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Indeed fome of the Popish Writers tell us, that they do not worship their Images. Yet others of them, who have never been condemned for it, fay quite the contrary, that they do worship them; and with the very fame Degree of Worship, which they pay to the Perfons reprefented by them. Nay, their public authorized Books of Prayers and Ceremonies not only appoint the Crucifix to be adored, but in Form declare, that divine Adoration is due to it. And accordingly they petition it, in fo many Words, expressly directed to the very Wood, as their only Hope, to increase the Joy and Grace of the godly, and blot out the Sins of the wicked.

But let us fuppofe them to pay only an inferior Honour to Images, and to worship the holy Trinity and the Saints by them. Having no Ground, or Permiffion to pray at all to Saints departed, they certainly have none to use Images for enlivening their Prayers. If any Words can forbid the Worship of God, his Son and Spirit by Images, this Commandment forbids it. And if any Excufes or Diftinctions will acquit the Papifts of tranfgreffing it, the fame will acquit the ancient Jews and Heathens alfo. For if many of the former mean only, that their Adoration fhould pass through the Image, as it were, to the Perfon, for whom it was made; fo did many of the Pagans plead, that the Meaning was just the fame P: yet the Scripture accuses them all of Idolatry. And if great Numbers of the Pagans did abfolutely pray to the Image itself; fo do great Numbers of the Papifts too: and fome of their own Writers honeftly confess and lament it.

But further: Had they little or no Regard, as they fometimes pretend, to the Image; but only to the Per- . fon reprefented by it: why is an Image, of the bleffed Virgin fuppofe, in one Place, fo much more frequented,

• See Dr. Hickes's Collection of controverfial Difcourfes, vol. 1. p. 47. See a remarkable Proof of this produced in an Epistle to Mr. Warburton, concerning the Conformity of Rome Pagan and Papal: printed for Roberts, 1748, 8vo. p. 21.


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than another in a different Place, and the Prayers made before it thought to have so much more Efficacy?

Upon the Whole therefore, they plainly appear to be guilty of that Image-Worfhip, which Reafon and Scripture condemn. Nor do they fo much as alledge either any Command or exprefs Allowance for it. And yet they have pronounced a Curse upon all who reject it.

But let us go on, from the Prohibition, to the Reafons given for it in the Commandment. The firft is a very general, but a very awful one. For the Lord thy God is a jealous God: not jealous for himself, left he fhould fuffer for the Follies of his Creatures: that cannot be but jealous for us, for his Spouse the Church; left our Notions of his Nature and Attributes, and confequently of the Duties which we owe to him, being depraved, and our Minds darkened with fuperftitious Perfuafions, and Fears, and Hopes, we fhould depart from the Fidelity which we have vowed to him, and fall into thofe grievous Immoralities, which St. Paul, in the Beginning of his Epistle to the Romans, describes as the Confequences of Idolatry, and which have been its Confequences in all Times and Places.

The fecond Reafon for this Prohibition is more particular: that God will visit the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate him. For, obferve, worshipping him irrationally, or in a Manner which he hath forbidden, he interprets to be hating him as it muft proceed, wholly or in Part, from a difhonourable Opinion of him, and tend to spread the like Opinion amongst others. Now we are not to understand by this Threatening, that God will ever, on Account of the Sins of Parents, punish Children, in the ftrict Sense of the Word, punish, when they deferve it not. But in the Courfe of Things, eftablished by his Providence, it comes to pafs, that the Sins of one Perfon, or one Generation, lead those, who

Rom. i. 21-32%

Against this wrong Imagination, Cotta in Cic. de Nat. Deor. 1. 3. 6. §. 38. inveighs vehemently.


