false God’s, by attributing to them the power and honour which is God’s, and due to him only. And for that we have such opinions of the power and ready help of Saints, all our legends, hymns, sequences and msses did contain stories, lauds, and praises of them, and prayers to them: yea, and sermons also altogether of them, and to their praises, God’s word being clean laid aside. And this we do altogether agreeable to the Saints, as did the Gentiles idolaters to their false God’s. For these opinions which men have had of mortal persons, were they never so holy, the old most godly & learned Christians have written against the feigned gods of the Gentiles, and Christian Princes have destroyed their images, who if they were now living, would doubtless likewise both write against our false opinions of Saints, and also destroy their images. For it is evident, that our Image-maintainers, have the same opinion of Saints, which the Gentiles had of their false God’s, and thereby are moved to make them images as the Gentiles did. If answer be made, that they make Saints but intercessors to God, and means for such things as they would obtain of God: that is even after the Gentiles idolatrous usage, to make them of Saints, God’s, called Dii Medioximi, to be mean intercessors and helpers to God, as though he did not hear, or should be weary if he did all alone. So did the Gentiles teach, that there was one chief power working by other, as means, and so they made all God’s subject to fate or destiny: as Lucian in his dialogues feigneth that Neptune made suite to Mercury , that he might speak with Jupiter . And therefore in this also, it is most evident that our Image maintainers be all one in opinion with the Gentiles idolaters.
Now remaineth the third part, that their rites and ceremonies in honouring and worshipping of the Images or Saints be all one with the rites which the Gentiles idolaters used in honouring their idols. First, what meaneth it, that Christians, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, go on pilgrimage to visit Images, where they have the like at home, but that they have a more opinion of holiness and virtue in some Images, then other some, like as the Gentiles idolaters had? which is the readiest way to bring them to idolatry by worshipping of them, and directly against God’s word, who saith (Amos 5), Seek me, and ye shall live, and do not seek Bethel , enter not into Gilgal, neither go to Bersheba . And against such as had any superstition in holiness of the place, as though they should be heard for the places sake, saying, Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men should worship, our Saviour Christ pronounceth (Jn 4), Believe me, the hour commeth when you shall worship the father neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, but true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and truth. But it is too well known, that by such pilgrimage going, Lady Venus and her son Cupid , were rather worshipped wantonly in the flesh, then God the Father and our Saviour Christ his Son truly worshipped in the spirit.
And it was very agreeable (as Saint Paul teacheth - Rom 1) that they which fell to Idolatry, which is spiritual fornication, should also fall into carnal fornication, and all uncleanness, by the just judgements of God, delivering them over to abominable concupiscences.
What meaneth it that Christian men, after the use of the Gentiles Idolaters, cap and kneel before images? which if they had any sense and gratitude, would kneel before men, Carpenters, Masons, Plasterers, Founders, and Goldsmiths, their makers and framers, by whose means they have attained this honour, which else should have been evil-favoured and rude lumps of clay, or plaster, pieces of timber, stone, or metal. without shape or fashion, and so without all estimation and honour, as that Idol in the Pagan Poet confesseth (Horatius), saying, I was once a vile block, but now I am become a God, etc. What a fond thing is it for man, who hath life and reason, to bow himself to a dead and insensible image, the work of his own hand? (1 Ki 1, Gen 23 & 33) is not this stooping and kneeling before them, adoration of them, which is forbidden so earnestly by God’s word? Let such as so fall down before images of Saints, know and confess that they exhibit that honour to dead stocks and stones, which the Saints themselves, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas would not to be given them being alive (Acts 10,14): which the Angel of God forbiddeth to be given to him (Rev 19). And if they say, they exhibit such honour not to the Image, but to the Saint whom it representeth, they are convicted of folly, to believe that they please Saints with that honour, which they abhor as a spoil of God’s honour: for they be no changelings: but now both having greater understanding, and more fervent love of God, do more abhor to deprive him of his due honour; and being now like unto the Angels of God, do with angels flee to take unto them by sacrilege the honour due to God, And herewithal is confuted their lewd distinction of Latria & Dulia , where it is evident, that the Saints of God cannot abide, that as much as any outward worshipping be done or exhibited to them. But Satan, God’s enemy, desiring to rob God of his honour, desireth exceedingly that such honour might be given to him (Mtt 4). Wherefore those which give the honour due to the creator, to any creature, do service acceptable to no Saints, who be the friends of God, but unto Satan, God and mans mortal and sworn enemy. And to attribute such desire of divine honour to Saints, is to blot them with a most odious and devilish ignominy and villainy, and in deed of Saints, to make them Satans and very devils, whose property is to challenge to themselves the honour which is due to God only.
And furthermore, in that they say that they do not worship the Images, as the Gentiles did their Idols, but God and the Saints whom the Images do represent, and therefore that their doings before Images, be not like the Idolatry of the Gentiles before their Idols, Saint Augustine (on Ps 135), Lactantius, and Clemens , do prove evidently, that by this their answer, they be al one with the Gentiles Idolaters. The Gentiles (saith S. Augustine ) which seem to be of the purer religion say, We worship not the Images, but by the corporal Image, we do behold the signs of the things which we ought to worship.
And Lactantius saith (Book 2), The Gentiles say, we fear not the Images, but them after whose likeness he images be made, and to whose names they be consecrated. Thus far Lantantius.
