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should be set in churches and worshipped. That Austin the monk brought with him the banner of the cross, and the image of Christ, Beda tells; and from him Baronius and Binius affirm, that before this vision of Egwin, the cross and image of Christ were in use; but that they were at all worshipped or adored, Beda saith not; and there is no record, no monument of it, before this hypochondriacal dream of Egwin and it further appears to be so, because Albinus or Alcuinus an Englishman", master of Charles the Great, when the King had sent to Offa the book of Constantinople, for the worship of images, wrote an epistle against it, “ex auctoritate Divina Scripturarum mirabiliter affirmatum ;" and brought it to the King of France in the name of our bishops and kings, saith Hovedon*.
Of Picturing God the Father, and the Holy Trinity. AGAINST all the authorities almost, which are or might be brought to prove the unlawfulness of picturing God the Father, or the Holy Trinity, the Roman doctors generally give this one answer; that the fathers intended by their sayings, to condemn the picturing of the divine essence; but condemn not the picturing of those symbolical shapes or forms, in which God the Father, or the Holy Ghost, or the blessed Trinity, is supposed to have appeared. To this I reply, 1. That no man ever intended to paint the essence of any thing in the world. A man cannot well understand an essence, and hath no idea of it in his mind, much less can a painter's pencil do it. And therefore it is a vain and impertinent discourse to prove, that they do ill, who attempt to paint the divine essence. This is a subterfuge which none, but men out of hope to defend their opinion otherwise, can make use of. 2. To picture God the Father in such symbolical forms in which he appeared, is to picture him in no form at all; for generally both the schools of the Jews and Christians consent in this, that God the Father never ap
u A. D. circiter 792.
Annal. part. 1. sect. 7,
y Vide Plutarch. de 1side et Osir.
peared in his person; for as St. Paul affirms, he "is the invisible God, whom no eye hath seen or can see;" he always appeared by angels, or by fire, or by storm and tempest, by a cloud, or by a still voice; he spake by his prophets, and at last by his Son; but still the adorable majesty was reserved in the secrets of his glory. 3. The church of Rome paints the Holy Trinity in forms and symbolical shapes, in which she never pretends the blessed Trinity did appear, as in a face with three noses and four eyes, one body with three heads; and as an old man with a great beard, and a pope's crown upon his head, and holding the two ends of the transverse rafter of the cross with Christ leaning on his breast, and the Holy Spirit hovering over his head: and therefore they worship the images of God the Father, and the Holy Trinity, "figures which," as is said of Remphan and the heathen gods and goddesses, "themselves have made;" which therefore must needs be idols by their own definition of 'idolum ;' ' simulacrum rei non existentis;' for never was there seen any such of the Holy Trinity in Unity, as they most impiously represent. And if when any thing is spoken of God in Scripture allegorically, they may of it make an image to God, they would make many more monsters than yet they have found out for as Durandus well observes, " If any one shall say, that because the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove, and the Father, in the Old Testament, under the corporal forms, that therefore they may be represented by images, we must say to this, that those corporal forms were not assumed by the Father and the Holy Spirit; and therefore a representation of them by images is not a representation of the divine person, but a representation of that form or shape alone. Therefore there is no reverence due to it, as there is none due to those forms by themselves. Neither were these forms to represent the divine persons, but to represent those effects, which those divine persons did effect." And therefore there is one thing more to be said to them that do so; "They have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the similitude of a mortal mana." Now how will the reader imagine that the Dissuasive is confuted, and his testimonies from antiquity answered? Why, most clearly: E. W. saith", that "one principle of St. John Damascen doth it, it solves all
* In 3. Sent. dist. 9. q. 2. n. 15.
a Rom. i. 23.
that the Doctor hath or can allege in this matter." Well! what is this principle? The words are these (and St. Austin points at the same); "Quisnam est, qui invisibilis, et corpore vacantis, ac circumscriptionis et figuræ expertis, Dei simulacrum effingere queat? Extremæ itaque dementiæ atque impietatis fuerit divinum numen fingere et figurare."-This is the principle to confute the Doctor-why, but the Doctor thinks, that, in the world, there cannot be clearer words for the reproof of picturing God and the Holy Trinity. For "to do so is madness and extreme impiety," so says Damascen--But stay, says E. W.d these words of Damascen are "as who should say, he that goes about to express by any image the perfect similitude of God's intrinsical perfections or his nature" (which is immense without body or figure), "would be both impious, and act the part of a madman." But how shall any man know that these words of Damascen are as much as to say' this meaning of E. W. ? and where is this principle, as he calls it, of Damascen, by which the Doctor is so every where silenced? Certainly E. W. is a merry gentleman, and thinks all mankind are fools. This is the ridiculous commentary of E. W.: but Damascen was too learned and grave a person to talk such wild stuff. And Cardinal Cajetan gives a better account of the doctrine of Damascen*: "The authority of Damascen in the (very) letter of it condemns those images (viz. of God) of folly and impiety. And there is the same reason now concerning the Deity which was in the old law. And it is certain, that in the old law the images of God were forbidden." To the like purpose' is that of the famous Germanus, who though too favourable to pictures in churches for veneration, yet he is a great enemy to all pictures of God: "Neque enim invisibilis Deitatis imaginem, et similitudinem, vel schema, vel figuram aliquam formamus," &c. as who please may see in his epistle to Thomas, bishop of Claudiopolis. But let us consider when God forbade the children of Israel to make any likeness of him, did
De Fide et Symbolo, c. 7. Damasc. lib. 4. Orthod. Fidei, cap. 17. d P. 60.
