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drawn near, or rather united unto God, and continually behold his face in glory, it is impossible that they should not have the most sincere desire for the salvation of all believers; and if so, what inconsistency is there in joining our prayers and desires to those which such saints as Paul, for instance, present or feel? In this the invocation of the saints consists. But this invocation does not lay aside the all powerful mediation of Jesus Christ; for his mediation is the continual, and absolutely necessary foundation, both of our prayers, and of the intercession of the saints. However, we ought not foolishly to imagine that this respect given by us to the saints, will be of any advantage to us, if we live in sin and impenitence; for there can be no honour shown to the saints equal to that of imitating their lives, and trusting in God alone according to their example.
Those, therefore, are inexcusable, and grievously transgress against this commandment, who render unto the favourites of God, divine, or nearly divine honours, and who trust in them almost as much as in God himself; who offer up prayers to them more frequently, than to Him, who respect their memory, and keep their holidays with a greater degree of devotion than the holidays of the Lord, and reverence their pic
tures more than those of our Saviour himself. For the favourite saints of God are of themselves by no means so great; they are the servants of God, and the work of his hands; consequently, between them and God there is an infinite difference. It is necessary, therefore, for every one to be very watchful, that he be not infected with such errors.
Preventives against error.
In order to avoid all the above mentioned transgressions of the law, the following means will be found useful: 1st, To lay aside every opinion which we have received, either from evil
* Among the obligations which bishops come under at ordination, are contained the following, in respect to the suppression of superstition : "I will diligently endeavour to prohibit all frauds under pretence of piety, whether committed by ecclesiastics or laymen. I will take care that the homage due to God shall not be transferred to holy images, nor false miracles be ascribed to them, whereby the true worship is perverted, and a handle given to adversaries to reproach the orthodox: on the contrary, I will study that images be respected only in the sense of the holy orthodox church, as set forth in the second general Council of Nice."
It is also particularly recommended to the holy legislative synod, in the spiritual regulation, to examine the legends of the saints, purify them of their absurdities, distinguish pretended miracles from true ones, reject all superstitious ceremonies, make strict enquiry concerning the reliques of saints, and to prevent all manner of superstition. Dr King, p. 297 and 445.
customs, or from intercourse with wicked men, or from reading pernicious books, or from that free thinking which disposes us to form rash judgments of every thing: to lay aside all these, I say, and to hold fast by sound and clear reason, with the assistance of wise men and good books. 2d, To subject ourselves to the truths of revelation, that is, to take the word of God to be the rule of all our reasonings, and in all things to follow its guidance. These are the most hopeful means of preserving a man from error. On the contrary, it is impossible that those should not err who either despise these means, or who, in the use of them, let loose the reins of their imagination. For, ac, cording to the doctrine of St Peter, we do well when we take heed unto the word of God, "as unto a light that shineth in a dark place." 2 Peter i. 19.
What are idolaters?
The second commandment forbiddeth idolatry, and every unlawful mode of worshipping God.
At one time, almost all nations were in such a state of error, (and even now there are many in the same situation), that they worshipped the creatures as gods, such as the sun, the moon, fire,
also the lower animals, as bulls, cats, crocodiles; and some even worshipped herbs, such as onions and garlic; and to all these, they offered sacrifices, and paid other divine honours, or they made statues in the likeness of men, and other animals, and bowed down before them as if they were di vinities. But from these shocking and awful errors, the grace of Jesus Christ has delivered us. 1 Peter iv. 3.
Such persons also resemble these idolaters as labour for Mammon and their belly; that is, whose thoughts are all taken up about amassing riches, which they either do not make use of at all, or only sacrifice to their fleshly lusts. With such people, Mammon and the belly are the idols, to whom they devote all their services; and on this account the Holy Scriptures call the love of riches, idolatry, Col. iii. 5; and those also, idolaters who make their belly their God. Phil.
This commandment also forbids the use of all unlawful means in the worship of God; that is, when any one thinks of pleasing God by that which is not acceptable to him, and which is not commanded in his word. Such, for instance, were those Israelites who presented to God costly sacrifices, while they led ungodly lives. And therefore God, through his prophet Isaiah, de
clared sacrifices presented from such hands to be hateful in his eyes; that is, their oblations were vain, their incense was an abomination, and their fatted calves like dogs in his sight. Chap. i. 11. Those persons consequently transgress against this commandment,
1. Who offer hypocritical worship.-Who utter long prayers, which of itself is pious, but suppose that they shall be heard for their much speaking, though at the same time they feel no contrition of spirit. Of a similar character, also, are those hypocrites, who on every occasion shew. themselves zealous for the name of God, zealous for the faith, the glory and interests of the church, and who introduce all their speeches with spiritual observations, (which in themselves are praiseworthy), but who with all this have nothing in yiew but the indulgence of a spirit of ostentation, or promoting their own interest in all that they do, and whose zeal consists only in words with which their conduct does not in the least agree.
2. Hypocritical observers of the fasts.--Who fast, that is, abstain from certain kinds of food, and on that account hope, for divine acceptance, though at the same time they live in every kind of ini- . quity. By them the real fast, which does not consist merely in abstinence from food, but in restraining the corrupt passions, is evil spoken of.