And Clemens saith (Book 5, ad Jocob, Domini fratrem) That serpent the devil uttereth these words by the mouth of certain men, Wee to the honour of the invisible God, worship visible images: Which surely is most false. See how in using the same excuses which the Gentiles Idolaters pretended, they show themselves to join with them in Idolatry. For notwithstanding this excuse, Saint Augustine, Clemens , and Lactantius prove them Idolaters. And Clemens saith, that the Serpent the devil putteth such excuses in the mouth of Idolaters. And the scriptures say, they worship the stocks and stones (notwithstanding this excuse) even as our Image maintainers doe. And Ezekiel therefore calleth the gods of the Assyrians , stocks and stones, although they were but images of their gods. So are our images of God and the Saints named by the names of God and his Saints, after the use of the Gentiles. And the same Clemens saith thus in the same book, They dare not give the name of the Emperor to any other, for he punisheth his offender and traitor by and by: but they dare give the name of God to other, because he for repentance suffereth his offenders. And even so do our Image worshippers give both names of God and the Saints, and also the honour due to God, to their images, even as did the Gentiles, Idolaters to their Idols. What should it mean that they, according as did the Gentiles Idolaters, light candles at noon time, or at midnight, before them, but therewith to honour them? for other use is there none in so doing. For in the day it needeth not, but was ever a proverb of foolishness, to light a candle at noon time. And in the night, it availeth not to light a candle before the blind: and God hath neither use nor honour thereof.
And concerning this candle lighting, it is notable that Lactantius above a thousand years ago hath written, after this manner (Book 6 Instit chap 2), If they would behold the heavenly light of the Sun, then should they perceive that God hath no need of their candles, who for the use of man hath made so goodly a light. And whereas in so little a circle of the Sun, which for the great distance, seemeth to be no greater then a mans head, there is so great brightness, that the sight of mans eye is not able to behold it, but if one steadfastly look upon it a while, his eyes will be dulled and blinded with darkness. Now great light, how great clearness may we think to be with God, with whom is no night nor darkness? and so forth. And by and by he saith, Seemeth he therefore to be in his right mind, who offereth up to the giver of light the light of a ware candle for a gift? He requireth another light of us, which is not smoky, but bright and clear, even the light of the mind and understanding. And shortly after he saith, But their gods, because they be earthly, have need of light, lest they remain in darkness, whose worshippers, because they understand no heavenly thing, do draw religion, which they use, down to the earth, in the which being dark of nature, is need of light. Wherefore they give to their gods no heavenly, but the earthly understanding of mortal men. And therefore they believe those things to be necessary and pleasant unto them, which are so to us, who have need either of meat when we be hungry, or drink when we be thirsty, or clothing when we be cold, or when the Sun is set, candle light, that we may see.
Thus far Lactantius , and much more, too long here to write, of candle lighting in Temples before images and Idols for religion: whereby appeareth both the foolishness thereof, and also, that in opinion and act, we do agree altogether in our candle religion, with the Gentiles idolaters. What meaneth it that they, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, burn incense offer up gold to images, hang up crouches, chains, and ships, leg, arms, and whole men and women of wax, before images, as though by them, or Saints (as they say) they were delivered from lameness, sickness, captivity, or shipwreck? Is not this Colere imagines, to worship images, so earnestly forbidden in God’s word? If they deny it, let them read the 11 Chapter of Daniel the Prophet, who saith of Antichrist: He shall worship God whom his fathers knew not, with gold, silver, and with precious stone, and other things of pleasure. in which place the Latin word is Colet. And in the second of Paralipomenon the xxix. Chapter, all the outward rites and ceremonies, as burning of incense, and such other, wherewith God in the Temple was honoured, is called Cultus (to say) worshipping, which is forbidden straitly by God’s word to be given to images. Do not all stories Ecclesiastical declare, that our holy Martyrs, rather then they would bow and kneel, or offer up one crumb of incense before an image or idol, have suffered a thousand kinds of most horrible and dreadful death?
And what excuses soever they make, yet that all this running on pilgrimage, burning of incense and candles, hanging up of crouches, chains, ships, arms, legs, and whole men and women of wax, kneeling and holding up of hands, is done to the images, appeareth by this, that where no images be, or where they have been, and be taken away, they do no such things at all. But all the places frequented when the images were there, now they be taken away, be forsaken and left desert, nay, now they hate and abhor the place deadly, which is an evident proof, that that which they did before, was done in respect of the images. Wherefore, when we see men and women on heaps to go on pilgrimage to images, kneel before them, hold up their hands before them, set up candles, burn incense before them, offer up gold and silver unto them, hang up ships, crutches, chains, men and women of wax before them, attributing health and safeguard, the gifts of God, to them, or the Saints whom they represent, as they rather would have it: who I say, who can doubt, but that our Image maintainers, agreeing in all idolatrous opinions, outward rites, and ceremonies with the Gentiles idolaters, agree also with them in committing most abominable idolatry? And to increase this madness, wicked men which have the keeping of such images, for their more lucre and advantage, after the example of the Gentiles idolaters, have reported and spread abroad, as well by lying tales, as written fables, divers miracles of images. As that such an Image miraculously was sent from heaven, even like Paladium, or magna Diana Ephesiorum. Such an other was as miraculously found in the earth, as the mans head was in Capitol , or the horse head in Capua. Such an Image was brought by Angels. Such an one came it self far from the East to the West, as dame Fortune fled to Rome . Such an Image of our Lady was painted by Saint Luke , whom of a Physician they have made a Painter for that purpose. Such an one an hundred yokes of oxen could not move, like bona Dea, whom the ship could not carry, or Jupiter Olympus , which laughed the artificers to scorn that went about to remove him to Rome . Some images, though they were hard and stony, yet for tender heart and pity, wept. Some like Castor and Pollux , helping their friends in battle, sweat, as marble pillars do in dankish