Vestments, Black Genevan Gowns, Collars & Dress for Public Worship

“And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty…  a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron…  and his sons, that he may minister unto Me in the priest’s office.”

Ex. 28:2-3

“the first Tabernacle…  was a figure for the time then present…  which stood only in… carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…”

Heb. 9:9-11

“…why…  are ye subject to ordinances (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship…”

Col. 2:20-23



Order of Contents 

Genevan Gowns  16
.     Scotland  6
Collars  2
Dress: Public Worship  1

Vestments  4

Theological Arguments  22
.     General  6+
.     Early & Medieval  10
.     Reformation  8+
.            Knox & Edward VI  16+
.            Hooper & a Lasco  22+
.            Elizabeth & Marprelate Tracts  46
.            1600’s-1800’s  4

Creeds & Confessions  10+
Writings & Quotes  20+
Bibliographies  5





Travis Fentiman, MDiv



Making up our own religion and attributing spiritual value to things that God has not given religious significance to is the spiritual essence of idolatry; this holds true not only for the main elements of worship but also in the smaller details, such as clothing.

With the recent rise of High Church Worship into reformed Churches, the use of vestments (ministerial clothing which has been given spiritual meaning) is gaining popularity.  Those who know not the Scriptures, err (Mt. 22:29; Heb. 3:10) and willingly follow their blind guides (Mt. 15:14).  It is high time to return to the Biblical truths which the reformed during the Reformation and puritan eras uncovered on this subject in their rejection of vestments.  Scripture says a lot about clothing in worship; may we let God be our Teacher (Ps. 25:4,5).  If we take our guide for worship from Scripture Alone, our conclusions will stand as surely as the Word of God does, forever.

Many reformed ministers who do not use vestments yet either use or are beginning to use black Genevan gowns in worship under the notion that these distinctive gowns are an indifferent circumstance (and hence are not regulated or prohibited by God’s Word for worship).  It is often said that these black gowns give more weight to the authority of the ministerial office.

However, the apostles did not use Genevan gowns and lacked no authority or weight for their office, their official authority deriving from Christ and his Word alone.  It will be shown in detail that the original, historical use of Genevan gowns by some of the reformed had no spiritual significance, and that they were in fact secular, common to teachers in society in general and were worn everyday, not just for worship (they having no special significance in worship).  No one could object to this practice.

However, to only wear such distinctive gowns in worship and at no other time, despite whatever one says about it de jure (in principle), is to give away that de facto (in practice) these gowns are being given a religious significance for worship which God has neither given to them nor ordained.  If indifferent things are used without indifference, their indifference evaporates and they have become positive human additions to God’s simple and spiritual worship.

A very limited use of ministerial collars in public, so that persons who are desirous of speaking to a minister may easily recognize one by for their spiritual benefit, will be discussed and found to be according to historic, reformed principles of truly indifferent practices which do not add any spiritual significance to the religion God has revealed from Heaven (Jn. 3:12,27).

Lastly, as it is such a common and practical question, how Christians should dress for public worship with the Church will be taken up.  The answer is that the clothing of worshippers should be ‘ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word’ (WCF 1.6); this answer will be elaborated on in some of its practical implications.

May we be as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), which Scriptures have been given for our ‘instruction in righteousness'(2 Tim. 3:16).


1.  Vestments

The Old Testament

As Ordained by God

When God came to set up and prescribe the public worship He desired for Himself at the founding of the Israelite nation with the Tabernacle services, He delineated in minute detail the exact and specific garments which the priests were to wear before Him in their ministrations (Ex. 28-29,39; Lev. 8), sanctifying by the authority of his own Word and holiness, by explicit commandment, that these garments were to be made and set apart unto Himself.

If it were in doubt whether the Israelite priests could come before the Lord in any other garments, or could add to these garments in any way not explicitly directed by God Himself, the Lord told them, “Ye shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” (Dt. 4:2; 12:32)  That adding to God’s worship ordinances was not a good idea was shortly found out by Nadab and Abihu when God burned them alive (Lev. 10:1-3) for using fire of their own kindling to offer incense with (which the Lord had never told them to do, nor prohibited them from doing) instead of, as He would later direct, using coals from the altar to kindle the fire for incense offerings (Lev. 16:12-13).

The Israelites, and Moses specifically, overseeing the whole, are commended repeatedly at the setting up of the Tabernacle for their faithfulness in making everything exactly as God had prescribed:

“And of the blue and purple and scarlet they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Ex. 39:1,5,26,29;32,42; 40:16)

“Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished, and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they.” (Ex. 39:32)

Fulfilling these divine prescriptions to the detail is what was given the blessing of Moses, the prophet of the Lord, and the personal, visible, blessing of the Lord Himself (Ex. 39:43; 40:34).

It was not left to the worshippers to make up their own spiritual garments as they saw fit.  Rather, the exact garments which were to be worn (and no others) were specifically enumerated by God (Ex. 28:4,40,42; Lev. 16:4) with their numerous unique details (Ex. 28:7-8,32; 39:3-5,21).  The exact material they were to be wholly made out of (without any other material mixed in) was specified (i.e. fine linen, 28:5-6,8,15; 39:27-29), along with the specific colors which each garment was to have (Ex. 28:5-6,31,37,39; 39:2).  To do or add anything else was sinful.

The very few, exact, visual symbols which these garments were to bear were minutely prescribed and regulated (Ex. 28:33-34; 39:24-26).  The Israelites were to add none of their own, lest their mar the wisdom of God.  As necessarily it was not convenient for all of the specifics of these garments and the construction of them to be written down in the canonical scrolls, so the Lord specifically gifted with supernatural wisdom specific workers under the direct influence of God’s Spirit to construct these garments (Ex. 28:3; 31:1-6,10; 35:30-36:2) exactly according to God’s design.

This is not all.  It was not only the material of the garments that the Lord was concerned with.  The specific priestly garments to be used had to be specifically anointed, consecrated and sanctified to the Lord, at his explicit, revealed direction (Ex. 28:41).  This anointing with oil and sprinkling with sacrificial animal blood (in a very specific way, Ex. Ex. 29:20-21; Lev. 8:30, which would leave distinct, permanent stains) could not be done by anyone, but only by the prophet Moses whom the Lord explicitly directed for this (Ex. 29:7; Lev. 8:30).  What inspired prophet has done this for modern vestment mongers?  What are all of these spiritual garments in God’s worship without the blood God commanded to be sprinkled on them?

One could not pick and choose what they wanted to keep from Moses’ Law: before and after putting these garments on and off the priests had to ceremonially wash their bodies with water (Ex. 29:4; 40:30-32; Lev. 16:4).  These vestments were to be hallowed with animal and food sacrifices (Ex. 29:1-3,24-25,31-32; Lev. 8) and that for 7, and exactly 7, days (Ex. 29:35; Lev. 8:33-36) so that these worshippers ‘die not’ (Lev. 8:35).

If we are to have spiritual robes in Christian worship services, where are the animal sacrifices?  It is not possible to keep spiritual vestments in worship when animal sacrifices have been abrogated (Heb. 9:7-10; 13-14; 10:14) when the Levitical vestments were specifically for the purpose of offering animal sacrifices (Lev. 16:3-4).  If having such robes for worship is more thoroughly Biblical, where are the washings of water every time persons take them on and off?

These holy garments were only to be worn by the priests (and no one else) (Ex. 28:1-2,43; 29:9), not ecclesiastical ruling elders, not religious teachers, nor laymen.  They are explicitly tied to the priestly office for the purpose of them performing their priestly functions (Ex. 40:13-15) and the specific, consecrated garments were to be handed down by heredity to the next Levitical son stepping into that office (Ex. 29:29-30; Num. 20:26-28; Lev. 16:32).  One could not mail order these garments from any manufacturer or simply have their wife sew up new hoods and scarves (neither of these two things actually being prescribed garments for the Biblical priests).  And what are non-Levites doing wearing them?

Further the very distinctions in the vestments which the priests wore were particularly prescribed by God in writing in the Canon: while the regular priests had more simple, white, linen garments, the high priestly family had more glorious, blue, purple and scarlet garments intertwined with gold (Ex. 28:1,8).  How many vestment-wearing ministers today are the sons of Aaron, in order to fulfill this prescription of God exactly as He gave it?  Yet, the Lord had to specifically choose persons to wear these sacred garments before Him (1 Sam. 2:27-28), and these garments, to be worn exactly how the Lord prescribed them in all of their details, were essential to the priests’ and the peoples’ acceptance before the Lord (Ex. 28:38,43).


Picking & Choosing Which Commandments to Obey

To pick out and keep one thing from the Mosaic Law and not obey all the precepts thereof as God prescribed it is arbitrary.  John Calvin, in arguing against the Roman practice of anointing with oil the persons entering into their various holy orders, wrote (Institutes, Book 4, ch. 19.31, Beveridge translation):

“What [of the] Word can they show in their oil?  Is it because Moses was commanded to anoint the sons of Aaron? (Ex. 30:30)  But he there receives command concerning the tunic, the ephod, the breastplate, the mitre, the crown of holiness with which Aaron was to be adorned; and concerning the tunics, belts, and mitres which his sons were to wear.  He receives command about sacrificing the calf, burning its fat, about cutting and burning rams, about sanctifying earrings and vestments with the blood of one of the rams, and innumerable other observances.

Having passed over all these, I wonder why the unction of oil alone pleases them.  If they delight in being sprinkled, why are they sprinkled with oil rather than with blood?  They are attempting, forsooth, an ingenious device; they are trying, by a kind of patchwork, to make one religion out of Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism.”

Not only is picking and choosing which commandments of God one will obey arbitrary, but it is sinful, as the person is keeping one commandment of God in a way in which God has not prescribed it to be done and is leaving the rest of God’s commandments undone.

Paul thundered against the Judaizers that if a person sought to keep one precept of the expired ceremonial law that “he is a debtor to do the whole law.” (Gal. 5:3)  Are we to keep the whole ceremonial law in all of its details?  Then why are persons keeping some of it as it suits them?  James taught, “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)  Hear Paul, nay, the Spirit through him warn:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing…  Christ is become of no effect unto you…  ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-4) 

Calvin’s words are not undue, but simply reflect the teaching of God in his Word:  “Therefore, in desiring to be rivals of the Levites, they become apostates from Christ…” (Ibid., Book 4, ch. 19.30)


The Spiritual Teaching of Vestments

One reason why the people of God were not to anything of religious significance to the primitive ceremonies is that each of these rites were a revelation of God’s own spiritual teaching for his people.  Thus the Holy Spirit was said to be ‘signifying’ (Heb. 9:8) in these Tabernacle ceremonies (which the vestments were subsumed in) ‘figures’ and a ‘pattern’ and ‘example and shadow of heavenly things’ (Heb. 8:5; 9:8,9,23-24; 10:1).  To add in anyway spiritually significant way to God’s worship is to set man’s things and wisdom on par with God’s, to add to God’s revelation, to obstruct it and to inevitably change and twist it.

Specifically God’s vestments symbolically taught the beauty of holiness, that God is pleased with the purity of righteousness, that we must be covered in order to come to God, that we need a representative to intercede for us (one of God’s devising and not our own), that these things are defiled in coming into contact with that which is unclean and sinful and that joy ought to characterize our worship.  Commentaries on the vestment portions of Exodus and Leviticus will bring out more spiritual teachings of the details of these God-given clothes.

More than all of this, the vestments were a revelation of the salvation given to us in Christ: of the complete righteousness and new, vibrant life found in Him and of our acceptance by the Father through his mediation as our Priest.  Who would add anything to the covering and righteousness of Christ in standing before God in worship?  Paul calls everything else feces (Phil. 3:8).


In the Psalms

Sometimes it is argued that the Psalms which we sing in the New Testament period specify, or allude to us worshipping the Lord in holy garments.  While the ‘holiness’ in Ps. 29:2 & 96:9 need not refer to such garments (see the translation of the KJV), yet this Hebrew word (קֹ֑דֶשׁ) in these verses may be understood as referring to ‘holy things’, or holy garments.  Yet the previous verse in Ps. 96 makes it clear that the context of this worship was the temple worship, which actually did involve the sacred garments of the priests and which signified the beauty of holiness.  Singing about Mosaic priestly garments in the Psalms in the New Testament era, and what they signified, is little different from singing about Mosaic animal sacrifices, incense, hyssop and the Tabernacle throughout the Psalms in New Testament worship.


Vestments in the New Testament

The Abolition of the Levitical Vestments

The priestly garments in the Old Testament were only to be used for the priestly ministrations in the Temple (Lev. 6:8-11; 16:23-24) and nowhere else.  Yet the Levites, which included the priests, were commissioned to teach the people of God throughout the land in their towns.  As persons who could not make it to the temple every Sabbath would naturally congregate for worship in their local communities (Ps. 74:8; Mt. 4:23; Acts 15:21), what were the priests wearing in these assemblies of worship?  Not their spiritually significant temple garments with bright and bold colors.

When the Temple ceremonies were abolished with the coming of the Messiah, whose body was the true Temple (Jn. 2:19,21; Heb. 8-9), what remains but the worship done according to the Spirit and truth which had existed apart from the Temple and continued on? (Jn. 4:21-24)


We are Spiritual Priests

The objection is readily made that we are all ‘kings and priests’ in the New Testament (Rev. 1:6; 5:10); therefore it is appropriate to use priestly garb.  Be it noted, though, that the whole of the Israelite nation were also spiritual priests in the Old Testament (Ex. 19:6), and yet the laymen were still excluded from the office of priests and their spiritual vestments.  Being spiritual priests in the New Testament no more gives us the actual office of ecclesiastical priest (which Christ alone holds in Heaven, Heb. 4:14; 8:1) with their garments (which Christ has no use for, the reality of his perfect righteousness, which they were but shadowy figures of, superseding them) than it makes us actual, civilly authorized kings.


The Nature of Old Testament Worship in Light of the New

Ex. 28:2 says that these vestments were for ‘glory and for beauty’.  The whole of Mosaic worship was very outwardly glorious (2 Cor. 3:7) and physical, involving the five senses: it took place in a huge stone structure; there were bright colors, choirs, and great sounds with drums, cymbals, trumpets, harps and bells; warm, bleating animals were brought to the altar and killed and sacrificed before one’s eyes with their smoke rising to heaven; the stench of blood and burning meat filled the air; one’s taste buds savored the meat of the sacrificial offerings, giving assurance of one’s peace with God.

These ‘carnal ordinances’ (Heb. 9:10) were meant to impress the outward, physical senses of man (just like Romanism in the Middle Ages, High Church worship today and the worship of much of the evangelical Church).  God was teaching the Israelites in the first principles of his religion in the way we do with children (Gal. 3:24; 4:2): by attracting them with, impressing upon them and instructing them outwardly by these mundane instruments and signs (Gal. 3:24).

