The manner and way of worshipping the demons, and retaining their presence, viz. by consecrated images and pillars. That images were as bodies for demons to animate and dwell in. The worshipping of images and columns a piece of the doctrine of demons. This proved out of Trismegist, Porphyry, Arnobius, Minutius Felix, &c. The worshipping of demons in their relics, shrines, and sepulchers, another piece of demon-doctrine. That the Gentiles temples were nothing but the sepulchers of dead men. The gross idolatry of the Egyptians.
But lest I might seem to have no measure in raking up this Ethnical dunghill, I will now leave the theology of the origin of demons, and show you yet another piece of that doctrine, namely, concerning the manner how demons were to be worshipped, and as it were brought to the lure of men, when they had occasion of devotion with them; and this was done by consecrating of images. (e) This you shall hear from an ancient author, and passing skilful in these mysteries, even Hermes Trismegistus, who in his Asclepius speaketh, in English thus: It is a wonder, saith he, beyond all wonders, and he saith truly, that man should find out a way to make Gods; yet because, saith he, our forefathers erred much through unbelief concerning deities, and had small regard of religion and divine worship; therefore they devised an art to make Gods, he meaneth images, and because they could
not make souls, he means to these senseless bodies, therefore they called the souls of demons and angels, and put them into their images and holy mysteries; by which means alone these images have power of helping and hurting; which thus incorporated, he saith, are called by the Egyptians, holy animals. And in another place, That kind of gods, he saith, which men make, is composed of two natures, of a Divine, which is first and more sacred, and of that which is amongst men, namely, the matter whereof they are made. The sum of all this mystery is, that images were made as bodies, to be informed with demons as with souls; for an image was as a trap to catch demons; and a device to tie them to a place, and to keep them from flitting.
The like hath Eusebius out of Porphyry. (Praep. l. 5.) That the gods did exceedingly delight in consecrated images, and were circumscribed and enclosed therein as in a sacred place; * and the image being taken away, that is dissolved which detained the Deity upon the earth. This is that which Psellus calleth the approachings or presencings of demons. And Jamblichus termeth these consecrated idols, images filled with Divine fellowship, or with Divine society. And our forementioned Hermes calleth them § animated statues, full of sense and spirit.
Hence came that answer or defense of the Gentiles, as Arnobius makes them speak:* We do not think brass, and gold, and silver, and other materials of images, to be of themselves Gods and holy powers; but in these we worship and reverence the Gods brought into these images by sacred dedication, and keeping their residence there. And in another place he makes this objection for their behalf; But you say, perhaps, the deities present themselves unto you in some sort under these images: and because the Gods cannot be seen, they are thus worshipped and have religious service done unto them.
And thus have we seen the ground of the idolatrous use of images, and found that the worship of them also is a doctrine of demons; for as at first they were ordained for demons; so whatsoever Deity is worshipped in this manner, though it were the true and sovereign God, is thereby made a demon.
What I say of images must be understood also of pillars and columns, whereof we read, Leviticus 26: 1 Ye shall make no idols, nor graven images, nor rear you up a pillar to bow down unto
it. For however pillars and images, though some confusion at length surprising Gentiles superstition, may afterwards seem to be ascribed to other deities besides demons, yet by original institution they were proper unto demons, and to no other. The sovereign and celestial Gods were worshipped in the sun, moon, and stars, where they were supposed to dwell; but images and columns were for demons; and if they seemed to be made for any other, Plutarchs Eremite would resolve us that they were but demons called by the name of some sovereign gods whose agents they were. The truth of this the history of the beginning of idolatry by images makes evident. For that images and pillars were at first devised and erected to the honor and memory of dead men, this the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Wisdom will tell us, and that by the vain glory of men they first entered into the world. No less will the long-continuing custom of the world, using thus to honor not only their dead, but since also the living, be sufficient to persuade the truth. Minutius Felix, in his Octavius, will put us out of doubt.* Our ancestors, saith he, while they religiously honor their kings, while they desire sfter their departure to behold them in their images, and delight to preserve their memory in statues; what was at first taken up for their own solace, was at length
made a matter of religion. When, therefore, those whom they thus honored and remembered were canonized as demons, then were these memorials also worshipped for some supposed presence or Divine respect of such demons in or to them. The worshipping, therefore, of images and columns is, by its original and institution, a piece of the doctrine of demons; so that whatsoever is thus worshipped, yea, the glory of the incorruptible God himself, is thereby changed into a demon. (g)
Thus much of images and idol-pillars, of the reason of their supposed divinity, and of the original and first occasion of worshipping them. But yet we have not done; there is another piece of demon-devotion yet behind, viz., the worshipping of demons in their relics, shrines and sepulchers; for this was also a part of the doctrine and theology of demons. (h) Plato, whom before we quoted, upon the canonizing, for demons, of the ghosts of such as died valiantly in the field, would have their shrines and coffins to be worshipped, as the coffins of demons. Hear also what Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of this demon-doctrine.* They, that is the Greeks, are of opinion that it matters not whether we call those souls, viz., the demons whom they invocate, gods or angels. But the more skilful theologists place the coffins of the deceased in many of their temples as so
many statues of the gods*, calling their souls demons,
and withal teaching that they ought to be worshipped by men, as being for the
holiness of their lives entrusted by Divine Providence to be employed about
this earth for the service of men; for they well knew that some souls were
naturally tied to the body. Out of which words observe, that they supposed the
like presence and power of demons at their coffins and sepulchers which before
we observed and heard of in their images: as though there always remained some
natural tie between the souls deceased and their relics; and therefore they
there built temples unto them where their bodies and ashes were entombed. And
hence it is that the primitive Fathers which write against the Gentiles do so
often upbraid them. That their temples were nothing else but the sepulchers of
dead men; they were indeed called
by the specious and plausible name temples, but were in truth nothing but
sepulchers; that is, the very sepulchers of dead men were called temples. He
goeth on speaking to the Gentiles; Be ye, therefore, at length persuaded to forget and
relinquish your demon-worship, and be ashamed to worship the sepulchers of dead
men. To the like purpose Arnobius, lib. vi. advers.
where he tells them* that many of their temples, famous for their high and golden roofs, were nothing but the sepulchers of the deceased, covering dead bones and ashes; and that it was very evident that for the immortal gods they worshipped men that were dead, or that they were guilty of doing a horrible dishonor to the gods, whose temples were built over the burying-places of dead men.
I might further add to these universal doctrines of demons that monstrous one of the Egyptians, for which their fellow Gentiles derided them; who worshipped living brute beasts, yea onions, and garlic, and water itself, with divine worship, as supposing some demon or other to dwell in them. Such were their cow-god Apis, their bull-god Mnevis, and their water-god Nilus, which it shall be enough to have only named, to make the former complete; and that from it and the rest of that kind of abominations we may gather this conclusion once for all, That since the sovereign and celestial gods, as you heard before, might not be approached nor polluted by these earthly and material things, but kept always immovably, without change of place or presence, their heavenly stations; therefore
the adoring or worshipping of any visible or material thing for any supposed presence or other relation of a Divine power therewith, is to be accounted amongst the doctrines of demons.