Cheap-side Crosse censured and condemned BY A LETTER SENT From the Vicechancellour and other Learned Men of the fa­mous Vniversitie of Oxford, in answer to a question propounded by the Citizens of London, concern­ing the said CROSSE, in the yeere 1600, in which yeer it was beautified, As also a remarkable passage to the same pur­pose, in a Sermon preached to an eminent and very great Auditory in this City of London: by a very reverend, holy, and learned Di­vine, a while after the Crosse was last repaired, which was Anno 1606.

2 CHRON. 31. 1.

All Israel that were present, went out to the Cities of Iudah and brake the Images in pieces, &c, untill they had ut, terly destroyed them all.

LONDON, Printed by A. N. for I. R. and are to be sold at his Shop in Pauls Church-yard, 1641.

Resolved on this question (being propounded by the Citizens of London, Ianuary 23. 1600) viz.

Quest. Whether the Crosse in Cheapside should stand or be demolished.

Ans. By George Abbot, Vicechancellour of Oxford, for the yeere above­said, as follows.

COncerning the question of setting up a­gaine the Crosse or other Crucifix in Cheapside, I am of opinion, First, that the godly and discreet zeal of the worthy City is much to be cōmen­ded, who, on just & apparent grounds making a con­science of that which may be scandalous to many good Christians, have not rashly nor tumultuously proceeded therein, but are desirous to be informed by Divines of the Universities (which are under the protection of Almighty God, and her most Sacred Majestie, Schools of the Prophets) what they may, and ought to doe, both unto the honour of Gods Name, and to the setling of such their brethren as be in doubt.

Secondly, I am fully perswaded, that the ever­lasting [Page 2] God in his wisdome hath offered unto this reverend Citie this occasion, to make tryall of their piety and devotion, whether they doe love the intire service of himselfe withall their hearts, and souls, or no, for which matter, howsoever it seeme prima fa­cie to contain nothing of much moment in it, yet now, since the expectation of the whole Realme, and Church of England is, what will become thereof, it cannot be supposed of lesse consequence, then that either our Religion which is established according un­to the Canon of the Scripture, or else that Papistry should receive a wound, and blow thereby.

Being then orderly and fairly demanded my judg­ment therein, I doe purpose according to the severall circumstances in their severall places, to touch divers things,

Praying that God would guide my Meditations and pen aright, to the glory of his Name, and good of their soules who desire in this matter to be re­solved.

First, in these Crucifixes are resembled God the Father by an old man, the Holy Ghost by a Dove, which are both of them unlawfull in true Divinity, because God is a Spirit, and he himselfe forbids any similitude or shape of himself, when he gave the law, intending that he filleth Heaven and Earth.

Confirmed by Origen, who saith, we doe describe with no shape God who is without body invisible. Ambrose saith, God is infinite, unmeasurable, &c.

The Heathens, and Numa in Plutarchs Lives, did forbid his people to shape out any of their Gods with the forme of a man.

And this testimony Clemens Alexandrinus autho­riseth. [Page 3] Nay, Thomas Aquinas part. 3. q. 25. a. 3. But unto God who is without any body, no bodily I-ma­ges could be set up, because as Damascen saith, it is a point of the highest folly or impiety to figure that which is divine, but because God in the new Testa­ment is made man, he may be adored with the bodi­ly Image of himselfe, this Aquinas saith.

So Christ (the Frier thinketh) in his humanity may be pictured, and not God.

Long since, some of the choicest learned Sorbonists directly say, they desire therefore that Images of the Trinitie should be removed from all publike and private places, because they are forbidden by the Scriptures by Councils, by many men of excellent worth and holinesse.

This shortly I speak, but who listeth to see more, the refutation of Bellarmines Cavils speaking for those Superstitions, as also the judgement of the Fa­thers, let him read Doctor Reynolds, de Idolatria.

Being then that the Image of the Dove for the Holy Ghost was upon the Crosse in Cheapside, and the retayning thereof is unlawfull, yea, one of the highest points of Popery, whereof many learned men of their side are ashamed, I hold it a matter que­stionlesse in a reformed Church, that the Crosse is in no sort to be set up again, as it is was before with the Dove, lest we should seem to persist in that palpable darknesse of Egypt.