weather. Some spake more monstrously then ever did Balaam’s Ass, who had life and breath in him. Such a cripple came and saluted this Saint of oak, and by and by he was made whole, and lo, here hangeth his crutch. Such an one in a tempest vowed to Saint Christopher, and scaped, and behold here is his ship of wax. Such an one by St. Leonard’s help brake out of prison, and see where his fetters hang. And infinite thousands more miracles, by like or more shame less lies were reported. Thus do our Image maintainers, in ear nest apply to their images, all such miracles as the Gentiles have feigned of their Idols. And if it were to be admitted, that some miraculous acts were by illusion of the devil done where images be: (For it is evident that the most part were feigned lies, and crafty juggling of men) yet followeth it not therefore, that such images are either to be honoured, or suffered to remain, no more than Hezekiah left the brazen Serpent undestroyed, when it was worshipped, although it were both set up by God’s commandment, and also approved by a great and true miracle, for as many as beheld it, were by and by healed: neither ought miracles persuade us to do contrary to God’s word. For the Scriptures have for a warning hereof foreshowed, that the kingdom of Antichrist shall be mighty in miracles and wonders, to the strong illusion of all the reprobate. But in this they pass the folly and wickedness of the Gentiles, that they honour and worship the relics and bones of our Saints, which prove that they be mortal men and dead, and therefore no Gods to be worshipped, which the Gentiles would never confess of their gods for very shame. But the relics we must kiss and offer unto, specially on relic Sunday. And while we offer (that we should not be weary or repent us of our cost) the music and minstrelsy goeth merrily all the offertory time, with praising and calling upon those Saints, whose relics be then in presence. Yea, and the water also wherein those relics have been dipped, must with great reverence be reserved, as very holy and effectual. Is this agree able to Saint Chrysostom , who writeth thus of relics? (Homily de septem Machabaeis) Do not regard the ashes of the Saints bodies, nor the relics of their flesh and bones, consumed with time: but open the eyes of thy faith, and be hold them clothed with heavenly virtue, and the grace of the holy Ghost, and shining with the brightness of the heavenly light. But our idolaters found too much vantage of relics and relic water, to follow Saint Chrysostom’s counsel. And because relics were so gainful, few places were there but they had relics provided for them. And for more plenty of relics, some one Saint had many heads, one in one place, and another in another place. Some had six arms, and 26 fingers. And where our lord bare his cross alone, if all the pieces of the relics thereof were gathered together, the greatest ship in England would scarcely bear them, and yet the greatest part of it, they say, doeth yet remain in the hands of Infidels, for the which they pray in their bead’s bidding, that they may get it also into their hands, for such godly use and purpose. And not only the bones of the Saints, but every thing appertaining to them was an holy relic. In some place they offer a sword, in some the scabbard, in some a shoe, in some a saddle that had been set upon some holy horse, in some the coals wherewith Saint Laurence as roasted, in some place the tail of the Ass which our Lord Jesus Christ sat on, to be kissed and offered unto for a relic. For rather then they would lack a relic, they would offer you a horse bone, in stead of a virgins arm, or the tail of the Ass to be kissed and offered unto for relics. O wicked, impudent, and most shameless men, the devisers of these things, O silly, foolish, and dastardly daws, and more beastly then the Ass whose tail they kissed, that believe such things. Now God be merciful to such miserable and silly Christians, who by the fraud and falsehood of those which should have taught them the way of truth and life, have been made not only more wicked then the Gentiles idolaters, but also no wiser then asses, horses, and mules, which have no under standing.
Of these things already rehearsed, it is evident, that our Image maintainers have not only made images, and set them up in Temples, as did the Gentiles idolaters their Idols: but also that they have had the same idolatrous opinions of the Saints, to whom they have made I mages, which the Gentiles idolaters had of their false gods, and have not only worshipped their images with the same rites, ceremonies, superstition, and all circumstances, as did the Gentiles Idolaters their Idols: but in many points also have far exceeded them in all wickedness, foolishness, and madness. And if this be not sufficient to prove them Image worshippers, that is to say, Idolaters: lo, you shall hear their own open confession, I mean, not only, the decrees of the second Nicene council under Irene , the Roman council under Gregory III. in which, as they teach that images are to be honoured and worshipped - as is before declared – so yet do they it warily an fearfully, in comparison to the blasphemous bold blazing of manifest idolatry to be done to images set forth of late, even in these our days; the light of Gods truth so shining, that, aove other there abominable doings and writings, a man would marvel most at their impudent, shameless and most shameful blustering boldness: who would not at the least have chosen them a time of more darkness, as meeter to utter their horrible blasphemies in: but have now taken an harlots face, not purposed to blush, in setting abroad the furniture of their spiritual whoredom. And hear the plain blasphemy of the reverend father in God, James Naclantus Bishop of Clugium , written in his exposition of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and the first Chapter, and put in print now of late at Venice , may stand instead of all, whose words of image worship ping be these in Latin, as he did write them, not one syllable altered.
Ergo non solum fatendum est, fideles in Ecclesia adorare coram imagine, ut nonnulli ad cautelam forte loquuntur; sed et adorare imaginem, sine quo volueris scrupulo. Quin et eo illam venerantur cultu, quo et prototypon ejus. Propter quod, si illud habet adorare latria, et illa latria; si dulia, vel hyperdulia, et illa pariter ejusmodi cultu adoranda est.
The sense whereof in English is this: Therefore it is not only to be confessed, that the faithful in the Church do worship before an Image (as some peradventure do warily speak) but also do worship the I mage it self, without any scruple or doubt at all: Yea, and they worship the Image with the same kind of worship, wherewith they worship the copy of the Image, or the thing whereafter the Image is made. Wherefore if the copy it self is to be worshipped with divine honour (as is God the Father, Christ , and the holy Ghost) the Image of them is also to be worshipped with divine honour. If the copie ought to be worshipped with inferior honour, or higher worship: the Image al so is to be worshipped with the same honour or worship.
