ANOTHER species of Invocation consists in Oaths, and in the casting of the Lot.

An Oath is that whereby we call God to witness the truth of what we say, with a curse upon ourselves, either implied or expressed, should it prove false. Ruth i. 17. "Jehovah do so to me, and more also." See also 1 Kings ii. 23, 24. 2 Cor. i. 23. "I call God for a record upon my soul." See also Philipp. i. 8.

The lawfulness of oaths is evident from the express commandment, as well as example of God. Deut. vi. 13. "thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." See also x. 20. Isai. lxv. 16. "he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth." Jer. xii. 16. "if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name." Gen. xxii. 16. "by myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah." Exod. vi. 8. "concerning the which I did swear to give it." Deut. xxxii. 40. "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever." Psal. <301> xcv. 11. "unto whom I sware in my wrath —." cx. 4. "Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent." Heb. vi. 13. "because he could sware by no greater, he sware by himself."

Agreeable to this is the practice of angels and holy men. Dan. xii. 7. "he held up his right hand, and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever." Rev. x. 5, 6. "the angel sware by him that liveth for ever and ever." Gen. xiv. 22, 23. "I have lift up mine hand unto Jehovah... that I will not take from a thread,&c." xxxi. 53. "Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac;" that is, by God.

It is only in important matters, however, that recourse should be had to the solemnity of an oath. Exod. xx. 7. "thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain." Heb. vi. 16. "men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them the end of all strife."

An oath involving a promise is to be observed, even contrary to our interest, provided the promise itself be not unlawful. Josh. ix. 19. "we have sworn unto them by Jehovah God of Israel; now therefore we may not touch them." Judges xxi. 7. "how shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by Jehovah that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?" Psal. xv. 4. "he that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."

In connexion with this subject, it has been made matter of discussion whether an oath sworn to a robber for the observance of secresy, or for the payment of a stipulated ransom, is binding. Some answer, that the oath only which relates to ransom is to be observed, not that which relates to secresy; inasmuch <302> as every man is bound by a prior obligation to the civil magistrate to denounce any known robber, and that this obligation is of more force than the subsequent one of secresy can possibly be. They conclude, therefore, that it is the duty of such person to give information to the magistrate, and to consider his compulsory oath as annulled by his prior engagement, the weaker obligation yielding to the stronger.[1] If however this be just, why does it not apply equally to the oath respecting ransom? seeing that it is the positive duty of every good man, not to support robbers with his substance, and that no one can be compelled to do a dishonourable action, even though bound by oath to its performance. This seems to be implied in the word jusjurandum itself, which is derived from jus. Considering the robber, therefore, as one with whom (at least while in the act of robbery,) we can be under no engagement, either of religious obligation, or civil right, or private duty, it is clear, that no agreement can be lawfully entered into with one thus circumstanced. If then under the influence of compulsion, <303> we have sworn to perform any such act as that above described, we have only committed a single offence; but if from religious scruples we observe an oath extorted under such circumstances, the sin is doubled, and instead of giving honour to God, and acquitting ourselves of an obligation which we ought never to have incurred, we are only entangling ourselves more deeply in the bonds of iniquity. Hence, if we fail to perform such agreement, it ought not to be imputed to us as a crime that we deceive one who is him self guilty of deceit or violence towards us, and refuse to ratify an unlawful compact.[2] If, therefore, a man has allowed himself to be involved in such an engagement, the point for consideration is, not whether a bond of faith extorted by a robber ought in conscience to be observed, but how he may best effect his escape.

To the fulfilment of oaths is opposed, first, a superstitious denial of their legality. For the precept of Christ, Matt. v. 33, &c. "swear not at all, neither by heaven," &c. does not prohibit us from swearing by the name of God, any more than the passage James v. 12. (inasmuch as it was foretold that even under the gospel every tongue should swear by the God of truth, Isai. xlv. 22, 23. and lxv. 16.) We are only commanded not to swear by heaven or by earth, or by Jerusalem, or by the head of any individual. Besides, the prohibition does not apply to serious subjects, but to our daily conversation, in which nothing can occur <304> of such importance as to be worthy the attestation of God. Lastly, Christ's desire was that the conversation and manners of his disciples should bear such a stamp of truth and good faith, that their simple asseveration should be considered as equivalent to the oath of others.