And in this point I being undoubtedly and irre­fragably resolv [...]d, in that same burdensome office of a Christian Magistrate, which now under my Lord I doe beare, did upon sound and mature advice this last Summer burn and consume with fire in the Mar­ket [Page 4] place of Oxford, amongst others, a Picture where­in was the Image of God the Father over a Crucifix ready to receive the soul of Christ.

The next considerable matter is for the Crucifix it selfe, what is to be judged of the Image, and whe­ther it may be retained at all.

I doe not certainly finde when the first use in that kinde was taken up amongst men, although Constan­tine did cause somewhat to be made, which repre­sented the two first Letters of Christs Name, as they are written in Greek, and that which hee had made was to be used only in Standards, but in this sort, and to that use, as now commonly is framed, if it had never been began, I think I may boldly say, that the Church had been freed of a great deal of Super­stition, which afterwards grew to little lesse then blasphemy.

It is very likely that they that first used it had this to say for it, that there might be an Historicall use to put us in mind of him that died for us, and in as much as sensible and visible things do much affect us, this memoriall might stir our devotion to remember him, by whose stripes we are healed.

Now as this may be the only use thereof, much may be disputed, and held not to be simpliciter malus, absolutely evill: So in my opinion, there are far more repugnant, and direct reasons which may make a­gainst it altogether, as

First, the wisdome of God, which directed us to all things fit for our salvation, hath given not the least touch nor semblance, directly or by conse­quence, of any such matter, which might serve to di­rect us unto Piety: but hath only appointed the [Page 5] Word to be the measure thereof, and the Sacra­ments which are visibly (but not so grosly as the Crucifix) presented unto us as resemblances of Christs passion.

Secondly, it implyeth great weaknesse of faith when we cannot think of our Saviour, either by Me­ditation, or Prayer, or reading, or hearing the word, or by receiving of the Sacraments, but wee must flie unto such means, as for the use whereof wee have no warrant, but on the other side there is much danger, lest inconveniences should grow thereby.

It was a true observation of Philo Judaeus, that the minds of women are the weaker, and they can pre­serve nothing but that which is sensible, speaking of Images which they desire, but note hee ascribeth it unto weaknesse in them.

Thirdly, it was a very ready way unto Superstiti­on, which from a small beginning creepeth on, nei­ther hath it any way more increase then in Images, as the Church by lamentable experience hath too too much proved. Images (saith Cyprian) at first were made in honour of them that were dead, but after­wards they became sacred to their posterity, & were at first taken only for comforts, this was true among the Heathen, and so it was among the Christians, who at first made them, but offered not to bring them into Churches, yet within a while that also was attempted, but to the great griefe and indignation of the godly.

Epiphanius comming into a Church, and seeing a veile or hanging that had one of the Pictures of Christ or some Saint, tore it, as being in the Church contrary unto the Scriptures, and after in steed there­of [Page 6] of he sent a new veile thither, but that which was then so resisted by Epiphanius, did in processe of time (as the purity of the Professours of the Gospel de­cayed) grow stronger, so that by the time of Gregory the Great, Images grew to be ordinary in Churches, yet notwithstanding hee that was so earnest for the having them, could not like that they should be wor­shipped, but even then there were that repugned the opinion of receiving of them into Churches, and so defaced the Images themselves.

Gregory disliked the worshipping of them, but those that came after him they mayntained the Adoration and worship given unto them, appeareth by the second Councill of Nice, among many, no doubt, this of Christ hanging upon the Crosse was one of the principall, whereby Supersti­tion went so far, as that it was and is mayntained that the reverence and adoration due unto God him­selfe (called Latria) is to be given to the resemblance of Christ on the Crosse, which is directly laid down by Thomas Aquinas, yea, and practised in their Mis­sall.

The perpetuall use of their adoration, may be ga­thered by their Roods in Churches, Crucifix [...]s in windowes, the same also in their Service Books, and on the backsides of them, where Mary and John stand by Christ, by the like in Rings now growne a fashion, besides in stones and metals, before which many of them doe say a large part of their devoti­ons, yea, the most superstitious Papists are ready to give veneration thereunto, wheresoever they see it solemnly set up.

I remember in that Colledge where I first lived, [Page 7] a young man was taken praying and beating his brest before a Crucifix in a window, which caused the Masters and Fellows to pull it down, and set up other glasse. Which example makes me nothing doubt but that the Cross in Cheapside hath many in the twilight and morning early which doe reverence before it.