Thus far hath Naclantus , whose blasphemies let Pope Gregorius the first confute, & by his authority damn them to hell, as his successors have horribly thundered. For although Gregory permitteth images to be had, yet he for biddeth them by any means to be worshipped, and praiseth much Bishop Serenus for the forbidding the worshipping of them, and willeth him to teach the people to avoid by all means to worship any Image (Gregory Epist. add Serenum Massil). But Naclantus bloweth forth his blasphemous Idolatry, willing images to be worshipped with the highest kind of adoration & worship: and least such whole some doctrine should lack authority, he groundeth it upon Aristotle, in his book De Somno et Vigilia, that is, of sleeping and waking, as by his printed Book noted in the margin, is to be seen: whose impudent wickedness and idolatrous judgement, I have therefore more largely set foorth, that yee may (as Virgil speaketh of Simon ) of one know all these Image - worshippers and idolaters, and understand to what point in conclusion the public having of images in Temples and Churches hath brought us: comparing the times and writings of Gregory the first, with our days, the blasphemies of such idolaters as this instrument of Belial , named Naclantus , is.
Wherefore, now it is by the testimony of the old godly Fathers and Doctors, by the open confession of Bi shops assembled in Councils, by most evident signs and arguments, opinions, idolatrous acts, deeds, and worshipping done to their images, and by their own open confession and doctrine set forth in their books, declared and showed, that their images have been, and be commonly worshipped, yea, and that they ought so to be: I will out of God’s word make this general argument against all such makers, setters up, and maintainers of images in public places.
And first of all I will begin with the words of our Saviour Christ (Mtt 18) , Woe be to that man by whom an offence is given, woe be to him that offendeth one of these little ones, or weak ones: better were it for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the middle of the sea and drowned, then he should offend one of these little ones, or weak ones. And in Deut. God himself denounceth him accursed that maketh the blind to wander in his way (Dt 27). And in Levit. Thou shalt not lay a stumbling block or stone before the blind (Lev 19). But images in Churches and Temples have been, and be, and (as afterward shall be proved) ever will be offences and stumbling blocks, specially to the weak, simple, and blind common people, deceiving their hearts by the cunning of the artificer (as the Scripture expressly in sundry places doeth testify) and so bringing them to Idolatry. Therefore woe be to the erecter, setter up, and maintainer of images in Churches and Temples, for a greater penalty remaineth for him then the death of the body (Wis 13,14).
If answer be yet made, that this offence may be taken away by diligent and sincere doctrine and preaching of God’s word, as by other means: and that images in Churches and Temples therefore be not things absolutely evil to all men, although dangerous to some: and therefore that it were to beholden, that the public having of them in Churches and Temples, is not expedient, as a thing perilous, rather then unlawful, and a thing utterly wicked. Then followeth the third article to be proved, which is in this.
That it is not possible, if images be suffered in Churches and Temples, either by preaching of God’s word, or by any other means, to keep the people from worshipping of them, and so to avoid Idolatry.
And first concerning Preaching.
If it should be admitted, that although images were suffered in Churches, yet might Idolatry by diligent and sincere preaching of God’s word be avoid: It should follow of necessity, that sincere doctrine might al wayes be had and continue, as well as images, and so that wheresoever, to offence, were erected an Image, there also, of reason, a godly and sincere Preacher should and might be continually maintained. For it is reason, that the warning be as common as the stumbling block, the remedy as large as is the offence, the medicine as general as the poison: but that is not possible, as both reason and experience teacheth. Where fore preaching cannot stay Idolatry, images being publicly suffered. For an Image, which will last for many hundred years, may for a little be bought: but a good Preacher cannot without much be continually maintained. Item, if the Prince will suffer it, there will be by and by many, yea, infinite images: but sincere Preachers were and ever shall be but a few in respect of the multitude to be taught. For our Saviour Christ saith, The harvest is plentiful, but the workmen be but few: which hath been hitherto continually true, and will be to the worlds end: And in our time, and here in our country so true, that every Shire should scarcely have one good Preacher, if they were divided.
Now images will continually to the beholders preach their doctrine, that is, the worshipping of images and Idolatry, to the which Preaching mankind is exceeding prone, and inclined to give ear and credit: as experience of all nations and ages doth too much prove. But a true Preacher to stay this mischief, is in very many places scarcely heard once in a whole year, and some where not once in seven years, as is evident to be proved. And that evil opinion which hath been long rooted in men’s hearts, cannot suddenly by one Sermon be rooted out clean. And as few are inclined to credit sound doctrine: as many, and almost all, be prone to superstition and idolatry. So that herein appeareth not only a difficulty, but also an impossibility of the remedy.
Further, it appeareth not by any story of credit, that true and sincere Preaching hath endured in any one place above one hundred years: But it is evident, that images, superstition, and worshipping of images and idolatry, have continued many hundred years. For all writings and experience do testify, that good things do by little and little ever decay, until they be clean banished: and contrariwise, evil things do more and more in crease, till they come to a full perfection and wickedness. Neither need we to seek examples far off for a proof hereof, our present matter is an example. For Preaching of God’s word (most sincere in the be ginning) by process of time, waxed less and less pure, and after corrupt, and last of all, altogether laid down and left off, and other inventions of men crept in place of it. And on the other part, images among Christi an men were first painted, and that in whole stories together, which had some signification in them: Afterwards, they were embossed, and made of timber, stone, plaster, and metal. And first they were only kept privately in private men’s houses: And then after, they crept into Churches and Temples, but first by painting, and after by embossing: and yet were they no where at the first worshipped. But shortly after, they began to be worshipped of the ignorant sort of men: as appeareth by the Epistle that Gregory the first of that name Bishop of Rome, did write to Serenus Bishop of Marcelles . Of the which two Bishops, Serenus for idolatry committed to images, brake them, and burned them, Gregory although he thought it tolerable to let them stand: yet he judged it abominable that they should be worshipped, and thought (as is now alleaged) that the worshipping of them might be stayed, by teaching of God’s word, according as he exhorteth Serenus to teach the people, as in the same Epistle appeareth. But whether Gregory’s opinion, or Serenus judgement were better here in, consider ye, I pray you, for experience by and by confuteth Gregory’s opinion. For notwithstanding Gregory’s writing, and the Preaching of others, images being once publicly set up in Temples and Churches, simple men and women shortly after fell on heaps to worshipping of them: And at the last, the learned also were carried away with the public error, as with a violent stream or flood. And at the second Council Nicene , the Bishops and Clergy decreed, that images should be worshipped: and so by occasion of these stumbling blocks, not only the unlearned and simple, but the learned and wise, not the people only, but the Bi shops, not the sheep, but also the shepherds themselves (who should have been guides in the right way, and light to shine in darkness) being blinded by the bewitching of images, as blind guides of the blind, fell both into the pit of damnable Idolatry. In the which all the world, as it were drowned, continued untill our age, by the space of above eight hundred years, unspoken against in a manner. And this success had Gregory’s order: which mischief had never come to pass, had Bishop Serenus way been taken, and all idols and images been utterly destroyed and abolished: for no man worshippeth that that is not.
