In other words, the very practice of Ash Wednesday and Lent are simply made up observances and this is the problem. It is not that one might not learn something valuable by abstaining from this or that for 40 days or that there is no value in gathering on Wednesday 40 days before Easter to remember the suffering and death of our Savior. The problem is that the human heart is an idol factory (Calvin). Once it is given license to create and impose Christian observances, it never ends. What begins with good intentions becomes a form of bondage.
[The Lord] hates a mixture. It is a mark put on Samaria (2 Kings 17:33), [that] They feared the Lord, and served their own gods. This is that which brings the stretched out arm of the Lord’s fury on the land (Zeph. 1:5), because they swear by the Lord, and by Malcom, and because the people halt between the Lord and Baal (1 King 18:21). And it is Jehu’s reproachful reformation (2 Kings10:28, 29). Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Nevertheless he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Oh how fearful to be under this? He is for the good cause, nevertheless, he knows nothing of the power of religion, so he is right in the house, nevertheless he complains much with malignants. It is known to you all when the whore of Babylon was cast out of the church, that she left behind her a gold ring, and some lover tokens, I mean Episcopacy, and human ceremonies. This was the whore’s policy to leave a token behind her that she might find an errand in the house again. And she was indeed returning to the house to demand her love token again, but it shall be heavenly wisdom to make a perfect reformation; keep nothing that belongs to Babylon, and let not a stone to be a cornerstone or a foundation be taken out of Babylon for building of the Lord’s house, for they are cursed stones [cf. Jer. 50].
~Samuel Rutherford, “Sermon Before the House of Commons, January 31, 1644,” on Daniel 6:26, Sermons Preached Before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines 1643–1645 (Naphtali Press, 2011) 409.
Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-lord-hates-a-mixture.91668/, Comment 1
Jeremiah Burroughs (The Saints Treasury, p. 11):
[O]bserve how the Scripture sets out the spirits of men after their Idoll gods, in regard of the cost they are willing to bestow upon them. Isa. 46:6. They shall lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the ballance, and hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god. They care not what cost they are at to worship their Idols. O what a shame would it be if we should not be willing to part with much of our estates for the true worship of the true God: and though we should lose our estates, yet if we can serve God better, and in a purer way, we should be content; for Idolaters will lavish gold out of the bag upon their Idols. Now there is none like to our God; therefore it is a shame that they should doe more for their gods then we doe for ours. And then what are Idolaters willing to suffer for their gods? 1 Kings 18:28 how did Baals Priests there cut themselves after their manner, with Knives and Lancers, till the blood gushed out, to shew their respect to their Idols! let us then be willing to suffer any thing that God calls us to. And how constant were they to their Idols! therefore sayes God, Jer. 2:10, 11. Consider diligently and see, if there be such a thing: hath a Nation changed their gods which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit; how ill doth God take this that Idolaters should not change their gods that are infinitely below him, and yet that his people should change their God who is infinitely above them?
Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/threads/they-do-more-for-their-gods.91736/, Comment 1
If I could get no other meat to eat than the consecrated host, which papists idolatrise [idolize] in the circumgestation of it, I might lawfully eat it; and if I could get no other clothes to put on than the holy garments wherein a priest has said mass, I might lawfully wear them. Things abused to idolatry are only then unlawful when they are used no otherwise than religiously, and as things sacred.
1. [Meaning to carry around; obviously a scornful remark respecting the papal practice of uplifting, displaying, and carrying the elements around to be adored by the people.]
~George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (Naphtali Press, 2nd critical ed., 2013), 150.
The argument in hand I frame thus:
All things and rites which have been notoriously abused to idolatry, if they are not such as either God or nature has made to be of a necessary use, should be utterly abolished and purged away from divine worship, in such sort that they may not be accounted nor used by us as sacred things or rites pertaining to the same.
But the cross, surplice, kneeling in the act of receiving the communion, &c., are things and rites, &c., and are not such as either God or nature, &c.
Therefore they should be utterly abolished, &c.
~George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (Naphtali Press, 2nd critical ed., 2013), 149.
“What is idolatry, if this is not, to ascribe to rites of man’s devising, the power and virtue of doing that which none but He to whom all power in heaven and earth belongs can do?”
~George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies, p. 192.