Secondly, perjury; which consists in swearing to what we know to be false, with the view of deceiving our neighbour, or in making a lawful promise under the sanction of an oath, without intending to perform it, or at least, without actually performing it. Lev. xix. 12. "ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God." Peter was betrayed into this offence, Matt. xxvi. 72, 74.

I have said our neighbour, with reference to the question discussed above. For as it would be a crime to make a sworn promise to a robber or assassin, who in committing the act has forfeited his title to the rights of social life, so to observe the oath would not be to repair the original offence, but to incur a second; at any rate, there can be nothing wrong in refusing to ratify the promise. Cases, however, may occur, in which a contrary decision shall be necessary, owing to the degree of solemnity in the form of the oath, or to other accompanying circumstances. An instance of this occurs in the three kings, Hoshea, Hezekiah, and Zedekiah. 2 Kings xvii. 4. "the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea... therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison." xviii. 7." Jehovah was with Hezekiah, and he prospered whithersoever he went forth, and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not." 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13. "Zedekiah also rebelled against <305> king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God." The fault of Hoshea seems to have been not so much his rebellion, as his reliance on So king of Egypt. In Hezekiah it was considered meritorious and praiseworthy that he trusted in the Lord, rather than in his enemy. To Zedekiah, on the contrary, it was objected, first, that his defection from the enemy was not accompanied by a return to the protection of God, and secondly, that he acted in opposition to God's special command, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13, and Jer. xxvii.6. "now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar." There is, however, this difference between a robber and a national enemy, that with the one the laws of war are to be observed, whereas the other is excluded from all rights, whether of war or of social life.

Thirdly, common swearing. Lev. v. 4, 5. "if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him, when he knoweth of it then he shall be guilty in one of these: and it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing." To this may be added rash swearing. 1 Sam. xiv. 39. "though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die." v. 44. "God do so and more also, for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan."

Fourthly, unlawful oaths; that is to say, oaths of which the purport is unlawful, or which are exacted from us by one to whom they cannot be lawfully taken. Of the former kind was the oath of David respecting the destruction of the house of Nabal, 1 Sam. xxv. 22. "from which example we may also learn that the breach of such oaths <306> is better than the performance, v. 33, 34. a rule disregarded by Herod, when he beheaded John for his oath's sake. Of the latter, David's oath to Shimei is an instance. 2 Sam. xix. 23. "the king sware unto him." Hence, although David himself did not violate his oath, he forbad his son to observe it, 1 Kings ii. 8, 9. "he cursed me with a grievous curse... and I sware to him... now therefore hold him not guiltless, for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him." Solomon therefore committed no breach of faith in punishing Shimei with death, of which the latter was doubly deserving, as being himself guilty of perjury: 1 Kings ii. 36, 37. compared with v. 42, &c.

Fifthly, an idolatrous oath; which consists in swearing, not by God, but by some other object, contrary to the prohibition Matt. v. 33. and James v. 12.

Next in solemnity to an oath is a grave asseveration, as Gen. xlii. 15, 16. "by the life of Pharaoh;" or 1 Sam. i. 26. "as thy soul liveth, my lord;" that is, as surely as thou livest, or as I wish that thou mayest live. Such also is the expression of Christ, verily, verily, I say unto you; and that of Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 31. νὴ τὴν ἡμετέραν καύχησιν, "I protest by your rejoicing;" although, strictly speaking, the particle ὴ has the force of an oath.

To the same head belongs what is commonly called adjuration; that is to say, the charging any one in the name of God, by oath or solemn asseveration, to speak the truth to the best of his knowledge respecting the subject of inquiry. Thus Joshua adjured Achan, vii. 19. "my son, give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah God of Israel, and make confession unto <307> him." Gen. xxiv. 3. "I will make thee swear by Jehovah, God of heaven." Numb. v. 21. "then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing." Ezra x. 5. "then Ezra made the chief priests to swear," &c. Neh. xiii. 25. "I made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons," &c —. 1 Thess. v. 27. "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read —." There is no impropriety in adjuring even our dearest and most faithful friends. Gen. xlvii. 29. "put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh."

