« AnteriorContinuar »
Quest, ex. Must we obey the magistrate if he only forbid us worshipping God, in such a place, or country, or in such numbers, or the like?Answ. We must distinguish between such a determination of circumstances, modes, or accidents, as plainly destroy the worship or the end, and such as do not. For instance, 1. He that saith, You shall never assemble but once a year, or never but at midnight; or never above six or seven minutes at once, &c. doth but determine the circumstance of time: but he doth it so as to destroy the worship, which cannot so be done, in consistency with its ends. But he that shall say, You shall not meet till nine o'clock, nor stay in the night, &c. doth no such thing. So 2. He that saith, You shall not assemble but at forty miles distance one from another; or you shall meet only in a room that will hold but the twentieth part of the church; or you shall never preach in any city or populous place, but in a wilderness far from the inhabitants, &c. doth but determine the circumstance of place. But he so doth it, as tends to destroy or frustrate the work which God commandeth us. But so doth not he that only boundeth churches by parish bounds, or forbiddeth inconvenient places. 3. So he that saith, You shall never meet under a hundred thousand together, or never above five or six, doth but determine the accident of number. But he so doth it as to destroy the work and end. For the first will be impossible; and in the second way they must keep church-assemblies without ministers, when there is not so many as for every such little number to have one. But so doth not he that only saith, You shall not meet above ten thousand, nor under ten. 4. So he that saith, You shall not hear a Trinitarian, but an Arian; or you shall hear only one that cannot preach the essentials of religion, or that cries down godliness itself; or you shall hear none but such as were ordained at Jerusalem or Rome, or none but such as subscribe the council of Trent, &c. doth but determine what person we shall hear. But he so doth it as to destroy the work and end. But so doth not he that only saith, You shall hear only this able minister, rather than that. 2. I need not stand on the application. In the latter case we owe formal obedience. In the former we must suffer, and not obey. For if it be meet so to obey, it is meet in obedience to give over God's worship. Christ said, "When they persecute you in one city, flee to another:" but he never said, If they forbid you preaching in any city, or populous place, obey them. He that said, " Preach the Gospel to every creature, and to all nations, and all the world," and that " would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth»," doth not allow us to forsake the souls of all that dwell in cities and populous places, and preach only to some few cottagers elsewhere: no more than he will allow us to love, pity, and relieve the bodies only of those few, and take none for our neighbours that dwell in cities, but with priest and Levite to pass them by.
Quest, cxi. Must subjects or servants forbear weekly lectures, reading, or such helps, above the Lord's day's worship, if princes or masters do command it?
Ansio. 1. There is great difference between a mere subject, or person governed, and a servant, slave, or child. 2. There is great difference between such as are hindered by just cause and real necessities, and such as are hindered only through profane malignity. (1.) Poor peoplehave not so much leisure from their callings, as the rich: and so providing for their families may, at that time, by necessity become the greater and the present duty. (2.) So it may be with soldiers, judges, and others, that have present urgent work of public consequence; when others have no such impediment. (3.) He that is the child or slave of another, or is his own by propriety, is more at his power, than he that is only a subject, and so is but to be governed in order to his own and the common good. (4.) A servant that hath absolutely hired himself to another, is for that time near the condition of a slave: but he
° Matt. x. 13. Mark vi. 15. Matt, xxviii. 19. 1 Tim ii. 4. iTim. *5, S6. jv. 1—3.
that is hired but with limitations, and exceptions of liberty, (expressed or understood,) hath right to the excepted liberty. (5.) If the king forbid judges, soldiers, or others, whose labours are due to the public, to hear sermons at the time when they should do their work; or if parents, or masters so forbid children and servants, they must be obeyed, while they exclude not the public worship of the Lord's own day, nor necessary prayer and duty in our private daily cases. (6.) But he that is under such bondage as hindereth the needful helps of his soul, should be gone to a freer place, if lawfully he can. But a child, wife, or such as are not free, must trust on God's help in the use of such means as he alloweth them.
