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selfe, of whom al thinges haue lyfe, but ymages can nether heare, see, nor moue, nor haue neither reason, vnderstanding nor lyfe. Therefore sayeth God hym selfe by his prophet Esaie, that no similitude nor ymage, can be made of him. God shewed himselfe vnto the people in the mount of Oreb, but in a clowde, smoke and fyer, declaring therby that no man can come to the parfite knowledge of God, as he is in hym selfe. The Propiciatorie also, whereby God was signified, was hidde and not sene, as wel for that it stode in sancta sanctorum where the people neuer came, as also forbecause the cherubynes couered it with their wynges. But in case any paynter or caruer were so connyng, that he cold make an ymage, which shuld parfytly represent vnto vs God, (which is impossible) yet he ought to make no suche ymage. And if it wer made, it ought to be destroied, because God hathe forbyd anye ymage to be made of hym.
For as it is forbydde to haue any straunge goddes, so it is also forbide to haue any ymage of the true lyuing God. And yf any will say, that it is forbyde to make an ymage of God, to thintent to wourshippe it, but I doo not worshippe it, nor haue it for that intent, but only that it may stere me to the remembraunce and knowlege of God. To this I aunswer, that God did forbide the making of his ymage, least this parrell shoulde followe, that thou shouldest worshippe it.
Therefore thou doste offende, although thou doste not worshippe it, and that not only, because thou doest againste Goddes worde and commaundement, but also because thou putteste thy selfe wilfully in very great peril and daunger, specially seyng that of our corrupte nature wee be moost highly enclyned to idolatry and superstition, as experyence from tyme to tyme hathe taught vs, euen from the begynnyng of the worlde. And here appeareth the abuse of our tyme, which folowing rather the phantasye of caruers or paynters, than the worde of God haue set vp in churches the ymage (as thei cal it) of the Trinitie, where they portured God the father lyke an olde man with a long hore berd. And what can symple people learne herby, but errore, and ignorance ? Haue not mani thought that God the father is a bodyly substaunce, and that he hath a face, and berd, handes, and fete, because they see him so painted? And for this consideracion saith sainte Austen, it is a detestable thing for Christen men to haue any suche ymage of God in the church, whereby it appeareth that in sainct Austens tymes, ther wer no suche ymages in Christen churches, but that it is an inuention of the papistes broughte in of later yeres, whiche bryngeth vs not vnto the true knowledge of God, but leadeth vs into errors and ignoraunce of God.
But if you wil lyfte vp your mindes to God good children, to know his diuine maiestye, hys infinite power, wysedome, goodnes, and other his godlye perfections, loke not vpon a deafe, domme, blynde, lame, and deade ymage, made by a painter or caruers handes, but loke vpon heauen and other creatures, made by Goddes awne handy worke, loke vpon man who can speake, see, smell, heare, feale, and go, and hath lyfe, wyl, and reason, and whome no man, but God himselfe made to be his lyuely image and similitude.
We haue also the holy scriptures whiche declare vnto vs the wonderful workes of God, by which thynges wee maye be ledde to the knowledge of God without painted or carued ymages. Now paraduenture some wil say that Christ hathe a bodye, and lykewyse haue saintes, and therfore of them we may haue ymages althoughe of God there can be made no ymage. And further they wil say, that the cause why ymages wer forbid, was perryl of ydolatry, and worshipping of theym. So that where there is no suche peril, we may haue ymages.
