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win all the world and to lose his soul? But here the woman must take heed, that in case, for the keeping of the marriage between God and her, she depart from her husband, that she be always in honest, virtuous, and godly company, that she may at all times have record for her godly behaviour, if any thing should be laid to her charge, and let her live a sole, sober, and modest life, with prayer and soberness to God, that it may please him to banish such wicked laws and wicked religion, as make debate between God and man, and husband and wife; and then God shall from time to time give counsel to every good man and woman, what is best to be done in such pitiful cases, to his honour and to the salvation of our woful and troubled conscience.
Out of the Fleet by the prisoner of the Lord, JOHN HOOPER.
A Letter sent to the Christian Congregation, wherein he proveth that true Faith cannot be kept secret in the Heart without Confession thereof openly to the World when Occasion serveth.
St. Paul, in the 10th chapter to the Romans, annexeth the faith of Christ in the heart, with the confession of the mouth, so that the one (it seemeth by him) can be no more without the other, than fire can be without heat, saying these words: "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesseth unto salvation;" wherein he declareth, that even as the cause of our acceptation through Christ, is the confidence and faith of the heart in the promises of God: so is the confession outwardly of the same faith by the mouth, the fruits that all Christian faithful hearts bring forth through the same gifts of God. And where this effect of confession of faith is not, there wanteth also
the cause of confession, which is true faith: for as the tree is known by her fruits, so is faith by her effects. And as the want of fruit is a demonstra tion that the tree is unprofitable: so the want of true confession of faith, is a token that the faith is dead. The end of the unprofitable tree is cutting down and casting into the fire: the end of fruitless faith is death and casting into eternal damnation....
Wherefore St. Peter requireth us to make answer to every man that demandeth of us, of such hope as is in us, with gentleness and reverence, which is a very testimony that we sanctify God in our hearts, as it is before expressed in the same chapter. For the greatest honour that man can give to God, is to confess in the time of trouble, truly and faithfully his holy word and faith. Wherefore it is the duty of every Christian, to pray and study to have a thorough knowledge of his faith in Christ; and as the glory of God shall require, and the cause of his religion, to be ready to inake answer for the same (howsoever the world, fear, displeasure, friendship, or other lets shall move us to the contrary), upon pain, saith Christ in the 10th of Matthew, that I will deny him before any Father which is in heaven. But how hard a thing it is to confess Christ in the day of trouble, not only the Scripture, but also daily experience in good men and women doth declare. True confession is warded on every side, with many dangers, on the right hand and on the left, now with fair means, then with foul threatenings, fearful and dangerous: as it is said by Christ our Saviour, "They shall betray you to the judges, and of them ye shall be betrayed and judged to death." Of the other side shall pull us back, the love of wife, children, brother, sister, kin, friends, and the love unto ourselves. But he that is overcome by any of these
means, hath his judgment: he is not meet for me, saith Christ.
These things be impossible unto men, yet to Christian men, in Christ possible, and so necessary, that Christianity and true religion cannot be in him, that is afraid to confess Christ and his Gospel in the time of persecution. The wisdom of the world doth say, "Although I accomplish the desire of my friends, and to the sight of the world am present at the mass, and with my body do as other men do, or as I may do; yet my heart is clean contrary to their belief, and I do detest such idolatry, and believe that the thing that I am present at is mere idolatry and abomination.".
Here be fair words for an evil purpose, and pretended excuse, for a just condemnation before God. For if it be true that ye know the thing which ye resort unto, to be the dishonour of God, why do ye honour it with your presence? If ye know it to be evil, why refrain ye not from it? If your conscience say, it is idolatry, why serveth your body such things as your faith abhorreth? If in your heart you know but one God, why with your exterior presence serve ye the thing that ye know is not God? If your faith see idolatry, why doth your silence confess and allow the same? Two men in one, God loveth not. If the inward man know the truth, why doth the outward man confess a falsehood? If your spirit be persuaded that the mass is idolatry, why do ye with your bo dily presence use it as a God and give godly honour to it? Do ye not perceive that it is written, Isaiah, xxix. Matt. xv. "These people honour me with their mouths, but their hearts be far from me?" The cause why God was offended with these people, was that outwardly they confessed him and served him, but their hearts were far from him inwardly. Wherefore, ye may see what it is to bear two faces in one
hood, outwardly to serve God, and inwardly to serve the devil. Now mark of this place, if it be so horrible and damnable a thing to be false in the heart, which none knoweth but God, and is worthy also of damnation what is to be judged of the outward and manifest use of idolatry, which not only God, but also every good man knoweth and abhorreth?
There is no colour nor cloked hypocrisy, that God can away with. If the heart think not as the tongue speaketh, or else the tongue speak otherwise than the heart thinketh, both be abominable before God. Read ye the 3d and the 6th chapters of the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, where St. Paul saith "Know ye not that your body be the temple. of the Holy Ghost? If your body be the temple of the Holy Ghost, what agreement hath it with idolatry?" Can one body at one time be the temple of the Holy Ghost, and be present at such idolatry as God abhorreth and detesteth? Can a man serve two masters? If he do, he loveth (as Christ saith) the one and hateth the other., As God requireth of a faithful man a pure heart; even so requireth he that his external profession in all things be according thereto, for both body and soul be debtors unto God, and he redeemed them both.
The word of God saith unto us, "Glorify and bear God in your bodies." If we be present at such idolatry as God forbiddeth, and our own knowledge in conscience is assured to be evil, do we glorify God in our bodies? No doubtless, we dishonour him, and make our bodies the servants of idolatry, not only to God's dishonour, but also to the great danger both of body and soul. For this is a true saying of St. Austin, "He that doth against his conscience, buildeth to hell fire.”
It is not enough for a Christian man to say, I know the mass is naught; but to obey civil laws and
orders, I will do outwardly as other men do, yet in my heart abhor it, and never think it to be good. Doubtless these two minds, the spirit to think well and the body to do evil, in this respect be both naught, and God will spew the whole man out of his mouth, as he did the minister of the congregation of Laodicea. Rev. iii.
The 8th chapter, and the 10th of the first to the Corinthians in this matter and in this time, be places very much expedient to lead and govern the judg ment of every Christian man: where we may see that the Corinthians indeed had knowledge, and perceived right well that neither the idols amongst them, neither the meat dedicated unto the idols, were any thing, and passed as light of both, as of things of nothing, and upon that knowledge used to be present and also to eat at the feast, and of the meats dedicated unto idols. Wherewithal Paul was so sore offended, that he gave this sentence: "If a man see thee, which hast knowledge, sit at table in the idols' temple, shall not the conscience of him that is weak, be emboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols? And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. Now when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ." This judgment of Paul is more to be followed, than all our own feigned and wretched defences, which would fain seem to do well, when we halt on both sides, which God abhorreth. Paul hath a profound and deep consideration of that man's fault that hath knowledge, and perceiveth his dissimulation to be dangerous and perilous to all persons which he dwelleth withal.
First, such as be of a right and stayed judgment and will not prostrate their bodies to an idol, do condemn, and needs must, such dissimulation. The