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DR NICHOLAS RIDLEY,
IN THE NAME, AS IT SEEMETH, OF THE WHOLE CLERGY,
ADDRESSED TO KING EDWARD VI., CONCERNING IMAGES, THAT THEY
ARE NOT TO BE SET UP NOR WORSHIPPED IN CHURCHES.
Certain reasons which more us that we cannot with safe consciences give
our assents that the Images of Christ, &c., should be placed and erected in Churches.
First, the words of the commandment, “ Thou shalt not Maledictus make to thyself any graven image,” &c. And the same is facit sculprepeated more plainly, “Cursed is the man which maketh a flatile, etc. graven or molten image, &c., and setteth it in a secret place, in absconand all the people shall say, Amen.”
In the first place, these words are to be noted : “ Thou shalt not make to thyself;" that is, to any use of religion.
In the latter place, these words: “And setteth it in a secret place;" for no man then durst commit idolatry openly. So that, comparing the places, it evidently appears that images, both for use of religion and in place of peril' for idolatry, are forbidden.
God, knowing the inclination of man to idolatry, sheweth the reason why he made this general prohibition: “Lest Ne forte erperadventure thou, being deceived, shouldst bow down to them tus adores and worship them.”
This general law is generally by all to be observed, notwithstanding that peradventure a great number cannot be hurt by them, which may appear by the example following.
ea et colas.
[' Placed where there is danger of their being worshipped. Ed.]
sedu. tuum ne sequatur me.
God forbade the people to join their children in marriage cent film with strangers, adding the reason : “For they will seduce thy
son, that he shall not follow me."
Moses' was not deceived or seduced by Jethro's daughter, nor Boaz by Ruth, being a woman of Moab. And yet for all that, the general law was to be observed, “ Thou shalt join no marriage with them.” And so likewise, “ Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image,” &c.
In Deuteronomy God gives a special charge to avoid images: “Beware that thou forget not the covenant of the Lord thy God which he made with thee, and so make to thyself any graven image of anything which the Lord hath forbidden thee; for the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, and a jealous God. If thou have children and nephews, and do dwell in the land, and, being deceived, make to yourselves any graven image, doing evil before the Lord your God, and provoke him to anger, I do this day call heaven and earth to witness that you shall quickly perish out of the land which you shall possess; you shall not dwell in it any longer, but the Lord will destroy you and scatter you amongst all nations.”
Note what a solemn obtestation God useth, and what grievous punishments he threateneth to the breakers of the second commandment.
In the tabernacle and temple of God no image was by God appointed to be set openly, nor by practice afterwards used or permitted, so long as religion was purely observed ; so that the use and execution of the law is a good interpreter of the true meaning of the same.
If, by virtue of the second commandment, images were not lawful in the temple of the Jews, then by the same commandment they are not lawful in the churches of the Christians. For being a moral commandment, and not ceremonial (for, by consent of writers, only a part of the precept of observing the Sabbath is ceremonial), it is a perpetual commandment, and bindeth us as well as the Jews.
The Jews by no means would consent to Herod, Pilate,
[ It should be remembered that Moses acted previous to the promulgation of the law in question, and Boaz in obedience to a peculiar, and in his case superior one. Ed.]
or Petronius, that images should be placed in the temple of Jerusalem ; but rather offered themselves to death than assent unto it: who, besides that they are commended by Josephus Joseph, for observing the meaning of the law, would not have endan- xvii. cap.8; gered themselves so far, if they had thought images had been cap. 5 and indifferent in the temple of God. For as St Paul saith, 2.Cor.vi. * What hath the temple of God to do with idols?"
plum Dei God's Scripture in no place commends the use of images, but acris? in a great number of places doth disallow and condemn them.
They are called, in the book of Wisdom, the trap and snare of the feet of the ignorant.
It is said, the invention of them was the beginning of spiritual fornication; and that they were not from the beginning, neither shall they continue to the end.
In the fifteenth chapter of the same book it is said, · Their pictures are a worthless labour.” And again, “ They Umbra pic. are worthy of death that put their trust in them, that make sine fructu. them, that love them, and that worship them.”
The Psalms and prophets are full of like sentences; and how can we then praise that which God's Spirit doth always dispraise?
Furthermore, an image made by a father, as appears in the same book", for the memorial of his son departed, was the first invention of images, and occasion of idolatry.
