Why those words in the description of the mystery of godliness, received into glory, are set last.—That praying to saints glorified, as mediators and agents for us with God, is Idolatry. —For the proof of this several grounds are laid down. —To be prayed to “in heaven,” to present our devotions to God, and to deal as an agent and mediator between us and him, is a prerogative appropriate to Christ, a flower of his glory, and exaltation to sit at God’s right hand, a royalty incommunicable to any other. —That none but Christ, our High Priest, is to be an agent for us with God in the heavens, was figured under the law, in that the high priest alone had to do in the most holy place, and there was to be agent for the people. —That though Christ, in regard of his person, was capable of this god-like glory and royalty, yet it was the will of God that he should purchase it by suffering an inimitable death. —This proved from several testimonies of Scripture. —Saint worship is a denial of Christ’s prerogative.—Bread worship in the Eucharist, to what kind of Idolatry it may be reduced. —How saint worship crept into the Church.
Now I come to the second point, to maintain and prove that praying to saints glorified, as mediators and agents for us with God, is justly charged with idolatry.
For this is the hinge whereupon not only the application of my text, but it interpretation, chiefly turneth. For I told you in the beginning, that my text depended upon the last words of the former chapter and verse, received into glory; which were, therefore, out of their due order, put in the last place, because my text was immediately
to be inferred upon them. The like misplacing, and for the like reason, see in Hebrews 12: 23, where in a catalogue or recension of the parts of the Church “Christ the head,” and “the sprinkling of his blood” is mentioned in the last place, and after the “spirits of just men,” because the next verses are continued upon this sprinkling of Christ’s blood: “ye are come to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel;” whereas the right order would have been, first, “God the judge of all;” secondly, “Christ the mediator of the new covenant;” and thirdly, in the last place, “the spirits of just men made perfect.” See also Revelation 1: 5, where Christ is named after the seven spirits for the like reason. Agreeably, therefore, to this dependence of my text, I am to show, that the invocation of saints glorified implies an apostasy from Christ, and a denial of his glory and majesty, whereunto he is installed by his assumption into heaven, to sit at the right hand of God. Which before I do, I must premise some general grounds, as followeth.
First, that as God is One, and without all multiplicity, so must the honor and service which is given unto him have no communicability. Isaiah 42: 8, I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give unto another, nor my praise to graven images; for the one-most
God must have an one-most service. Therefore in that action whereof God is the object, nothing must be an object but God. Or, in the Scripture phrase, thus, —in whose actions which look towards the “face of God,” nothing may come between, whose face such actions may look upon besides him; whether by way of subordination to him, or representation of him; for I am the Lord thy God, saith he, thou shalt have no other Gods before my face (Exodus 20: 3).
Secondly, this face of God is not only the “object of his person,” but also the “place of his presence,” where his glory is revealed in the heavens, where we shall see him face to face, I Corinthians 13: 12, Revelation 22: 4, and where the angels in heaven behold the face of the Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18: 10) No action therefore directed thitherward, that is, to this face of His revealed presence and glory, may so much as look asquint upon any other object, or behold any other face but the face of God alone; for we must have no other Gods before his face.
I say not, that a man may not turn his face upon the face of any other thing when he turns his face towards the face of God; for how then should we worship him at all, seeing which way soever we turn us, something will always be before us? But it is not the face of our bodies, or their posture, but the face and posture of the act we do, which must not have the face turned upon anything else, when it is directed at the face of God. That action in which God is faced,
must face nothing else but God; that is, where God is the object, whether in regard of his person, when we pray unto him, or of his throne of presence, when we would approach it, or direct our supplications towards it: there nothing is to be respected as the object but God alone. So although when we pray unto God we turn the face of our bodies towards heaven, the sun, the moon, and stars; yet we do not therefore worship the host of heaven, because our action hath no relation to them as to an object, but to God alone; and howsoever they are between God and us in place, yet as an object of our devotion neither they, nor anything in them, come any way between us and him.
Now for the reason, if you ask it, of this incommunicableness of all actions and services directed to God-ward, you shall have it, (Exodus 34: 14) —Because the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God; jealous not only lest he should not be honored and served as God; but jealous lest he should not be honored as one God. For as by honoring him we acknowledge him to be God, so by the incommunicableness of honor we acknowledge him to be one God.