However, when those immature in faith grow up, God being a Spirit and his religion spiritual (Rom. 14:17), these outward displays and ‘elements of the world’ (Gal. 4:3) are seen to be ‘weak and beggarly elements’, but ‘shadows’ (Col. 2:17), which, if one clings to, are ‘bondage’ (Gal. 4:3,9; Col. 2:20).

The time of ‘reformation’ (Heb. 9:10-11) with the coming of the Messiah has long since come, He teaching us now that these childish things are be put away, and we are to worship the Father ‘in Spirit and in truth’ (Jn. 4:23-24), as He is a Spirit.  Hence New Testament worship is outwardly humble with no great displays, but is immanently spiritual.  Bright and bold garments infused with man-made symbolism, which ‘perish with the using’ (Col. 2:22), can only be a hindrance to apprehending Christ through the Word by faith and his communion in our souls.

When Paul met with Christians returning to the physical, Mosaic ordinances which they had been liberated from (Col. 2:14, known as Judaizing), he said, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Col. 4:11)  Paul does not leave these things in the category of optional or something that could be useful and edifying to our faith, but rather roundly categorizes them as sin.  When Peter succumbed to submitting half-way to a Mosaic ordinance out of peer pressure, as do many in our churches, Paul rebuked him to his face:  “If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” (Gal. 2:18)  “Let the righteous smite me!  It shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me: it shall be an excellent oil!” (Ps. 141:5)


New Testament Examples

Not surprisingly no mention of vestments or anything of the kind is mentioned in the New Testament.  One would think that if Christ and the apostles thought vestments had a spiritually significant place in our worship that they would have exampled them or instructed us to use them.  Is apostolic worship insufficient for our worship?  If we worship how the apostles did by the authority of the Word alone, is this worship yet deficient and not fully pleasing to God, though it is according to his own Revealed Will?


Jesus Christ

What did Jesus Christ think of vestments?  He said: “What went ye out for to see?  A man clothed in soft raiment?  Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.” (Lk. 7:25; see 16:19)  Christ did not spare his warning:  “Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing.”

Nor did Jesus spare his forceful rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees when they complained to Him that his disciples ate with unwashen hands (Mt. 15:2).  The scribes and Pharisees (who were laymen, not necessarily holding any ecclesiastical office, much less that of priest) were here materially imitating a precept for the handwashing of the high priestly family in their Tabernacle services (Ex. 30:18-21) in the scribes’ and Pharisees’ superabundant, spiritual zeal to go above and beyond the requirements of God’s Law.

Is this not essentially the same as non-priests today taking upon themselves, in their superabundant spirituality above God’s revealed command, spiritual and priestly vestments to worship God in?  What did Christ say to them?  “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mt. 15:9)  As this false worship was done in the home, it shows that Christ abhors the wearing of spiritual vestments just as much in private as he does in public worship.  If Christ has no problem with, and approves using ‘common’ (κοιναις, Mk. 7:2) hands, no doubt He finds common clothes perfectly acceptable for worship.

What type of clothing did Christ wear in his public ministry?  On two occasions the gospel writers specify that Christ in his public ministry was wearing a ‘garment’ (ιματιου, Mt. 9:20-21; 14:36).  This Greek word designates a common outer garment, cloak or mantle.  It does not have a special religious significance.

What did Christ wear while leading worship?  As Jesus throughout the gospels went from public society into places of worship, lead worship and then went back again to the public sphere seemingly without interruption, it is very likely that He simply wore normal clothes (e.g. Lk. 4:16-18, 29-31).

There is one specific instance where we know what Jesus Christ wore while leading worship.  At the cross when the Roman soldiers parted Messiah’s ‘garments’, or ‘vesture’ (Mt. 27:35, ιματια and ιματισμον, from the same root word as above) four ways, they decided to cast lots for his “coat [χιτωνα] [which] was without seam, woven from the top throughout.” (Jn. 19:23-24)  This was what Christ was wearing since leading the Lord’s Supper with his disciples the night before (see this confirmed in Jn. 13:4,12 where Jesus took off his ‘garments’ in order to wash his disciples’ feet).  The seamless garment, while special and having some financial value, yet has no indication of bearing any spiritual value, especially as the soldiers thought they could find some use for it.

The only time that Jesus was said to have worn a bright colored robe was when the soldiers forced it on Him and proceeded to mock and abuse the Lord of Humility (Jn. 19:2-3; Phil. 2:8).  The only time Jesus is said to have borne fine linen was over his dead body (Mk. 15:46).

Christ thought so little of spiritual vestments and outward worship garb that when He went outside the camp to the cross, He offered his one, eternal sacrifice (Heb. 9:26; 10:5,12 ) to the Father naked.  The English reformer and ‘Father of non-Conformity’, John Hooper, who nearly lost his life in prison suffering for his protestation of vestments in worship, wrote to his Anglican accusers and judges in 1550:

“Neither is it without its mystery that our Savior Jesus Christ hung naked from the Cross.  For Aaron’s priests used vestments in their own ministry because the reality of their priesthood, Christ Himself, had not yet come.  But when Christ Himself was to be sacrificed, stripped of all clothing, displaying in this way his own priesthood, which, since He was [the] Reality itself, now had no further need of veils or semblances…”


The Apostles

The apostles and early Christian ministers also left us witness of their practice.  When Jesus commissioned his 12 apostles to preach through the towns of Israel (Mt. 10:1-11) He told them not to take two ‘coats’ (χιτωνας, KJV), but to simply wear the one on their back.  This Greek word designates a common tunic or garment, not necessarily an outer coat.  Christ instructed his apostles to preach in common clothing (see Lk. 22:36 likewise).

Later in the book of Acts, it was during the days of Unleavened Bread that the apostle Peter was put into prison.  An angel came to him at night, awoke him and said, ‘Arise up quickly…  cast thy garment [ιματιον] about thee and follow me.’ (Acts 12:7-8)  What garment had Peter been wearing during the feast of Unleavened Bread (which Jewish feasts the apostles sometimes celebrated during that transitional period)?  A normal one.

When Paul and Barnabas were preaching in the cities of Lycaonia (Acts 14:6-7) the locals desired to worship them as gods.  Upon hearing this Paul and Barnabas tore their ‘clothes’ (ιματια, Acts 14:14), and in rebuking them, further preached to them (Acts 14:15-18).  ιματια, of course, were the clothes that anyone and everyone wore everyday.



The Book of Revelation

white robes, etc.


The Visible Signs of the New Testament:  The Sacraments

An assault on the Sacraments, Papistry

Distinctive dress for calling?  God regulated that in the Old Testament.

Nonesuch in NT

‘set apart’ by office or function of that office (McMahon) yet God did not prescribe any of that, and did in the old testament.  Set apart clothes for a religious purpose, when God has not, is idolatry

Will they likewise say that all Christians ought only to wear clothing made with one type of fabric (Dt. 22:11)?

Zeph. 1:8 strange apparel

Nothing here reflects on the practice from the Reformation, common use but on the ahistorical, modern immitation.

Ainsllie, p. 37 top that reformers wore civilian dress

If allow a robe, no difference between this and a surplice, cassock, alb, etc.  which might be used without superstition, for distinction.  To prefer the Genevan robe can only be because Geneva did it, the tradition of the elders, but others did other things, etc.

elders and deacons did not wear gowns (Sprott, p. lviii) (not being teachers) contra 2nd Pres. downtown in Greenville, SC.

de facto practice of always, conscientiously, precisely doing something, gives away that a religious principle is involved (it always being connected with worship, for worship), despite the denials that a de jure principle is involved.  The exact practice and obedience to it is just as strong of a statement was the de jure principle itself.

Long clothing: Genevan Gowns, Mk. 12:38

While there is some diversity in what good men have defended and practiced…

Scotland: Universal Book of Kirk, Gillespie, late 1600’s, the only principle is a biblical one, that ministers are to be characterized by gravity, and this is to be expressed in their public clothing.  French was the same,

Canon 15,

Walter Steuart of Pardovan, p. 220

after Boston in CoS, decline in habit and disposition of ministers in GA, M’Crie, bottom of p. 460



The Reformation History of Black Genevan Gowns & Ministerial Dress

Dictionary & Encyclopedia Articles

Staunton, William – ‘Gown’  in An Ecclesiastical Dictionary  (1861)

ed. Wright, Charles & Charles Neil – ‘Black Gown, The’  in A Protestant Dictionary, containing Articles on the History, Doctrines & Practices of the Christian Church  (1904)

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge – ‘Vestments: IV: In Protestant Churches’  (1908-1914)



Macalister, R.A.S. – ‘The Vestments of the Reformed Churches’  being ch. 6 of Ecclesiastical Vestments: Their Development & History, pp. 192-210  (1896)

McMillan, William

Appendix 2, ‘Ecclesiastical Dress’  in The Worship of the Scottish Reformed Church, 1550-1638  (1930), pp. 364-65

McMillan, William – ‘Scottish Ecclesiastical Dress’  Church Service Society Annual, 20 (1950), pp. 32-43

“The author looks at the history of the use of the cassock, scarf and bands in Scotland.  The cassock was for many centuries the outdoor dress of all men and the Reformers continued to wear the garment.  James VI ordered the wearing of ‘cassikins’ or short cassocks, to which there appears to have been no objection.  It seems, from post-Revolution portraits, that Church of Scotland ministers ceased to wear cassocks after that event. The practice was revived after the middle of the 19th century.

The scarf is reported as being worn ‘by quite a number of ministers’, its use having been revived ‘about half a century ago’.  Theories regarding its origin vary and are described.  James Melville writes of seeing John Knox wearing a type of forerunner.  They fell into disuse after the Revolution and until ‘our own times’.

Bands are medieval in origin, though whether civil or ecclesiastical is in dispute.  They are the only article which distinguishes the minister from the probationer.  They were worn by some of the clergy in pre-Reformation times and in Reformed circles in England as early as 1566.  They appear in Scotland from the end of the 16th century and their use appears unaffected by the Revolution.”

Maxwell, William – Appendix G, ‘The Dress of the Ministers’  in John Knox’s Genevan Service Book, 1556; The Liturgical Portions of the Genevan Service Book Used by John Knox While a Minister of the English Congregation of Marian Exiles at Geneva, 1556-1559  (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1931)

“The dress of the Ministers in the English Church at Geneva [under John Knox] is a matter which is perplexing, for there is no evidence available indicating precisely what was the custom.

[John] Paullain [1517–1565, an English reformer], in his ‘Ad lectorem candidum’ (Lit. sac., P, Q) [‘To the Bright Reader’,  in Liturgia Sacra, seu Ritus Ministerii in Ecclesia Peregrinorum…  1551/4], on the other hand, states quite definitely that vestments are not worn in his congregation.  He urges that the New Testament does not prescribe a Minister’s apparel, and that a shepherd is not known to his sheep by his garb but by his call to them, and he thinks it sufficient that a Minister should be dressed modestly and soberly, with an absence of all pomp and arrogance.  Further, he regards vestments as an incitement to superstition because of the Roman custom of blessing the garments.  Thus he thought that in this as in other matters the Reformed Church should be content with the utmost simplicity.

In England the Puritan party objected strenuously to all vestments.  As early as 1562 request was made to Convocation ‘that the use of copes and surplices… be taken away; so that all ministers in their ministry use a grave, comely, and side-garment, as commonly they do in preaching’ and ‘that the ministers of the word and sacraments be not compelled to wear such gowns and caps, as the enemies of Christ’s gospel have chosen to be the special array of their priesthood’ ([John] Strype, Annals, Oxford ed., 1824, vol. i., pt. ii. 501).  And in the same period we find the bishops enforcing the cassock and gown and forbidding the Puritan custom of preaching in what Bishop Duppa called ‘a riding or ambulatory Cloake’ (Rit. Com. Rep. ii. 577).  The objections in these passages are against all gowns…  Certainly [Myles] Coverdale [1488–1569] objected to all gowns, as we see by his letter to Farel in 1556: ‘Our affairs are not altered for the better, but alas! are sadly deteriorated.  For it is now settled and determines…  that out of doors must be worn the square cap, bands, a long gown and tippet; while the white surplice and cope are to be retained in divine service’ (Parker Soc. Zurich Letters, p. 121, Let. 50).

This brief review of the early evidence in Strasburg, Frankfort [Germany], Geneva, England and Scotland, shows that there appears to have been no practice that was agreed upon by all who followed the Calvinistic Reformation, and as regards the English Church of Geneva no accurate conjecture can be made.  It is probable that the Ministers there adopted Calvin’s practice and wore the black gown, with cassock, bands, and scarf; but there can be no certainty.” – pp. 210-13

Davies, Horton – 5. ‘Vestments’  in vol. 2, Part 2: ‘Cultic Controversies’, ch. 5, ‘Style in Worship: Prestigious or Plain?’, pp. 211-14  in Worship & Theology in England: from Cranmer to Baxter & Fox, 1534-1690, combined ed.  (Eerdmans, 1996)

“The puritans rested the case against distinctive vestments on the following grounds.

First and foremost, the insistence upon a particular vesture was an infringement of Christian liberty; the church which had been freed by Christ form the bondage of the law was now attempting to infringe the crown rights of Christ the Redeemer by introducing new sartorial [relating to dress] burdens on the conscience.¹  This was especially foolish when the Anglicans themselves admitted that such matters were adiaphora, or in the real of indifferent things.

¹ Cf. A Parte of a Register, p. 41: “if it be abolished and Christ be come in stead, then a great injury is done to Christ for many causes.  The one is, that those ceremonies which Christ by his passion did abolish, should in contempt of Him and his passion be taken again.”

Secondly, the vestments were disliked because of their association with Roman Catholicism, and so were thought of as ‘badges of Anti-Christ,’ upholding the priesthood of the clergy and denying the priesthood of all believers…

Thirdly, these vestments were symbols of pomp and grandeur, ill-befitting the humility with which all men should approach God, and contrary to the simplicity of the first disciples and apostles of Christ, they should be done away with, even if indifferent, for the sake of the weaker brethren.²

² Ibid., pp. 43f.: “for four causes ought the surplice, the coape, the Tippet, and other popish ceremonies to be taken away and removed out of God his Church: 1. First, that Christ may more clearly shine and appear in his Gospel, without the darkness of man’s devices. 2. Secondly, that papistry may appear more to be hated and detested. 3. Thirdly, that the offence of the weak may be taken away. 4. Fourthly, that contention amongst brethren might cease.”‘


Pierce, Joanne – Ch. 33, ‘Vestments & Objects’  in ed. Wainwright & Tucker, The Oxford History of Christian Worship  (Oxford Univ. Press, 2006), pp. 841-57  p. 1345 ff. in the online edition



Primary Sources

Ames, William

ch. 2, section 13, p. 30  in A Reply to Dr. [Thomas] Morton’s General Defence of Three Nocent [Noxious] Ceremonies, viz. The Surplice, Cross in Baptism & Kneeling at the Receiving of the Sacramental Elements of Bread & Wine  ([Amsterdam: Thorp] 1622)

On p. 30 Ames distinguishes the numerous ways in which the ritualists’ gowns were very different from common, indifferent lawyers’ gowns.  Ames is replying to the following work of Morton (bap. 1564-1659), A Defence of the Innocencie of the Three Ceremonies of the Church of England (1618).

