Samuel Fisher on the Second Commandment

The following is extracted from “Exercises on the Heidelberg Catechism: adapted to the use of families, sabbath-schools, and catechetical classes,” by Samuel R. Fisher, pp. 180-84

XXXV. Lord’s Day.

Q. 96. What doth God require in the second commandment?

A. That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

EXPLANATIONS.

a. Represent, make a resemblance.
b. Images, similitudes; likenesses.
c. Worship, pay divine honors to.

DOCTRINES SEPARATED AND PROVED.

  1. God requires us in no wise to represent him by images. Deuteronomy iv. 23 and 24—Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Acts xvii. 29—Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. Romans i. 22 and 23; Isaiah xl. 18.
  2. God requires us not to worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word. Deuteronomy xii. 32—What thing soever I command yon, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deuteronomy iv. 2—Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

EXERCISES.

What is the ninety-sixth question? Repeat the second commandment. What answer is returned to the question? What do you mean by represent? (a.) What by images? (b.) How do you prove that God requires us in no wise to represent him by images ? (1.) What do you mean by worship? (c.) How do you prove that God requires us not to worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word? (2.)


Q. 97. Are images, then, not at all to be made?

A. God neither can, nor may be represented by any means; but as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids us to make or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them, or to serve God by them.

EXPLANATIONS.

a. Forbids, prohibits; commands not to do.

b. Resemblance, likeness; similitude.

c. Serve, render homage to.

DOCTRINES SEPARATED AND PROVED.

  1. God cannot be represented by any means. Isaiah xl. 18 and 25—To whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will you compare unto him? To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal, saith the Holy One ? Isaiah xlvi. 5—To whom will ye liken me and make me equal, and compare me that we may be alike? Deuteronomy iv. 15.
  2. God may not be represented by any means. Deuteronomy iv. 15-18—Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of fire;) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is in the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth. Romans i. 23.
  3. Creatures may he represented. Exodus xxxv. 30-33— And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; and to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
  4. God forbids us to worship the resemblance of creatures. Psalm xcvii. 7—Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols; worship him, all ye gods.
  5. God forbids us to serve him by the resemblance of creatures. Levitucus xxvi. 1—Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: For I am the Lord your God. Deuteronomy xii. 3 and 4.
  6. God forbids us to make the resemblance of creatures, either in order to worship them, or serve God by them. Deuteronomy xxvii. 15—Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
  7. God forbids us to have the resemblance of creatures, either in order to worship them, or serve God by them. Exodus xxiii. 24—Thou shalt not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shaft utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. Exodus xxxiv. 13 and 14—But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: for thou shalt worship no other God: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Deuteronomy vii. 5.

EXERCISES.

What is the ninety-seventh question? What answer is returned to the question? How do you prove that God cannot be represented by any means? (1.) How do you prove that God may not be represented by any means ? (2.) How do you prove that creatures may be represented ? (3.) Though creatures may be represented, what does God still say with respect to them? What do you mean by forbids? (a.) What by resemblance? (b.) What by serve? (c.) How do you prove that God forbids us to worship the resemblance of creatures ? (4.) How do you prove that God forbids us to serve him by them? How do you prove that God forbids us to make the resemblance of creatures, either in order to worship them, or serve God by them? (6.) How do you prove that God forbids us to have the resemblance of creatures, either in order to worship them, or serve God by them? (7.)


Q. 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?

A. No; for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of his word.

EXPLANATIONS.

a. Tolerated, allowed: permitted.

b. Churches, houses dedicated to the worship of God.

c. Laity, the people as distinguished from the clergy.

DOCTRINES SEPARATED AND PROVED.

  1. God will not have his people taught by dumb images. Habakkuk ii. 18 and 19—What profiteth the graven image, that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach. Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. Zechariah x. 2—For the idols have spoken vanity. Jeremiah x. 1, etc.
  2. God will have his people taught by the lively preaching of his word. 2 Timothy iii. 16 and 17—All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto, all good works. John v. 39—Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me. Luke xvi. 29—They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. 2 Peter i. 19.

EXERCISES.

What is the ninety-eighth question? What do you mean by tolerated? (a.) What by churches? (b.) What by the laity? (c.) What answer is returned to the question? What reason is assigned for the answer returned? What is said of God? How do you prove that God will not have his people taught by dumb images? (1.) How do you prove that God will have his people taught by the lively preaching of his word? (2.)

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