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We Are Separated for Christ's Instituted Worship's Sake by Peter Vinke (d. 1702)

Articles on Puritan Worship and the Regulative Principle

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The difference between the Protestant and now Roman church is as considerable about religious worship. They separate us, and cast out our names, because we desire to keep to the purity and simplicity of worship, so often commanded by God, and so highly recommended by Christ; (John 4:24;) and they on the other side do add in matters of divine worship according to the inventions of their own hearts, and the humours of every fanciful pope.

Now this we are the more careful about, because that they who worship any thing beside the true God, or who worship him any other way than according to his own appointment, are, in the second commandment, declared by God to be haters of him; that is, in a more eminent manner than any other sinners whosoever. We find also will-worship to be such a leaven, as that (where it is joined with otherwise right and well-directed devotion) it leavens the whole lump, and makes the whole but one continued provocation, in God’s account. Those that swear by the Lord and by Malcham, are esteemed as if they had not sworn by God at all, but by Malcham only. (Zeph. 1:5.) As wicked as Ahaz is recorded to be, he is not charged for not retaining the altar of the Lord; but for bringing another altar from Damascus, and placing of it by God’s altar at the temple of Jerusalem. (2 Kings 16:10–16.)

One would think that washing of hands, and the wearing of broad phylacteries, were matters so indifferent, as that they could not be displeasing unto God, especially when commanded by the church, and recommended too by tradition; yet our Saviour assures us, (though they thought to please God the better by them,) [that] it made all the rest of the Pharisees’ worship but vain and unacceptable. (Matt. 15:9.)

Worship is indeed the marriage-duty which the church of God is to pay unto none but unto Him who is married unto her; (Jer. 3:14;) and God hath declared himself to be “a jealous God,” and that he will not permit any creature to partake that marriage-rite together with him. (Exod. 20:5.) Hence it is that idolatry is so often called “adultery,” and a “going a-whoring from God.” (Ezek. 23:30.) And in this, amongst other things, to be sure they agree,—that as amongst men for every fault, though heinous ones too, there cannot be a separation between man and wife, but for adultery there may; so God is pleased not to give a bill of divorce to any church or people for any sin so much as for idolatry. When once they become overspread with that sin, then it is that God says unto them, “Lo-ammi, Ye are not my people.” (Hosea 1:9.)

If we must then either be bidden by the church of Rome to depart from her for not worshipping what she pleases, and as she lists, or that God should depart from us, by the withdrawing of his word and Spirit from us, and bid us to depart from him, because we did not worship him according to his prescribed will, but preferred man’s will before his will, it is easy to determine which we should most dread, and labour to avoid. Nay, let them again and again bid us to depart from them here, that God may not bid us to depart from him hereafter. Their censure of excommunication is lighter than the small dust in the balance, if compared with his sentence of condemnation.

I know that this harlot, with the adulterous woman in the Proverbs, (30:20,) “wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” Yet I shall take it for granted, that if she gives and requires religious or Divine worship to be given to any creature, she is guilty of idolatry, or else there is no such thing as idolatry in the world: this being confessedly the worst kind of false worship,* and that for which God gave the Heathens over unto such “strong delusions” and “vile affections.” (Rom. 1:25, 26; 2 Thess. 2:11.)
I shall not insist upon the particulars of Divine worship; which is either internal, the worship of the heart; or external, the worship of the body. Faith and hope are the homage which the heart pays unto God: it believes in him, as true and faithful, and ho pesin him, as good and gracious, in the highest degree. Adoration and service are the tribute which the body owes unto God. Now I could easily evince, that the church of Rome gives any or all of these to creatures; for whilst they pray to saints, whether real or imaginary ones, they must hope and believe in them; for “how can they call upon them in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:14.) And whilst they prostrate themselves before their very images, whilst they build altars and churches and keep festivals or observe days unto them, they give them whatsoever the outward man is able to perform to God himself. Yet all this worship they think that, calling of it by another name, (δουλεια,) they can justify.

Not to insist upon that which hath been so often proved by others, that the words δουλεια and λατρεια are promiscuously used; and that if there be any difference, δουλεια imports the more servile offices of the two. Alas! the common people break the cobweb-thread of such nice distinctions, which they are not able to skill of, and, as some amongst themselves have feared, fall into downright idolatry.

Nichols, J. (1981). Puritan Sermons (Vol. 6, pp. 39–41). Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers.

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