A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship, ‘An Addition of the two last reasons of the former reply’, p. 54

“And it is much less praise-wor­thy if godly bishops be enjoined, laying aside, or at least changing the honest and ancient apparel which the apostles wore, to wit, that common and grave habit, to put on the ridiculous and execrable or accursed garment of godless Mass-priests.”

English Puritanism, containing the Main Opinions of the Rigidest Sort of those that are called Puritans in the Realm of England  (1641), p. 2  This work is congregationalist.

“3. They hold that all outward means instituted and set apart to express and set forth the inward worship of God, are parts of Divine worship and that not only all moral actions, but all typical rites and figures, ordained to shadow forth in the solemn worship and service of God, any spiritual or religious act or habit in the mind of man, are special parts of the same, and therefore that every such act ought evidently to be prescribed by the Word of God, or else ought not to be done? it being a sin to perform any other worship to God, whether external or internal, moral or ceremonial, in whole or in part, then that which God Himself requires in his Word.”


Secondary Sources

Baird, Charles W. – pp. 25 & 204  of Eutaxia; or, The Presbyterian Liturgies: Historical Sketches  (1855)

Ainslie, J.L. – pp. 36-37 of Ch. 2, ‘The Ordinary Duties of the Reformed Ministerial Order’  in The Doctrines of Ministerial Order in the Reformed Churches of the 16th and 17th Centuries  (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1940)

“That keen and bitter controversy which was carried on in England during the reign of Elizabeth regarding the wearing of vestments had to do with the renunciation of the doctrines of a priestly office in the Church.  The strict Reformers were persuaded that not even the vestments suggesting priestliness should be worn by officiating ministers.  It was not such an indifferent matter as some have thought.

Very probably in England, but for Elizabeth, the priestly vestments would have been discarded.  She insisted on the wearing of them.  In the Marprelate Tracts they are spoken of as ‘Queen Elizabeth’s livery.’  In other churches of the Reformation the priestly vestments for the ministry were not continued.  The dress of officiating ministers became distinctive, but it was not priestly.  A biographer of Zwingli, with reference to Zurich, says: ‘ministers wore their ordinary dress in the pulpit, but this dress characterized by a black cloak and white ruff, was worn by others only on gala occasions, and when it passed out of (general) fashion it became the distinctive ministerial dress.’ ([Samuel Macauley] Jackson, [Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland, 1584-1531 (NY & London: Knickbocker Press, 1903)] pp. 290, 291)

In a short biography of Bullinger, among other matters, his custom in dress is referred to:… ([G.R.] Zimmermann, [Die Zurcher Kirche (Zurich, 1878),] p. 43) “How far from all vain adornment and official glory he was can clearly be seen from the fact that he went up into the pulpit in his civilian style of dress.”

For the rest, it is well known that the black gown became the dress of the Reformed minister when conducting public worship.  Thus, even in outward appearance, with change in style of dress, the ministry of the new order was different from the mediaeval priesthood.”

Davies, Horton – pp. 46-48  in Ch. 4 of The Worship of the English Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997)

“In Scotland it appears to have been the regular custom for ministers to wear a gown when conducting divine service.  The cassock also was in frequent use, but this is not surprising since it was not a liturgical vestment, but the usual out-of-doors dress of the ministry.  In England, however, the Puritans appear to have discarded the cassock, whilst there is little evidence to show that the early Puritans wore gowns.” – p. 47



George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), pt. 2, ch. 9, p. 47

“Other of the ceremonies that are not evil in their own nature, yet were devised to evil, for example, the surplice.  The replier to Dr. Mourton’s Particular Defence, observes (ch. 1, section 3), that this superstition about apparel in divine worship began first among the Frensh bishops, unto whom Caelestinus writes thus. Discernendi, etc.

‘We are to be distinguished from the common people and others by doctrine, not by garment, by conversation, not by habit, by the purity of mind, not by attire: for if we study to innovation, we tread underfoot the order which has been delivered unto us by our fathers, to make place to idle superstitions; wherefore we ought not lead the minds of the faithful into such things: for they are rather to be instructed than played withal: neither are we to blind and beguile their eyes, but to infuse instructions into their minds.’

In which words Caelestinus reprehends this apparel, as a novelty which tended to superstition, and made way to the mocking and deceiving of the faithful.”





Sprott, George W.

‘Dress of the Clergy’  in ‘Introduction to the Book of Common Order’, pp. lvi-lviii  in Book of Common Order & Directory of the Church of Scotland  (1868)

‘Clerical Robes’  in Lecture 6 of The Worship & Offices of the Church of Scotland, pp. 243-48  (1882)

Sprott was part of the Liturgical Renewal in Scotland in the late-1800’s, and were strongly against the Biblical doctrine of the purity of worship as expressed in the Westminster Directory of Public Worship.  This slant comes out not only in the historical commentary they offer, but also in their selection of the historical evidence and its interpretation.

Duncan, Andrew – ‘Clerical Costume’  in The Scottish Sanctuary as it was & as it is, or Recent Changes in the Public Worship of the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland  (1882?), pp. 106-8  A minister of the Scottish United Presbyterian Church (which was New Light).



Primary Source

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland  1575

Book of the Universal Kirk  (1575), Session 3, p. 149

William Maxwell:  “In Scotland the evidence is scant, the whole seemingly to be found in the well-known passage from the General Assembly Minutes of 1575 (B.U.K., Session 3, 1575).  There we see that plaids are forbidden to be worn in the pulpit, and all gay and ostentatious apparel at any time…

The passage is really difficult of interpretation.  The ‘gowns’ forbidden, however, seem not to be pulpit gowns, but rather cloaks… certainly the old vestments [before the Reformation] were not retained, but whether in these first years the priest’s normal outdoor habit was still used as in Geneva is not to be determined from the evidence; the black gown may have been used by some in the pulpit.  By 1574 it clearly was used as we see by [James] Melville’s Autobiography (On p. 32, Wodrow Soc. edn., he describes John Durie, Minister of Leith, as being renowned for his zeal, ‘for the gown was no sooner off, and the Bible out of hand, than on went the corslet’.).

On June 24, 1609, the matter was settled by King James, when the [civil] Estates gave him authority to prescribe the apparel of judges, magistrates and ministers; and this he did in the following year, when he ordained that ‘ministers should war black cloths, and in the pulpit black gowns’ (Calderwood, Hist. vii. 54). (For later Scottish practice vide [see] [George] Sprott, BCO, pp. liv-lv, and Worship and Offices, pp. 244 sq. [ff.])” – John Knox’s Genevan Service Book, p. 212

The passage in the Book of the Universal Kirk appears to only disallow fancy gowns made of velvet, satin, ‘taffetie’ and such-like, and not all gowns altogether.

The passage does not positively prescribe any one type of clothing (gowns or otherwise), and especially not a costume which would not otherwise be worn in everyday life (as such Genevan gowns today).  The prescriptions are for everyday life, and what applied to the ministers also applied to their wives.  The text allows for different types of common, everyday clothing in different colors, which were to be short and not ‘long’ (note Lk. 20:46).  The prescriptions are stated to be based on natural principles and nothing distinctive to Scripture (contra most modern defenses of wearing robes).

The prescriptions of the passage would be similar to a Church today outlawing ostentatious and immodest, fancy clothing for ministers and their wives in everyday life (Isa. 3:17-26; 1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-4), and in place of this, the minister ought to wear modest, dark colors while in public as an expression of the due gravity that should characterize Church office-bearers and their wives (1 Tim. 3:4,8,11; Titus 2:2,7).  The prescriptions may be equivalent to contemporary ministers wearing a dark, modest suit while discharging public worship.

Nor does the case of John Durie mentioned by Maxwell above help the ritualist’s case: it is similar to a contemporary minister immediately taking off his suit jacket after public worship in order to be more comfortable.


Secondary Sources

Leishman, Thomas – pp. 402-4 of ‘The Ritual of the Scottish Church’  in ed. Robert Story, The Church of Scotland, Past and Present, vol. 5  (1890 ff.)

William Maxwell, A History of Worship in the Church of Scotland, p. 81

“At that time [in Scotland before the 2nd reformation of 1638] ministers wore black gowns, cassock [a ministerial robe], etc, at all services and at the General Assembly, and continued to do so until 1638, when for the first time many appeared in Glasgow in ordinary clothes and armed.”



On Collars for Ministers

History of


McMillan, William – ‘Scottish Ecclesiastical Dress’  Church Service Society Annual, 20 (1950), pp. 32-43

“The author looks at the history of the use of the cassock, scarf and bands in Scotland…  The scarf is reported as being worn ‘by quite a number of ministers’, its use having been revived ‘about half a century ago’.  Theories regarding its origin vary and are described.  James Melville writes of seeing John Knox wearing a type of forerunner.  They fell into disuse after the Revolution and until ‘our own times’.

Bands are medieval in origin, though whether civil or ecclesiastical is in dispute.  They are the only article which distinguishes the minister from the probationer.  They were worn by some of the clergy in pre-Reformation times and in Reformed circles in England as early as 1566.  They appear in Scotland from the end of the 16th century and their use appears unaffected by the Revolution.”

LeCroy, Tim – ‘A Short History of the Wearing of Clerical Collars in the Presbyterian Tradition’  (n.d.)  8 pp.

LeCroy has been a visiting instructor of historical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.  The article focuses on the 1700’s-1900’s.



On Dress for Public Worship


Fentiman, Traivs – ‘Head-Coverings are in the Same Category as Posture,
Gestures & Clothing in Worship,’ pp. 80-84  in 1 Corinthians – Head Coverings are Not Perpetual & they were Hair-Buns, with or without Material: Proven  (RBO, 2022)





The Spiritual Meaning Given to Vestments  in Romanism

Middle Ages

Durandus – Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, Third Book  tr. T.H. Passmore  in The Sacred Vestments…  (1899)  220 pp.

Durand (1230-1296) was a French canonist.  This is the classic work in Christian History delineating the full-fledged spiritual meaning attributed to vestments.



Rock, D. – ch. 12, ‘On the Vestments’  in Hierurgia, or Transubstantiation, Invocation of Saints, Relics…  Besides those other Articles of Doctrine set forth in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Expounded  (1851), pp. 413-60

Wilson, H. – chs. 6-7, ‘Vestments’  in Why & Wherefore?  Simple Explanations of the Ornaments, Vestments & Ritual of the Church  (1897)



Walsh, John – chs. 34-42  of The Mass & Vestments of the Catholic Church: Liturgical, Doctrinal, Historical & Archaeological  (1909)  540 pp.



Theological & Natural Arguments Against Vestments



Hooper, John – ‘The Regulative Principle & Things Indifferent’  (1550)  in ed. Iain Murray, The Reformation of the Church: a Collection of Reformed & Puritan Documents on Church Issues  Buy  (Banner, 1997), section 2, ch. 3, pp. 55-62


“Hooper declined a nomination to this bishopric [the See of Gloucester, which was against civil law without a significant and just reason], specifying as a reason his inability to wear the vestments required by the existing Ordinal [a book of church order].  The Privy Council were at first prepared to waive his scruples, but the bishops (notable [Thomas] Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley). conscious that a question of principle and policy was involved in Hooper’s nonconformity, declined to proceed with his consecration.  In the deadlock which ensued Hooper wrote a defence of his position, which is printed here from an incomplete manuscript (the only copy known to have survived) to which Ridley replied in a letter to the Privy Council (cf. Writings of [John] Bradford, Letters, Treatises, Parker Society pp. 373-395).

Hooper’s resistance to the official policy on this matter resulted in the extraordinary situation of his being committed to the Fleet prison, from which he was only released when he wrote a letter of submission to Cranmer on February 15, 1551.  the letter (printed in G.C. Gorham’s Reformation Gleanings [pp. 233-5], 1857) shows that Hooper did not recant his principles…  but that the strength of the opposition from other Protestants led him to doubt the wisdom of continuing his particular stand against vestments.”



“Although a thing may have its origin in Scripture, if it is to be indifferent, it is nevertheless required that there be no positive precept by which it is ordered, nor any negative one by which it is prohibited, but that it be left to us as something free, to use or not to use, as shall seem useful…  Indifferent things must have a manifest and open usefulness, known in the Church, lest they may seem to be received for no purpose, or to be forced into the Church by treachery and deceit…  power is given to edification and not to destruction (1 Cor. 14)…

…the writings of the apostles and evangelists, which place before us most clearly the annulment of the rituals of Aaron, his ceremonies, priesthood, images, and peculiar figures, and the institution of the new and perfect priesthood of Christ.  They must demonstrate to us from these books the grounds and occasion when some peculiar and special vestments should be worn in the ministry, for the adornment of the ministry itself, or for the preferring of its decorum, or for some distinctive mark, by which the minister can be distinguished from the people, as once was ordained by the Lord in the ministry of Aaron’s priesthood.  But the statutes, canons and decrees of the apostles and evangelists make no mention of this matter…

…What is prohibited by God can in no way be indifferent, as we have given warning above.  For this is the doctrine of Paul in Gal. 2, that whatever re-establishes things that have been annulled in Christ, transgresses the will of God…

Neither is it without its mystery that our Saviour Jesus Christ hung naked from the Cross.  For Aaron’s priests used vestments in their own ministry because the reality of their priesthood, Christ Himself, had not yet come.  But when Christ Himself was to be sacrificed, stripped of all clothing, displaying in this way his own priesthood, which since He was Reality itself, now had no further need of veils or semblances…”


Alasco, John

In English

‘The Abolition of Vestments’  (1552)  in ed. Iain Murray, The Reformation of the Church: a Collection of Reformed & Puritan Documents on Church Issues  Buy  (Banner, 1997), section 2, ch. 4, pp. 63-74

Murray: “The thoroughness of a Lasco’s convictions was already known…  a Lasco was back in London in the critical year of the Vestment controversy [1550] and was the most theologically able of those reformers, who, like Hooper, were concerned for a more decided policy of reforme based on a recognition of the regulative principle of Scripture.

…from King Edward he was given leave to organize the some 5,000 strong ‘Strangers’ Church’, made up of refugees, according to principles which had not been put into practice in the English Church…  the young king was a knowing supporter of the plan that the refugees ‘should have churches of their own in which they should freely regulate all things according to primitive methods, without any regard to existing rites: so that the English churches might be incited to embrace apostolic purity.’…  a Lasco…  gave forthright support to the position taken by Hooper.”

a Lasco:  “There are other things, introduced by the same Antichrist, which contend strongly with Christian liberty, obscure Christ, increase hypocrisy, and bring pride into the Church.  At the same time, however, they bear upon them the appearance of utility and splendor.  Of this sort are…  the playing of organs, and the use of vestments in the administration of the sacraments…  I can here only treat of the use of vestments…  Although much can be thought out in its defence by ingenious men, we regard not the reasonings of man’s intellect but upon the command of the divine will.