For this cause, God being to give us a Mediator, by whom we should have access unto his presence, and whom, without His jealousy, we might interpose in our devotions and supplications unto Himself, offered at the Throne of his Majesty and Glory in the heavens, provided that
admirable mystery of communicating to the nature of a man born of a woman the hypostatical union of the Second Person of the Deity; and him, after he had vanquished death, exalted to sit at his right hand of glory and power in the heavens, there in his own Presence and Throne to receive our requests, and to deal as an agent between us and Him.
Thus at length I am arrived at that port which all this while I made for, viz., to show, that this glory of Christ, which is styled his sitting at the right hand of God, is that incommunicable royalty to which of right it belongeth, in the presence of God, to receive and present our devotions to the Divine Majesty; as in that which now followeth shall appear.
To sit at the right hand of God, is to be installed in God’s throne, or to have a God-like royalty, which is defined in Scripture, —the majesty of Christ in heaven. Whence it is said, Hebrews 1: 3, “he sat down on the right hand of Majesty on high;” and Hebrews 8: 1, it is called “the right hand of the Throne of the Majesty in the Heavens:” it is also called by Christ himself, Mark 14: 62, Luke 22: 69, the right hand of Power, and the right hand of the Power of God: for as to the right hand belongs both dignity and strength; so doth this glory of Christ include both a God-like sublimity and a God-like power; the first, the right hand of the throne,
the second, the right hand of power, The proper place where the majestical glory is revealed, is the heavens, as may appear almost wheresoever this sitting at the right hand of God is mentioned. Ephesians 1: 20, Colossians 3: 1, Hebrews 1: 3, Hebrews 7: 26, I Peter 3: 22, &c. Heaven, heavenly places, and the like, being always thereto annexed: and everywhere appeareth to be a consequent of his ascension into heaven, as we say in our Creed, he ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God; and, therefore, in the words whereon my text depends, is expressed by, assumed or taken up into glory, For as God himself is styled the Father in heaven, not because not elsewhere, but because his glory is there revealed: so Christ sits at the right hand in heaven, because there the beams of the Majesty given him by his Father are revealed: whence it comes that his kingdom is called the kingdom of Heaven, that is, a kingdom whose king’s residence and kingly throne are both in Heaven.
This glorious Throne of Majesty, this sitting at the right hand of the power of the Almighty, is a name incommunicable, an exaltation whereof no creature in heaven or earth is capable: which is what the apostle means to tell us, when he saith, Ephesians 1: 21, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come;” and Philippians 2: 9, 10,
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name that is, created name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (Revelation 3: 21.) He that overcometh, saith Christ, I will give him to sit with me in my throne; even as I have overcome, and sat with my Father in his throne. Here is mentioned, we see, of two thrones, of which, my throne, that is, Christ’s throne, is the condition of a glorified man; in this throne his saints shall sit with him; but my Father’s throne is the power of Divine Majesty, wherein none may sit but God, and the God-man Jesus Christ.
These grounds laid, I say, —that the honor of being prayed to in heaven, and before the Throne of presence, is a prerogative of the right hand of God; and to receive our devotions there, a flower of Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God: as St. Paul, Romans 8: 34, conjoins them, saying, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, and who makes intercession for us. For by right of this his exaltation and majesty, he comes to be a priest after the order of Melchisedec, as appears Psalm 110: 1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool; then follow the effects thereof, verse 4. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec. And by the same right also he
becomes the only and eternal Priest which hath to do in the most holy place, the heavens. For as the High Priest only entered the most holy place beyond the veil in the earthly tabernacle, so Jesus Christ, our only High Priest, through his body, as the first tabernacle, by his own blood, entered into the second tabernacle, or holy place not made with hands, as was the figure, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us. All this you have in the same words at large. (Hebrews 9: 7, 11, 12, 24)
Now in the tabernacle of this world, as in the first tabernacle, we may haply find many priests whom to employ as agents for us with God. But in the second tabernacle, which is in Heaven, there is but one agent to be employed, but One who is but one who hath royal commission to deal between God and men, that Angel of the presence, as Isaiah calls him chapter 63 verse 9; and one only Mediator, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, who in this prerogative is above saints and angels; for to which of the saints or angels said God at any time: Sit on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? (Hebrews 1: 4, 9, 13)
Neither will this demonstration admit that vulgar exception to be of any force, namely, —That expiatory mediation, or meritorious intercession in heaven, should indeed appertain to Christ alone, but favorable intercession to pray for us, not so; and, therefore, for this we may without derogation to Christ solicit either saints or angels. I might say, that this rag is too narrow and short to cover the nakedness of those
who laid hold of it; in whose supplications to saints, and to God too in their names, nothing is more usual than the express mention of their merits, blood, and sufferings, as motives to God to hear them. But we shall not need this answer. For we have demonstrated, that as in the law none but the high priest alone was to do office in the holiest place, so Christ Jesus now is the only agent for whatsoever is to be done for us in the holiest tabernacle, of heaven. Besides, we read, that none but the High Priest alone was to offer incense, or to incense the most heavenly place when he entered into it: but incense is the prayers of the saints, sent thither from this outward temple of the militant Church, as in the law it was fetched from without the veil. This, therefore, none in heaven but Christ alone must receive from us to offer for us. And this is that Angel with the golden censer, Revelation 8: 3, who there offers the incense of the prayers of the saints given him to offer there upon the golden altar before the throne; alluding expressly to the golden altar before the testimony.
