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very idolaters themselves have a defence of their abomination, by the presence of him that the Christian congregation knoweth to have knowledge. The weaker sort that would gladly take the best way, by a dissembler halting and playing of both hands, embraceth both in body and in soul, the evil that he abhorreth in his heart; and though he have knowledge, yet with his presence he esteemeth it as others do which have no knowledge. If St. Paul said, that the weak brother doth perish for whom Christ died, by him, that abuseth knowledge in meats aud drinks that of themselves be indifferent: how much more by the knowledge of him that useth manifest idolatry forbidden of God as a thing not indif ferent? Take heed what St. Paul ineaneth, and what he would prove against this man which had knowledge, that neither the idols neither the meats dedicated to idols were any thing. Forsooth this would he prove that a poor man that wanteth knowledge, by the example of him that hath knowledge, doth there adventure to do evil, which he would not do in case he saw not those that he had good opinion of, to go before him as authors of the evil. And indeed the ignorant people; or those that be half persuaded in a truth, yea, or else thoroughly persuaded what is evil, when they have any notable man or woman for an example to follow, they think in following of them, they be excused, yea although peradventure they do it against their consciences: as ye inay see how many good men by the example of Peter began to dissemble, yea, Barnabas himself the Apostle of the Gentiles.
But how great offence is this before God, so to make a doubtful conscience or striving against knowledge to do any thing that is not godly, let the judgment of men pass, and measure it from God's word. Christ saith, It were better a millstone were hanged
about such an offender's neck, and cast into the sea. And doubtless the pain must be the greater, because we give offence willingly, and against our own consciences and this before God is a wicked knowledge that causeth another to perish. Wo be unto him that is learned to bring his brother to destruction. Doth a Christian man know the truth to bring his brother to a lie? For these weaklings that we make to stumble, Christ died, as St. Paul saith. God defend we should confirm any man's conscience in evil. Let every man of God weigh with himself the doctrine of St. Paul, that commandeth us to fly idolatry.
And mark what St. Paul in that place calleth idolatry. It is to be seen plainly that he speaketh not of such idolatry as men that lack knowledge in their hearts what God is and what God is not, do commit. For in the eighth chapter before he saith, that men know that the idols were no gods, and that although by name the Gentiles had many gods, yet they knew that there was but one God. Therefore he mean eth nothing by this commandment, Flee idolatry, but to avoid such rites, ceremonies, and usages, as outwardly were used in the honour and reverence of the idols that were no gods, and weighing the right use of the Lord's supper and the dignity thereof, with' the manner and use of the Gentiles towards their gods, he would bring the church of the Corinthians to understand how that, as the divine and sacred rites, ceremonies, and use of the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, did sanctify him and declare him that used it to be the servant and child of God: so did the rites and sacraments of the Gentiles defile the users thereof, and declared them to be the servants and children of the idol, notwithstanding that they knew in their hearts that the idol was nothing. God by his sacrament doth couple us unto him: let us pray therefore to him that we pollute not our
selves with any rites, ceremonies, or usages not instituted by God, and so divide ourselves from him.
In this cause, if a faithful man should be at the mass, it is to be considered with what mind those that he doth there accompany himself withal, do come thither, and what the end is of the work that the priest doth. The people come to honour the bread and wine for God, and the priest purposeth to consecrate both God and man, and so to offer Christ to the Father for remission of sin. Now do they, that adjoin themselves unto these people, profess and declare a society and fellowship of the same impiety, as St. Paul laid to the Corinthians' charge. St. Paul was not offended with the Corinthians, because they lacked knowledge of the true God, but because, contrary to their knowledge, they associated themselves with idolaters. For this is true, that in all rites, sacraments, and honourings, whether they be of God or of the devil, there is a profession of a communion: so that every man protesteth to be of the same religion, that the rest be of, that be partakers with him. I know there be many evasions made by men, that judge a man may with safeguard of conscience be at the mass. But forasmuch as M Calvin, M. Bullinger, and others have throughly answered them: such as be in doubts, may read their books. This is my conscience after God's word.
"Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene conplacuit, ipsum audite."
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him."