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

The Lord Hates a Mixture

[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

What is Idolatry if not This?

“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.

Source: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/11/03/8-reasons-holidays-should-not-be-observed/

Purged Away From Divine Worship

“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

Source: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/10/31/monuments-of-idolatry-george-gillespie/

Read more: https://www.naphtali.com/articles/george-gillespie/holy-days/monuments-to-past-idolatry/

We Must Listen To The Voice Of God

John Calvin:

The mockery which worships God with nought but external gestures and absurd human fictions, how could we, without sin, allow to pass unrebuked? We know how much he hates hypocrisy, and yet in that fictitious worship, which was everywhere in use, hypocrisy reigned. We hear how bitter the terms in which the prophets inveigh against all worship fabricated by human rashness. But a good intention, i.e., an insane license of daring whatever man pleased, was deemed the perfection of worship. For it is certain that in the whole body of worship which had been established, there was scarcely a single observance which had an authoritative sanction from the Word of God.

We are not in this matter to stand either by our own or by other men’s judgments. We must listen to the voice of God, and hear in what estimation he holds that profanation of worship which is displayed when men, overleaping the boundaries of His Word, run riot in their own inventions. The reasons which he assigns for punishing the Israelites with blindness, after they had lost the pious and holy discipline of the Church, are two, viz., the prevalence of hypocrisy, and will-worship (ejqeloqrhskeiva), meaning thereby a form of worship contrived by man. “Forasmuch,” says he, “as the people draw near me with their mouth, and with the lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men; therefore I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid,” Isa. 29:13-14. When God stirred us up, a similar or worse perversity openly domineered throughout the Church. While God, then, was thundering from heaven, were we to sit quiet?[15]

Source: Calvin, Tracts (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), Vol. 1, pp. 189-90 at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

HT: https://xmassh8trsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/calvins-quotes-on-christmas/

A Mere Mockery of God

John Calvin:

I come now to ceremonies, which, while they ought to be grave attestations of divine worship, are rather a mere mockery of God. A new Judaism, as a substitute for that which God has distinctly abrogated, has again been reared up by means of numerous puerile extravagancies, collected from different quarters; and with these have been mixed up certain impious rites, partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adapted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of our religion. The first evil here is, that an immense number of ceremonies, which God had by his authority abrogated, once for all, have been again revived. The next evil is, that while ceremonies ought to be living exercises of piety, men are vainly occupied with numbers of them that are both frivolous and useless. But by far the most deadly evil of all is, that after men have thus mocked God with ceremonies of one kind or other, they think they have fulfilled their duty as admirably as if these ceremonies included in the whole essence of piety and divine worship.[14]

Source: Calvin, Tracts (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), Vol. 1, pp. 131-32 at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

HT: https://xmassh8trsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/calvins-quotes-on-christmas/

What do we Gain by a Contrary Course?

John Calvin:

I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as frivolous, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” 1 Sam. 15:22; Matt. 15:9. Every addition of His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere “will worship” (ethelothreeskia) is vanity [Col. 2:23]. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.[13]

Source: Calvin, Tracts (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), Vol. 1, pp. 128-29, http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

HT: https://xmassh8trsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/calvins-quotes-on-christmas/

It Must Have the Word of God for Assurance

“It is not enough that man invent ceremony, and then give it a signification, according to his pleasure…. But if that anything proceed from faith, it must have the word of God for the assurance; for ye are not ignorant, ‘That faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ Now, if ye will prove that your ceremonies proceed from faith, and do please God, ye must prove God in expressed words has commanded them: Or else shall ye never prove, that they proceed from faith, nor yet that they please God; but that they are sin, and do displease him, according to the words of the apostle, ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’”[13]

~John Knox

[13] William Croft Dickenson, ed., John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), 1:87.

Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20150331225339/http://entrewave.com/view/reformedonline/Christmas%20%28web%29.htm#_ftnref13

The Spiritual Will Not Long Remain

“An appetite is being fed which in the past has led to the very abandonment of the Gospel. When satisfying the “natural” becomes acceptable in churches, the spiritual will not long remain.”

~Iain Murray

Source: http://www.freechurchcontinuing.org/publications/articles/item/candles-up-preaching-down

When Candles Go Up

“When candles go up, preaching comes down.”

~Protestant martyr Hugh Latimer

Source: http://www.freechurchcontinuing.org/publications/articles/item/candles-up-preaching-down

HT: https://pilgrimsprogressrevisted.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/quote-of-the-day-hugh-latimer/