Adjurations are to be complied with, in matters not contrary to religion or equity. Thus Christ, Matt. xxvi. 63, 64. on the adjuration even of the impious high-priest Caiaphas, no longer kept silence, but confessed openly that he was the Christ."

Opposed to this are magical adjurations, and the superstitious or mercenary practice of exorcism. Acts xix. 13, &c. "certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them," &c.

Thus far of oaths. In the Casting of the Lot we appeal to the Deity for the explanation of doubts, and the decision of controverted questions. Lev. xvi. 8. "Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats." Josh. vii. 14. "it shall be, that the tribe which Jehovah taketh, shall come according to the families thereof." 1 Sam. x. 20. "when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken." Prov. xvi. 33. "the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of Jehovah." xviii. 18. "the lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty." 1 Chron. xxvi. 13, 14. "they cast lots, as well the small as the great." Neh. x. 34. <308> we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people." Luke i. 9. "according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense." Acts i. 24, 26. "they prayed, and said, Thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen... and the lot fell upon Matthias."

Against the use of the lot it has been urged, that on successive repetitions the result is not invariably the same, and that therefore it must be considered as a matter of chance. This objection is of no force, in as much as the Deity, even in his direct verbal communications with the prophets of old, did not uniformly return the same answer, when tempted by importunate inquiries; as in the instance of Balaam, Num. xxii. 12, 20. "thou shalt not go with them... rise up and go with them."

To this is opposed the casting of lots in jest, or with a superstitious or fraudulent purpose.

To the invocation or adoration of the Deity are opposed idolatry, and invocation of angels or saints.

Idolatry consists in the making, worshipping, or trusting in idols, whether considered as representations of the true God, or of a false one. Exod. xx. 4, 5. "thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." See also Lev. xxvi. 1. Deut. xvi. 21, 22. "Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of Jehovah... neither shalt thou set thee up any image, which Jehovah thy God hateth." xxvii. 15. "cursed be the man that maketh <309> any graven or molten image." Isai. ii. 8. "their land also is full of idols". xvii. 8. "he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands —." Acts xvii. 16. "his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." 1 Cor. viii. 4. "we know that an idol is nothing in the world." x. 6, 7, 14. "neither be ye idolaters," &c. 2 Cor. v. 16. "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now hence forth know we him no more." Gal. v. 19, 20. "the works of the flesh...are these, adultery... idolatry, witchcraft... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." See also 1 John v. 21. Rev. ix. 20. "that they should not worship devils and idols of gold." Idolatry is described, Isai. lvii. 5." enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree." Jer. vii. 31. "they have built the high places of Tophet." xi. 13. "according to the number of thy cities were thy gods —." xxxii. 29. "they shall burn it with the houses upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal." Ezek. viii. 5, &c. "behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy —." Hos. iv. 13. "they sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains."

Whether of the true God —. Exod. xxxii. 5. "when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to, Jehovah;" compared with Psal. cvi. 19, 20. "they made a calf in Horeb, —thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox." Deut. iv, 15, 16. "take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that Jehovah spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven <310> image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female." It is indeed said, Exod. xxiv. 10. that Moses and the elders "saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness;" and v. 11. "they saw God;" and v. 17. "the sight of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel;" but it is clear, from the passage of Deuteronomy quoted above, that they saw the likeness of no living thing whatever. So Ezek. i. 27, 28. "I saw... from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward;" where no mention is made of his face. Judges xvii. 4. "the founder made thereof a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah;" compared with v. 13. "then said Micah, Now know I that Jehovah will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest." 2 Kings xvii. 28. "then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria, came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah." Isai. xl. 18. "to whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" xliv.10. "who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?" xlvi. 5, 6. "to whom will ye liken me, and make me equal? —they hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship." Jer. ii. ll, &c. "hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit." Acts xvii. 29. "forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is <311> like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. Rom. i. 23, 24. "they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man." Hence to worship the true God under the form of an idol was considered as criminal as to worship devils. 2 Chron. xi. 15. "he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves that he had made;" although Jeroboam doubtless imagined that he was appointing priests to Jehovah, while he was in reality officiating in the rites of those which were not Gods.

