Page images

have their writings matched with the Canonical Scriptures, but bid us allow of them so far forth as they either agree with them or disagree.

And in the same order we also place the decrees and canons, of councils.

Wherefore we suffer not onrselves, in controversies about religion or matters of faith, to be pressed with the bare testiinonies of fathers or decrees of councils; much less with received customs, or with the multitude of men being of one judgment, or with prescription of long time. Therefore, in controversies of religion or matters of faith, we can not admit any other judge than God himself, pronouncing by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what to be avoided. So we do not rest but in the judgment of spiritual men, drawn from the Word of God. Certainly Jeremiah and

, other prophets did vehemently condemn the assemblies of priests gathered against the law of God; and diligently forewarned us that we should not hear the fathers, or tread in their path who, walking in their own inventions, swerved from the law of God (Ezek. xx. 18).

We do likewise reject human traditions, which, although they be set out with goodly titles, as though they were divine and apostolical, delivered to the Church by the lively voice of the apostles, and, as it were, by the hands of apostolical men, by means of bishops succeeding in their room, yet, being compared with the Scriptures, disagree with them; and that by their disagreement bewray themselves in no wise to be apostolical. For as the apostles did not disagree among themselves in doctrine, so the apostles' scholars did not set forth things contrary to the apostles. Nay, it were blasphemous to avouch that the apostles, by lively voice, delivered things contrary to their writings. Paul affirms expressly that he tanght the same things in all churches (1 Cor. iv. 17). And, again, We,' says he, write none other things unto you than what ye read or acknowledge' (2 Cor. i. 13). Also, in another place, he witnesses that he and his disciples—to wit, apostolic men-walked in the same way, and jointly by the same Spirit did all things (2 Cor. xii. 18). The Jews also, in time past, had their traditions of elders; but these traditions were severely confuted by the Lord, showing that the keeping of them hinders God's law, and that God is in vain worshiped of such (Matt. xv. 8, 9; Mark vii. 6, 7).

[ocr errors]

be saved, but the name of Christ' (Acts iv. 12). Those, doubtless, who rest in him by faith do not seek any thing without Christ.

Yet, for all that, we do neither despise the saints nor think basely of them; for we acknowledge them to be the lively members of Christ, the friends of God, who have gloriously overcome the flesh and the world. We therefore love them as brethren, and honor them also; yet not with any worship, but with an honorable opinion of them, and with just praises of them. We also do imitate the saints, for we desire, with the most earnest affections and prayers, to be followers of their faith and virtues; to be partakers, also, with them of everlasting salvation; to dwell together with them everlastingly with God, and to rejoice with them in Christ. And in this point we approve that saying of St. Augustine, in his book De Vera Religione, 'Let not the worship of men departed be any religion unto us; for, if they have lived holily, they are not so to be esteemed as that they seek such honors, but they will have us to worship Him by whose illumination they rejoice that we are fellow-servants as touching the reward. They are therefore to be honored for imitation, not to be worshiped for religion's sake,' etc.

And we innch less believe that the relics of saints are to be adored and worshiped. Those ancient holy men seemed sufficiently to have honored their dead if they had honestly committed their bodies to the earth after the soul was gone up into heaven; and they thought that the most noble relics of their ancestors were their virtnes, doctrine, and faith; which as they commended with the praise of the dead, so they did endeavor to express the same so long as they lived upon earth.

Those ancient men did not swear but by the name of the only Jehorah, as it is commanded by the law of God. Therefore, as we are forbidden to 'swear by the naine of strange gods' (Exod. xxiii. 13; Josh. xxiii. 7), so we do not swear by saints, although we be requested thereinto. We therefore in all these things do reject that doctrine which gives too much honor into the saints in heaven.


We believe that all things, both in heaven and in earth and in all creatures, are sustained and governed by the providence of this wise,


Son' (Matt. iii. 17). The Holy Spirit also appeared in the likeness of a dove (John i. 32). And when the Lord himself commanded to baptize, he commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' (Matt. xxviii. 19). In like manner, elsewhere in the Gospel he said, “The Father will send the Holy Spirit in my name' (John xiv. 26). Again he says, 'When the Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me,' etc. (John xv. 26). In short, we receive the Apostles' Creed, because it delivers unto us the true faith.

We therefore condemn the Jews and the Mohainmedans, and all those who blaspheme that sacred and adorable Trinity. We also condemn all heresies and heretics who teach that the Son and the Holy Spirit are God only in name; also, that there is in the Trinity something created, and that serves and ministers unto another; finally, that there is in it something unequal, greater or less, corporeal or corporeally faslıioned, in inanners or in will diverse, either confounded or sole by itself: as if the Son and Holy Spirit were the affections and proprieties of one God the Father-as the Monarchists, the Novatians, Praxeas, the Patripassians, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Aëtius, Macedonius, the Anthropomorphites, Arins, and such like, hare thought.