For the fuller understanding and further confirmation of what hath been spoken, observe this also; That notwithstanding the man Christ Jesus in regard of his Person, being God as well as Man, was from his first incarnation capable of this royalty and glory; not only for the incomparable sufficiency of his Person, which by reason of his two-fold nature is always and in all places present both with God and men, and so at one instant able and ready at every need to present to
the one what he should receive from the other; but chiefly and most of all, for that being very God himself, his Father’s jealousy, which could never have brooked the communication of this glory to any other which should not have been the self-same with himself was by this condition of his Person prevented and secured:—
Nevertheless and notwithstanding all this capability of his Person, it was the will of his Father, in the dispensation of the mystery of our redemption, not to confer it upon him, but as purchased and attained by suffering and undergoing of that death which no creature in heaven or in earth was able to undergo but himself; being a suffering of death, whereby Death itself was overcome and vanquished; to the end that none by death save Jesus Christ alone might be ever thought or deemed capable of the like glory and sublimity; but that it might appear forever to be a right peculiar to Him.
And this, I think, is not only agreeable to the tenor of Scripture, but express Scripture itself. Hebrews 2: 9, 10. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, by the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Philippians 2: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death of the cross; verses 9,10, Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him, and given him a name above every
name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Hebrews 10: 12 But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God. Romans 14: 9 For to this end Christ both died, rose and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. See besides, Acts , 31, Romans 8: 34, Ephesians 1: 20, I Peter 1: 11.
Lastly, as for that particular parcel of this glory of Christ, to be that only Name in which we are to ask at the hands of God whatsoever we have to ask; is not this also ascribed and annexed to his triumph over death? John 14: 12, 13 I go unto my Father, (viz. through death;) and whatsoever ye ask in my name that will I do. John 16: 16, 23. A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again a little while, and ye shall see me; because I go to my Father. And in that day (when I am gone to my Father) ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Verse 24. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask and ye shall receive. Hebrews 7: 25, 26. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an High Priest became us —who is made higher than the heavens.
How is it, then, that some extenuate that kind of saint-worship, wherein prayers are not made unto them directly, but God is prayed to in their names and for their mediation sake to grant our requests? Is it not a denial of Christ’s prerogative,
to ascribe unto any other, for any respect of glory or nearness to God after death or otherwise, that wherein he alone is infeoffed by his inimitable death, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension? Certainly that which he holds by an incommunicable title is itself also incommunicable.
conclude, therefore, with the words of
The way being now cleared, I may, I hope, safely resume my application, which I have
already given some taste of, —That this DOCTRINE OF DEMONS, comprehends in most express manner the whole Idolatry of the mystery of iniquity, the deifying and invocating of saints and angels, the bowing down to images, the worshipping of crosses (as new idol columns), the adoring and templing of relics, the worshipping of any other visible thing, upon supposal of any divinity therein. What copy was ever so like the sample, as all this to the Doctrines of Demons? And for the idolatry of the Eucharist, or bread-worship, —though it may be reduced to image-worship, as being the adoration of a sign, or symbol, —yet let it be considered whether, for the quality thereof, it may not be taken rather for an idolatry of relics, the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament being the mystical relics which he left us, as monuments of his death till he come. Whichsoever it be, I must confess it hath a strain above the abominations of the Gentiles; who, though they supposed some presence of their demons in their images and relics, yet were they never so stupid as to think their images and relics to be transubstantiated into demons.