Or of a false God. Numb. xxxiii. 52. "then shall ye destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places." See also Deut. vii. 5, 25. xii. 2, 3. In pursuance of these injunctions, pious rulers in all ages have opposed idolatry;[3] Moses, Asa, 2 Chron. xiv. 3. xv. 8, &c. Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, 2 Kings xxiii. 1-25. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 4. &c. "the whole people," 2 Chron. xxiii. 17. and xxxi. 1.

The cherubic images over the ark are not to be accounted idols; first, as being representations not of <312> false gods, but of the ministering spirits of Jehovah, and consequently not objects of worship; secondly, as being made by the special command of God himself.

Even the brazen serpent, the type of Christ, was commanded to be demolished, as soon as it became an object of religious worship, 2 Kings xviii. 4. "he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made."

Hence the Papists err in calling idols the laymen's books;[4] their real nature whether considered as books or teachers, appears from Psal. cxv. 5, &c. "they have mouths, but they speak not... they that make them are like unto them, so is every one that trusteth in them." Isai. xliv, 18. "they have not known nor understood, for he hath shut their eyes —." Jer. x. 8, 14, 15. "every man is brutish in his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image; for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them; they are vanity and the work of errors; in the time of their visitation they shall perish." Habak. ii. 18, 19. "what profiteth the graven image, that the graver 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."


We are commanded to abstain, not only from idolatrous worship itself, but from all things and persons connected with it. Acts xv. 20. "that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication." v. 29. "from meats offered to idols... and from fornication." Rev. ii. 14. "who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." v. 20. "to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." From a comparison of these passages, it would appear that the fornication here prohibited, was a part of idolatrous worship. 1 Cor. viii. 10. "if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him that is weak be emboldened to eat," &c. x. 14. "flee from idolatry." v. 20, &c. "they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils." 2 Cor. vi. 16. "what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" 1 Thess. i. 9. "ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God." 1 Pet. iv. 3. "we walked in lasciviousness... and abominable idolatries." 1 John v. 21. "little children, keep yourselves from idols."

A question here arises, whether it be lawful for a professor of the true religion to be present at idol-worship, in cases where his attendance is necessary for the discharge of some civil duty. The affirmative seems to be established by the example of Naaman the Syrian, 2 Kings v. 17-19. who was permitted, as an additional mark of the divine approbation, to construct for himself a private altar of Israelitish earth, although, as a Gentile, he was uncircumcis <314> ed."[5] It is however safer and more consistent with the fear of God, to avoid, as far as possible, duties of (his kind, even of a civil nature, or to relinquish them altogether.

The invocation of saints and angels is forbidden. Acts x. 26. "stand up; I myself also am a man." xiv. 15. "sirs, why do ye these things? we also are men of like passions with you —." Col. ii. 18. "let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels." Rev. xix. 10. "I fell at his feet to worship him; and he said unto me, See thou do it not, I am thy fellow-servant." See also xxii. 8, 9. The reason is, that God is kinder and more favourable to us than any saint or angel either is, or has power to be. Psal. lxxiii. "whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." Isai. lxiii. 16. "doubt less thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; thou, O Jehovah, art our father, our redeemer." Further, the charge of absurdity and folly which the prophets uniformly bring against the worshippers of idols, applies equally to those who worship images of saints or angels. Isai. xlvi. 6, 7, &c. "they lavish gold out of the bag, &c... and hire a goldsmith... they bear him upon the shoulder," &c. See also other passages.

The subterfuges by which the Papists defend the worship of saints and angels, are truly frivolous. They allege Gen. xlviii. 15, 16. "the angel which <315> redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." Jacob here was not praying, but conferring his benediction on the sons of Joseph; no one therefore will contend that the words are to be taken as an invocation, but simply as an expression of hope that God, and the redeeming angel as his minister, should bless the lads. Some indeed contend that the angel here spoken of was not a created being; but whether this be true, or whether it entered into the mind of Jacob or not, involves another and a far more difficult controversy. They urge also Job v. 1. "to which of the saints wilt thou turn?" which however may as properly be understood of living saints, as in James v. 14. "let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him;" where it is not recommended that the dead should be invoked, but that those who are living and present should be intreated to pray for us.

