« PrécédentContinuer »
Such, also, are those who adorn the churches, or cover the pictures of the saints with gold and silver, yet at the same time oppress the innocent, who are the church of the living God, or leave the poor without food. It is in vain, however, for them to declare that they have done all that they should have done in order to be saved; for, according to the words of Christ," these ought they to have done, and not to leave the others undone." Matt. xxiii. 23.
3. The superstitious.-Who invent certain miraculous kinds of appearances, for the sake of filthy lucre, or from some sort of extravagant ideas about the salvation of their souls, or who attach an unknown kind of sanctity to some particular places, believing that God will hear prayers sooner in one place than in another.* In a word,
* The monasteries about Kieff, and that of Troitza, fifty miles from Moscow, with some others, are actually viewed by the common people in the light of which our author here speaks; for in his illustration of the ten commandments, he has always pointed allusions to opinions and practices which are prevalent among his own countrymen. Every year great numbers of people, from every part of the empire, go in pilgrimage to Kieff or to Troitza, and there perform their devotions before the pictures and reliques of the wonder-workers and saints; and, alas! many of them, I fear, both there and elsewhere, through ignorance and superstition, render that homage to the mosches, or withered remains of their saints, which is due to the immortal God alone.
all those transgress against this commandment who, according to the testimony of Christ, place their hope of salvation in externals, and "omit the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." Therefore, respecting such characters, divine truth declares," This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matt. XV. 8, 9.
Reverencing the pictures is not contrary to this commandment.
We do not act contrary to this commandment, when, according to the ancient custom of Christians, we adorn our temples with the holy pictures. For, in the first place, we do not attempt to draw upon the canvas a representation of the unseen and incomprehensible God, whom we never can represent; but we represent our Saviour in the fashion of a man which he took upon himself, or his favourites. Secondly, The pictures are made and placed in our churches, not for deification, but to commemorate the acts of God and of his chosen servants, that we, in beholding them, (as, for instance, in looking on the picture of our crucified Saviour), may stir up our
souls to piety, and to the imitation of them in
Of such as err in reverencing the pic
But notwithstanding all that has been said, this lawful and holy reverencing of the pictures may be turned into the most abominable sin of idolatry. This is the case when any one hopes in, or attaches all his respect to the holy pictures, and trusts in their material substance; when, for instance, any one finds greater sanctity in one picture than in another, or places in them any hope of salvation. They, too, are chargeable with this guilt, who bring their own particular picture into the church along with them, and only worship before it, or who respect those pictures more which are adorned than the unadorned, the old more than the new, or decline praying at all when they have not a picture before them. All these, and such like, are great transgressors, and prove a great disgrace to the real profession of the Christian faith.
In order to avoid the above-mentioned errors, it is necessary to remember, 1st, That the worship of God can never be sincere, unless it proceed from a contrite and unfeigned spirit. For all external rites of worship are only marks testifying our internal piety and sincerity towards God, without which they signify nothing. And
therefore the gospel requires, that the worshippers of God should worship him in spirit (not externally alone), and in truth, or not in hypocrisy. 2d, We must hold to the divine word alone, and rest assured, that it only contains the true rules by which we ought to please God. And therefore Christ said concerning the Holy Scriptures, that in them is contained eternal life. *
The third commandment forbids the making use of the name of God without due respect to his glorious Majesty, and thereby it prescribes to us every proper means of divine worship.
With the great name of God, there is united his most exalted and inexpressible glory, which the
* The attentive reader will easily observe, in the above de fence of the invocation of departed saints, that the Metropolitan feels himself at the greatest loss to preserve even a shadow of consistency with the great truths of revelation which he had formerly explained. Being no doubt thoroughly con vinced of the mere impossibility that illiterate peasants should mark the nice distinction which he himself has drawn betwixt the homage paid to the Saviour, and that given to the saints; and having had innumerable occasions of observing the idola trous ideas which thousands of them actually entertain about the pictures and powers of departed saints, he at last brings forth the grand antidote against error in religious opinions and practices. "We must hold to the divine word alone, and rest assured that it only contains the true rules by which we aught to please God."