But to come to the main again. I will confess, for myself, that I cannot think of this demon-resemblance without admiration; nor do I believe that you will hear, without some astonishment, that which I am now to add further, —that the advancers of saint-worship in the beginning did not only see it, but even gloried, but their glorying was not good, that they had a thing in Christian practice so like the doctrine of
demons. We heard before, that Plato in his Republic, would have the souls of
such as died valiantly in battle to be accounted for demons after death, and
their sepulchers and coffins to be served and adored as sepulchers of demons.
Eusebius, lib. 13, Praepar. Evangel.
cap. 11, quoting this place, adds with it, * “These
things do befit at (or after) the decease of the favorites of God, whom, if
thou shalt affirm to be taken for the champions of the true religion, thou wilt
not say amiss: † whence it is our
custom to go unto their tombs, and to make our prayers at them, and to honor
their blessed souls.” The purpose of Eusebius here was to show, as a
preparation to draw men to Christianity, how well the then present usage of
Christians in honoring the memories of their martyrs, by keeping their
assemblies at their sepulchers, did agree with the Gentiles, so much commended
by Plato, in honoring their champions and worthies for demons after death. But, alas! in the next
age after, it proved too like it indeed: for these earrings, which the
Christians had borrowed or stolen from the Gentiles at their coming out of
Read the eighth book of Theodoret, On curing the affections of the Greeks, whose title is Concerning martyrs; or in the mean time take these few passages thereof. Thus he speaks, having quoted that passage of Hesiod about demons commended by Plato: —* “If, then, the poet calls good men, after their decease, the guardians, and preservers, or deliverers, of mortal men from all evil; and accordingly the best of philosophers, in confirmation of the poet’s saying, would have their sepulchers to be served and honored: I beseech you, Sirs,” he speaks to the Greeks, “why do you find such fault with what we do? For such as were eminent for piety, and religion, and for the sake thereof suffered death, we also call Preservers and Physicians: in no wise do we term them demons; (God forbid we should ever fall into such madness,) but the hearty friends and servants of God.”
† “That the souls of holy men, even when they are out of the body, are in a capacity of
taking care of men’s affairs, Plato affirms in the eleventh book of his Laws. The philosopher, you see, bids men believe even the vulgar reports.*” —that is, the relations and stories which are commonly talked of, concerning the care which deceased souls have of men. —“But you do not only disbelieve us; ye are utterly unwilling even to hearken to the loud voice of the events or effects themselves.”
† “The martyrs’ temples are frequently to be seen, famous for their beauty and greatness.”
‡ “They that are in health pray for the continuance thereof; and they that have been long sick pray for recovery; the barren also pray for children. And they that are to take a long journey, desire them,” the martyrs, “to be their companions, or rather their guides, in the journey.”
§ “Not going to them as Gods, but making
application to them as to Divine men and agents for them with God.”
* “Now that they who made faithful prayers have obtained their petitions, clearly appears by the presents and gifts brought by the votaries, as so many grateful acknowledgments of their recovery. Accordingly some do present,” to be hung up in the Church, “the effigies of eyes, others of hands; and these made of gold or of silver.”
† “Nay, the Martyrs have utterly abolished and wiped out of the minds of men the memory of those who were called Gods.”
‡ “Our Lord God hath brought his dead (viz. the Martyrs) into the place (the temples) of your Gods, whom he hath sent packing, and hath given their honor to his Martyrs. For instead of the feasts of Jupiter and Bacchus, are now celebrated the festivals of Peter and Paul, and Thomas and Sergius, &c., and other holy Martyrs.”
* “Wherefore, since you see there is so much advantage by honoring the Martyrs, be persuaded, I beseech you, to flee from the error of demons; and making use of the Martyrs as so many lights and guides, follow the way which leads directly to God,” &c.
Now judge whether the doctrines of demon hath hitherto been fitly applied or not: —I will go on.