First, by means of the argument by which Christ and the prophets together with the apostles expel from the Church human dogmas and inventions as a plague (Mt. 12, Isa. 29, Col. 2), I too am convinced that vestments are a human invention which ought to be removed from the Church…  The practice has been borrowed from the Hebrews… that the vestments themselves should be assigned to priests…  Pope Stephen I [d. 257] was the first among us [in the Christian Church] to lay down that this should be done.  For in the beginning of the new [Christian] religion, the priests used not to put on anything extra when they were going to carry out divine service, since they were anxious rather to clothe themselves inwardly with spiritual virtues and put off the vices of the flesh than to put on new apparel…  Laying on of hands was sufficient for Paul and Barnabas.  Paul, when he carefully laid down all the duties of a bishop for Timothy and Titus, made no mention of special vestments and other ceremonies.

…Christ…  did not use in divine service any new or special kind of vestments or prescribe their use, for the foreshadowing priesthood was done away with by the true priest Christ.  All those therefore who bring back Aaronic vestments into the Church defile the priesthood of Christ, as if there should be need of shadows when there is the light itself…

Nor will you escape if you say that no inner virtue is signified by these private garments, but that of the office is indicated.  What then was it that indicated the office of the apostles?  Was it vestments or the Spirit of the Lord and love of the Church and of Christ?…  We are not born for ourselves alone, but that we should serve the Church and also posterity; it cannot but be that to leave to them the religion of Christ in as pure a form as possible is a thing most pleasing to God…  The prudence of human reason is deceptive…”


In Latin

Letter 79, ‘To Cranmer’  in Part 3, ‘Letters’ in ed. Abraham Kuyper, Works (1866), vol. 2, pp. 655-62  August, 1551

Murray:  “…in which the reformer gives his reasons to [Archbishop Thomas] Cranmer for those differences in practice in the ‘Strangers’ Church’ [in London, which Alasco was the pastor of] to which [Bishop Nicholas] Ridley objected, and states what he believed to be the scriptural case to establish that: ‘Nothing ought to be added to public worship concerning which God has given no command.’

Coverdale, Myles – Letter 107, ‘M. Coverdale to William Farel, Peter Viret, Theodore Beza, etc.’  in The Zurich Letters… During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth  2nd ed.  (Cambridge, 1846), pp. 228-30  July 1556

Hopkins, Samuel – pp. 221-23  in The Puritans & Queen Elizabeth, or, The Church, Court, and Parliament of England: from the Reign of Edward VI to the Death of the Queen  (1875), vol. 1  About 1563, a secondary source

Pilkington, James – ‘Letter to the Earl of Leicester in Behalf of the Refusers of the Habits’  (1566?)  in Works, pp. 658-62

Pilkington (1520–1576) was the first Protestant Bishop of Durham from 1561 until his death in 1576.

Crowley, Robert – A Brief Discourse Against the Outward Apparel & Ministering Garments of the Popish Church  (1566)

Crowley (c. 1517–1588).  See excerpts of this work here.

Wikipedia:  “Crowley published three editions (including one in Emden) of A Briefe Discourse… (1566). Patrick Collinson has called this “the earliest puritan manifesto”. The title page quotes from Psalm 31… “I have hated all those that holde of superstitious vanities”…  By May, Henry Denham, the printer of A Briefe Discourse, had been jailed…

…Crowley inveighed relentlessly against the evil of vestments and stressed the direct responsibility of preachers to God rather than to men. Moreover, he stressed God’s inevitable vengeance against the use of vestments and the responsibility of rulers for tolerance of such “vain toys”. Arguing for the importance of edification based on 1 Corinthians 13:10, Ephesians 2:19–21 and Ephesians 4:11–17, Crowley states that unprofitable ceremonies and rites must be rejected, including vestments, until it is proved they will edify the church… Though the tenor of his writing and that of his compatriots is that vestments are inherently evil, Crowley grants that in themselves, they may be things indifferent, but crucially, when their use is harmful, they are no longer indifferent, and Crowley is certain they are harmful in their present use. They are a hindrance to the simple who regard vestments and the office of the priest superstitiously because their use encourages and confirms the papists…  Crowley’s position was radical enough for his antagonists when he asserted that no human authority may contradict divine disapproval for that which is an abuse, even if the abuse arises from a thing that is indifferent. Crowley presents many other arguments from scripture, and he cites Bucer, Martyr, Ridley and Jewel as anti-vestment supporters. In the end, Crowley attacks his opponents as “bloudy persecuters” whose “purpose is … to deface the glorious Gospell of Christ Jesus, which thing they shall never be able to bring to passe.” A concluding prayer calls to God for the abolition of “al dregs of Poperie and superstition that presently trouble the state of thy Church.”

A response to Crowley that is thought to have been commissioned by and/or written by [Archbishop Matthew] Parker, also in 1566, notes how Crowley’s argument challenges the royal supremacy and was tantamount to rebellion. (…A Brief Examination for the Tyme of a Certaine Declaration Lately Put in Print in the name and defence of certaine ministers in London, refusyng to weare the apparell prescribed by the lawes and orders of the Realme.)”

An Answer for the Time, to the Examination Put in Print without the Author’s Name, Pretending to Maintain the Apparel Prescribed Against the Declaration of the Ministers of London  Buy  (1566)  ToC

Wikipedia: “Nothing new is said, but vestments are now emphatically described as idolatrous abuses with reference to… iconoclastic Old Testament texts…  the point that vestments do possess a theoretical indifference apart from all practical considerations, but their past usage (i.e. their abuse) thoroughly determines their present and future evil and non-indifference. The author declares that vestments are monuments “of a thing that is left or set up for a remembrance, which is Idolatry, and not only remembrance, but some estimation: therefore they are monuments of idolatry.” The argument in [the pro-vestment work] A Brief Examination for the church’s prerogative in establishing practices not expressly mandated in scripture is gleefully attacked as an open door to papistry and paganism: the mass, the pope, purgatory, and even the worship of Neptune are not expressly forbidden, but that does not make them permissible…  “the scripture hath left nothing free or indifferent to men’s laws, but it must agree with those general conditions before rehearsed, and such like.”…

The author regards it as more dangerous for the monarch to exercise his authority beyond what scripture allows than for subjects to restrain this authority. Every minister must be able to judge the laws to see if they are in line “with God’s Word or no”. Moreover, even the lowest in the ecclesiastical hierarchy are ascribed as great an authority regarding “the ministration of the word and sacraments” as any bishop.”

The Judgement of the Godly & Learned Father Mr. Henry Bullinger chief preacher & pastor of the Church of Zurich in Swicerland, declaring it to be Lawful for the Ministers of the Church of England to wear the apparel prescribed by the laws & orders of the same realm  (London, 1566)

Wikipedia: “…in 1566, a letter on vestments from [Heinrich] Bullinger to Humphrey and Sampson dated May 1 of that year (in response to questions they had posed to him) was published. It was taken as a decisive defence of conformity since it matched the position of the Marian exiles who had accepted bishoprics while hoping for future reforms. Bullinger was incensed by the publication and effect of his letter.

It elicited a further nonconformist response in The Judgement of the Reverend Father Master Henry Bullinger…  Based on Bullinger’s Decades, this tract tried to muster support for nonconformity on vestments from five points not directly related to but underlying that issue: 1) the corrupt nature of traditions and the primacy of scripture, 2) the equality of clergy, 3) the non-exclusive power of the bishops to ordain ministers, 4) the limited scope of the authority of civil magistrates, and 5) the sole headship of Christ in the church…”

The Mind & Exposition of that Excellent, Learned Man, Martin Bucer, upon these Words of St. Mathew: ‘Woe be to the world because of offences. Matt 18…  with Certain Objections & Answers to the Same  (1566)  ToC

Wikipedia: “Two other nonconformist tracts appeared, both deploying established authorities such as St Ambrose, Theophilactus of Bulgaria, Erasmus, Bucer, Martyr, John Epinus of Hamburg, Matthias Flacius Illyricus, Philipp Melanchthon, a Lasco, Bullinger, Wolfgang Musculus of Bern, and Rodolph Gualter. These were ‘The Mind and Exposition of that Excellent Learned man Martin Bucer…’ (1566) and The Fortress of Fathers…  (1566). New developments in these pamphlets are the use of arguments against English prelates that were originally aimed at the Roman church, the labeling of the conformist opposition as Antichrist, and advocacy for separation from such evil.”

The Fortress of Fathers Earnestly Defending the Purity of Religion and ceremonies by the True Exposition of certain places of Scripture: against such as wold bring in an abuse of idol stuff and of things indifferent, and do appoint the authority of princes and prelates larger than the truth is. Translated out of Latin into English for their sakes that understand no Latin by I.B.  (1566)

Cartwright, Thomas

As quoted by Alexander Grosart in the biographical preface, p. ix, to A Commentary upon the Epistle…  to the Colossians

“As you allow me to speak freely, I solemnly assure you I have been most scrupulously adverse from strife and contention.  I have taught nothing which did not naturally arise from the passage on which I was lecturing; yea, when occasions of speaking on the habits [vestments] have come in my way, I have ever avoided them.  But I do not deny that I have said our ministry [in the Church in England] has deviated from that of the primitive and apostolic church, to the purity of which I wished ours to be conformed: but this I said in so candid and modest a way, that none but ignorant or malicious persons could find fault.  Yet I hear that I am accused to your excellency.”

9. ‘The Judgment of those Late Writers Touching Ceremonies & Apparel…’  in A Short Reply unto M. Doctor’s Brief Answer…  in A Reply to an Answer made of M. Doctor Whitgift Against the Admonition to the Parliament  ([1573]), pp. 223-34

See the many block quotes of Cartwright in John Whitgift, The Defense of the Answer to the Admonition Against the Reply of Thomas Cartwright. By John Whitgift  (1584)

Tract 2, ‘Of the Authority of the Church in Things Indifferent’  55 pp.

The puritan ‘Admonition to Parliament’ was published in 1572.  Whitgift responded to this.  Cartwright responded to Whitgift with A Reply to an Answer made of M. Doctor Whitgift Against the Admonition to the Parliament (1573).  Whitgift is responding to this reply of Cartwright, and block-quoting from it.

Tract 7, ‘Of the Apparel of Ministers’ 40 pp.

pp. 402-404  in The Second Reply of Thomas Cartwright against Master Doctor Whitgift’s Second Answer, Touching the Church Discipline…  (1575)

Cartwright replied for the second time to Whitgift.  This was the last treatise in the exchange.

pt. 2, ch. 8, ‘Of the Surplice, & other Apparel taken from Popery’  in The Rest of the Second Reply of Thomas Cartwright Against Master Doctor Whitgift’s Second Answer Touching the Church Discipline  (Basel, 1577), pp. 242-264

On Cartwright

pp. 86-87  of ch. 5, section 14  in William Ames, A Reply to Dr. Morton’s General Defence of Three Nocent Ceremonies  (1622)

Gilby, Anthony – A Pleasant Dialogue Between a Soldier of Barwicke & an English Chaplain, wherein are largely handled & laid open such reasons as are brought in for maintenance of popish traditions in our English church. Also is collected, as in a short table, 120 particular corruptions yet remaining in our said church, with sundry other matters necessary to be known of all persons  (1581)  204 pp.

Wikipedia: “In the dialogue, a soldier, Miles Monopodios, is set against Sir Bernarde Blynkarde, who is a corrupt pluralist minister, a former soldier and friend of Monopodios, and a wearer of vestments. In the process of correcting Blynkarde, Monopodios lists 100 vestiges of popery in the English church, including 24 unbiblical “offices”.”



Baxter, Richard – pp. 409-10  of Ch. 2, ‘Such Ceremonies as God has Forbidden, or Given Man no Power to Institute, are Not to be Imposed on the Church as Profitable or Lawful’  in ‘The Fifth Disputation: Of Human Ceremonies’  in Five Disputations of Church-Government and Worship  (1659)  On the surplice.

Baxter was an English, Independent puritan.

MacWard, Robert – pp. 110-13  in ‘The Third Dialogue Answered’  in The True Non-Conformist  (1671)

MacWard was a Scottish protege of Samuel Rutherford, though he wrote many of his works from exile in the Netherlands.

Cotton, John – ‘Of the Surplice’  in Some Treasure Fetched out of Rubbish: or, Three Short but Seasonable Treatises...  (1660)  ToC

Cotton was a New England, congregationalist puritan.



Collette, Charles H. – ‘As to Vestments’  in A Layman’s Reply to Dr. Littledale’s Lecture on Ritualistic Innovations  (1869), pp. 30-36

This work replies to the Irish, Richard Littledale’s (1833–1890) lecture in Liverpool, England defending the use of vestments in the Church of England.

Spurgeon, Charles – ‘Notes on Ritualism’  in Sword & Trowel  (June 1869)

Spurgeon was a Calvinistic baptist preacher.




Bucer, Martin – The Mind & Exposition of that Excellent Learned Man Martin Bucer upon these Words of St. Mathew, ‘Woe be to the World Because of Offences’…  with Certain Objections [&] Answers to the Same [on the Apparel of Ministers, by the Translator]  (Emden, 1566)

The answers to objections are excellent.



Ames, William

A Reply to Dr. [Thoms] Morton’s General Defence of Three Nocent [Noxious] Ceremonies, viz. The Surplice, Cross in Baptism & Kneeling at the Receiving of the Sacramental Elements of Bread & Wine  (1622)  130 pp.

Ames is replying to Morton’s (bap.1564-1659), A Defence of the Innocency of the Three Ceremonies of the Church of England (1st ed. 1610).

A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship  GB  (1633)  590 pp.

This was considered to be the most significant reformed defense against unBiblical ceremonies in God’s worship in the early 1600’s.  Ames masterly parses out when indifferent things, due to an improper, unnatural and spiritual use, no longer remain indifferent.  Read here of classically reformed principles of ‘circumstances’ in worship, and what they are not.   Ames takes especial aim against the main vestment in the English Church: the surplice, a white gown.

Iain Murray:

“In the twenty years preceding the overthrow of the English hierarchy in 1641 Ames was responsible for two books which were among the most damaging to the cause of the heirarchy.  For the first he had only an indirect responsibility; this was The Diocesan’s Trial, by his old friend Paul Baynes who had died in 1617, which Ames published with a lengthy preface in 1621.