come after, into the fame, or other, perhaps greater Sins; and fo bring upon them double Sufferings, partly the Fruits of their Predeceflors Faults, partly of their own. And when fucceffive Ages follow one another in Crimes, befides the natural bad Effects of them, which punish them in fome Meafure, God may juftly threaten feverer additional Corrections, than he would elfe inflict for their perfonal Tranfgreffions: both because it may deter Men from propagating Wickedness down to their Pofterity; and becaufe, if it doth not, inveterate Evils demand a rougher Cure. Accordingly here the Ifraelites are forewarned, that if they fell into Idolatry, they and their Children would fall, by Means of it, into all Sorts of Abominations: and not only, these would of Course produce many Mischiefs to both, but God would chaftife the following Generations with heavier Strokes, for not taking Warning, as they ought to have done, by the Mifbehaviour and Sufferings of the former. Denouncing this Intention beforehand muft influence them, if any Thing could: because it must give them a Concern, both for themfelves, and their Defcendants too; for whom, next to themselves, if not equally, Men are always interested. And therefore vifiting Sins upon them to the third and fourth Generation feems to be mentioned; because either the Life, or however the Solicitude, of a Perfon may be supposed to extend thus far, and feldom further.

This Threatning therefore was not only juft, but wife and kind, on the Suppofition, which in general it was reasonable to make, that in fuch Matters Children would imitate their wicked Progenitors. And whenever any did not; either their. Innocence would avert the impending Evils; or they would be abundantly rewarded in a future Life for what the Sins of others had brought upon them in the present.

But if God hath threatened to punish the Breach of this Precept to the third and fourth Generation, he hath

• See Sherlock on Providence, p. 382-390.


promifed to fhew Mercy unto thousands, that is, so long as the World fhall endure, to them that love him and keep his Commandments. To the Jews he fulfilled this Engagement, as far as they gave him Opportunity, by temporal Bleffings. And amongft Chriftians there is ordinarily a fair Prospect, that a Nation, or a Family, pious and virtuous through fucceffive Ages, will be recompenfed with increafing Happiness in every Age: which is a powerful Motive, both for worshipping God in Purity ourselves, and educating thofe, who are placed under our Care, to do fo too. Yet it must be acknowledged, that neither the Rewards foretold, nor the Punishments denounced, in this Commandment, are so conftantly diftributed on Earth under the Gofpel-Difpenfation, as they were under that of the Law. But ftill our Maker as certainly requires, as ever he did, fince he is a Spirit, to be worshipped in Spirit, and in Truth': and the Inducement to it is abundantly fufficient, that the Idolaters, amongst other Sinners, fhall have their Part in the Lake, which burneth with Fire and Brimstone": Not that we are to be forward in applying fo dreadful a Sentence to the Cafe of those, whether Chriftians or others, who, in this or any Refpect, offend through fuch Ignorance or Mistake, as, for ought we can tell, is excufable. May our heavenly Father forgive them : for they know not what they do. But we should be very thankful to him for the Light, which he hath caused to shine upon us; and very careful to walk in it as becomes the Children of Light, having no Fellowship with the unfruitful Works of Darkness *.

John iv. 24. * Ephef. v. 8, 11.

* Rev. xxi. 8.

Luke xxiii. 34


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Third Commandment.


HE firft Commandment having provided that we fhould worship only the one true God; and the fecond prohibited worshipping him in a Manner fo unworthy and dangerous, as by Images; the third proceeds to direct, that we preferve a due Reverence to him in our whole Converfation and Behaviour. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain. Under thefe Words are forbidden several Things which differ in their Degrees of Guilt.

1. The first, and highest Offence is, when we fwear by the Name of God falfely. For Vanity in Scripture frequently means, fomething, which is not what it would appear. And hence ufing God's Name in vain, or to Vanity, principally fignifies, applying it to confirm a Falfehood. Doing this deliberately, is one of the moft fhocking Crimes of which we can be guilty. For taking an Oath is declaring folemnly, that we know ourselves to be in the Prefence of God, and him to be Witness of what we speak: it is appealing to him, that our Words exprefs the very Truth of our Hearts; and renouncing all Title to his Mercy, if they do not. This it is to fwear: and think then what it must be, to fwear falfely. In other Sins Men endeavour to forget God: but Perjury is daring and braving the Almighty to his very Face; bidding him take Notice of the Falfehood that we utter, and do his worst.

Now of this dreadful Crime we are guilty, if ever we fwear, that we do not know or believe what indeed we do; or that we do know or believe, what indeed we do not; if ever, being upon our Oaths, we mislead thofe,


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