How much more, then, shall an image made in the memory of Christ, and set up in the place of religion, occasion the same offence? Images have their beginning from the heathen; and upon no good ground, therefore, can they be profitable Euseb. “Ecto Christians. Whereunto Athanasius agrees, when writing lib. vii. cap. of images against the Gentiles”: “The invention of images
[ Ed. Genev. 1635, p. 596. 624. 640. Ed.]
3 “ Thus some parent mourning bitterly for a son who hath been taken from him, makes an image of his child; and him who before had been to his family as a dead man they now begin to worship as a god; rites and sacrifices being instituted to be observed by his dependents." Book of Wisdom, xiv.
[* Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. vii. c. 8. Ed. Par. 1659, p. 265. Ed.]
[ Athanasius, Cont. Gentes. j Twv eiðaw eüpeois oủk dno dyalov, αλλ' από κακίας γέγονε, το δε την αρχήν έχον κακήν εν ουδένι ποτε καλόν κριθείη, όλον όν φαύλον. Ρar. 1627, tom. i. p. 8. ED.]
came of no good, but of evil; and whatsoever hath an evil beginning can never in anything be judged good, seeing it is wholly naught.”
St John says, “ My little children, beware of images ;" but to set them in the churches, which are places dedicated to the service and invocation of God, and that over the Lord's table, being the highest and most honourable place, where most danger of abuse both is and ever hath been, is not to
beware of them nor to flee from them, but rather to embrace Lib. de Co- and receive them. Tertullian, expounding the same words,
writeth thus: “Little children, keep yourselves from the shape itself, or form of them.”
Images in the Church either serve to edify or to destroy. If they edify, then is there a kind of edification which the Scriptures neither teach nor command, but always disallow:
if they destroy, they are not to be used; for in the Church 1 Cor. xiv. of God all things ought to be done to edify.
The commandment of God is, “ Thou shalt not lay a stumbling-block or a stone before the blind ;” and, “Cursed is he that maketh the blind to wander in his way."
The simple and unlearned people who have been so long under blind guides, are blind in matters of religion, and in
clined to error and idolatry. Therefore, to set images before Nam laquei them to stumble at (for they are snares and traps for the sipientium feet of the ignorant), or to lead them out of the true way,
is not only against the commandment of God, but deserveth also the malediction and curse of God.
The use of images is, to the learned and confirmed in knowledge, neither necessary nor profitable. To the superstitious, it is a confirmation in error. To the simple and weak, an occasion to fall, and very offensive and wounding to their consciences; and therefore very dangerous. For St Paul saith, “Offending the brethren and wounding their weak consciences, they sin against Christ.” And Matthew xviii: “ Woe be to him by whom offence or occasion of falling cometh ; it were better that a millstone were tied
1 Cor. ix.
1 Filioli custodite vos ab idolis, non jam ab idololatria quasi ab officio, sed ab idolis, i.e. ab ipsâ effigie eorum.
[Ed. Par. Rigalt. 1641. p. 126—7. Ed.]
about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than to offend one of the little ones that believe in Christ." And where an objection may be made that such offence may be taken away by sincere doctrine and preaching, it is to be answered, that is not sufficient; as hereafter more at large shall appear.
And though it should be admitted as true, yet it should follow that sincere doctrine and preaching should always, and in all places, continue as well as images : and so that wheresoever an image were erected to offend, there should also, of reason, a godly and sincere preacher be continually maintained; for it is reason that the remedy be as large as the offence, the medicine as general as the poison ; but that is not possible in the realm of England, if images should be generally allowed, as reason and experience may teach.
As good magistrates, who intend to banish all whoredom, do drive away all naughty persons, especially out of such places as be suspected; even so images, being “ Meretrices,” id est, “Whores”—for that the worshipping of them is called in the prophets fornication and adultery-ought to be banished, and especially out of churches, which is the most suspected place, and where the spiritual fornication hath been most committed.
It is not expedient to allow and admit that which is hurtful to the greatest number; but in all churches and commonwealths the ignorant and weak are the greatest number, to whom images are hurtful, and not profitable.
And whereas it is commonly alleged that images in churches stir up the mind to devotion, it may be answered that, contrariwise, they rather distract the mind from prayer, hearing of God's word, and other godly meditations; as we read that in the council chamber of the Lacedæmonians no picture or image was suffered, lest, in consultation of weighty matters of the common weal, their minds, by the sight of the outward image, might be occasioned to withdraw or to wander from the matter.
The experience of this present time declareth, that those parts of the realm which think, and are persuaded, that God is not offended by doing outward reverence to an image, most desire the restitution of images, and have been most diligent to set them up again : restitution, therefore, of them by com