The second book was Ames’s own best-known work, A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies.  Behind the book lay a protracted controversy.  In 1610 Bishop Morton had published A Defence of Three Nocent Ceremonies, viz. the surplice, the sign of the cross in baptism, and kneeling to receive the Sacrament.  In 1622 an Anonymous Reply appeared, possibly from the pen of Ames himself, and in 1631 a Rejoinder to this was written by Dr. John Burgess, Prebend of Lichfield Cathedral.  Ames’s Fresh Suit...  is principally a reply to Burgess’s Rejoinder (hence the abbreviation in the text, ‘the Rej. teacheth’); it is also a full Puritan statement of those issues which were opposed by the defenders of the status quo in England.

The work was influential in determining the Nonconformity of such a man as Richard Baxter, and it was referred to by the ejected Puritans of 1662 as an unanswered case against conformity.” – Reformation of the Church, pp. 97-98



Voet, Gisbert – pp. 937-39  of Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 2, book 4, tract 4, section 3, ch. 4, subsection 4



Theological & Natural Arguments on Vestments, Leaning Towards Indifferentism


Melancthon, Philip – Letters  in Whether it be a Mortal Sin to Transgress Civil Laws which be the Commandments of Civil Magistrates…  The Resolution of Dr. Henry Bullinger & Dr. Rud. Gualter, of Dr. Martin Bucer & Dr. Peter Martyr concerning the Apparrel of Ministers & Other Indifferent Things  (1570), pp. 27-101



The History of Vestments


General History


Cutts, E.L. – ‘The History of the Eucharistic Vestments’  (1875)  3 pp.  in The Art Journal

Wikipedia – ‘Vestment’



The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation  (1996)

‘Clerical Vestments’  vol. 1, pp. 366-68

“Liturgical vestments that distinguished the priest from the community are attested only from the fourth century onward.  There are no guidelines or regulations given in the New Testament.  Moreover, the early Christian communities did not place themselves in the tradition of the Old Testament priesthood and its cultic dress…

As the customary everyday dress changed, the clergy held on to the old style of dress…  This older form of dress…  served to distinguish the clergy from the other members of the community.  In Rome as early as the sixth century it seems that there existed blessings for liturgical vestments.  From the ninth century onward prayers were said as the vestments were put on…

Liturgical vestments were given ever new allegorical interpretations reflecting salvation history (Rabanus Maurus [780-856] and Amalar of Metz [775-850])…

…In the adiaphorist [indifferent] controversy Zwingli, Calvin, the Anabaptists, and Matthias Flacius Illyricus [a Lutheran] and his followers among other things called for doing away with liturgical vestments.  As early as the first Zurich Disputation of 1523 Zwingli rejected liturgical vestments; he allowed for them in his work De canone missae epicheiresis, which appeared that same year; finally, toward the end of the year, presumably under external pressure, he adopted a stance against vestments.  In the Zurich regulations of 1535 he disapproved of external adornments such as silk, gold and silver in the churches on the grounds that the early church not only did not possess these things, but even rejected them.”




Dolby, Anastasia – Church Vestments: Their Origin, Use & Ornament, Practically Illustrated  (1868)  300 pp.

Macalister, R.A.S. – Ecclesiastical Vestments: their Development & History  (1896)  290 pp.



Walsh, John – The Mass & Vestments of the Catholic Church: Liturgical, Doctrinal, Historical & Archaeological  (1909)  540 pp.

Norris, Herbert – Church Vestments: Their Origin & Development  (1949)  235 pp.  ToC

“A thorough description of liturgical vestments; many illustrations.” – Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation



Early Church


**  Brightman, Thomas – ‘Mr. Brightman’s Answer to Bishop [John] Jewell’s Allegations for the Antiquity of Distinct Ceremonious Apparel used by Minsters in their Ministration’  in William Ames, A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship, pp. 503-10  (1633)

The record is here set straight on the early Church.  Brightman (1562-1607) was an English, reformed, puritan.

Bloxam, Matthew – ch. 1, ‘Of the Vestments in Use in the Church up to the Reign of Edward VI’   in Companion to the Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, being a Brief Account of the Vestments in Use in the Church, Prior to, & the Changes Therein in and from the Reign of Edward VI  (1882)  430 pp.



Buchholz, Regina – The History & Design of Vestments for the Pontificial Mass in the Roman Rite  (Ohio State Univ., 1951)  285 pp.  PhD thesis



Middle Ages



Bloxam, Matthew – ch. 1, ‘Of the Vestments in Use in the Church up to the Reign of Edward VI’   in Companion to the Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, being a Brief Account of the Vestments in Use in the Church, Prior to, and the Changes Therein in and from the Reign of Edward VI  (1882)  430 pp.

A Priest – The Holy Eastern Church: a Popular Outline of its History, Doctrines, Liturgies and Vestments  (London, 1870)  Preface by Littledale

‘Vestments of Greek Church’, pp. 59-70
‘Origin of Vestments’, pp. 70-81



Buchholz, Regina – The History & Design of Vestments for the Pontificial Mass in the Roman Rite  (1951)  285 pp.  PhD thesis  Ohio State Univ.

Miller, Maureen – Clothing the Clergy: Virtue & Power in Medieval Europe, c. 800–1200  Buy  (Cornell, 2014)


Special Topics

Reichel, Oswald – ‘English Liturgical Vestments in the Thirteenth Century’  (1895)  65 pp.

Edmund, Bishop – ch. 11, ‘Origins of the Cope as a Church Vestment’  in Liturgia Historica  (1918), p. 260 ff.


Primary Source

Durandus – Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, Third Book  tr. T.H. Passmore  in The Sacred Vestments  (1899)  220 pp.

Durandus (1230-1296)





Bingham, Joseph – ch. 7, ‘Of Making the Surplice & Other Habits Necessary to Ministration’  in The French Church’s Apology for the Church of England  in Works, vol. 10, pp. 122-29

Bingham (1668-1723) was an Anglican who wrote this book seeking to defend numerous Anglican practices from the old French Reformed Church.  He argues here against Richard Baxter; his severe treatment of Baxter regarding the historic intent of the English Prayer Book is unwarranted, as the issues were not as simple as Bingham makes them out to be, per numerous of the resources on this webpage.

Treat, John Harvey – ch. 1, ‘The Vestments’  in Notes on the Rubrics of the Communion Office, Illustrating the History of the Rubrics of the Various Prayer Books and their bearing on the use of Vestments…  (1882), pp. 28-151

Collinson, Patrick – ‘Vestiarian Controversy’  in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation  (1996), vol. 4, pp. 231-32

“The church and its supreme governor demanded obedience in all things indifferent.  Nonconformists (and it was in this context that the word ‘nonconformist’ first entered the English religious vocabulary) complained that to enforce the use of these things on reluctant consciences was to deprive them of their indifference.  The doctrine of ‘Christian liberty’ which came to the fore in these circumstances, was arguably the taproot of that species of Christian conviction known ever since as Puritanism.  It was not equivalent to individualistic license, but rather to a conviction that the edification of the church, composed of ‘lively stones’, required the emancipation of conscience from all human ordinances and its total subjection to the word of God…

In 1566 Archbishop Matthew Parker, in consultation with his suffragans and prompted by the queen, published some ‘Advertisements,’ a call to strict conformity…  The resultant crisis rocked both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and came to its head in London, toward Easter 1566.  Thirty-seven ministers, much of the preaching ministry  in London, at first refused to conform and were suspended; of these a few, the hardest of the hard core, were eventually deprived of their livings…

…the Vestiarian Controversy introduced a lasting fault line into the Elizabethan church.  The more drastic presbyterianism of the 1570’s might never have come about if it had not been for the episcopal ‘persecution’ of those who cast off the surplice in the 1560’s.”

Wikipedia – ‘Vestments Controversy’




Porter, H.C. – Reformation & Reaction in Tudor Cambridge  (Cambridge, 1958)  475 pp.  ToC

Knappen, M.M. – Tudor Puritanism: A Chapter in the History of Idealism  (Peter Smith, 1963)

“Knappen and Collinson [below] together provide the best account [of the Vestiarian controversy.” – Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation

Coolidge, John S. – The Pauline Renaissance in England: Puritanism & the Bible  (Clarendon Press, 1970)  175 pp.  ToC

“The best account of the ideological and biblical roots of the Nonconformist position.” – Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation



Piepkorn, Arthur Carl – Survival of the Historic Vestments in the Lutheran Church after 1555  Buy  2nd ed.  (St. Louis, 1958)

“Standard work on the liturgical vestments in the Lutheran church; also gives an insight into regional differences.” – Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation



Earngey, Mark – ‘Soli Deo Gloria: The Reformation of Worship’ being ch. 2 of Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present  (New Growth, 2017), pp. 42-43

“The Genevan practice of wearing black academic gowns, white preaching bands, and black caps deliberately indicated that ministers were teachers of the Word rather than sacerdotal mediators.  There clothes were not considered clerical vestments but were standard attire for clergy to be worn during and outside public worship (Maetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors, 19; William D. Maxwell, John Knox’s Genevan Service Book, 1556 (Westminster: Faith Press, 1965), 210-213).

Lavater’s Short Work on Rites and Regulations described a similar approach to clerical attire in Zurich; however, the clerical dress was more informal than Calvin’s: clergy were to ‘wear ordinary, yet respectable clothing (as other respectable citizens do), not theatrical clothing.’

John Knox held a similarly minimalist approach among the English exiles in Frankfurt, signaling his displeasure at Cranmer’s retention of the surplice.  In a sermon on Noah’s drunkenness and the subject of what should or should not be covered up, he touched upon the sensitive matter of English cleric John Hooper’s refusal to wear clerical vestments (Jane Dawson, John Knox (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016), 101).

Earlier in 1550, Hooper refused to be consecrated as bishop, partly on the grounds of what he perceived to be unreformed vestments (‘those Aaronic habits’). (John Hooper to Heinrich Bullinger, June 29, 1550.  See Hastings Robinson, Original Letters Relative to the English Reformation, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1846-1847), 1:87)  In reply, both Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli refuted his position on the basis that vestments were adiaphorus [indifferent].  Vermigli made the slightly backhanded remark that ‘indifferent things cannot corrupt those that are of a pure mind and sincere conscience in their doings.’ (Correspondence between Bucer, Martyr and Hooper in George Cornelius Gorham, Gleanings of a Few Scattered Ears During the Period of the Reformation in England (London: Bell and Daldy, 1857).  Bucer and Martyr’s replies to Hooper were also used by Archbishop Parker [who sought to universally enforce such clerical dress] in response to the Vestarian Controversy under Queen Elizabeth I.  Quotes are in Matthew Parker, A Brief Examination for the Tyme…, (London: Richard Jugge, 1566), RSTC 10387, sig. C.2r.)

Hooper–helped by a spell in prison–begrudingly took the advice on board and was consecrated Bishop of Gloucester later that year.  Thus, when Knox and his colleagues left the English congregation at Frankfurt for Calvin’s Geneva, they found the clerical attire more congenial to their approach.  However, when the Genevan exiles returned home after the death of Queen Mary, they had mixed success in implementing their desired clerical attire.  Knox returned to Scotland where the Genevan gown became the norm, whereas Christopher Goodman and others returned to England were vestments were retained (indeed, to the 1549 standards).  The controversy over vestments was reignited and contributed to the production of the Middelburg Liturgy (1586) by the English Puritans.”



Knox in Germany

Secondary Sources


Hopkins, Samuel – Ch. 5, ‘The Troubles at Frankfort (A.D. 1554-1555)’  in The Puritans & Queen Elizabeth, or, The Church, Court, and Parliament of England: from the Reign of Edward VI to the Death of the Queen  (1875), vol. 1

Drysdale, A.H. – ‘The English Exiles in Frankfort’  in Part 1, ch. 5 of History of the Presbyterians in England  (1889), pp. 74-79

Lang, Andrew – ‘Knox in the English Puritan Troubles at Frankfort: 1554-1555’  in John Knox & the Reformation  (1905), pp. 52-71



Vander Molen, Ronald J. – ‘Anglican against Puritan: Ideological Origins during the Marian Exile’  Church History, vol. 42, no. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 45-57


Primary Source

Whittingham, William – A Brief Discourse of the Troubles Begun at Frankfort in the Year 1554 about the Book of Common Prayer & Ceremonies  (rep. London, 1846)  230 pp.

Whittingham (c.1524-1579) was an English puritan at Frankfort, Germany with Knox.  This work has reference to the surplice, a white robe used in worship.



Edward VI



Strype, John

chs. 28-30  of Ecclesiastical Memorials Relating Chiefly to Religion, & the Reformation of it, & the Emergencies of the Church of England, under King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, & Queen Mary I: with large appendixes, containing original papers, records, etc., vol. 2.1, pp. 350-403  (1822)

ch. 17, ‘Hooper’s Troubles’  in Memorials of Thomas Cranmer, 2.205-19  (1848)

Neal, Daniel – pp. 45-9 & pp. 125-56 of History of the Puritans, vol. 1  1837

Burnet, Gilbert – pp. 243-46  in part 2, bk. 1  in The History of the Reformation of the Church of England  (1839)

Marsden, J.B. – ch. 1, ‘1547-58’, pp. 8-33  in The History of the Early Puritans: from the Reformation to the Opening of the Civil War in 1642  (1853)

Bloxam, Matthew – chs. 2-3 of Companion to the Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, being a Brief Account of the Vestments in Use in the Church, Prior to, and the Changes Therein in and from the Reign of Edward VI  (1882)  430 pp.

Drysdale, A.H. – pt 1, ‘Inceptive Period’, ch. 3, ‘John Hooper & the Origins of the Vestments Controversy’  in History of the Presbyterians in England  (1889), pp. 52-61



Gairdner, James – pp. 281-84  of The English Church in the Sixteenth Century from the Accession of Henry VIII to the Death of Mary  (1903)

Muss-Arnolt, William – ‘Puritan Efforts & Struggles, 1550-1603: A Bio-Bibliographical Study’, pt. 1, 2  The American Journal of Theology, vol. 23, no. 3 (Jul., 1919), pp. 345-66 & no. 4 (Oct., 1919), pp. 471-99



Fletcher, Henry & E.B. Wheatley Balme – Is the Use of Vestments under the Ornaments Rubric [in the English Book of Common Prayer] Part of the Discipline Which the Church has Received?  Letters Between Fletcher and Balme  (1883)  190 pp.

‘The Ornaments Rubic’ refers to the clauses in the Book of Common Prayer which ordain vestments for the clergy.  See Wiki, ‘Ornaments Rubric’.

