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our Saviour calls (in the words before the Ser M.
V. Text) the True worshippers Worshipping bim in Truth. Now This sort of False worship, is That which those Heathens are charged with, Rom. i. 21. who, when they knew God, yet glorified bim not as God, but became vain in their imaginations, and changed the Glory of the uncorruptible God, into an Image made like to corruptible man, and to Birds and four-footed Beasts and creeping things. And the Jews were still more inexcufably guilty of it, when in the wilderness they worshipped the Golden Calf, most absurdly, as an Emblem or representation of the God of Heaven; and in Jerusalem itself, when they set up high places, not in opposition indeed to the True God, but in opposition to the Temple, in opposition to that Place of worship, which he Himself had chosen to place his Name there. And when in Dan and Bethel they set
up Calves, not indeed as False Gods, like the Worshippers of Baal; but as false and absurd representations of the God of Ifrael. And the Samaritans, 2 Kings xvii. 24. when they worshipped God, not as
Serm. the Supreme Lord of all things, but as
the God of the Land, the God of That particular Country. And corrupt Christians, still the most inexcufably of all; when, notwithstanding so many repeated Declarations of the Will of God to the contrary, they yet continue to worship him thro' False Mediators, through the
pretended Intercession of Saints and Angels and of the Blessed Virgin, whom he hath not appointed to any such Office: And when moreover, by introducing Images, not only of Christ, but even of God himself, they totally destroy the Spiritual Purity of the Gospel-worship
Now the reasons why this particular Species of Idolatry, this worshipping the True God under False Images, is so feverely condemned in Scripture; are principally these two.
ist, BECAUSE it tends to fubvert the Great and Primary Foundation of all Religion, by giving men mean and unworthy Notions of God, confining his Presence, and falsely supposing that there can be any such Thing as a Similitude or Representation of him. Forasmuch (faith the A
postle ) as we are the of-spring of God, SER M. ( forasmuch as even we ourselves are ra
V. tional Beings, and our Minds far superiour to any corporeal Representation, ) we ought not (faith he) to think that the Godhead is like unto ( that is, can in any manner be represented by,) Gold or Silver, or Stone graven by Art and Man's device, Acts xvii.
. 29. The Heathens, knowing that God was every where present, first worshipped him in the Sun and Stars, as the most illustrious Instruments of his Power, and the best Visible Representations of his glorious Greatness and Goodness. Then they foon fell to worship the Sun and Stars, themfelves, instead of the God who made those bright Luminaries, and whom they supposed to be in them. And from thence by degrees they descended to worship the meanest plant ; and at last Wood and Stone, even the workmanship of their own hands. The Jews in like manner, I wish it could not be said that Christians also, from beginning to make imaginary representations of God, quickly fell by degrees from more refined Idolatry, to worshipping at last, in the most stupid manner, even VOLI,
SERM. Stocks and Stones. This being in the v. highest degree contrary to the Precept of
worshipping God according to Truth, 'tis with great Elegancy and just Sharpness
of Reproof, that, in the Old Testament, Jer. X. 14.
Idols are frequently stiled Falhood, and Am. ii. 4. Lyes, and Lying Vanities; and the Makers Hab ii.18. thereof, Teachers of Lyes ; and in the New
Testament likewise, Idolaters are called, by way of Eminence, Lyars, Rev. xxi. 8. and whosoever loveth or maketh a Lye,
and that they turn the Truth of God into a Lye, Rom. i. 25. To prerent so great a Corruption of the first Principles of Religion in the Notion of a Deity, the second Commandment is delivered in larger and
ch. xxi. 27,
larger and more explicit Terms than any of the rest: Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven Image, nor the Likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or in the Earth beneath, or in the Waters under the Earth; that is, Thou fhalt not think so meanly and unworthily of God, as to imagine that He who made all things, can be represented by any Similitude of the things that are made. And 'tis with great elegancy of expression,
that the Prophet Isaiah derides the Makers SERM, of Images, ch. xl. 18. To whom will
ye liken God. or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth a graven Image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
2dly, THE other reason, why this I. dolatry is so severely condemned in Scripture, is because it always tends to corrupt mens Manners, and to introduce all sort of Wickedness. St Paul, in his whole first chapter to the Romans, largely shows, how the Heathens, when they changed the Truth of God into a Lye, were consequently given up unto vile affections among themselves; and their own Histories show, that, departing from the natural Notion of God, they came at length even to hu- Tantum man Sacrifices, and such other Cruelties, potuit luaas no other principle, how corrupt foever, dere mabut only This of Idolatrous Superstion, could have led men to. The fews in like manner, whenever they fell into Idolatry, their whole History shows, how it totally destroy'd all Sense of Virtue out of their minds, and they came at last to sacrifice Even their own children to Moloch. And