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Puritan Worship - by Thomas Doolittle (1632-1707)

Articles on Puritan Worship and the Regulative Principle

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

1. The doctrine of Christ and his apostles,—that religious worship is due only to God.
“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:10.) “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.” (Col. 2:18.) “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant: worship God.” (Rev. 19:10.) See also Rev. 22:8, 9. “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:25, 26.) Read also Acts 14:13–15, 18; Rom. 10:14.

2. The doctrine of the Protestants.
“Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and to him alone; and not to angels, saints, or any other creature. The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited to his own revealed will; that he may not be worshipped, according to the imaginations and devices of men or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or [in] any other way not prescribed in the holy scripture.” In this the Reformed churches do agree in their public Confessions. (Confess. Helvet. cap. 4, 5; Gall. art. 24; Belgica, art. 26; Argent, cap. 11; August. art. 21; Saxon., de Invocatione, &c.)

3. The doctrine of the Papists concerning religious worship given to saints and their relics, and to images.

“The holy synod of Trent doth command all bishops and others that have the office and care of teaching, that, according to the use of the Catholic and apostolical church,” (that is false,) “received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and according to the consent of the holy fathers” (this is false too) “and decrees of sacred councils,” (which yet have decreed against it,) “they first of all diligently instruct the faithful concerning the intercession and invocation of saints, the honour of relics, and the lawful use of images: teaching them that the saints, reigning together with Christ, do offer their prayers to God for men: and that it is good and profitable, humbly kneeling, to call upon them; and to run to their prayers, help, and aid, for the benefits to be obtained from God, through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our only Redeemer and Saviour: and that they are of a wicked opinion that say that the saints, enjoying eternal happiness in heaven, are not to be called upon; or who do affirm, either that they do not pray for men; or that to pray to them, that they would pray for us, yea, each one particularly, is idolatry, or contrary to the word of God, or against the honour of Jesus, the one Mediator of God and men; or that it is a foolish thing to make humble request in words or in our minds to those that are reigning in heaven: moreover, that the sacred bodies of the holy martyrs and others living with Christ, which were living members of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost, which shall be raised by him to eternal life and be glorified, are to be worshipped by believers, by which God bestoweth many benefits on men: so that, whosoever shall say that veneration and honour is not due to the relics of the saints, or that these and other sacred monuments are without profit honoured” (worshipped) “by the faithful, and that for the gaining of their help the memory of saints in vain is solemnized, are utterly to be condemned, even as the church hath long condemned them and doth now condemn them. Moreover the images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and of other saints, are especially to be had and kept in churches, and due honour and veneration to be given to them.” (Concil. Trident, sess. xxv.)

Again: “It is beyond all doubt that believers, according to the custom always received in the Catholic church, should give to the holy sacrament the worship of latria,” (highest worship,) “which is due to the true God.” (Concil. Trident, sess. xiii. cap. 5.)

The Popish doctors maintain of images in general, that they ought to be worshipped with the same adoration as the thing represented by the image. So Aquinas: “The same reverence is given to the image of Christ as to Christ himself. Since, therefore, Christ is worshipped with adoration of latria,” (highest worship, due to God,) “it follows that his image ought to be worshipped with adoration of latria,” or highest worship, due to God.

Taken from Nichols, J. (1981). Puritan Sermons (Vol. 6, pp. 561–563). Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers.

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