Papist Pagan Pomp

Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 2, pp. 81–83):

[A]fter the divulging of the gospel, the corrupters of religion did not fling off, but preserved the institutions of God, but painted and patched them up with pagan ceremonies; imposed their own dreams with as much force as the revelations of God. Thus hath the papacy turned the simplicity of the gospel into pagan pomp, and religion into politics; and revived the ceremonial law, and raked some limbs of it out of the grave, after the wisdom of God had rung her knell, and honourably interred her; and sheltered the heathenish superstitions in Christian temples, after the power of the gospel had chased the devils, with all their trumpery, from their ancient habitations. Whence should this proceed, but from a partial atheism, and a mean conceit of the divine wisdom? As though God had not understanding enough to prescribe the form of his own worship; and not wisdom enough to support it, without the crutches of human prudence.

Human prudence is too low to parallel divine wisdom; it is an incompetent judge of what is fit for an infinite majesty. It is sufficiently seen in the ridiculous and senseless rites among the heathens, and the cruel and devilish ones fetched from them by the Jews. What work will human wisdom make with divine worship, when it will presume to be the director of it, as a mate with the wisdom of God? Whence will it take its measures, but from sense, humour, and fancy; as though what is grateful and comely to a depraved reason, were as beautiful to an unspotted and infinite mind. Do not such tell the world, that they were of God’s cabinet council, since they will take upon them to judge, as well as God, what is well pleasing to him? Where will it have the humility to stop, if it hath the presumption to add any one thing to revealed modes of worship? How did God tax the Israelites with making idols ‘according to their own understanding,’ Hosea 13:2, imagining their own understandings to be of a finer make and a perfecter mould than their Creator’s; and that they had fetched more light from the chaos of their own brains, than God had from eternity in his own nature!

How slight will the excuse be, God hath not forbidden this or that, when God shall silence men with the question, Where, or when did I command this or that? There was no addition to be made under the law to the meanest instrument God had appointed in his service. The sacred perfume was not to have one ingredient more put into it, than what God had prescribed in the composition; nor was any man, upon pain of death, to imitate it; nor would God endure that sacrifices should be consumed with any other fire, than that which came down from heaven: so tender is God of any invasions of his wisdom and authority. In all things of his nature, whatsoever voluntary humility and respect to God they may be disguised with, there is a swelling of the fleshly mind against infinite understanding, which the apostle nauseates, Col. 2:18 . . . . To conclude; such as make alterations in religion, different from the first institution, are intolerable busy bodies, that will not let God alone with his own affairs. Vain man would be wiser than his maker, and be dabbling in that which is his sole prerogative.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/papist-pagan-pomp.91665/, Comment 1

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