(7.) A prince, or tutor, or schoolmaster, who is not a proprietor of the person, but only a governor, is not to be obeyed formally and for conscience sake, if he forbid his subjects or scholars such daily or weekly helps for their salvation as they have great need of, and have no necessity to forbear; such as are hearing or assembling with the church on the week days at convenient time, reading the Scriptures daily, or good books, accompanying with men fearing God, praying, 8tc.: because God hath commanded these when we can perform them. *
Quest, cxn. Whether religious worship may be given to a creature? and what?Answ. While the terms of the question remain ambiguous, it is incapable of an answer. 1. By worship is meant either 'cultus in genere,' any honour expressed to another; or some special acts of honour. We must understand the question in the first general sense, or else we cannot answer it, till men tell us, what acts of honouring they mean. 2. By religious is meant either in general, that which we are bound to by God, or is done by virtue of a religious, that is, a divine obligation, and so is made part of our religion; that is, of our obedience to God: or else by religious is meant divine or that which is properly due to God. The question must be taken in the first general sense; or else it is no question, but ridiculous, (to ask whether we may give God's proper worship to a creature). And so I answer, 1. By way of distinction. 2. Of solution. (1.) We must distinguish between the honour of worshipping acts of the mind, and of the body. (2.) Between idolatry as against the first commandment, and idolatry or scandal as against the second. Af. Prop. 1. There is due to every creature, a true estimation of it according to the degree of its dignity or goodness; and a love proportionable: as also a belief, a trust, a fear, proportionable to every man's credibility, fidelity, power, &c. 2. There is an eminent degree therefore of estimation, reverence, and love, and trust due to good men above bad, and to those in heaven above those on earth; and a peculiar honour to rulers as such, which is not due to their inferiors. 3. This is to be expressed by the body, by convenient actions. 4. The highest honour which we owe to any, is for the image of God in them, viz. 1. His natural image, as men. 2. His moral image, as saints. 3. His relative image of supereminency, as superiors. And so it is God in them first, and they next as the images of God, who are to be honoured. 5. There is no honour to be given to any creature, but that of which God himself is the end; viz. as it referreth to his glory. 6. Therefore all honour given to men must be thus far religious honour (or worship): for as all things are sanctified to and by saints, so all things that religious men do, must be religiously done°.
7. As persons, so places, books, words, utensils, times, &c. must be honoured for God's sake, as they are related to God, with such estimations and expressions as are suitable to their relations.
NegA. No creature must be esteemed to be a god; nor any of God's proper attributes or honour given to any creature whatsoever.
* 1 Tim. iv. 5. Til. i. 15. 1 Cor. x. 14. 1 Pet.i«. 3.
2. No creature must be esteemed better, or greater, or wiser, than it is; (as far as we have means to know it). 3. Whatsoever outward expressions of honour (by word or deed) are appropriated to the true God, 1. By Divine institution; 2. Or by nature; 3. Or by received usage, that expression of honour ought not to be used to a creature, were the heart never so free from honouring it. (1.) Because it is bodily idolatry: (2.) And scandal as being idolatry interpretatively, in the just sense of others K
4. Whatsoever outward expressions of honour idolaters have used, and do use to signify their inward idolatry, or taking a creature or a fiction to be God, and so make it a 'tessera,' or symbol, or professing sign of that their idolatry, if those actions are so used or esteemed among us, or within the notice of our actions, it is unlawful for us to use the like to any creature. Because the use of their expression, maketh it to be a profession of idolatry by us, and so to be interpretative idolatry and scandal: for to use professing symbols is to profess. Except when there is some notorious reason to use the same words or actions to another lawful signification, which is of greater weight than the scandal; and we make it as public to obviate the scandal, that we do it not to the idolater's intents. For example, If the Mahometans make it a symbol of their religion, to say ' God is but one,' upon a false supposition that the Christians make more gods than one; yet it is lawful for us to use that symbolical word to a better end. But if they add to their symbol,' and Mahomet is his prophet,' we must not use that, because it is 1. Symbolical of a false religion; 2. And a falsehood of itself. So if they make it a distinctive note of their religious meetings, to congregate the people by voice and not by bells; when it will be taken for a professing their religion to do the same, we must avoid it: but not when there is great cause for it, (as if we have no other means,) and the reason against it or scandal may be well avoided. 5. Image worship, (or bowing or otherwise worshipping P 1 Cor. ti. 9. x. 17. Rev. xxi. 8. xxii. 15. Acts xvii. 16. Gal. v. 2O. ill. Commandment. Rev. xxii. 8, 9. ii. 14. 20. 1 Cor.viii. x. 19. ?8. Ijohn v. 31. Dan. Hi.