Besides Campian, whose act is famous, or rather in­famous for it, and I am informed, that so much hath been signified by the neighbours, or inquest making presentments, concerning the circumstances of this cause. By all which I do conclude, that it is a Monu­ment of their Superstition, a great inducement, and may be a ready way unto Idolatry, and that there can be no tolerable use of this matter, which may be able for to countervail the dangers and obloquie a­rising upon the reteyning of it, and so much the ra­ther, because it is perceived, that many evill affected men doe make their advantage from hence to insi­nuate into the minds of their credulous hearers, that it is a token of the returne of their faith againe into into this Land, since their Monuments are not ex­tinguished in the chiefest street of our greatest City.

Upon which considerations I make no doubt but the religious Magistrates are sufficiently warranted by the Word of God to remove it away, for the Scriptures have laid before our eyes what ought to be done to remaynders of Idolatry, Yea shall over­throw their Altars, Pillars, graven Images, &c.

But the deeds of Hezekiah being well looked into doth put it out of all controversie, for when hee saw the foule abuse of the brazen Serpent, hee caused it to be defaced, and yet it hath other manner of war­rant for it then this, it being commanded by God, e­rected [Page 8] by Moses, a figure of Christ, in divers of which most materiall circumstances this Crucifix is most defective.Divers lear­ned Ministers then living do report. Though the judgement of both Uni­versities was consulted with about the Crosse, and both desired it might be taken down, yet they could not pre­vaile with B. Bancroft, but he would have it re-edified, on­ly with much adoe they o­verswayed the Bishop to leave off the picture of Christ on the Crosse, that was set on the top of it.

And here I pray the Reader to observe, that I say the Magistrates are to redresse such enormities, for I doe not permit inferiour men to run headlong about such means, and to rend, breake, and teare as well within as without the Churches, which was that that Luther reprehended, but the advice and consent of Superiour powers is to be had herein, that all things may be done decently and in order. In which respect I hold it necessary that the Bishop of Canter­bury, and the Bishop of London be sought unto, who doubtlesse upon the sober intention of the Gover­nours of that City will be pleased religiously and gravely, according unto their manifold wisdome which God hath given unto them, to looke into the matter, & give instructions what is fittest to be done.

HEre Master Vicechancellour at large proveth that it was but omission in our first Reformers, and that our further reformation would not condemne or checke them,Take notice of the blinde zeale of the Prelate in this businesse.but commend, the present due occasion being offered, that it would be as the fact of Theo­dosius and Josias, that the further they went the more they did still raze remnauts of Idolatry, and established Gods true service, then he saith, Man hath not sought for this op­portunity, but God hath rather put it upon the Citie, in as much as the Crucifix being worne out with time was ready to fall, there was a necessity imposed for taking it down.

Now it is a greater matter to re-edifie a scandalous thing then to continue it, in as much as the one implyeth a winking connivance or permission only, but the other intendeth an al­lowance and ratification, which giveth greater advantage un­to the adversary.

[Page 9] This he confirmed by Marcus Bishop of Arethuse in Con­stantines time the Great, and Julianus persecuted him after that he refused contribution to the rebuilding of overthrowne Idols Temples, Saying, that it was ungodly to afford one half­penny to a wicked maker thereof.

And out of that Author he citeth one more example of Nu­das a Persian Bishop, pulling downe a Pyren or Temple dedica­ted to the fire the Persians god, and refusing to build it a­gain at Isdigerdes the Kings command.

Theodorets saying of him, I doe admire him, and thinke him worthy of a garland, for in my opinion it is equall impiety to adore the fire, and to build a Temple to it.

My advice therefore and judgement in the name of God is, that the Crcifix should not be erected there, but that upon this opportunitie advantage should be ta­ken to give superstition a further blow, which will be very joyous to all that are already sincerely affected, and if there be any who truly love the Gospel, and are not yet so fully perswaded in this point, they also will in mildnesse yield to reason, if the Superiour power shall be pleased to give countenance to this deed of the City.

But if it should be misliked of hollow-hearted Pa­pists, or maligned by professed Recusants, it must be expected and not wondred at.