Primus, John Henry – The Vestments Controversy: an Historical Study of the Earliest Tensions within the Church of England in the Reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth  (1960)  a doctoral thesis   review

Verkamp, Bernard – The Indifferent Mean: Adiaphorism in the English Reformation to 1554  in Studies in the Reformation  Buy  (Ohio Univ. Press, 1977)  220 pp.  ToC



On John Hooper



Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Dictionary of National Biography – ‘Hooper, John’  (1885-1900)

Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed. – ‘John Hooper’  (1911)



Fox, John – ‘The Story, Life & Martyrdom of Master John Hooper, Bishop of Worcester & Gloucester’  in ed. Cattley, The Acts & Monuments of John Foxe, a New & Complete Edition  (1837), vol. 6, 11th Book (Queen Mary), pp. 636-76

Ryle, J.C. – ‘John Hooper: Bishop & Martyr: his Times, Life, Death & Opinions’  (1868)  63 pp.

“It is my deliberate conviction, after carefully weighing the whole affair, that Hooper was most likely in the right, and Cranmer and Ridley were most likely in the wrong…  I believe, if Cranmer and Ridley had calmly listened to his objections, and seized the opportunity of settling the whole question of” vestments” in a thoroughly Protestant way, it would have been a blessing to the Church of England!”

Paisley, Ian R.K. – ‘John Hooper’  in The Five Protestant Bishops whom Rome Burned: John Hooper, Robert Ferrar, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, Thomas Cranmer  (1963)


Historical & Theological

Hopkins, Samuel – ch. 3, ‘The First Puritan’  in The Puritans & Queen Elizabeth, or, The Church, Court & Parliament of England: from the Reign of Edward VI to the Death of the Queen (1875), vol. 1, pp. 28-55

Primus, J.H. – The Role of the Covenant Doctrine in the Puritanism of John Hooper  Dutch Review of Church History, New Series, vol. 48, No. 2 (1968), pp. 182-96



Rohane, Milton A. – The Influence of the Zwinglian Reformation Through Bishop John Hooper Upon the Church of England  (Univ. of New Mexico, 1958)  265 pp.  Masters thesis

Abstract:  “It is my intention to show in this thesis that Zwingli and Bullinger had a direct influence upon the Church of England, more especially upon the thought of Bishop John Hooper, and later through Hooper upon the Puritan Movement.”

Hunt, E.W. – The Life & Times of John Hooper (C. 1500-1555, Bishop of Gloucester)  Buy  (1992)  396 pp.

“This is a full-scale examination of the words and works of the 16th-century bishop and martyr known as “the father of Puritanism”.  After a comparatively detailed account of John Hooper’s life, the study examines his theology at length and concludes with a chapter on his legacy…”

Dalton, Alison J. – John Hooper & his Networks : a Study of Change in Reformation England  (Oxford, 2008)  PhD thesis  Only the AbstractToC & ch. 1 are available online

Newcombe, D.G. – John Hooper: Tudor Bishop & Martyr (c. 1495–1555)  Buy  (Davenant, 2009)

A review.  “Newcomb in this careful work has gone as far in the direction of biographical thoroughness as the sources permit.”



On John Alasco




Beza, Theodore – ‘John A’Lasco’  in Beza’s “Icones”, Contemporary Portraits of Reformers of Religion and Letters, pp. 235-42  This chapter does not mention A’Lasco’s involvement with vestments.



Dictionary of National Biography – ‘Laski, or A Lasco, John’  1885-1900

Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed. – ‘Jan Laski, the younger (1499-1560)’  1911



Knoll, Paul – ‘Review: A European and Polish Reformer’  The Polish Review, vol. 48, No. 1 (2003), pp. 109-13

Global Mennonite Encyclopedia Online – ‘Lasco, John á (1499-1560)’  Lasco debated Menno Simmons; hence the Mennonites’ interest in Lasco.



D’Aubigne, Merle – ch. 7, ‘The Polish Reformer’ & ‘In the Netherlands and in Friesland [Germany]’  in History of the Reformation in Europe in the time of Calvin, vol. 7, pp. 433-79  (1877)

Drysdale, A.H. – Part 1, ch. 2, ‘John A’Lasco and his Early Presbyterian Organization in London’  in History of the Presbyterians in England, pp. 40-51  1889

Kropf, Lewis L. – ‘John A Lasco’s Church Preferments’  in English Historical Review, vol. 11, no. 41 (Jan., 1896), p. 103-112

Eaves, Richard Glen & William A. Carter – ‘John à Lasco: A Polish Religious Reformer in England, 1550-1553’  in Journal of Thought, vol. 14, No. 4 (November 1979), pp. 311-323

Vree, J. – ‘The Editions of John A Lasco’s Works, Especially the Opera Omni Edition by Abraham Kuyper, in their Historical Context’  Dutch Review of Church History, vol. 80, No. 3 (2000), pp. 309-326



Dalton, Hermann – John A Lasco: his Earlier Life & Labors  (1886)  377 pp.

Springer, Michael S. – Restoring Christ’s Church: John a Lasco & the Forma Ac Ratio  Pre  (2005)



Queen Elizabeth



Strype, John

Ch. 13 of Annals of the Reformation and Establishment of Religion, vol. 1, p. 256 ff.  1824

Bk. 3, ch. 1 of The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, vol. 1, p. 184 ff.  1821

Burnet, Gilbert – pp. 417 ff.  part 3, bk 4 & pt. 3, bk 6, 462-74  in The History of the Reformation of the Church of England  (1839)

Cardwell, Edward – pp. 34-39 of A History of Conferences & other Proceedings connected with the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer from 1558-1690  (1850)

Marsden, J.B. – ‘The Surplice Controversy’  in The History of the Early Puritans: from the Reformation to the Opening of the Civil War in 1642  (1853), pp. 240-42

Selborne, Lord – pp. 73-8697-104 & 108-13  of Notes on Some Passages in the Liturgical History of the Reformed English Church  (1878)



Gee, Henry – ch. 3 section 3, ‘A Compromise as Regards Vestments’  in The Elizabethan Prayer-Book & Ornaments  (1902)

Dixon, Richard – vol. 5, pp. 174-7 (1559), vol. 6, pp. 2 (1564), 39-43, 50-5154-61 (1565), 108-9 (1566), 124  in A History of the Church of England (1564-1570)  (1887-1902)

Dixon was strongly Anglican.

Cambridge Modern History‘The Vestiarian Controversy’  in vol. 2 (Reformation)  (1907), p. 590

Muss-Arnolt, William – ‘Puritan Efforts & Struggles, 1550-1603: A Bio-Bibliographical Study’, pt. 1, 2  The American Journal of Theology, vol. 23, no. 3 (Jul., 1919), pp. 345-66 & no. 4 (Oct., 1919), pp. 471-99

Pearson, A.F. – pp. 17-28 of Thomas Cartwright & Elizabethan Puritanism 1535-1603  (1925)

Haugaard, William P. – ch. 6, ‘The Queen & her Bishops: Images, Vestments & Apparel’  in Elizabeth & the English Reformation: the Struggle for a Stable Settlement of Religion, pp. 183-232  (1968)

Phillips, Walter – ‘Henry Bullinger & the Elizabethan Vestarian Controversy: an Analysis of Influence’  Ref  (1981)  in Journal of Religious History, vol. 11, issue 3 (1981), pp. 363-84



Usher, Brett – ‘The Deanery of Bocking & the Demise of the Vestiarian Controversy’ The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 52, 3 (July 2001), pp. 434-455  Abstract

Kirby, W.J. Torrance – ‘Relics of the Amorites’ or ‘Things Indifferent’?  Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Authority & the Threat of Schism in the Elizabethan Vestiarian Controversy  (2004)  15 pp.  in Reformation & Renaissance Review: Journal of the Society for Reformation Studies.  Also in Perichoresis, vol. 2, issue 2 (2004), pp. 1-12

Doda, Hilary – ‘Rounde Heades in Square Cappes: The Role of the Vestments in the Vestiarian Controversy‘  Ref  (2013)  The Journal of the Costume Society of America, vol. 39 (2013), issue 2

Gunther, Karl – ch. 6, ‘Catholics & the Elizabethan Vestments Controversy’  in Reformation Unbound: Protestant Visions of Reform in England, 1525-1590  (Cambridge, 2014)


Date Unknown

Calderwood, William – ‘The Vestiarian Controversy’  in Ch. 3 of The Elizabethan Protestant Press: a Study of the Printing and Publishing of Protestant Literature in English, Excluding Bibles and Liturgies, 1558-1603, pp. 60-69  no date

Gunther, Karl – ‘The Vestments Controversy and the Origins of Puritanism’  unknown date  42 pp.  University of Miami  see here

Keep, David – ‘Bullinger’s Intervention in the Vestarian Controversy of 1566’  Ref  Also here

Usher, Brett – ‘Participants in the Vestiarian Controversy, (act. c. 1563–c. 1570)’  Ref



Kelch, Ray – The First Elizabeth Religious Controversy: Puritans Versus Vestments  1949  100 pp.  Masters thesis, Ohio State Univ.

Primus, John Henry – The Vestments Controversy: an Historical Study of the Earliest Tensions within the Church of England in the Reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth  (1960)  176 pp.  a doctoral thesis  review

Collinson, Patrick – The Elizabethan Puritan Movement  (Oxford, 1990)  528 pp.  ToC

“Knappen and Collinson together provide the best account [of the Vestiarian controversy.” – Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation

Diggle, Nicole – To What Extent Does the Debate Over Vestments Represent the Wider Tensions in the Elizabethan Era Regarding the Nature of Reformed Religion?   (Univ. of Huddersfield, 2017)  100 pp.  Masters thesis


Primary Source

English Puritans – ch. 29, ‘Rites & Ceremonies Debated in the Synod’  (1562)  in John Strype, Annals of the Reformation & Establishment of Religion… in the Church of England, during Queen Elizabeth’s Happy Reign (Oxford: 1824), vol. 1, pt. 1, pp. 499-506  under Queen Elizabeth



The Marprelate Tracts



Disraeli, Isaac – ‘Martin Marprelate’  in The Calamities & Quarrels of Authors, pp. 501-30  (1867)

Dexter, Henry Martyn – Lecture 3, ‘The Martin Marprelate Controversy’  in The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years, as Seen in its Literature, pp. 131-204  (1880)

Drysdale, A.H. – pt. 1, ‘The Repressive Period’, ch. 3, ‘The Mar-Prelate Controversy & Tracts’, 1588-90′  in History of the Presbyterians in England  (1889), pp. 198-206

Arbor, Edward – An Introductory Sketch to the Martin Marprelate Controversy, 1588-1590  (1895)  200 pp.



Pierce, William – An Historical Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts: a Chapter in the Evolution of Religion & Civil Liberty in England  (1908)  370 pp.

ed. Ward & Waller – ch. 17, ‘The Marprelate Controversy’  in The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. 3, Renascence & Reformation, pp. 374-98  (1918)

Pearson, A.F.  – pp. 276-88  in Thomas Cartwright & Elizabethan Puritanism 1535-1603  (1925)

Black, Joseph – ‘The Rhetoric of Reaction: The Martin Marprelate Tracts (1588-89), Anti- Martinism & the Uses of Print in Early Modern England’  The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 28, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 707-25

Green, Nina – ‘The Secret Press’  (2001)  3 pp.



The Martin Marprelate Press: a Documentary History  HTML

Wikipedia – ‘Marprelate Controversy’



Maskell, William – A History of the Martin Marprelate Controversy in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth  (1845)  230 pp.

Arber, Edward – An Introductory Sketch to the Martin Marprelate Controversy, 1588-1590  1879  200 pp.  in The English Scholar’s Library of Old and Modern Works

Appleton, Elizabeth – An Anatomy of the Marprelate Controversy, 1588-1596: Retracing Shakespeare’s Identity & that of Martin Marprelate  Buy  (2001)  472 pp.


The Marprelate Tracts

Pierce, William – The Marprelate Tracts 1588, 1589, edited with Notes Historical & Explanatory  (1911)  417 pp.

ed. Black, Joseph – The Marprelate Tracts: a Modernized and Annotated Edition  Buy  (2008)  438 pp.

The Oxford Authorship Site – ‘Marprelate’  ‘Oxford’ refers to Edward De Vere (1550-1604), 17th Earl of Oxford, whom they take to be the author of the tracts.

ed. Lewis, John – ‘The Marprelate Tracts, 1588-1589’  HTML  (1996)  7 tracts in all



Wilson, J. Dover – Martin Marprelate & Shakespeare’s Fluellen: a New Theory of the Authorship of the Marprelate Tracts  (1912)  80 pp.

Carlson, Leland – Martin Marprelate, Gentleman: Master Job Throkmorton Laid Open in his Colors  (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1981)  445 pp.  ToC



On the 1600’s to 1800’s


James I


pp. 18-20  of  Samuel R. Gardiner, History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War, 1603-1642, vol. 1 (1603-1607)  (1905)


Primary Source

Various Ministers – pp. 3-4  of The Abolishing of the Book of Common Prayer by Reason of Above Fifty Gross Corruptions, As also for that it commands the use of such Ceremonies in the Worship of God (namely Surplice, Cross, and Kneeling) which man has devised, and which are notoriously known to have been of old, and still to be abused to Superstition and Idolatry, and are of no necessary use in the Church  (1605)

The importance of this work is evident from the further info on the title page: “Being the Substance of a Book which the Ministers of Lincoln Diocese [England] delivered to King James the First, of December, 1605.”



On the Mid-1600’s


Spraggon, Julie – Puritan Iconoclasm in England, 1640-1660  (Univ. College London, 2000)  290 pp.  PhD thesis

Abstract:  “…this thesis looks at the reasons for the resurgence of large-scale iconoclasm a hundred years after the break with Rome…  the attack on recent ‘innovations’ introduced into the church (such as images, stained glass windows and communion rails) developed into a drive for further reformation led by the Long Parliament. Increasingly radical legislation targeted not just ‘new popery’, but pre-reformation survivals and a wide range of objects including some which had been acceptable to the Elizabethan and Jacobean church (for instance organs and vestments).”



On the 1600’s-1800’s


Albright, Andrea – The Religious & Political Reasons for the Changes in Anglican Vestments Between the Seventeenth & Nineteenth Centuries  (Univ. of North Texas, 1989)  185 pp.  Masters thesis



Creeds & Confessions


Confession of the Congregation at Geneva  1556  Swiss

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, vol. 2, p. 101  The exact same wording is repeated in The Confession of Faith in the Geneva Bible, 1560, Ibid., p. 185

IV. ‘The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints’

“…so the defense of Christ’s church appertains to the Christian magistrates against all idolaters and heretics…  to root out all doctrine of devils and men, as the Mass, purgatory, Limbus patrum…  distinction of meats, apparel and days…”


The Hungarian Catholic Confession  1562

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, vol. 2,

‘The Bread is the Body’, p. 518

“We condemn those who superstitiously bewitch the conscience, force the bread of the Antichrist with altars and popish rubbish.  Among the weak for a time, we tolerate this matter and form of immolation [sacrifice] along with altars and vestments, for they are condemned with the same name of anathema.  But where the weak have been strengthened in their faith, there we eject from the church signs and titles, or bonds of idolatry, altars, images and popish vestments together with the superstitious bread.  For we do not wish to emulate the pope as Antichrist in his bread and rubbish (Isa. 44; Zech. 9), but we desire to follow Christ and the apostles in a free and holy manner.  Finally, we reject these signs of idolatry from the church in order that they may not shame and ruin posterity.  Third, Scripture requires that the substance, purpose, and name of idolatry be abolished among the pious (Hos. 2).”