And thus you see, how from having of images privately, it came to public setting of them up in Churches and Temples, although without harm at the first, as was then of some wise and learned men judged: and from simple having them there, it came at the last to worshipping of them. First, by the rude people, who specially (as the Scripture teacheth) are in danger of superstition and idolatry, and afterwards by the Bishops, the learned, and by the whole Clergy. So that Laity and Clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children, of whole Christendom (an horrible and most dreadful thing to think) have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry, of all other vices most de tested of God, and most damnable to man and that by the space of eight hundred years and more. And to this end is come that beginning of set ting up of images in Churches then judged harmless, in experience proved not only harmful, but exitious and pestilent, and to the destruction and subversion of all good religion universally. So that I conclude, as it may be possible in some one City or little Country, to have I mages set up in Temples and Churches, and yet idolatry by earnest and continual preaching of God’s true word, and the sincere Gospel of our Saviour Christ , may be kept away for a short time: So is it impossible, that (images once set up and suffered in Temples and Churches) any great countries, much less the whole world, can any long time be kept from idolatry. And the godly will respect, not only their own City, country and time, and the health of men of their age: but be careful for all places and times, and the salvation of men of all ages. At the least, they will not lay such stumbling blocks and snares, for the feet of other countrymen and ages, which experience hath already proved to have been the ruin of the world.
Wherefore I make a general conclusion of all that I have hitherto said: If the stumbling blocks, and poisons of men’s souls, by setting up of images, will be many, yea, infinite if they be suffered, and the warnings of the same stumbling blocks, and re medies for the said poisons by preaching but few, as is already declared: if the stumbling blocks be easie to be laid, the poisons soon provided, and the warnings and remedies hard to know or come by: if the stumbling blocks lie continually in the way, and poison be ready at hand everywhere, and warnings and remedies but seldom given: and if all men be more ready of themselves to stumble and be offended, then to be warned, all men more ready to drink of the poison, then to taste of the remedy (as is before partly, and shall hereafter more fully be declared) and so in fine, the poison continually and deeply drunk of many, the remedy seldom and faintly tasted of a few: How can it be but that infinite of the weak and infirm shall be offended, infinite by ruin shall break their necks, infinite by deadly venom by poisoned in their souls? And how is the charity of God, or love of our neighbour in our hearts then, if when we may remove such dangerous stumbling blocks, such pestilent poisons, we will not remove them: What shall I say of them which will lay stumbling blocks, where before there was none, and set snares for the feet, nay, for the souls of weak and simple ones, and work the danger of their everlasting destruction, for whom our Saviour Christ shed his most precious blood, where better it were that the arts of painting, plastering, carving, graving, and founding, had never been found nor used, then one of them, whose souls in the sight of God are so precious, should by occasion of image or picture perish and be lost.
And thus is it declared that Preaching cannot possibly stay Idolatry, if images be set up publicly in Temples and Churches.
And as true is it, that no other remedy, as writing against idolatry, Councils assembled, Decrees made against it, severe Laws likewise and Proclamations of Princes and Emperors, neither extreme punishments and penalties, nor any other remedy could or can be possible devised for the avoiding of idolatry, if images be publicly set up and suffered. For concerning writing against images, and Idolatry to them committed, there hath been alleaged unto you in the second part of this Treatise a great many places, out of Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, S. Augustine, Epiphanius, S. Am brose, Clemens , and divers other learned and holy Bishops and Doctors of the Church. And besides these, all histories Ecclesiastical, and books of other godly and learned Bishops and Doctors are full of notable examples and sentences against images and the worshipping of them. And as they have most earnestly written, so did they sincerely and most diligently in their time teach and preach, according to their writings and examples. For they were then Preaching Bishops, and more often seen in Pulpits, then in Princes palaces, more often occupied in his legacy, who said, Goe ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to all men, then in embassages and affairs of Princes of this world. And as they were most zealous and diligent, so were they of excellent learning and godliness of life, and by both of great authority and credit with the peo ple, and so of more force and likelihood to persuade the people, and the people more like to believe and follow their doctrine. But if their preachings could not help, much less could their writings, which do but come to the knowledge of a few that be learned, in comparison to continual preaching, whereof the whole multitude is partaker. Neither did the old Fathers, Bishops, and Doctors, severally only by preaching and writing, but also together, great numbers of them assembled in Synods and Councils, make Decrees and Ecclesiastical Laws against images, and the worshipping of them, neither did they so once or twice, but divers times, and in divers ages and Countries, assembled Synodes and Councils, and made severe Decrees against images and worship ping of them, as hath been at large in the second part of this Homily be fore declared. But all their writing, preaching, assembling in Councils, decreeing and making of Laws Ecclesiastical, could nothing help, either to pull down images to whom Idolatry was committed, or against Idolatry whilst images stood. For those blind books and dumb Schoolmasters, I mean images and Idols (for they call them Laymen’s books, and Schoolmasters) by their carved and painted writings, teaching and preaching Idolatry, prevailed against all their writ ten books, and preaching with lively voice, as they call it.
