The idolatry of ‘Holy Days’ of mere human appointment

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August seems a safe time to post this (repost?; didn't check).
Girolami-Zanchi.jpg Note: Martin Chemnitz was German Lutheran theologian, and Gillespie is citing from his examination of the Council of Trent (De Examen Concilii Tridentini. 4 volumes. 1565–1573. Berlin: 1861. Cf. Examination of the Council of Trent. Translated by Fred Kramer. Concordia, 1971–1986.). Richard Hooker was one of the anglocatholics which Presbyterians like Gillespie disputed against in their maintaining the truth of the Regulative Principle of Worship against the former's normative principle. Jerome Zanchius was one of the more famous Reformed theologians at the end of the 16th century. He thought the continental Reformed practice of observing several of the old pretended holy days was fine and wrote extensively on that in his exposition of the fourth commandment. However he concludes that section, “they have not acted incorrectly, who have abolished all days except ‘the Lord’s Day’” and “that it is more agreeable with the first institution” that only the Lord’s day be observed (Omnium Operum Theologicorum, Tomus Quartus [Genevæ: Samuel Crispin, 1617–19], Liber Primus in Quartum Præceptum, 678, 679).

What is idolatry, if this is not, to ascribe to rites of man’s devising, the power and virtue of doing that which none but He to whom all power in heaven and earth belongs can do? And howbeit Hooker would strike us dead at once, with the high-sounding name of the fathers, yet it is not unknown, that the first fathers from whom this idolatry [confirmation] has descended were those ancient heretics, the Montanists. For as Chemnitz marks out of Tertullian and Cyprian, the Montanists were the first who began to ascribe any spiritual efficacy or operation to rites and ceremonies devised by men.[1]

§6. Fourthly, that whereunto more respect and account is given than God allows to be given to it, and wherein more excellency is placed than God has put into it, or will at all communicate to it, is an idol exalted against God; which makes Zanchius to say, if you attribute to Luther or Calvin that they could not be mistaken, you are making idols for yourself.[2] Now, when Hooker accounts festival days, for God’s extraordinary works wrought upon them, to be holier than other days,[3] what man of sound judgment will not perceive that these days are idolized, since such an eminence and excellency is put in them, whereas God has made no difference between them and any other days? We have seen also that the ceremonies are urged as necessary,[4] but did ever God allow that things indifferent should be so highly advanced at the pleasure of men? And, moreover, I have shown that worship is placed in them;[5] in which respect they must needs be idols, being thus exalted against God’s Word, at which we are commanded to hold us in the matter of worship. Last of all, they are idolatrously advanced and dignified, in so much as holy mystical significations are given them, which are a great deal more than God’s Word allows in any rites of human institution, as shall be shown afterwards.[6] And so it appears how the ceremonies, as now urged and used, are idols.

George Gillespie, Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (1637; critical edition, Naphtali Press, 2013), 192–193.

[1] . Exam., part 2, de Rit. in Admin. Sacr., page 32. [Berlin ed. (1861) 262; English translation by Fred Kramer (Concordia Publishing House, 1978) 2.114.]

[2] . Lib 1, de Viti. Ext. Cult. Oppos., col. 505 [cf. Zanchi, Opera (1617) book 4, col. 505]. “Si Luthero vel Calvino tribuas, quòd non potuerant errare, idola tibi fingis. . . .”

[3] . Eccl. Polity, lib. 5, sect. 69 [cf. Works (1821), 2.281].

[4] . Supra, part 1, cap. 1 [page 23].

[5] . Supra, cap. 1 [page 132].

[6] . Infra, cap. 5 [page 225].

 
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