Now if it shall be demanded what should be set up insteed of the other Monument. I thinke best to be some Pyramis or matter of meere beauty, and not any Angell or such like whatsoever, for although in truth that deserveth no reprehension, yet by avoyding of that the mouthes of the Adversaries may be stopped, who would otherwise storme and say, that the Creator [Page 10] is taken down, and such a Creature is set up in the place where hee stood; and whereas it is said, that evermore it will be called the Crosse in Cheap-side, yet it may be possible that time may weare out the appellation, or if it doe not, the name shall hurt no more then the name of Christmas or Candlemas doth, from which a godly man may make that use as to prayse the Lord, that the matter of these Superstitions are removed, and the name onely remaynes as a memoriall of Gods good­nesse, who hath done so great good things for us. And by reason of the sicknesse and weaknesse of him who more learnedly and judiciously might have resolved this point, have I not after that hot and hasty humour of some men who are moved rather by fancie then rea­son, but after Christian and setled looking into the cause, and satisfying of my owne conscience, fully therein set down my judgement upon the demand pro­posed unto me, supposing that this shall also give accesse unto the honour of God, her Majesty, the Church of England, and that noble Citie, if it be so set up again as a matter of meere beauty or Pyramide.

But referring the di [...]ection, execution, and complea­ting of all to those honourable personages unto whom under our sacred Sovereigne the Lord hath committed the ordering of such affairs. God Almighty blesse us, that wee may still go forward in true Religion, and his holy Spirit direct our thoughts, words and actions, to the honour of his holy Name. AMEN.

George Abbot, Vicechancellour,

The approbation of Master Vicechancellor's Letter, by five other learned men, then heads of the Vniversitie.

WE doe approve as sound and true, the rather because hee followeth that which was done wiht the brazen Serpent after that it was superstitious­ly worshipped by the people, and wish that the mate­riall Crosse, now it hath been superstiously adored, and is mayntained by Mart. in a Booke dedicated unto her Majesty, and by all the Jesuits and Seminary Priests and all their Scholers this day in England, to be worshipped and adored, be not tumultuously taken away, but in the same manner the brazen Serpent was by consent and authority of our gracious Hezekiahs, & them whom cau­ses Ecclesiasticall have authorized under her Highnesse.

This only wee adde, that as example of Heze­kiah be notably and sufficient to encourage her Majesty and such as be in authority under her zealously to re­move such occasions of Idolatry, and to remove them out of the peoples way, for the examples of Gideon is terrible if they be let alone, and continued still.

Hee erected an Ephod in Ophra after his victory over the Madianites, both to testifie his thankfulnesse unto the true God of Israel, for his victory obtained, and al­so to shew the Midianites, that the God whose service in an Ephod without Idoll or Image they did refuse had given unto them the overthrow, and thus farre Gideon is not reproved, but when hee grew old and knew that the people did worship before the Ephod, because he would not pull it downe, nor take it away, his posterity was grievously punished after him, and the people became enthralled unto their enemies.

[Page 12] In like manner, the fact of Constantine, after his vi­ctory over Maxentius, in erecting the signe of the Cross in Rome, was commendable, because hee testified his thankfulnesse to Christ crucified for the victory atchie­ved, and also it openly shewed unto the Heathen and Gentiles, who fought against him, that hee whom they so much despised because hee was crucified gave him victory. But now this outward and materiall signe of the Crosse hath been, and is abused to Idolatry and Su­perstition, therefore if the chief Magistrates erect such things now, when they be well taken away, and if they pull them not downe, when with peace and quietnesse they may be removed, they leave unto the godly a fearfull expectation, as of that which came to passe In Israel, after the days of faithfull Gideon, for so we call him notwithstanding his grievous fault, for so hee is na­named. But the danger of such negligence is most carefully to be avoided.

This Letter is in the hand of a Merchant of good credit in this Citie thus subscribed.

  • Thomas Thornton.
  • Iohn Reinolds.
  • Leonard Tailor.
  • Henry Ayray.
  • R. Kettley.

You have heard learnedly proved from Antiquity the unlawfulnesse of this Crosse.

Here follow some arguments from Scripture against Cheap-side Crosse, as they were preached in Lombard Street.

[Page 13] THis worthy Minister preaching on Esay 10. Vers. 5, 6. Shews di­vers signes of Gods wrath against a Nation, among others hee shews this to be one Plague token.

When God gives over a Land to hainous sins, when hee suffers a Land that hath been delivered from Idolatry, againe to bee given up unto Idols. This is a certain signe of Gods wrath aginst a Land.