And because God is an invisible Spirit, and a: incomprehensible Essence, he can not, therefore, by any art or image be expressed. For which cause we fear not, with the Scripture, to term the images of God mere lies.

We do therefore reject not only the idols of the Gentiles, but also the images of Christians. For although Christ took upon himn man's nature, yet he did not therefore take it that he might set forth a pattern for carvers and painters. He denied that he came to destroy the law and the prophets' (Matt. v. 17), but images are forbidden in the law and the prophets (Deut. iv. 15; Isa. xliv. 9). He denied that his

; bodily presence would profit the Church, but promised that he would by his Spirit be present with us forever (John xvi. 7; 2 Cor. v. 5).

Who would, then, believe that the shadow or picture of his body doth

any whit benefit the godly? And seeing that he abideth in us by the Spirit, 'we are therefore the temples of God’ (1 Cor. iii. 16); but 6 what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?? (2 Cor. vi. 16). And seeing that the blessed spirits and saints in heaven, while they lived here, abhorred all worship done unto themselves (Acts iii. 12, and xiv. 15; Rev. xix. 10, and xxii. 9), and spake against images, who can think it likely that the saints in heaven, and the angels, are delighted with their own images, whereunto men do bow their knees, uncover their heads, and give such other like honor?

But that men might be instructed in religion, and put in mind of heavenly things and of their own salvation, the Lord commanded to preach the Gospel (Mark xvi. 15)-not to paint and instruct the laity by pictures; he also instituted sacraments, but he nowhere appointed images.

Furthermore, in every place which way soever we turn our eyes, we may see the lively and true creatures of God, which if they be marked, as is meet, they do much more effectually move the beholder than all the images or vain, unmovable, rotten, and dead pictures of all men whatsoever; of which the prophet spake truly, 'They have eyes, and

, see not,' etc. (Psa. cxv. 5).

Therefore we approve the jndgment of Lactantius, an ancient writer, who says, ' Undoubtedly there is no religion where there is a picture.' And we affirm that the blessed bishop Epiphanius did well, who, finding on the church-doors a veil, that had painted on it the picture, as it might be, of Christ or some saint or other, he cut and took it away; for that, contrary to the authority of the Scriptures, he had seen the picture of a man to hang in the Church of Christ: and therefore he charged that from henceforth no snch veils, which were contrary to religion, should be hung up in the Church of Christ, but that rather such scruple should be taken away which was unworthy of the Church of Christ and all faithful people. Moreover, we approve this sentence of St. Augustine, 'Let not the worship of men's works be a religion unto us; for the workmen themselves that make such things are better, whom yet we ought not to worship’(De Vera Religione, cap. 55).


all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ? (Heb. i. 14).

And the Lord Jesus himself testifies of the devil, saying, 'He that hath been a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the trnth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of lies' (John viii. 44).

We teach, therefore, that some angels persisted in obedience, and were appointed unto the faithful service of God and men; and that others fell of their own accord, and ran headlong into destruction, and so became enemies to all good, and to all the faithful, etc.

Now, touching man, the Spirit says that in the beginning he was • created according to the image and likeness of God' (Gen. i. 27); that God placed him in paradise, and made all things subject anto him; which David doth most nobly set forth in the 8th Psalm. Moreover, God gave unto him a wife, and blessed them.

We say, also, that man doth consist of two, and those divers substances in one person; of a soul immortal (as that which being separated from his body doth neither sleep nor die), and a body mortal, which, notwithstanding, at the last judgment shall be raised again from the dead, that from henceforth the whole man may continue forever in life or in death.

We condemn all those who mock at, or by subtle disputations call into doubt, the immortality of the soul, or say that the soul sleeps, or that it is a part of God. To be short, we condemn all opinions of all men whatsoever who think otherwise of the creation of angels, derils, and men than is delivered unto us by the Scriptures in the Apostolic Church of Christ.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VIII.—OF MAN'S FALL; SIN, AND THE CAUSE OF SIN. Man was from the beginning created of God after the image of God, in righteousness and trne holiness, good and upright; but by the instigation of the serpent and his own fault, falling from the goodness and uprightness, he became subject to sin, death, and divers calamities; and such a one as he became by his fall, such are all his offspring, even subject to sin, death, and sundry calamities.

And we take sin to be that natural corruption of man, derived or spread from our first parents unto us all, through which we, be

« PreviousContinue »