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SERM. these words, Thou shalt worship the Lord
III.

thy God. And 3dly, it being added, Him
Only Malt thou ferve, from thence I pro-
posed to take an occasion of explaining
distinctly, the nature of the several Spe-
cies of Idolatry : Which is the Great
Breach of this fundamental Command
ment.

The two Former of these Heads I
have already gone through; Having large-
ly shown, that there is One, and One Only,
True God, or Supreme Lord of all things ;
stiled here by our Saviour, The Lord thy
God: And that our Duty towards him,
exprest in these words, Thou shalt wor-
ship the Lord thy God: denotes every re-
ligious, every virtuous Act or Habit, by
which Regard is shown to God, either in
the Affections of our Minds, or in the Ex-
prefsions of our Mouths, or in the Actions of

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our Lives.

It remains, that I proceed at this time from the latter part of the Text, And bim Only Malt thou ferve, to explain distinctly the Nature of the several Species of Idolatry. Which Sin consists, either in setting up Idol-Gods, in oppofi

God;

tion to, or in conjunction with, the True Serm.

or in worshipping the True God III. himself, after an idolatrous manner ; either representing him under visible , and corporeal Images, or applying to him through false and Idol-Mediators, in diminution of the Honour of the One True Mediatour, whom God himself has expressly appointed to be Alone our Advocate, Interceffor and Judge,

1. THE First and Highest Degree of Idolatry, is, when men totally casting off all Belief of the True God, set up, in direct oppohtion to Him, fome imagination of their own, if not as a formal Object of Worship, yet at least as That to which Alone they ascribe all those great Effects, which are indeed the Bountiful Gifts of God to Mankind, and the sovereign Benefits of his Government over the World. Of This kind are the Notions which Some men frame to themselves, of Nature, Fate, Chance, and the like; when they ascribe the Being and Order, the Beauty and Usefulness of the World and all things that are therein, to These as their real Causes ;

mere

SERM. which in Truth are nothing but mere
III.
empty words,

abstract Notions,
mere Fictions or Idols of the Imagination,
which have no real Existence, or (as St
Paul expresses himself in a like case ) are
Nothing in the World. For, What is Na-
ture? What is Fate or Chance ? Are they
any real Beings, or Agents ? or can That
be truly the Cause of any thing, which it-
felf has really no Subsistence ? or are not
these Notions plainly the mere Refuges of
Ignorance, and the thin Cover of affected
Perverseness ? Less unreasonable of the two,
were those antient Idolaters, who stopping
short at the immediate and visible Causes
of the Life and Food and Plenty they injoy-
ed, worshipped the Sun and Moon and
Stars of Heaven, as the Authors of That
Good, whereof they were really and unde-
niably the Instruments. Less unreasonable,
I say, was even This, than to attribute the
causes of all things, to the efficiency of a
mere abstract Nothing. And yet the wor-
shipping these glorious and most noble
parts of the visible Universe, was a Folly
altogether without Excuse, even in the
darkest Times of heathen-ignorance; Be-

cause

1

cause Reason itself, without Any Revela- SERM. tion, was abundantly fufficient to lead III, men from the wonderful operations of unintelligent and lifeless Matter, to the Knowledge of an Intelligent, Living, and All-wise Cause. For, the invisible things of God from the creation of the World are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even bis eternal Power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20. So that Job (who appears not to have had any knowledge of the Jewish religion ) could say: If I bebeld the Sun when it shined, or the Moon walking in brightness; and ту

Heart bath been secretly inticed, or my

mouth hath kissed my hand : This also

an iniquity to be punished by the judge ; for I should have denied the God that is above. Which natural knowledge of God, when men had once suffered to be corrupted; and had changed the Truth of God into a Lye, worshipping and ferving the Creature instead of the Creator, who is Blessed for ever ; Idolatry quickly spread itself into Many Branches : And as Some worshipped the Host of Heaven, the Sun and Moon and Stars, because of Vol. I. E

their

were

SER M. their Beauty and Usefulness; fo Others, III.

carried away with Flattery towards their Kings and Governours, deified and worshipped, after their Deaths, those who in their life-time, for exercising Lordship over them, had been stiled Benefactors. This latter, was the Idolatry of the Antient Greeks and Romans ; those Learned Nations, who in all other respects improved and civilized themselves to such a degree, and cultivated all Arts and Sciences to so high a Pitch, that all Countries in the World, in comparison of Them, were stiled and justly accounted barba

But their Religion, these Learned and Famous Nations received in the blindest and most stupid manner, by Tradition from their ignorant and barbarous Ancestors ; their Jupiter himself, the Object of their most solemn Worship, being no other than a King, who, in the antient dark and fabulous Ages, had reigned in the Ife of Crete. Of the same kind, seems to have been the idolatry of the Chaldeans, at the time when Abram, in order to set up the worship of the True God, departed out of bis Country, and

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