Wherefore, my dearly Beloved, flee from Idolatry.
1 Cor. 10.14
When I consider that saying of the blessed Apostle Paul, I am pure from the Blood of all men, Acts 20.26; And that which made him say so, was, because he had not shun’d to declare (unto his hearers then committed to his charge) the whole Council of God. Paul had been faithful to the Souls of people; he had preached up Truth, and preached down Error. The consideration of which, hath put me at this time upon this Scripture, Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from Idolatry. From whence I shall (by Divine permission and assistance) assert the truth of the Protestant Religion, against popish Innovation; and amongst all the Errors that are leveled against the Gospel, none are more gross, dishonourable, nor dangerous, than those broach’d and set a running in the Popish Conclave: and therefore there was good reason why the Apostle should say, Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from Idolatry.
Idolatry doth bud and blossom in the Popish Religion. It should be the earnest prayer and endeavour of every good Christian that none of those poisonous streams that flow from the See of Rome, may ever infest this British Isle.
My main and principal design at this time is, to shew unto you some few of those many grand Errors that are in popery, or in the popish Religion, and likewise to fortify you against them.
Among many others, there are these thirteen grand Errors in popery, that every good Christian must take off, and flee from.
The first Error is this, The papists do hold, That the Pope is the Head of the Church: This is diametrically and point-blank opposite to the Scripture, Col. 2.9. Christ is there called, The Head of the Church. Now to make the Pope the Head of the Church is to make the Church monstrous by having two Heads. This is to make the Spouse of Christ an Harlot. I read, Rev. 13.1, of a Beast rising out of the sea. By the Beast there Interpreters understand the mystical Antichrist, i.e. the Pope. Now, if the Pope be the Beast there, and elsewhere spoken of; how ridiculous, yea how impious is it to make a Beast the Head of Christ’s Church. That is the first.
A second Error, which I shall but name, is this, That Papists hold, That the Pope is above Scripture, and that his Laws, Decrees, and Canons bind more than the Scriptures, than the Word of God. Well may he have that name written upon his Miter, that’s mentioned, Rev. 13.1, And upon his head was written the Names of blasphemy. But I add,
Their third Error, is the Mass, which indeed is gross Idolatry; there is in it these two Errors:
1. Transubstantiation. Bellarmine, with other Popish Writers, say, that the Bread the Host after consecration, is turned into the very body of Christ. Now this is against Philosophy, as well as Scripture and Divinity. ‘Tis against Philosophy, for this is clear, if Christ’s Body be in Heaven, then it cannot possibly be in the bread: But Christ’s Body is in Heaven, Acts 3.22, Whom the Heavens must contain, (speaking of Christ) until the restitution of all things. Moreover, that the bread in the Sacrament is not turned into the Body of Christ, I prove thus, the wicked they do not receive Christ, 1 Cor. 2.14. But if the bread be the very body of Christ, then the wicked when they eat of the bread do eat the very body of Christ. This is so gross an Opinion, that most of the ancient Fathers wrote against it, as Cyprian, Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Ambrose, with many others.
But, 2ly. The second Error in the Mass is, they do daily offer up Christ in the Mass. I grant there are Priests in Gospel times, and Sacrifices too, but they are as such are spiritual; as the sacrifice of Prayer, of Praise, of a broken and contrite heart. But that there should be any external offering of Christ by way of Sacrifice, is a blasphemy against Christ’s Priestly Office; for it supposeth, that Christ’s Offering on the Cross was not perfect. That is notoriously contrary to the very letter of Scripture. See Heb. 10.12, That man, i.e. Christ, God-man, after he had once offered a Sacrifice for sin, sat down at the right hand of God: and verse 14, he saith, That by this one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. This Scripture sheweth the completeness of Christ’s Sufferings and Sacrifice, and that now there needs no offering up any more Sacrifices. That is the third: But,
Fourthly, A fourth Error is: The Doctrine of Popish Satisfactions; they hold that we do, in our own persons, satisfy God’s justice by our Penance, Whipping, Fasting, Alms-deeds. Thus the Council of Trent, and the Popish Rhemes. But where is anything of this in Scripture? alas, what is our confession of sin? that is no satisfaction for sin: If a Traitor confess his guilt, this is no satisfaction for, but rather an aggravation of his Treason. Alas, our Repentance, Fasting, Humiliation, the best of our actions are be-leopard, and mixed with very much sin; our Humiliation is mixed with very much pride, our Repentance and Confession, with much Hypocrisy and Dissimulation. There is much of sin in the cream of our services, and sin cannot satisfy for sin. This is a sure rule (and I pray you mark it) that whatever offering we bring to God for acceptation, we must lay it upon the Altar Jesus Christ, for God’s Justice accepts no satisfaction, but by and through the Lord Jesus. And that’s a fourth.