Well, if preaching and writing could not keep men from worshipping of images and Idolatry, if pen and words could not do it, you would think that penalty and sword might do it, I mean, that Princes by severe Laws and punishments, might stay this unbridled affection of all men to idolatry, though images were set up and suffered. But experience proveth, that this can no more help against Idolatry, then writing and preaching. For Christian Emperors (whose authority ought of reason, and by God’s Law, to be greatest) above eight in number, and six of them successively reigning one after another (as is in the histories before rehearsed) making most severe Laws and Proclamations against Idols, and Idolatry, images, and the worshipping of images, and executing most grievous punishments, yea, the penalty of death, upon the maintainers of images, and upon Idolaters and Image-worshippers: could not bring to pass, that either images once set up, might thoroughly be destroyed, or that men should refrain from the worshipping of them, being set up. And what think you then will come to pass, if men of learning should teach the people to make them, and should maintain the setting up of them, as things necessary in religion?
To conclude: it appeareth evidently by all stories and writings, and experience in times past, that neither preaching, neither writing, neither the consent of the learned, nor authority of the godly, nor the decrees of Councils, neither the Laws of Princes, nor extreme punishments of the offenders in that behalf, nor any other remedy or means, can help against Idolatry, if images be suffered publicly. And it is truly said, that times past are Schoolmasters of wisdom to us that follow and live after. Therefore if in times past, the most virtuous and best learned, the most diligent al so, and in number almost infinite, ancient Fathers, Bishops, and Doctors, with their writing, preaching, industry, earnestness, authority, assemblies and Councils could do nothing against images and Idolatry, to images once set up: what can we, neither in learning, nor holiness of life, neither in diligence, neither authority, to be compared with them, but men in contempt, and of no estimation (as the world goeth now) a few also in number, in so great a multitude and malice of men. What can we doe, I say, or bring to pass to the stay of Idolatry or worshipping of images, if they be allowed to stand publicly in Temples and Churches? And if so many, so mighty Emperors, by so severe Laws and Proclamations, so rigorous and extreme punishments and executions could not stay the people from setting up and worshipping of images: what will ensue, think you, when men shall commend them as necessary books of the lay men. Let us therefore of these latter days learn this lesson of the experience of ancient antiquity, that Idolatry can not possibly be separated from images any long time: but that as an inseparable accident, or as a shadow followeth the body when the Sun shineth, so Idolatry followeth and cleaveth to the public having of images in Temples and Churches. And finally, as Idolatry is to be abhorred and avoid, so are images (which can not be long without Idolatry) to be put away and destroyed.
Besides the which experiments and proof of times before, the very nature and origin of images themselves draweth to Idolatry most violently, and men’s nature and inclination also is bent to Idolatry so vehemently, that it is not possible to sever or part images, nor to keep men from Idolatry, if images be suffered publicly. That I speak of the nature and origin of images, is this: Even as the first invention of them is nought, and no good can come of that which had an evil beginning, for they be altogether nought, as Athanasius in his book against the Gentiles declareth, and Saint Jerome also upon the prophet Jeremiah the sixth Chapter, and Eusebius the seventh book of his Ecclesiastical Historie the xviii. Chapter testifieth, that as they first came from the Gentiles, which were idolaters and worshippers of images, unto us, and as the invention of them was the beginning of spiritual fornication, as the word of God testifieth: Sapi. 14. So will they naturally (as it were of necessity) turn to their origin from whence they came, and draw us with them most violently to Idolatry, abominable to God and all godly men. For if the origin of images, and worshipping of them, as it is recorded in the eight Chapter of the book of Wisedome, began of a blind love of a fond father, framing for his comfort an Image of his son, being dead, and so at the last men fell to the worshipping of the Image of him whom they did know to be dead: How much more will men and women fall to the worshipping of the images of God, our Saviour Christ , and his Saints, if they be suffered to stand in Churches and Temples publicly? For the greater the opinion is of the maiestie and holiness of the person to whom an Image is made, the sooner will the people fall to the worshipping of the said Image. Wherefore the images of God, our Saviour Christ , the blessed virgin Marie, the Apostles, Martyrs, and other of notable holiness, are of all other images most dangerous for the peril of Idolatry, and therefore greatest heed to be taken that none of them be suffered to stand publicly in Churches and Temples. For there is no great dread lest any should fall to the worshipping of the images of Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, or Judas the traitor, if they were set up. But to the other, it is already at full proved, that Idolatry hath been, is, and is most like continually to be committed.
Now as was before touched, and is here most largely to be declared, the nature of man is none otherwise bent to worshipping of images (if he may have them, and see them) then it is bent to whore dome and adultery in the company of harlots. And as unto a man given to the lust of the flesh, seeing a wanton harlot, sitting by her, and embracing her, it profiteth little for one to say, Beware of fornication, God will condemn fornicators and adulterers (1 Cor 6, 1 Thes 4, Heb 13) for neither will he, being overcome with greater enticements of the strum pet give ear or take heed to such godly admonitions, and when he is left afterwards alone with the harlot, nothing can follow but wickedness: even so, suffer images to be set in the Churches and Temples, ye shall in vain bid them beware of images, as Saint John doeth (1 Jn 5), and flee Idolatry, as all the Scriptures warn us, ye shall in vain preach and teach them against Idolatry. For a number will not withstanding fall headlong unto it, what by the nature of images, and what by the inclination of their own corrupt nature.