‘Altars & Aaronic Vestments’, p. 524

“Altars belonged to the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament…  They were figures, shadows, or parables and together with the Aaronic vestments, signified the priesthood and advent of Christ.  With the sending of Christ, therefore, the old sacrificial rite ceased–sacrifice, altar, vestments, together with all the ceremonies pertaining to the Old Testament priesthood, as darkness flees at the coming of light (Heb. 7,8,10; 1 Cor. 10; Col. 2).  They act against the advent and priesthood of Christ that seek to institute the figures of altars and the Levitical priesthood, and deny that Christ was sent as the true embodiment and light of the Old Testament shadows.  Christ, the apostles, and the prophets wore everyday clothing, even when distributing the sacraments.  Thus now too, pious priests may wear modest, everyday attire.  Even the councils forbid superstitious luxury in the clothing of bishops and priests (On Consecration, D. 11; decree of Pope Lucius; Constantinople, 6).”


‘Concerning the Priesthood’, pp. 534-35

“In the Old Testament, there was the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood consisting of whole victims and offerings, to signify the priesthood of Christ (decree of Pope Anacletus).  This priesthood remained as a shadow only until Christ’s sacrifice, his death on the cross, was accomplished.  With Christ’s sacrifice, the Old Testament priesthood and its sacrifices came to an end (as is written in Heb. 5,7,8,9,10; Col. 2; John 1).  The Old Testament priesthood and its sacrifices ceased like shadows with the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ.  Therefore, the priests of Baal, the popes and all the Mass-celebrating priests prepare their altars, priesthood, and Aaronic vestments contrary to the truth of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ (Cyprian, Book 2, letter 3).  They deny that Christ Himself, the body of the shadows, the light and truth, has now been displayed.  Thus like Aesop’s dogs, they cling impudently to the shadow of priesthood and sacrifice, rejecting truth, the body and the light Christ Himself displayed.  Christ is of no benefit to those who strive to restore the shadows of the Old Testament; indeed, they have fallen from grace as violators of the divine decree and covenant (Isa. 2, 65; Mal. 1; 2 Sam. 7; 1 Sam. 2).”


The Second Helvetic [Swiss] Confession  1566

Ch. 22, ‘Of Religious and Ecclesiastical Meetings’

“THE TRUE ORNAMENTATION OF SANCTUARIES. Therefore, all luxurious attire, all pride, and everything unbecoming to Christian humility, discipline and modesty, are to be banished from the sanctuaries and places of prayer of Christians. For the true ornamentation of churches does not consist in ivory, gold, and precious stones, but in the frugality, piety, and virtues of those who are in the Church. Let all things be done decently and in order in the church, and finally, let all things be done for edification.”


Documents of the Debrecen Synod  1567  Hungarian

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, vol. 3

‘Concerning the Bread’, pp. 55-57

“Another question is this:  Must distribution be performed at the altar, or table, and in what type of vestment?

Response:  Although we have frequently and at public debates expounded from the Word of God the vestments and accessories of the Levitical priesthood, nevertheless, for the benefit of the weaker, we reply as follows.  The Lord’s Supper must be distributed in a decent place…  the name ‘altar’…  with its Levitical form and purpose, by all means is to be left completely out of use and avoided, for the reasons listed below.  Ordinary, decent garments must be worn such as we wear in public and outside religious services; Aaronic and Papist dress must be avoided for these reasons.

First, because it is impossible for light and shadow, figure and reality, to stand together in the same place, subject, and use.  Altars, Aaronic vestments, together with the Mosaic or Levitical laws and the sacrificial priesthood, were shadows of things to come, representations of heavenly and spiritual things.  Thus, when light came forth and was present, the shadows had to cease and vanish.  Christ, the light and reality of the shadows, has now come.  Therefore, He has scattered those shadows with His own brilliant advent (Heb. 7-10; Col. 2; Gal. 5; 2 Cor. 5).  Therefore, Aesop’s dogs, who have forgotten the light and the truth of the matter, clutch at the shadow of Christ in the flowing water.

Second, as the accidents, following the destruction of the substance, first destroyed the substance and subject, so the priesthood of Levi has been changed by the eternal and immortal priesthood of Christ; also the laws of that priesthood, as it were accidents, i.e., the sacrificial rites, Aaronic vestments, altars, lamps, sweet-smelling incense, censers, and all the sacrificial vessels, like the appurtenances of the priesthood, have had to be wiped away and to cease.  But through the new and everlasting covenant of Christ, the Old Testament and the Levitical priesthood has been changed and perfectly destroyed through the eternal priesthood of Christ (Heb. 1, 5, 7-10).  Therefore, the monkeys of the Antichrist act impiously when they retain the empty shell and vain concomitants of Judaism.

Third, because they render Christ, His sacrifice and merit useless who retain the merit of works, wish to find salvation by the works of the law, circumcision, and preserve other Mosaic ceremonies, vestments, altars, censers, and other sacerdotal vessels (Rom. 4, 9-11, 15; Gal. 2-3; Acts 15).  “If you are circumcised, Christ will not profit you” (Gal. 5:2).  If you build altars and dress in Levitical fashion, Christ is of no advantage to you.

Fourth, the Law and the Prophets lasted until John the Baptist (Matt. 11:13).  Therefore, with the appearance of Christ, the law with its accidents–the Levitical priesthood, vestments, and altars–were wiped away and ceased.  For the purpose was wiped away and the relationship destroyed; the purpose of sacrificial rites was wiped away, and so were the means, signs of the means, or adjuncts.

Fifth, on the occasion of the Last Supper (which did not take place at an altar, but at a table), Christ and the apostles were in ordinary dress such as they wore everyday.  “They could not have been partakers of the Lord’s table and the devil’s” (1 Cor. 10:21; Luke 22).  Therefore Aaronic vestments and altars must be abandoned.

Sixth, according to the testimony of the apostle, it is a great sin to maintain in the church the name, memory and form of things wiped away by Christ (Gal. 5; Heb. 5, 7-10; Hos. 1-3).  It smacks of idolatry to retain those ordinances of God that were shadows of things to come, like the ancient priesthood, the old covenant with its altars and superstitious vestments.  For outside the signification of their use, purpose and limit, all God’s ordinances become human traditions, sin and darkness (Gal. 5; Amos 5; Isa. 28-29, 66; Matt. 15, 23).  Hence, the Lord complains that He had not arranged for sacrifices; hence, He had meant to destroy the temple and tabernacle.  But all the sacrifices terminated and ended and were fulfilled in Christ.  For Christ is the end, the complete fulfillment of the law and sacrificial priesthood and all the shadows.  Papists, flesh-eaters, Judaizing Saxons act foolishly and impiously when they clutch at the shadow, like Aesop’s dog.

Seventh, those who dress in alien idolatrous fashion, the Lord will condemn.  Aaronic vestments are alien things, outside His use and purpose; therefore, they are condemned.  Thus, by the example of Christ and the apostles, we must use decent, ordinary civilian clothing, but not that which is superstitious and ridiculous.  They prattle impiously that take the part of Interim, who call adiaphora [indifferent things] vestments, altars, vessels of Moses and Aaron and oppose the law of God with human traditions., such as idols, unleavened bread, and the sacrifice of the Mass, which one may use or not use.  For one may not please oneself with that which is condemned in the law of God; but idols, human traditions, altars and idolatrous vestments are condemned in the first and second commandment.  Therefore, their use may not be permitted.”


XLIII, ‘The clergy and their families shall avoid ostentatious dress’, p. 119

“As Christ deplores ostentatious dress in pastors (fine clothing in the manner of leading men at court, such as spongers, dandies or palace guards), so we also prohibit to the wives of pastors ostentation and immoderate dress; nor, by the word of the apostle, may they indulge rolling the hair with gems.  Rather they shall wear clothing free of display, luxury, proud show (as is the case with courtly and royal noblewomen) (1 Tim. 3-4; Titus 1, 3; 1 Cor. 14), and be modest, adorned with maidenly virtue, obedient to their husbands, sober, skilled and assiduous in domestic matters, as Holy Scripture commands.”


Confession of the Synod of Csenger  1570  Hungarian

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, vol. 3, p. 302

Thesis 48, ‘Concerning the Dress of Spiritual Pastors’

“As the everyday dress of servants of the church is not circumscribed or limited by any rule, form, or measure in either the Old or the New Covenant in Holy Scripture, it would be a foolish and unkind thing for us to make those who have been made by God heirs and masters of all creation into slaves to clothing and superstitious food and drink.  In all these things, therefore, a gracious and sacred moderation must be observed in accordance with decency, propriety and necessity and as circumstances permit.  All excess, display, arrogance, scandal, dishonesty, miserliness, and things out of keeping with and contrary to nature are to be avoided (1 Cor. 6, 14-15).”


The Synod of Cracow  1573  Polish

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, vol. 3, pp. 396-97

IV. ‘Concerning Ministers’

“1.  All vices ought to be restrained and kept at a distance, including extravagant feasts, gluttony and drunkenness, cursing, dancing, haughtiness and excess in apparel, which people of any position ought to avoid in every place, but especially in the sacred assemblies, so that they do not give cause for offense.”


The Nassau Confession  1578  German

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries, vol. 3, pp. 491-92

‘Mass, Vestments, Albs and Surplices’

“To this very end have the Papists brought in such a variety of mass vestments, surplices, and other special clothing for the priests, in order that thereby they would have so much the more splendor and magnificence, as in the Old Testament the priests and Levites wore their adornment and garb.

But by the light of the gospel, the night and darkness of the Papacy has been driven from the Protestant church and one is able to assemble with peace in the light of day.  The Levitical pomp has been abolished by God Himself.

And at the original Supper, the Lord Christ (as well as the apostles afterwards whenever they observed the Supper) used their ordinary clothes and did not for the first time put on new and distinct surplices, albs, chasubles, or the like, which more disguise the administration of the Holy Supper and of themselves more closely resemble theatrical masks than serve as an adornment to the church’s worship.

Therefore, for the administration of the Lord’s Supper and for other occasions, there has been in the churches of this land (as was previously done in the neighboring churches and in many others) an entire abolition of all this vain pomp of illuminations, candles, surplices, and mass vestments as being the colors of Antichrist’s court.

And it has been prescribed that the ministers of the churches are to maintain their ordinary, albeit honorable, garb when they preach and distribute the sacrament.

By this, nothing is taken away from their office.  So it is with those who attend the Lord’s Supper, for they also subtract nothing from the proper use of the sacraments when they do not put on distinctive  and novel clothes, but maintain their commonplace clothes which they would otherwise ordinarily wear.”


The Bremen Consensus  1595  German

in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries, vol. 3, pp. 716-18

‘The Burning of Candles and Mass Vestments’

“I. As there were in the Old Testament (which was to be maintained until the coming of Christ) burning illuminations and lamps used in the Levitical service of worship, and the priests and Levites wore their distinctive embellishment and garb, the Roman popes have with similar pomp reverenced their mass and made it splendid, and exalted the standing of their priests, wishing to bring them into a more brilliant esteem with everyone.

II. On this account, there are many who, though not willing to continue to be popish, yet at the administration of the Lord’s Supper burn lights and candles in the light of day, while the ministers put on special surplices, albs, chasubles, and other mass vestments.  Inasmuch, however, as this is an unnecessary imitation of the Levitical pageantry which has now received its fulfillment, and neither Christ nor the apostles has give command or example for it, nothing should or can be said in censure when we do away with such theatrical masks (which in reality are nothing other than the colors of Antichrist’s court).

III. But if anyone would be angry with us over this or over the aforesaid reception of the sacrament by hand, we give them in retort these words of Dr. Luther’s as written in his book about the misuse of the mass [Von beider Gestalt des Sakraments zu nehmen]:

‘We come again to what is foremost and say by the command and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen, that they who take hold of the sacrament with the hands or who have administered it without consecrated garb, vessel or tabernacle, or to whom in this manner it has been administered hithterto, whether at Wittenberg or Eulenburg…  under pain of their salvation–they make no conscience of these things as if evil were done so far as it concerns the work in itself.  Instead, he should stand steadfast on this and much sooner let himself be killed ten times over before he would recant or condemn this or acknowledge it to be improper…  I am, however, addressing the work itself; of the misuse and of persons, we wish to speak later.  The cause of all this is that they who have condemned this, or will yet condemn it, are not able to demonstrate that it is done contrary to Christ’s original institution.  Rather they have to acknowledge that Christ Himself and Christendom in general have done thus and have left us the freedom to do this.

Standing up on pain of man’s salvation, he will not recant what Christ Himself and the whole of ancient Christendom has done nor censure it as improper or allow it to be censured.  For that would be as much as to deny and condemn Christ and all the apostles and all of Christendom though they have the very best footing…  They [papists and ‘several angry princes’] also have to acknowledge the other cause, namely, that all the things which they bring forth and over which they so rage are the opinions of men or the precepts of the church (as they lie and mislead).  It is still far from proven that Christ administered the sacrament with consecrated vessels, garb and tabernacles or has ordered that it be thus administered…'”



Writings & Quotes


Peter Martyr Vermigli

Gorham, Gleanings of a Few Scattered Ears

Letter 46, ‘To a Friend in England’, p. 160  July 1, 1550
Letter 53, ‘Martyr to Bishop Hooper’, pp. 187-196  Nov. 4, 1550
Letter 54, ‘Martyr to Bucer’, pp. 196-97  Nov. 11, 1550

‘Martyr to Bucer’, p. 229  Jan. 10, 1551
‘Martyr to Bucer’, pp. 232-33  early Feb., 1551

Letter 33, P. Martyr to T. Sampson, p. 66  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chronologically arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846)  Nov. 4, 1559

Letter 42, P. Martyr to T. Sampson

As quoted in Joseph Bingham, Works, 10.126-28


In Latin

Historical Narration of Certain Events that Took Place in the Kingdom of Britain in the Month of July in the Year of our Lord, 1553  (London, 1865)


Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575)

Concerning thapparel of Ministers  (1566)

p. 211 (mid) of the 2nd Decade, 2nd Sermon, ‘Of God’s Law & of the Two First Commandments of the First Table’  in  Decades (Parker Society)

‘Bullinger to Utenhoven’, p. 276  in Gorham, Gleanings  Nov. 8, 1551  On Hooper’s release from prison.

