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CHAPTER XXIV.-OF HOLYDAYS, FASTS, AND CHOICE OF MEATS. Although religion be not tied unto time, yet can it not be planted and exercised without a due dividing and allotting-out of time. Every Church, therefore, does choose unto itself a certain time for public prayers, and for the preaching of the Gospel, and for the celebration of the sacraments; and it is not lawful for any one to overthrow this appointment of the Church at his own pleasure. For except some due time and leisure were allotted to the outward exercise of religion, without doubt men would be quite drawn from it by their own affairs.
In regard hereof, we see that in the ancient churches there were not only certain set hours in the week appointed for meetings, but that also the Lord's Day itself, ever since the apostles' time, was consecrated to religious exercises and to a holy rest; which also is now very well observed by our churches, for the worship of God and the increase of charity. Yet herein we give no place unto the Jewish observation of the day, or to any superstitions. For we do not account one day to be holier than another, nor think that mere rest is of itself acceptable to God. Besides, we do celebrate and keep the Lord's Day, and not the Jewish Sabbath, and that with a free observation.
Moreover, if the churches do religiously celebrate the memory of the Lord's Nativity, Circumcision, Passion, Resurrection, and of his Ascension into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, according to Christian liberty, we do very well approve of it. But as for festival days, ordained for men or saints departed, we can not allow of them. For, indeed, festival days must be referred to the first table of the law, and belong peculiarly unto God. To conclude, those festival days which are appointed for saints, and abrogated by us, have in them many gross things, unprofitable and not to be tolerated. In the mean time, we confess that the remembrance of saints, in due time and place, may be to good use and profit commended unto the people in sermons, and the holy examples of holy men set before their eyes to be imitated by all.
Now, the more sharply the Church of Christ does condemn surfeiting, drunkenness, and all kinds of lusts and intemperance, so much the more earnestly does it commend unto us Christian fasting. For fasting is nothing else than the abstinence and temperance of the godly,
and a watching and chastising of our flesh, taken up for present necessity, whereby we are humbled before God, and withdraw from the flesh those things with which it is cherished, to the end that it may the more willingly and easily obey the Spirit. Wherefore they do not fast at all that have no regard for those things, but imagine that they fast if they stuff their bellies once a day, and for a set or prescribed time do abstain from certain meats, thinking that by this very work wrought they please God and acquire merit. Fasting is a help of the prayers of the saints and all virtues; but the fasts wherein the Jews fasted from meat, and not from wickedness, pleased God nothing at all, as we may see in the books of the Prophets.
Now, fasting is either public or private. In olden times they celebrated public fasts in troublesome times and in the afflictions of the Church; wherein they abstained altogether from meat till the evening, and bestowed all that time in holy prayers, the worship of God, and repentance. These differed little from mournings and lamentations; and of these there is often mention made in the Prophets, and especially in the 2d chapter of Joel. Such a fast should be kept at this day, when the Church is in distress. Private fasts are used by every one of us, according as every one feels the spirit weakened in him; for so he withdraws that which might cherish and strengthen the flesh.
All fasts ought to proceed from a free and willing spirit, and such a one as is truly humbled, and not framed to win applause and the liking of men,
much less to the end that a man might merit righteousness by them. But let every one fast to this end, that he may deprive the flesh of that which would cherish it, and that he may the more zealously serve God.
The fast of Lent has testimony of antiquity, but none out of the apostles' writings; and therefore ought not, nor can not, be imposed on the faithful. It is certain that in old time there were divers manners and uses of this fast; whereapon Irenæns, a most ancient writer, says, “Some think that this fast should be observed one day only, others two days, but others more, and some forty days. This diversity in keeping this fast began not in our times, but long before us; by those, as I suppose, who, not simply holding that which was delivered them from the beginning, fell shortly after into another custom, either through negligence or ignorance. Moreover, Socrates, the historian, says, 'Be
cause no ancient record is found concerning this matter, I think the apostles left this to every man's own judgment, that every one might work that which is good, without fear or constraint.'