e Auctoritas Damasceni in literà damnat illas (imagines Dei) insipientiæ et impietatis. Et eadem est ratio nunc de Deitate, quæ erat in veteri lege quoad rem figurabilem vel non secundum se. Constat autem in veteri lege imagines Dei esse prohibitas.
f Videat (si placet) lector Lucum Fadensem adv. Albig. Error. lib. 2. c. 9. tom. 4. Bibl. p.p. part. 2. Apud. Nicen. Synod. 11. act. 5.
he only forbid them to express by any image the perfect similitude of his intrinsical perfections? Had the children of Israel leave to picture God in the form of a man walking in Paradise? Or to paint the Holy Trinity like three men talking to Abraham? Was it lawful for them to make an image or picture, or (to use E. W.'s expression) "to exhibit to their eyes those visible or circumscribed lineaments," which any man had seen? And when they had exhibited these forms to the eyes, might they then have fallen down and worshipped those forms, which themselves exhibited to their own and others' eyes? I omit to inquire how they can prove that God appeared in Paradise in the form of a man, which they can never do, unless they will use the friar's argument; "Faciamus hominem ad similitudinem nostram," &c. and so make fair way for the heresy of the Anthropomorphites.
But I pass on a little further: Did the Israelites, when they made a molten calf, and said, "These are thy gods, O Israel," did they imagine, that, by that image, they represented the true form, essence, or nature, of God? Or did the heathens ever pretend to make an image of the intrinsical perfections of any of their 'majores' or 'minores dii,' or any of their demons and dead heroes? And because they neither did nor could do that, may it therefore be concluded, that they made no images of their gods? Certain it is, the heathens have as much reason to say they did not picture their gods, meaning their nature and essence, but, by symbolical forms and shapes, represented those good things which they supposed them to have done. Thus the Egyptians pictured Joseph with a bushel upon his head, and called him their god Serapis; but they made no image of his essence, but symbolically represented the benefit he did the nation by preserving them in the seven years' famine. Thus Ceres is painted with a hook and a sheaf of corn, Pomona with a basket of apples, Hercules with a club, and Jupiter himself with a handful of symbolical thunderbolts; this is that which the popish doctors call picturing God, not in his essence, but in history, or in symbolical shapes: for of these three ways s
Observandum est tribus modis posse aliquid pingi. Uno modo ad exprimendam perfectam similitudinem formulæ, et naturæ rei ipsius. Altero modo ad historiam aliquam oculis exhibendam. Tertio potest aliquid pingi extra historiam ad explicandam naturam rei, non per immediatam et propriam similitudinem, sed ana
of picturing God, Bellarmine says, the two last are lawful. And therefore the heathens not doing the first, but the second, and the third only, are just so to be excused as the church of Rome is. But then neither these nor those must pretend that they do not picture God for whatever the intention be, still an image of God is made or else why do they worship God by that, which if it be no image of God, must by their own doctrine be an idol? And therefore Bellarmine's distinction is very foolish, and is only crafty to deceive; for besides the impertinency of it in answering the charge, only by declaring his intention, as being charged with picturing God; he tells he did it indeed, but he meant not to paint his nature, but his story or his symbolical significations, which I say is impertinent, it not being inquired with what purpose it is done, but whether or no; and an evil thing may be done with a good intention: besides this I say, that Bellarmine's distinction comes just to this issue: God may be painted or represented by an image, not to express a perfect similitude of his form or nature, but to express it imperfectly, or rather not to express it, but 'ad explicandam naturam,' to explain it, not to describe him truly, but historically; though that be a strange history, that does not express truly and as it is: but here it is plainly acknowledged, that besides the history," the very nature of God may be explicated by pictures" or images, provided they be only metaphorical and mystical, as if the only reason of the lawfulness of painting God is, because it is done imperfectly and unlike him; or as if the metaphor made the image lawful; just as if to do Alexander honour, you should picture him like a bear, tearing and trampling every thing; or, to exalt Cæsar, you should hang upon a table the pictures of a fox and a cock and a lion, and write under it, This is Caius Julius Cæsar. But I am ashamed of these prodigious follies. But at last, why should it be esteemed madness and impiety to picture the nature of God, which is invisible, and not also be as great a madness to picture any shape of him, which no man ever saw? But he that is invested with a thick cloud, and encircled with an inaccessible glory, and never drew aside the curtains to be seen under any representment,
logiam, sive metaphoricas, mysticasque significationes. Bellarm. de Imag. lib. 2. c. 8. sect. Pro Solutione. Hoc modo pingimus Deum, ibid. sect. Hoc modo.