Wherefore as for a man given to lust, to sit down by a strumpet, is to tempt God: So is it likewise to erect an Idol in this proneness of mans nature to Idolatry, nothing but a tempting.
Now if any will say that this similitude proveth nothing, yet I pray them let the word of God, out of the which the similitude is taken, prove something. Doeth not the word of God call Idolatry spiritual fornication? (Lev 17 & 20, Num 25, Dt 31, Baruch 6) Doeth it not call a gilt or painted Idol or Image, a strumpet with a painted face? Bee not the spiritual wickednesses of an Idols enticing, like the flatteries of a wanton harlot? Bee not men and women as prone to spiritual fornication (I mean Idolatry) as to carnal fornication? If this be denied, let all nations upon the earth which have been Idolaters (as by all Stories appeareth) prove it true. Let the Jewes and the people of God which were so often and so earnestly warned, so dreadfully threatened concerning images and idolatry, and so extremely punished therefore (and yet fell unto it) prove it to be true: as in almost all the books of the old Testament, namely the Kings and the Chronicles, and the Prophets, it appeareth most evidently. Let all ages and times, and men of all ages and times, of all degrees and conditions, wise men, learned men, Princes, idiots, unlearned, and commonalty, prove it to be true. If you require examples: For wise men, ye have the Egyptians, and the Indian Gymnosophistes, the wisest men of the world, you have Solomon the wisest of all other. For learned men, the Greeks, and namely the Athenians, exceeding all other nations in superstition and idolatry, as in the history of the Acts of the Apostles S. Paul chargeth them (Acts 17, Rom 1). For Princes and governors, you have the Romans, the rulers of the roast, (as they say) you have the same forenamed king Solomon , and all the kings of Israel and Judah after him, saving David, Hezekiah and Josiah, and one or two more. All these (I say) and infinite others, wise, learned, Princes, and Governors, being all Idolaters, have you for examples and a proof of men’s inclination to idolatry. That I may pass over with silence in the mean time, infinite multitudes (Ps 32) and millions of idiots and unlearned, the ignorant and gross people, like unto Horses and Mules in whom is no understanding, whose peril and danger to fall on heaps to Idolatry by occasion of images, the Scriptures specially foreshow and give warning of (Wis 13,14). And indeed how should the unlearned, simple, and foolish scape the nets and snares of idols, and images, in the which the wisest and the best learned have been so en tangled, trapped, and wrapped?
Wherefore the argument holdeth this ground sure, that men be as inclined of their corrupt nature to spiritual fornication, as to carnal, which the wisdom of God foreseeing, to the general prohibition, that none should make to them selves and Image or similitude, addeth a cause, depending of mans corrupt nature. Lest (saith God) thou being deceived with error, honour and worship them (Dt 4). And of this ground of mans corrupt inclination, as well to spiritual fornication, as to carnal, it must needs follow, that as it is the duty of the godly Magistrate, loving honesty, and hating whoredom, to remove all strumpets and harlots, specially out of places notoriously suspected, or resorted unto of naughty packs, for the avoiding of carnal fornication: so it is the duty of the same godly Magistrate, after the examples of the godly Kings, Hezekiah and Josiah, to drive away all spiritual harlots, (I mean Idols and images) especially out of suspected places, Churches and Temples, dangerous for idolatry to be committed to images placed there, as it were in the appointed place and height of honour and worship (as Saint Augustine saith - Ps 36 & 13 & Book 4 ch 3) where the living God only (and not dead stones and stocks) is to be worshipped: It is (I say) the office of godly Magistrates likewise to avoid images and Idols out of Churches and Temples, as spiritual harlots out of suspected places for the avoiding of Idolatry, which is spiritual Fornication. And as he were the enemy of all honesty, that should bring strumpets and ha lots out of their secret corners into the public market place, there freely to dwell and practise their filthy merchandise: So is the enemy of the true worshipping of God, that bringeth idols and images into the Temple and Church, the house of God, there openly to be worshipped, and to rob the zealous God of his honour, who will not give it to any other, nor his glory to carved images, who is as much forsaken, and the bond of love between man and him as much broken by idolatry, which is spiritual Fornication, as is the knot and bond of marriage broken by carnal Fornication.
Let all this be taken as a lie, if the word of God enforce it not to be true. Cursed be the man, saith God in Deuteronomy (Dt 27), that maketh a carved or molten image, and placeth it in a secret corner: and all the people shall say, Amen. Thus saith God, for at that time no man durst have or worship images openly, but in corners only: and the whole world being the great Temple of God, he that in any corner thereof robbeth God of his glory, and giveth it to stocks and stones, is pronounced by God’s word accursed. Now he that will bring these spiritual harlots out of their lurking corners, into public Churches and Temples, that spiritual Fornication may there openly of all men and women without shame be committed with them, no doubt that person is cursed of God, and twice cursed, and all good and godly men and women will say, Amen, and their Amen will take effect also.
Yea, and furthermore the madness of all men professing the Religion of Christ , now by the space of a sort of hundred years, and yet even in our time in so great light of the Gospel, very many running on heaps by sea and land, to the great loss of their time, expense and waste of their goods, destitution of their Wives, Children, and Families, and danger of their own bodies and lives, to Compostella, Rome, Jerusalem , and other far countries, to visit dumb and dead stocks and stones, doeth sufficiently prove the proneness of mans corrupt nature to the seeking of idols once set by, and the worshipping of them. And thus as well by the origin and nature of idols and images themselves, as by the proneness and inclination of mans corrupt nature to Idolatry, it is evident, that neither images, if they be publicly set up, can be separated, nor men, if they see images in Temples and Churches, can be staid and kept from idolatry.