“Ceremonies are unlawful, because they are monuments of by-past idolatry, which not being necessary to be retained, should be utterly abolished, because of their idolatrous abuse… All things and rites, which have been notoriously abused to idolatry, if they be not such, as either God or nature hath made to be of a necessary use, should be utterly abolished and purged away from Divine worship, in such sort that they may not be accounted nor used by us, as sacred things, or rites pertaining to the same…”
~George Gillespie, Popish Ceremonies are Proved to be Idolatrous Because They are Monuments of Past Idolatry (EPC 3.2), from Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, book III, ch. 2, pgs. 150-155
“Fourth, the mind of God in this matter is clearly revealed in the fourth commandment. The will of God is there revealed, not only that the Israelitish nation, but that all nations, should keep every seventh day holy, or which is the same thing, one day after every six. This command, as well as the rest, is doubtless everlasting and of perpetual obligation, at least as to the substance of it, as is intimated by its being engraven on the tables of stone. Nor is it to be thought that Christ ever abolished any command of the ten, but that there is the complete number ten yet, and will be to the end of the world.
Some say, that the fourth command is perpetual, but not in its literal sense: not as designing any particular proportion of time to be set apart and devoted to literal rest and religious exercises. They say that it stands in force only in a mystical sense, viz. as that weekly rest of the Jews typified spiritual rest in the Christian church, and that we under the gospel are not to make any distinction of one day from another, but are to keep all time holy, doing everything in a spiritual manner.
But this is an absurd way of interpreting the command, as it refers to Christians. For if the command be so far abolished, it is entirely abolished. For it is the very design of the command, to fix the time of worship. The first command fixes the object, the second the means, the third the manner, the fourth the time. And if it stands in force now only as signifying a spiritual, Christian rest, and holy behavior at all times, it does not remain as one of the ten commands, but as a summary of all the commands.”
~Jonathan Edwards, “The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath”
Source and read more: http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/sabbath.htm
John Gill’s A Body of Practical Divinity, Page 5, 2a:
“First, all idols of whatsoever kind are excluded, not only images of things in heaven or in earth, or in the sea, and the idols of gold and silver, the work of men’s hands, forbidden by the second command; but also the idols set up in a man’s heart, to which such respect is paid as is due to God only; of such may be read in Ezekiel 14:4 and which God promises to cleanse his people from by his Spirit and grace (Ezek. 36:25), and which when converted they declare they will have no more to do with, in the manner they have, who before conversion served divers lusts and pleasures (Hosea 14:8; Titus 3:3), and these perhaps are the idols the apostle John warns the children of God to keep themselves from (1 John 5:21). The idol the worldling is enamoured with, and in which he places his trust and confidence, is gold and silver; hence covetousness is called idolatry, and such a man is said to be an idolater (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5), nor can the true God and this idol mammon be served and worshipped by the same (Matthew 6:24). The epicure, or voluptuous person, his god is his belly, which he serves, and in which he places all his happiness, and cannot be said to serve the Lord and worship him (Phil. 3:19; Rom. 16:18). The self-righteous man makes an idol of his righteousness, he sets it up and endeavors to make it stand, and to establish it, and then falls down to it and worships it, putting his trust and confidence in it (Luke 18:9).”
Paul Washer, The Gospel’s Power and Message, p. 121:
FALLEN MAN CANNOT LOVE GOD
Most men, even the irreligious, claim some degree of love or affection toward God. Nevertheless, the Scriptures testify that fallen man cannot love God. In fact, the Scriptures teach that, prior to conversion, all of Adam’s race hates God and lives at war against Him. This hostility exists because a morally corrupt creature simply cannot tolerate a holy and righteous God or bear to submit to His will.
It is important to note that most who claim a genuine love for God know very little about His attributes and works as Scripture describes them. Therefore, the god they love is nothing more than a figment of their own imagination. They have made a god in their own image, and they love what they have made. As God declares through the psalmist, “You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you.”
If most men, even those who consider themselves religious, were to investigate the Scriptures, they would most certainly find a God much different from the god they claim as the object of their affections. If they took at face value the Scripture’s teaching on such divine attributes as holiness, justice, sovereignty, and wrath, they would most likely respond in disgust and declare, “My God’s not like that!” or, “I could never love a God like that!” Thus, we would quickly see that when fallen man meets the God of the Scriptures, his only reaction is repulsion and rejection. What is the reason for this adverse reaction? Again, it has to do with who man is at the very core of his nature. If man were holy and righteous by nature, then he could easily love a holy and righteous God. However, man is by nature depraved, and therefore he cannot.”