Page images
PDF
EPUB

a schoolmaster or tutor. But Christ, the deliverer, being once come, and the law taken away, we who believe are no more under the law (Rom. vi. 14), and the ceremonies bave vanished out of use. And the apostles were so far from retaining them, or repairing them, in the Church of Christ, that they witnessed plainly that they would not lay any burden upon the Church (Acts xv. 28). Wherefore we should seem to bring in and set up Judaisin again if we should multiply ceremonies or rites in the Church according to the manner of the Jewish Church. And thus we are not of their judgment who would have the Church of Christ bound by many and divers rites, as it were by a certain schooling. For if the apostles would not thrust upon the Christian people the ceremonies and rites which were appointed by God, who is there, I pray you, that is well in his wits, that will thrust npon it the inventions devised by man? The greater the heap of ceremonies in the Church, so much the more is taken, not only from Christian liberty, but also from Christ, and from faith in him ; while the people seek those things in ceremonies which they should seek in the only Son of God, Jesus Christ, through faith. Wherefore a few moderate and simple rites, that are not contrary to the Word of God, do suffice the godly.

And in that there is found diversity of rites in the churches, let no man say, therefore, that the churches do not agree. Socrates says, in his Church History, 'It were not possible to set down in writing all the ceremonies of the churches which are observed thronghout cities and countries. No religion does keep every where the same ceremonies, although they admit and receive one and the self-same doctrine touching them; for even they who have one and the self-same faith do disagree among themselves about ceremonies. Thus much says Socrates; and we, at this day, having diversities in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and in certain other things, in our churches, yet we do not disagree in doctrine and faith; neither is the unity and society of our churches rent asunder. For the churches have always used their liberty in such rites, as being things indifferent; which we also do at this day.

But yet, notwithstanding, we admonish men to take heed that they count not among things indifferent such as are not indeed indifferent; as some nsed to count the mass and the use of images in the Church

for things indifferent.. “That is indifferent? (says Jerome to Augustine)

which is neither good nor evil; so that, whether you do it or do it not, you are never the more just or unjust thereby.' Therefore, when things indifferent are wrested to the confession of faith, they cease to be free; as Paul does show that it is lawful for a man to eat flesh if no man do admonish him that it was offered to idols (1 Cor. x. 27, 28); for then it is unlawful, because he that eats it does seem to approve idolatry by eating of it (1 Cor. viii. 10).

CHAPTER XXVIII.

- OF THE GOODS OF THE CHURCH, AND THE RIGHT USE

OF THEM.

The Church of Christ has riches through the bountifulness of princes, and the liberality of the faithful, who have given their goods to the Church. For the Church has need of such goods; and has had goods from ancient time for the maintenance of things necessary for the Church. Now, the true use of the ecclesiastical goods was, and now is, to maintain learning in schools and in holy assemblies, with all the service, rites, and buildings of the Church; finally, to maintain teachers, scholars, and ministers, with other necessary things, and chiefly for the succor and relief of the poor. But for the lawful dispensing of these ecclesiastical goods let men be chosen that fear God: wise men, and such as are of good report in the government of their families.

But if the goods of the Church, by injury of the time, and the boldness, ignorance, or covetousness of some, be turned to any abuse, let them be restored again, by godly and wise men, unto their holy use; for they must not connive at so impious an abuse. Therefore, we teach that schools and colleges, whereinto corruption is crept in doctrine, in the service of God, and in inanners, must be reformed; and that there provision should be made, piously, faithfully, and wisely, for the relief

of the poor.

CHAPTER XXIX.—OF SINGLE LIFE, WEDLOCK, AND HOUSEHOLD GOVERNMENT.

Such as have the gift of chastity given unto them from above, so that they can with the heart or whole mind be pure and continent, and not be grievously burned with lust, let them serve the Lord in that calling, as long as they shall feel themselves endued with that heavenly gift; and let them not lift up themselves above others, but let them

of our religion. And here let the Church perform her faithfulness and diligence in bringing the children to be catechised, as being desirous and glad to have her children well instructed.

Seeing that men do never lie open to more grievous temptations than when they are exercised with infirmities, or else are sick and brought low by diseases, it behooves the pastors of the churches to he never more vigilant and careful for the safety of the flock than in such diseases and infirmities. Therefore let them visit the sick betimes, and let them be quickly sent for by the sick, if the matter shall so require; let them comfort and confirm them in the true faith; finally, let them strengthen them against the dangerous suggestions of Satan. In like manner, let them pray with the sick person at home in his house; and, if need be, let them make prayers for the sick in the public meeting; and let them be careful that they have a happy passage out of this life. As for Popish visiting with the extreme unction, we have said before that we do not like it, because it has many absurd things in it, and such as are not approred by the canonical Scriptures.

CHAPTER XXVI.