Now, as concerning the choice of meats, we suppose that, in fasting, all things should be denied to the flesh whereby the flesh is made more lusty, wherein it does most immoderately delight, and whereby it is most of all pampered, whether they be fish, spices, dainties, or excellent wines. Otherwise we know that all the creatures of God were made for the use and service of men. All things which God made are good (Gen. i. 31), and are to be used in the fear of God, and with due moderation, without putting any difference between them. For the apostle says, “To the pure all things are pure' (Tit. i. 15), and also, - Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience' sake' (1 Cor. x. 25). The same apostle calls the doctrine of those who teach to abstain from meats the doctrine of demons; for that God created meats to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving' (1 Tim. iv. 1, 3, 4). The same apostle, in the Epistle to the Colossians, reproves those who, by an overmuch abstinence, will get into themselves an opinion of holiness (Col. ii. 20-23). Therefore we do altogether mislike the Tatians and the Encratites, and all the disciples of Eustathius (of Sebaste), against whom the Gangrian Synod was assembled.
CHAPTER XXV.—OF CATECHISING, OF COMFORTING AND VISITING THE SICK.
The Lord enjoined his ancient people to take great care and diligence in instructing the youth well, even from their infancy; and, moreover, commanded expressly in his Law that they should teach them, and declare the mystery of the sacrament unto them. Now, forasmuch as is evident by the writings of the evangelists and apostles, that God has no less care of the youth of his new people (seeing he says, 'Suffer little children to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. xix. 14), therefore the pastors do very wisely who do diligently and betimes catechise their youth, laying the first grounds of faith, and faithfully teaching the rudiments of our religion, by expounding the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the doctrine of the sacraments, with other like principles and chief heads
THE SECOND HELVETIC CO2X7ZXSION.
be patut bw fatherly childhes, and those that be afflicted, whether in deceit or br riolence. For he hath not received the sword
Leathst wrong, let him repress, sexe, and cut off, such as are unjust, of God in rain' (Rom. xii. 4. Therefore let him draw forth this deres oppraworx, Blasphemers, perjured persons, and all those whom
smrd of God as all malefactors, seditious persons, thieves, murGod has commanded him to punish or even to execute. pre stubborn heretics who are heretics indeed), who ccase not to blaspheme the majesty of God, and to trouble the Church, yea, and
And if it be necessary to preserve the safety of the people by war, by all means possible, and can save his subjects in no way but by war.
let him do it in the name of God; provided he have first sought peace And while the magistrate does these things in faith, he serves God with those works which are good, and shall receive a blessing from the
We condemn the Anabaptists, who, as they deny that a Christian man shonld bear the office of a magistrate, deny also that any man can justly be put to death by the magistrate, or that the magistrate may make war, or that oaths should be administered by the magistrate, and such like things.
For as God will work the safety of his people by the magistrate,
whom it is given to be, as it were, a father of the world, so all sub906
T serve the Lord d apt for attendin the private affa and they feel the apostle,
For wedl itself) was bountiful separabl xiv. 5, ble in gin dem tha m
Let him sup
finally to destroy it.
jects are commanded to acknowledge this benefit of God in the magistrate. Therefore let them honor and reverence the magistrate as the minister of God; let them love him, favor him, and pray for him as their father; and let them obey all his just and equal commandments. Finally, let them pay all customs and tributes, and all other duties of the like sort, faithfully and willingly. And if the common safety of the conntry and justice require it, and the magistrate do of necessity make war, let them even lay down their life, and spend their blood for the common safety and defense of the magistrate; and that in the name of God, willingly, valiantly, and cheerfully. For he that opposes himself against the magistrate does provoke the wrath of God against him.
We condemn, therefore, all contemners of magistrates, rebels, enemies of the commonwealth, seditious villains, and, in a word, all such
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).
OF THE GOODS OF THE CHURCH, AND THE RIGHT UBE
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 trne 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 manners, 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