Another opposite to invocation is the tempting of God. Exod. xvii. 7. "they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us or not?" Psal. lxxviii. 18, 19. "they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust: yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" v. 41. "they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." xciv. 7. "yet they say, Jah shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." xcv. 7-9. "as in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works." Matt. iv. 7. "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." 1 Cor. x. 22. "do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?"

A third consists in the invocation of devils, and the practice of magical arts. Exod. xxii. 18. "thou shalt <316> not suffer a witch to live." Lev. xix. 26. "neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times." xx. 27. "a man also or a woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones, their blood shall be upon them." v. 6. "the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people." xix. 31. "neither seek after wizards, to be defiled with them." Num. xxiii. 23. "surely there is no enchantment against Jacob; neither is there any divination against Israel." Deut. xviii. 10-12. "there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer; for all that do these things are an abomination unto Jehovah." 2 Kings xxi. 6. "he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards." Isai. viii. 19. "when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?" xliv. 25. "I am he that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad." xlvii. 13, 14. "let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee: behold, they shall be as stubble." Jer. x. 2. "be not dismayed at the signs of <317> heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.[6] Mic. v. 12. "I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers."

All study of the heavenly bodies, however, is not unlawful or unprofitable; as appears from the journey of the wise men, and still more from the star itself, divinely appointed to announce the birth of Christ, Matt. ii. 1, 2.


..... Thou know'st the magistrates

And princes of my country came in person,

Solicited, commanded, threaten'd, urg'd,

Adjur'd by all the bonds of civil duty

And of religion, press'd how just it was,

How honourable, how glorious to entrap

A common enemy, who had destroyed

Such numbers of our nation.....


..... At length that grounded maxim

So ripe and celebrated in the mouths

Of wisest men, that to the public good

Private respects must yield, with grave authority,

Took full possession of me, and prevail'd;

Virtue, as I thought, truth, duty so enjoin'd.

Sampson Agonistes, 850


..... How soon

Would height recal high thought, how soon unsay

What feign'd submission swore? ease would recant

Vows made in pain, as violent and void. Paradise Lost, IV. 94.


See the treatise Of true Religion, where after describing the twofold power, ecclesiastical and political, claimed by the Roman Catholics, Milton proceeds thus: 'Whether therefore it be fit or reasonable to tolerate men thus principled in religion towards the state, I submit it to the consideration of all magistrates, who are best able to provide for their own and the public safety. As for tolerating the exercise of their religion, supposing their state-activities not to be dangerous, I answer, that toleration is either public or private; and the exercise of their religion, as far as it is idolatrous, can be tolerated neither way: not publicly, without grievous and unsufferable scandal given to all conscientious beholders; not privately, without great offence to God, declared against all kind of idolatry, though secret. Ezek. viii. 7, 8..... Having shown thus, that popery, a being idolatrous, is not to be tolerated either in public or in private, it must now be thought how to remove it,' &c. &c. Prose Works, IV. 264.


'They will not go about to prove their idolatries by the word of God, but turn to shifts and evasions, and frivolous distinctions; idols they say are laymen's books, and a great means to stir up pious thoughts and devotion in the learnedest.' Ibid. IV. 266.


...That he may dispense with me, or thee,

Present in temples at idolatrous rites,

For some important cause, thou need'st not doubt.

Samson Agonistes. 1377.


Thus our Saviour in Paradise Regained, IV. 486.

..... what they can do as signs

Betok'ning, or ill boding, I contemn

As false portents, not sent from God, but thee:

compared with the words of Satan, v. 379, &c.

Now contrary, if I read aught in heav'n,

Or heav'n write aught of fate, by what the stars

Voluminous, or single characters,

In their conjunction met, give me to spell,

Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate,

Attends thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,

Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death.

A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,

Real or allegoric, I discern not.

These last words probably allude to the star, mentioned below, by which the birth of Christ, as 'King of the Jews,' was announced to the wise men.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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