OF THE BURIAL OF THE FAITHFUL, AND OF THE CARE WHICH IS TO BE HAD FOR SUCH AS ARE DEAD; OF PURGATORY, AND

THE APPEARING OF SPIRITS. The Scripture directs that the bodies of the faithful, as being temples of the Holy Spirit, which we truly believe shall rise again at the last day, should be honorably, without any superstition, committed to the earth; and, besides, that we should inake honorable mention of those who died in the Lord, and perforin all duties of love to those they leave behind, as their widows and fatherless children. Other care for the dead we do not enjoin. Therefore, we do greatly mislike the Cynics, who neglected the bodies of the dead, or did carelessly and disdainfully cast them into the earth, never speaking so much as a good word of the deceased, nor any whit regarding those whom they left behind them.

Again, we disapprove of those who are too much and preposterously officious to the dead; who, like the heathen, do greatly lament and bewail their dead (although we do not censure that moderate mourning which the apostle does allow [1 Thess. iv. 13], since it is unnatural not seem the Church. And let all things be ordered as is most meet for comeliness, necessity, and godly decency, that nothing be wanting which is requisite for rites and orders, and the necessary uses of the Church.

And as we believe that God does not dwell in temples made with hands, so we know that by reason of the Word of God, and holy exercises therein celebrated, places dedicated to God and his worship are not profane, but holy; and that therefore such as are conversant in them onght to behave themselves reverently and modestly, as they who are in a sacred place, in the presence of God and his holy angels. All excess of apparel, therefore, is to be abandoned in churches and places where Christians meet for prayer, together with all pride and whatsoever else does not beseem Christian humility, discipline, and modesty. For the true ornament of churches does not consist in ivory, gold, and precious stones; but in the sobriety, godliness, and virtues of those who are in the church. “Let all things be done decently and in order' in the church (1 Cor. xiv. 26). To conclude, 'Let things be done unto edifying' (ver. 40). Therefore, let all strange tongnes keep silence in the holy assemblies, and let all things be uttered in the vulgar tongue, which is understood of all men in the company.

CHAPTER XXIII.—OF THE PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH, OF SINGING, AND OF

CANONICAL HOURS. True it is that a man may lawfully pray privately in any tongue that he does understand; but public prayers ought, in the holy assemblies, to be made in the vulgar tongue, or such a language as is known to all. Let all the prayers of the faithful be poured forth to God alone, through the mediation of Christ only, out of a true faith and pure

love. As for invocation of saints, or using them as intercessors to entreat for us, the priesthood of our Lord Christ and true religion will not permit us. Prayer must be made for the magistracy, for kings, and all that are placed in authority, for ministers of the Church, and for all necessities of churches; and especially in any calamity of the Church prayer must be made, both privately and publicly, without ceasing.

Moreover, we must pray willingly, and not by constraint, nor for any reward; neither must we superstitiously tie prayer to any place, as though it were not lawful to pray but in the church. There is no necessity that public prayers should be in form and time the same or a schoolmaster or tutor. But Christ, the deliverer, being once come, and the law taken away, we who believe are no more under the law (Rom. vi, 14), and the ceremonies have vanished out of use. And the apostles were so far from retaining them, or repairing them, in the Church of Christ, that they witnessed plainly that they would not lay any burden upon the Church (Acts xv. 28). Wherefore we should seem to bring in and set up Judaism again if we should multiply ceremonies or rites in the Church according to the manner of the Jewish Church. And thus we are not of their judgment who would have the Church of Christ bound by many and divers rites, as it were by a certain schooling. For if the apostles would not thrust upon the Christian people the ceremonies and rites which were appointed by God, who is there, I pray you, that is well in his wits, that will thrust upon

it the inventions devised by man? The greater the heap of ceremonies in the Church, so much the more is taken, not only from Christian liberty, but also from Christ, and from faith in him; while the people seek those things in ceremonies which they should seek in the only Son of God, Jesus Christ, through faith. Wherefore a few moderate and simple rites, that are not contrary to the Word of God, do suffice the godly.

And in that there is found diversity of rites in the churches, let no man say, therefore, that the churches do not agree. Socrates says, in his Church History, 'It were not possible to set down in writing all the ceremonies of the churches which are observed thronghout cities and countries. No religion does keep every where the same ceremonies, although they admit and receive one and the self-same doctrine touching them; for even they who have one and the self-same faith do disagree among themselves about ceremonies. Thus much says Socrates; and we, at this day, having diversities in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and in certain other things, in our churches, yet we do not disagree in doctrine and faith ; neither is the unity and society of our churches rent asunder. For the churches have always used their liberty in such rites, as being things indifferent; which we also do at this day.

But yet, notwithstanding, we admonish men to take heed that they count not among things indifferent such as are not indeed indifferent; as some nsed to count the mass and the use of images in the Church

« PreviousContinue »