Now whereas they yet alleadge, that howsoever the people, Princes, learned, and wise of old time, have fallen into idolatry by occasion of images, that yet in our time the most part, specially the learned, wise, and of any authority, take no hurt nor offence by idols and images, neither do run into far countries to them, and worship them: And that they know well what an idol or Image is, and how to be used, and that therefore it followeth, images in Churches and Temples to be an indifferent thing, as the which of some is not abused: and that therefore they may justly hold (as was in the beginning of this part by them alleadged) that it is not unlawful or wicked absolutely to have images in Churches and Temples, though it may for the danger of the simple sort seem to be not altogether expedient.
Whereunto may be well replied, that Solomon also the wisest of all men, did well know what an idol or Image was, and neither took any harm thereof a great while himself, and also with his godly writings armed others against the danger of them. But yet after ward the same Solomon suffering his wanton Paramours to bring their idols into his Court and Palace, was by carnal harlots persuaded, and brought at the last to the committing of Spiritual Fornication with idols, and of the wisest and godliest Prince, became the most foolishest and wickeddest also (Wis 13&14). Wherefore it is better even for the wisest to regard this warning, he that loveth danger shall perish therein (Eccl 3): and Let him that standeth, beware lest he fall (1 Cor 10), rather then wittingly and willingly to lay such a stumbling block for his own feet and others, that may perhaps bring at last to break neck. The good King Hezekiah did know well enough, that the brazen Serpent was but a dead Image (2 Ki 18), and therefore he took no hurt himself thereby through idolatry to it: Did he therefore let it stand, because himself took no hurt thereof? No not so: but being a good King, and therefore regarding the health of his silly subjects, deceived by that Image, and committing idolatry thereto, he did not only take it down, but also brake it to pieces. And this he did to that Image that was set up by the commandment of God, in the presence whereof great miracles were wrought, as that which was a figure of our Saviour Christ to come, who should deliver us from the mortal sting of the old serpent, Satan. Neither did he spare it in respect of the ancientness or antiquity of it, which had continued above seven hundred years, nor for that it had been suffered, and preserved by so many godly Kings before his time. Now (think you) would that godly Prince (if he were now living) handle our idols, set up against God’s commandment directly, and being figures of nothing but folly, and for fools to gaze on, till they become as wise as the blocks themselves which they stare on, and so fall down as dared larks in that gaze, and being themselves alive, worship a dead stocke or stone, gold or silver, and so become idolaters, abominable and cursed before the living God, giving the honour due unto him which made them when they were nothing, and to our Saviour Christ who redeemed them being lost, to the dead and dumb idol, the work of mans hand, which never did nor can do any thing for them, no, is not able to stir nor once to move, and therefore worse then a vile worm which can move and creep? The excellent King Josiah also did take him self no hurt of images and idols, for he did know well what they were: did he therefore because of his own knowledge let idols and images stand? much less did he set any up? Or rather did he not by his know ledge and authority also succour the ignorance of such as did not know what they were, by utter taking away of all such stumbling blocks as might be occasion of ruin to his people and subjects? Will they be cause a few took no hurt by images or idols, break the general Law of God, Thou shalt make to the no similitude, etc. They might as well, because Moses was not seduced by Jethro’s daughter, nor Boaz by Ruth , being strangers, reason, that all the Jews might break the ge neral Law of God, forbidding his people to join their children in marriage with strangers, lest they seduce their children that they should not follow God.
Wherefore they which thus reason, thought it be not expedient, yet it is lawful to have images publicly, and do prove that lawfulness by a few picked and chosen men: if they object that in differently to all men, which a very few can have without hurt and of fence, they seem to take the multitude for vile souls (as he saith in Virgil ) of whose los and safeguard no reputation is to be had, for whom yet Christ paid as dearly as for the mightiest Prince, or the wisest and best learned in the earth. And they that will have it generally to be taken for indifferent, that a very few take no hurt of it, though infinite multi tudes beside perish thereby, show that they put little difference between the multitude of Christians and bruit beasts, whose danger they do so little esteem. Besides this, if they be Bishops or Parsons, or otherwise having charge of men’s consciences that thus reason, It is lawful to have images publicly, though it be not expedient, what manner of pastors show they themselves to be to their flock, which thrust unto them that which they themselves confess not to be expedient for them, but to the utter ruin of the souls committed to their charge, for whom they shall give a strait account before the Prince of Pastors at the last day? For indeed to object to the weak, and ready to fall of themselves, such stumbling blocks, is a thing not only not expedient, but unlawful, yea, and most wicked also. Wherefore it is to be wondered how they can call images, set up in Churches and Temples to no profit or benefit of any, and to so great peril and danger, yea hurt and destruction of many, or rather in finite, things indifferent. Is not the public setting up of them rather a snare for all men, and the tempting of God? I beseech these reasoners to call to mind their own accustomed ordinance and Decree, whereby they determined that the Scripture, though by God him self commanded to be known of all men, women, and children, should not be read of the simple, nor had in the vulgar tongue, for that (as they said) it was dangerous, by bringing the simple people into errors. And will they not forbid images to be set up in Churches and Temples, which are not commanded, but forbidden most straitly by God (Dt 31), but let them still be there, yea, and maintain them also, see ing the people are brought, not in danger only, but in deed into most abominable errours and detestable idolatry thereby? Shall God’s word, by God commanded to be read unto all, and known of all, for danger of Heresie (as they say) be shut up? and idols and images, not withstanding they be forbidden by God, and notwithstanding the dan ger of idolatry by them, shall they yet be set up, suffered, and maintai ned in Churches and Temples? O worldly and fleshly wisedome, even bent to maintaine the inuentions and traditions of men by carnal rea son, and by the same to disanull or deface the holy ordinances, Laws, and honour of the Eternall God, who is to be honoured and praised for ever. Amen.