For this is a standing rule, that when any Idoll is suffered to bee in a Land, though it be not worshipped, yet it is a remarkable signe, that they are a people of his wrath. See what the Lord saith, Psal. 81. 8, 9. Heare, ô my people, and I will testifie unto thee, ô Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me, there shall no strange god be in thee, neither shalt thou wor­ship any strange god. (Marke) he doth not only say thou shalt worship no strange god, but there shall be no strange god in thee, as the Lord commands them, Exod. 34. 12. saying, Take heed to thy self, that thou make no covenant with the inhabitants of the Land, whether thou goest, lest they be cause of ruine among you: but yee shall overthrow their Altars, and break their Images in pieces, and cut downe their groves, for thou shalt bow downe to no other god, because the Lord whose name is Jehovah is a jealous God. For when ever Idols goe before, then certainly warre will follow after, and therefore to suffer an Idoll to be in a Land, al­though unworshipped is no small sin, as the Lord saith, Hos. 6. 10. I have seen villany in the house of Israel, there is whoredome in Ephraim, Israel is joyned to Idols, let her alone, &c.

Thus we see how greatly we provoke God to anger, when we suf­fer an Idoll to be among us.

And though the Lord had formerly freed this Land from Idolatry. Are not the Images of Baal againe re-edified among us? this never went before, but a Plague came after it. For by this, if by any thing, a Land breaks covenant, nay, goes about to breake their Marriage bond with God. Therefore may I say to this Land, nay, to you of this Citie, (to goe no further into other places,) where the Word of God is most powerfully preached among you, that you are in an espe­cially manner guilty of this lewd crying sin. Witnesse the Crosse in Cheap-side, that is lately beautified by you. I am troubled to think how God expresly hath beene provoked, and wrath I feare will be poured out upon you for this same golden Crosse. For whereas the Lord saith, Isaiah 30 22, 23. Ye shall defile the coverings of your graven Images of silver, and the ornaments of your molten Images of gold, and cast them away as a menstruous cloth: and then shall he give you a great bles­sing. You on the other side, have adorned the covering of your Ima­ges: now, all men know that the Crosse is that which the Papists make an Idoll of: and yet you have not stained the covering thereof but have beautified and adorned it. So that as a blessing came on them that stained the covering of their Images; so a curse will most certainly follow the beautifying of the covering of those Images of [Page 14] that Crosse. For it is that which doth become a snare unto the igno­rant people: As Gideon made an Ephod of gold, and put it in his City, Judges 8 27. and all Israel went thither, a whoring after it, which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house: And seeing Papists will worship a Crosse at Rome, surely they will then worship it also in Eng­land, and your selves know also what respect hath been shewed to this Crosse, by Popishly affected amongst us. Besides the beautifying of this Crosse, was a lauishing of your gold. And though you lavished it not on it, as on an Idoll, but as an ornament, yet it being an Idoll, your gold was lavished on it, as on an Idoll. O, this Crosse, is one of the Jewels of the Whore of Rome, & its left and kept here as a Love-token, And gives them hope, one day, that they shall enjoy it; and us again. Therefore this is one of the speciall plague tokens of Gods an­ger, and it shews this Land in generall, nay, this City in particular, to be a people God is angry with.

What this Reverend man feared then, and was much troubled at in his owne spirit, (as his often expressions yet, in the memory of his familiar friends testified) namely, that the wrath and judge­ments of God shortly would fall down upon this Kingdom and City, we have found, and with sad hearts have cause to acknowledge, having felt the smart of it not only in this the great decay of trade which hath occasioned the sinking of many chief Citizens amongst us, but that which is more then either our trades or lives, the great decay of the Gospel, the faithfull Preachers thereof being hunted out from amongst us, And this religious pious man, a lessed light, was en­forced in the midst of his dayes to breath his last in a strange Land.

If more Arguments in this kind are desired, you may read at large a new Treatise of Master Gurney against Images, extracted out of the Homilies.

There is not such a superstitious Monument in Spain, France, no not in Rome, nor in any part of the Christian World as this Crosse is, as Travellers re­port: & that we should gild it, & Papists adore it on their knees, (as many witnesses testifie) is abomi­nable, wee doubt not but our Worthies in the Ho­norable Houses of Parliament will take away the memory of it.

FINIS.

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