Yet as I will not vtterly deny but they may be had, so I thincke it more conuenient for christen religion that they shuld be taken out of Christen mens churches, then that they shoulde be placed in the temple of God. And of this my opinion I wil shewe you certaine good groundes, to thintente that whan you be demaunded, why we Englyshe men haue no ymages in our churches, you maye be able to make therunto a reasonable aunswer, and that also in time to come you may declare to your children what abuses haue crepte into the church by the occasion of ymages. That if anye man shall hereafter goo about craftily to brynge in ymages agayne for hys owne lucre sake, they maye the soner perceyue hys juglynge, and so the better auoide the perill and daunger. Fyrst it is certaine, that we neither haue commaundement, counsell nor example of the scripture, nor of the primatiue churche in thapostilles time, nor many yeres after to set vp ymages in our churches. As it maye appeare by the holy man Epiphanius bishop of Cypres, a man of great estimation an. xi. hundreth yeres passed, for his great lernyng and vertue, and by whom not only in his lyfe tyme, but also after his death, God wrought many miracles. He in an epistle which he wrote to the bysshoppe of Hierusalem (whiche epistle saint Hierome did translate out of Greke into Latine) writeth, that as he passed the contrey about Hierusalem, he founde in a church a cloth painted, hauing the image of Christ, or of a saynte. And whan I saw (saied he) an ymage of a man hang in the church of Christe, contrarie to the authoritie of the scripture, I cut it in peces, and counseled them to buri some pore dead man therin. And after he wrote to the bysshop of Hierusalem, that he shuld commaunde al the priestes, not to suffer suche images, beynge contrary to our religion, to hange in the church of Christ. Wherby it appeareth that in those dayes ymages were not alowed to be sette vp in churches amonge Christen menne (yea al thoughe it were the ymage of Christe or any sayncte) but that the vsage of ymages beganne after that tyme.
And yf we wyl beleue auncient histories, ymages wer brought into churches, by the pollicye and force of the byshoppes of Rome, many good Christian emperors, withstanding the same to their power. But idolatrie by the byshoppes of Rome preuailed, and seduced many Christen realmes.
Moreouer many images teache nothyng elles but erronious and supersticiouse doctrine. For what teachethe the picture of sayncte Mychael waying soules, and our lady putting her beades in the balaunce. Forsoth nothing els, but superstitiousnes of beades, and confidence in oure owne merites, and the merites of saincts, and nothynge in the merites of Christe.
For wheras oure good workes be not able to way against the deuel, our lady muste laye her beades in balaunce, that is to say, wil workes diuised of oure awne braynes not commaunded of God, and by them to saue vs. Which doctrine is very false and iniuriouse to Christe. What did the ymage of saint Sondaye teache? But that Sondaye was an holye man, accordynge to the which teaching, beggers asked their almes for saynct Sondayes sake. But I wyll leaue to speake of the euell doctrine whiche was taught by images, and I wyll declare vnto you the ymages haue bene so abused, that all the goodnes whiche myght come by theym, was neuer comparable to the great ignoraunce and blyndnes, the superstition and idolatrie, whiche haue been brought in and committed by meanes of them. The whiche abuses good children, your owne fathers, yf you aske theym, can well declare vnto you. For they themselfes wer greatly seduced by certayne famouse and notoriouse ymages, as by our lady of Walsingham, oure ladye of Ippeswiche, saynt Thomas of Canterbury, sainct Anne of Buckestone, the roode of grace, and suche lyke, whom many of your parentes visitide yerely, leauinge their owne houses and familyes. To them they made vowes and pilgrimages, thinkyng that God would heare their prayers in that place rather than in another place. They kissed their feete deuoutely, and to theim they offred candles and ymages of waxe, rynges, beades, gold, and syluer, aboundantly. And because they that so taught them had therby great commoditie, they mainteined the same with fayned myracles, and erroniouse doctrine, teaching the people that God would heare their prayers made before this image, rather than before another ymage, or in another place, wheras the prophete Esay sayth, that God doeth heare those that be truely penitent in euery place alyke. But peraduenture some wyl saye, they dyd neuer teache vs to kneele to the ymage, but before the image. But who I pray you gaue them commission to teache you to kneele before the ymage, yf you make youre praiers to God, why lyfte you not both your eyes and handes to heauen where God is, why loke you rather vpon the walles, vpon stockes and stones, then thitherward where you knowe he is, to whome you make your prayers. What nedest thou which arte the ymage of God, to kneele before the ymage of man.
Again they that be greued with takyng downe of ymages out of the churches, will parchaunce say. We worshipped not the image but the sainct, whome the ymage dyd signifye. And who I praye you commaundeth you after this fashion to worship any sainct, why shoulde wee geue that honoure to sainctes nowe after their deathe, whiche they themselfes, whan they were on lyue dyd vtterly refuse ? Yf a Christen man althoughe in dede he were a very holy man, and a lyuing saint, should set himself vpon an aulter in the church, you would say to him come down syr, that is no place for you to stande in. And why shoulde than domme ymages stande there, whan they be deade, wher thou canst not suffre the true ymages and membres of Christ and liuely sainctes to be placed ? Peter refused to be wourshipped