Letter 98, H. Bullinger to Bishop Horn  (1565)  in The Zurich Letters  2nd edition chronologically arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846), pp. 202-204

Letter 104, H. Bullinger to L. Humphrey and T. Sampson  (1566)  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed., pp. 214-24

For the unhappy events then happening to many of the puritans in England due to the imposition of vestments, see Letter 106, J. Abel to H. Bullinger

Give due consideration to Humphrey and Sampson’s reply to Bullinger’s reasons in Letter 109, p. 233 ff.

Letter 115, H. Bullinger & R. Gualter to L. Humphrey & T. Sampson  This letter responds to Letter 109 immediately above.  Sept. 10, 1566


Myles Coverdale

Letter 107, M. Coverdale, etc. to W. Farell, P. Viret, etc.  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chronologically arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846), pp. 228 ff.  July 1566


Martin Bucer

‘Bucer to Alasco’  in John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, 2.2.444-55  end of Oct., 1550

‘Martin Bucer to John Hooper’  in John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, 2.2.456-65  This letter was also retranslated in Gorham, Gleanings, p. 200 ff.

‘Bucer to Archbishop Cranmer’  in Gorham, Gleanings, pp. 214-20  Dec. 8, 1550


Rudolph Gwalter

Letter 115, H. Bullinger and R. Gualter to L. Humphrey and T. Sampson  This letter responds to Letter 109 immediately above.  Sept. 10, 1566

Letter 117, R. Gualter to Bishop Parkhurst  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chron. arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846), pp. 262 ff.  Sept. 11, 1566

Letter 118, R. Gualter to T. Beza  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chron. arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846), pp. 262 ff.  Sept. 11, 1566


John Calvin

Epistle 173, to Farel, p. 71  in ed. Bonnet, Letters of John Calvin, vol. 2 (Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858)  Sept. 1, 1546

Gorham, Gleanings

‘Calvin to Bullinger’, pp. 242-43  March 12, 1551

On Hooper:  “…although I commend his firmness in refusing to be anointed [a bishop in vestments], yet I should have preferred that he had not contended so far about the cap and surplice (although I do not approve of them)…”

‘Calvin to Bullinger’, p. 244  April 10, 1551

Quoted in Joseph Bingham, Works, 10.125.  Bingham was defending Anglicanism.


John Hooper

See Hooper’s main theological writings under the section ‘Theological Arguments’ above.


‘Hooper to Archbishop Cranmer’  in Gorham, Gleanings, p. 233-235  Feb. 15, 1551  From prison, in order to be released from prison.

Iain Murray:  “Hooper’s resistance to the official policy on this matter resulted in the extraordinary situation of his being committed to the Fleet prison, from which he was only released when he wrote a letter of submission to Cranmer on February 15, 1551.  the letter (printed in G.C. Gorham’s Reformation Gleanings [pp. 233-5], 1857) shows that Hooper did not recant his principles…  but that the strength of the opposition from other Protestants led him to doubt the wisdom of continuing his particular stand against vestments.”

Hooper, John

Early Writings  (Parker Society)
Later Writings  (Parker Society)


On Hooper

Search results in Zurich Letters, Second Series  See especially pp. 571585-86 & 675


John Alasco

For Alasco’s main theological arguments, see under the section ‘Theological Arguemnts’ above, and numerous of the Creeds which he had a chief hand in writing below.


‘Alasco to Utenhoven’  in Gorham, Gleanings, p. 222  About appointing a meeting to talk with Hooper


First Scottish Book of Discipline  1560

The First Head of Doctrine & The Explication of the First Head

“Seeing that Christ Jesus is He whom God the Father hath commanded only to be heard and followed of his sheep, we judge it necessary that…  all doctrine repugnant to the same, be utterly repressed, as damnable to man’s salvation.

…By the contrary doctrine we understand whatsoever men by laws, counsels, or constitutions, have imposed upon the consciences of men, without the expressed commandment of God’s Word, such as be the vows to chastity, forswearing of marriage, binding of men and women to several and disguised apparels…”


The Admonition to Parliament  1572  by Thomas Wilcox & John Field

Puritan Manifestoes (1907)  For background, see Wikipedia.

pp. 10-11

“Then [in the early Church], after just trial and vocation they were admitted to their function, by laying on of hands of the company of the eldership only: now there is (neither of these being looked unto) required an alb, a surplice, a vestment, a pastoral staff, beside that rediculous, and (as they use it to their new creatures) blasphemous saying, ‘receive the holy ghost’…  Then the ministers were preachers, now bare readers…  In those days known by voice, learning and doctrine: now they must be discerned by other by popish and Antichristian apparel, as cap, gown, tippet, etc…”


pp. 13-14

“…the Sacrament…  they [the early Church] took it with conscience.  We with costume…  They ministered the Sacrament plainly.  We pompously, with singing, piping, surplice and cope wearing.  They simply as they received it from the Lord.  We sinfully, mixed with man’s inventions and devices.

And as for Baptism…  Now, we must surplices devised by Pope Adrian…  and such like pieces of popery, which the Church of God in the apostles’ time never knew (and therefore not to be used) nay (which we are sure of) were and are man’s devices, brought in long after the purity of the primitive church.”


‘A View of Popish Abuses yet Remaining in the English Church’, 2nd Article, pp. 35-26


Theodore Beza


Beza, A Clear & Simple Treatise on the Lord’s Supper (1559; RHB, 2016), pp. 143-44

“…we think that some things are tolerated which should not at all be endured.  We are not spending so much time on those linen vestments that we would want the progress of God’s Word to be disturbed because of them–even just a little.  Yet we judge that they have acted correctly and wisely who have thrown out of their churches that whole form of dress, which is more suited to actors than to ministers of the Word, as well as other remnants of paganism.  For surely they can do a great deal of harm, as experience itself has taught; and they cannot help at all.  But we certainly do not count the restoring of what has been thrown out among things that are indifferent [adiaphora].”


About Beza

pp. 483-84  as narrated and quoted by John Strype (d. 1737, an Anglican) in The Life of Matthew Parker, vol. 1


Letters of Beza

‘To the Reverend, Father in Christ, Edmund Grindal’  appended to the Admonition to Parliament in Puritan Manifestoes, pp. 43-55  July, 1566

Letter 112, T. Beza to H. Bullinger, p. 247 ff.  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chron. arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846)  Sept. 3, 1566


Jerome Zanchi

Letter 158, ‘H. Zanchius to Queen Elizabeth’  (1571)  in The Zurich Letters  2nd ed. chronologically arranged in one series (Oxford, 1846), p. 367 ff.

Confession of Christian Religion (1599)ch. 25, section 30, pp. 229-30

“Thirdly, all pride and vanity of garments are to be shunned and all those ornaments which do rather beseem the profane theaters of the gentiles than the sacred temples of Christians and which rather tend to delight the flesh than to edify the spirit: but all things must be done in the churches with most high reverence and modesty, as in the very sight of God and his angels.

And albeit concerning the fashion of garments which ministers ought publicly to wear, either in their ministery or out of it, we do not think it a matter to be so stood upon that for it the peace of the church ought to be troubled; yet where they come nearest to the simplicity of the apostles, there we judge the church rather to be approved.”



Gillespie, George

English-Popish Ceremonies  (Naphtali Press, 1993)

Part 2, Ch. 2, p. 73

“As for those who allege some conveniency in the ceremonies, they say more than can abide the proof of reason, which the induction [enumeration] of some particulars shall demonstrate.  Dr. [Thomas] Morton (Particular Defense, ch. 1, sect. 1 [1618]) alleges for the surplice that the difference of outward garments cannot but be held convenient for the distinguishing of ministers from laics [laity] in the discharge of their function.

Answer:  This conveniency is as well seen to without the surplice.  If a man having a black gown upon him be seen exercising the function of a minister, it is very strange if any man think it not sufficiently distinguished from laics.”

[Note that Gillespie does not say that a minister could be distinguished simply as he wore a black gown, but that he wore such a gown and was seen exercising the function of a minister.  This qualification seems to assume that the black gown was not distinctive to ministers but might have been worn by others, and hence, it had not purely an ecclesiastical use, but also a civil use, and hence the gown itself was indifferent and was not so connected to the ordained office that it, of itself, was for the purpose of distinguishing the ordained office from others.]


Part 2, Ch. 9, p. 122-23

“Other of the ceremonies that are not evil in their own nature, yet were devised for evil; for example, the surplice.  The replier (David Calderwood [sometimes attributed to William Ames], A Reply to Dr. Morton’s Particular Defense, ch. 1, sect. 3) to Dr. Morton’s Particular Defense observes, that this superstition about apparel in divine worship began first among the French bishops, whom Caelestinus [Pope Celestine I, d. 432] writes thus: —

“…We are to be distinguished from the common people and others by doctrine, not by garment–by conversation, not by habit [in clothing, etc.]–by the purity of mind, not by attire; for if we study to innovation, we tread under foot the order which has been delivered unto us by our fathers, to make place to idle superstitions; wherefore we ought not to lead the minds of the faithful into such things, for they are rather to be instructed than played withal; neither are we to blind and beguile their eyes, but to infuse instructions into their minds.”

In which words Caelestinus reprehends this apparel, as a novelty which tended to superstition, and made way to the mocking and deceiving of the faithful.”


Part 3, ch. 3, p. 195  This very much applies to the issue of vestments:

“What if we should yield to the Bishop that kneeling [to the bread and wine in the Supper] and holidays are with us applied to another service, and used with another meaning than they are with the Papists [as is often claimed with vestments]?  Does that excuse our conformity with Papists in the external use of these ceremonies?  If so, J. [John] Hart did rightly argue out of Pope Innocentius, that the church does not Judaize by the sacrament of unction or anointing, because it figures and works another thing in the New Testament than it did in the Old (Rainolds, Conference with Hart, ch. 8, div. 4, p. 496).

Rainolds answers, that though it were so, yet is the ceremony Jewish; and mark his reason (which carries a fit proportion to our present purpose), ‘I trust’, he says,

‘you will not maintain but it were Judaism for your church to sacrifice a lamb in burnt-offering, though you did it to signify, not Christ that was to come, as the Jews did, but that Christ is come, etc.

St. Peter did constrain the Gentiles to Judaize, when they were induced by his example and authority to follow the Jewish rite in choice of meat; yet neither he nor they allowed it in that meaning which it was given to the Jews in; for it was given them to betoken that holiness, and train them up into it, which Christ by his grace should bring to the faithful.  And Peter knew that Christ had done this in truth, and taken away that figure, yea the whole yoke of the law of Moses; which point he taught the Gentiles also.

Wherefore, although your church keeps the Jewish rites with another meaning than God ordained them for the Jews…  yet this of Peter shows that the thing is Jewish, and you to Judaize to keep them. (Ibid., p. 496 [567])”

By the very same reasons prove we that Formalists do Romanize by keeping the popish ceremonies, though with another meaning, and to another use, than the Romanists do.  The very external use, therefore, of any sacred ceremony of human institution, is not to be suffered in the matter of worship, when in respect of this external use we are sorted with idolaters.”


Peter Du Moulin

As quoted in Joseph Bingham, Works, 10.129


Rutherford, Samuel

pp. 1-6  of The Introduction, Section 1  of The Divine Right of Church Government  (London, 1646)

p. 4:  “There be some mixed circumstances, as these same physical circumstances clothed with their own seasonable conveniences; so time for worship, and due and convenient time is required..  A habit [clothing] in the preacher is required, and that a grave one…”

p. 649  of ‘Whether or Not Things Indifferent can be Commanded Because Indifferent?’ in An Introduction to the Doctrine of Scandal, appended to The Divine Right of Church Government  (London, 1646)


Baxter, Richard

Baxter held (per Joseph Bingham, Works, 10.124) that ministerial ‘ornaments’ are not unlawful in themselves, but rather that they should not be imposed by authority on ministers, with such dissenting ministers being deposed for this.  Here are some excerpts from Baxter:

The Defence of the Nonconformists’ Plea for Peace (1680), Ch. 18, pp. 41-42

“A. 3:  And God’s prohibition, Deut. 12, of adding or diminishing, is not washed away so easily as your words would make men believe.  You say, It reaches to the whole duty of man, and government of the Church, etc.

Answer:  There be some things in the duty of man and church-matters that God has left to man: To do those is no addition to God’s laws:  But to do the like work that God by his Law has done, which He never left to man, seems to me the addition there forbidden:  e.g. If men had made another Tabernacle, another ark of the Covenant, another holy vestment for Aaron, another sacrament like circumcision or the Passover, He that so reproved their worshiping in the high places would have reproved these.”

pp. 87 & 219 of An Apology for the Nonconformists’ Ministry  (1682)





Pierce, William – Appendix B, ‘A Select Bibliography of the Marprelate Controversy’  in An Historical Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts: a Chapter in the Evolution of Religion & Civil Liberty in England, pp. 322-32  (1908)  Arranged in chronological order

ed. Peel, Albert – The Seconde Parte of a Register: being a Calendar of Manuscripts under that Title Intended for Publication by the Puritans about 1593, vols. 1, 2  See the Index under ‘Surplice’ and ‘Vestments’.

This is an annotated bibliography from 1593 recording all of the works in England from 1570 which advocated for a puritan reform of Church and State.  The modern editor often gives references to modern where where these manuscripts have been printed.

Ch. 4, section 7, ‘The Marprelate Controversy’  in ed. F.W. Bateson, Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, vol. 1 (600-1660)  pp. 688-94

A double column bibliography of primary and secondary sources.  Very full, though it says: “The best bibliographies are contained in the late W. Pierce’s Historical Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts (1908) and The Marprelate Tracts (1911).”

ed. Conyers, Read – ‘The Martin Marprelate Controversy’  in Bibliography of British History: Tudor Period, 1485-1603, pp. 205-6  Buy  (1959)

National Archives of Great Britain – ‘Reading List: The English Reformation, c. 1527-1590’




“If there come unto your assembly a man…  in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, and ye have respect unto him that weareth the gay clothing…  are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”

James 2

“Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;”

Lk. 20:46

“Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God, for the Day of the Lord is at hand…  and it shall come to pass…  that I will punish…  all such as are clothed with strange apparel.”

Zeph. 1:7-8

“And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.  Then said Paul unto him, ‘God shall smite thee, thou whited wall…’  And they that stood by said, ‘Revilest thou God’s high priest?’  Then said Paul, ‘I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest…'”

Acts 23:2-5




Related Pages


Regulative Principle of Worship

Simplicity of Worship

On Posture & Gestures in Worship

Natural Gestures & Customs in Worship; of Reverence

Impurities in Worship

The History of Scottish Worship

All the Works of the Westminster Divines on Worship

Critiques of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer

On Head Coverings in Public Worship

On the Ordinances, Order & Policy of the Church

On Customs, the Holy Kiss, Foot Washing, Anointing with Oil, Love Feasts, etc.

On Eating & Drinking Blood, & Marital Relations During Menstruation

Natural Law

On Ceremonies