False Worship by Thomas Brooks

[4.] Fourthly, Evidence and declare the truth and reality of your holiness—by a resolute standing up for purity of religion, and for purity of worship and ordinances, in opposition to all mixtures and corruptions whatever. O sirs, the great God is concerned about nothing more in all the world, than upon purity in his worship, James 1:27. There is nothing that does so provoke and exasperate God against a people, as mixtures in his worship and service, Mat. 21:12-13; John 2:15-17. Pollutions in worship do sadly reflect upon the name of God, the honor of God, the truth of God, and the wisdom of God; and therefore his heart rises against them. The very spirit, life, and soul of the second commandment lies in these words, “You shall not make to yourself any engraved image,” etc. In matters of divine worship God abhors that men should mix their water with his wine, their dross with his gold, their chaff with his wheat, etc. When once men come to be so bold as to defile his worship with their mixtures, then God is resolved to be a swift and a terrible witness against them, as you may clearly see by comparing these notable places of Scripture. [Lev. 10:1-2; Ezek. 5:11-12, and 23:38-39; Jer. 7:29-30; Ezek. 8:17-18; Rev. 22-23; Deut. 4:2, and 12:32.]

There is no sin which does so incense and provoke God to jealousy and wrath against a people, as mixtures in worship. God can bear with defilements anywhere, but in his worship and service—and that,

First, Because mixtures in worship are cross to God’s express commands. Who are you, O man! who dares run cross to his commands—who can command you into the dust, yes, into hell, at his pleasure? etc.

Secondly, Because this is to accuse the blessed Scripture of insufficiency. If the Scripture are a sufficient rule to order, guide, and direct us in all matters of worship—then how do you, O man! detract from the sufficiency of the Scripture, who mingles your own or other men’s inventions with divine institutions, and set up your worship along side God’s worship? O sirs, the Scriptures are sufficient to direct us fully in everything that belongs to the worship and service of God. We need not depend upon the wisdom, prudence, care, or authority of any men under heaven to direct us in matters of worship.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Scriptures are sufficient to inform the ignorant, to confute the erroneous, to reform the wicked, and to guide and direct, support and comfort those who are gracious. Here a lamb may wade, and an elephant may swim. Here is milk for babes, and meat for strong men, and comfort for the afflicted, and support for the tempted, and ease for the troubled, and light for the clouded, and enlargement for the straitened, etc. Oh, how full of light, how full of life, how full of love, how full of sweetness, how full of goodness, how full of righteousness and holiness, etc., is every chapter, and every verse in every chapter, yes, and every line in every verse!

The Scriptures are sufficient to direct us as to all the parts of worship. As,

1. public prayer.

2. reading and expounding.

3. preaching.

4. singing.

5. the seals both of baptism and the supper of the Lord.

The Rabbis say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word of Scripture, yes, upon every tittle of Scripture. God never sends his people to the shop of men’s traditions and inventions—but he still sends them to the Scripture: Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” And in the New Testament Christ sends his hearers to the Scriptures: John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” The Greek word that is here rendered search, signifies a strict, narrow, curious, diligent search. We must search the Scripture as we would search for gold, or for some precious stones which we would gladly find; we must search the Scriptures as hunters seek and search out their game. And so the apostle sends his hearers to the Scriptures, 2 Pet. 1:19-22, as to a surer word than that of revelation. All which speaks out the sufficiency of the Scripture to direct us in all matters that concern our internal or eternal welfare. Oh, that you would forever remember these two things:

(1.) First, That that which bred the Popish religion, superstition, idolatry, and pompous worship—was men’s departing from the word, and not cleaving to the word as a sufficient rule to direct them in all matters of worship. And,

(2.) Secondly, That that which has occasioned all those discords, divisions, heats, heart-burnings, animosities, and contentions, etc., about ceremonies, liturgy, forms, gestures, etc., has been men’s not keeping close to the blessed word of God. When men forsake this perfect rule of Scripture, where won’t they run? and what won’t they do? Ah, who are you, O vain man—who accuses the holy Scriptures of insufficiency—how will you blush, and be ashamed and confounded, when in the great day the Lord shall plead the excellency, and vindicate the sufficiency and authority of his blessed book, in opposition to all the mixtures of men’s traditions with divine institutions?

Thirdly, God won’t nor can’t bear with mixtures in his worship and service, because to bring them in is to accuse and charge God with weakness and folly, as if God were not careful enough, nor faithful enough, Heb. 3:4-6, nor mindful enough, nor wise enough, nor prudent nor understanding enough, to order, direct, and guide his people in the matters of his worship—but must be beholding to the wisdom, prudence, and care of man, John 4:23-24, of vain man, of sinful man, of vile and unworthy man, of weak and foolish man—to complete, perfect, and make up something that was lacking in his worship and service, Psalm 39:5, etc.

Fourthly, God won’t bear with mixtures in his worship and service, because all mixtures debases the worship and service of God, and makes the worship a vain worship, Isaiah 29:13-14; Mat. 15:3, 6, 8-9. As the mixing of water with wine is the debasing of the wine, and the mixing of tin with silver, or brass with gold, is the debasing of the silver and gold—just so, for men to mix and mingle their traditions and inventions with God’s institutions, is to debase the worship and service of God, and to detract from the excellency and glory of it. The kings and princes of this world have most severely punished such, who, by their base mixtures, have counterfeited their coin; and there is a day a-coming wherein the King of kings will most severely punish all such who have counterfeited his worship and service by mixing their Romish traditions with his holy institutions.

Rev. 22:18, “For I testify unto every man who hears the words of the prophecy of this book—If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book.” And no wonder! For what horrible pride, presumption, stoutness, and baseness of spirit is it in foolish man to be so bold with the great God, as to dare to mix anything of his own with his worship and service, which, according to divine institution, is so perfect and complete! God will never tolerate it—to see men lay their dirt upon his gold, and to put theirrags upon his royal robes.

Ah, Christians, Christians, evidence your holiness by standing up for holy ordinances and pure worship—in opposition to all mixtures whatever. Oh, don’t you touch a polluted worship, don’t you plead and contend for a polluted worship—but let Baal plead for Baal. And though all the world should wander after the beast—yet you must not follow them! And though every forehead should have the mark of the beast upon it—yet you must abhor his mark, and whatever else it is, which but smells and savors of the beast.

It is observable that in kings’ courts, that children, fools, and the crude rabble, are much impressed with fine pictures, and rich shows, and glistening gaudy clothes, etc. But such as are wise, serious, grave statesmen—they have no regard for such poor things, they look upon those things as things which are much below the nobleness and the greatness of their spirits, who have honorable objects, and the great and weighty affairs of the state to busy themselves about. Just so, though the children, the fools, and the rabble of the world are much affected and impressed with such pollutions and mixtures as makes up a glorious pompous worship—yet you who have a spirit of holiness, and principles of holiness in you, oh, how should you slight such things, and pass by such things as things below you, as things not worthy of you—who have a holy God, a holy Christ, a holy gospel, and a holy worship to busy your thoughts, your minds, your heads, and your hearts about.