On the Conscience

 

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.  But why dost thou judge thy brother?…  for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Rom. 15:8-12

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Subsections

On How Human Laws Bind the Conscience & How They do Not

On Toleration & Pretended Liberty of Conscience

Cases of Conscience

On Implicit, or Blind Faith & Obedience

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Order of Contents

Articles  2+
Books  6+

That the Ultimate Rule of Actions is God’s Word, Not Conscience
Does an Erroneous Conscience Oblige?
That Good Intentions do Not Make an Evil Work Good
On Maintaining a Good Conscience
On Wounded, Afflicted & Troubled Consciences
On a Scrupulous Conscience
On a Doubting Conscience

On How Church Rulings Do & Don’t Bind
On Those who are Better Informed
On the Power of Authorities to Bind in Indifferent Things
That the Magistrate Does not Bind the Conscience & the Church Craves
.        the Conscience to be Subject to the Word
The Grounds upon which the Magistrate Punishes
On Non-Moral Actions, Ignorance, Fear & Guilt
On Obedience to Human Authority
That the 5th Commandment does not take Precedence Over the 6th
.       Commandment on Conformity

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Articles

1500’s

Calvin, John – Institutes, bk. 4, ch. 10, sections 3-4, ‘The Nature of Conscience’ & ‘The Definition of Conscience Explained’

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1600’s

Bourne, Immanuel – The Anatomy of Conscience, or a Threefold Revelation of those Three Most Secret Books: 1. The Book of God’s Prescience. 2. The Book of Man’s Conscience. 3. The Book of Life, in a Sermon preached at the General Assizes…  in Lent Last  (London, 1623)

Bourne (1590-1672) was an Anglican clergyman.

Dickson, David – Ch. 1, ‘Of Conscience in General’  in Therapeutica Sacra [Sacred Therapeutics], Showing Briefly the Method of Healing the Diseases of the Conscience, Concerning Regeneration  (Edinburgh, 1664), pp. 1-7

Dickson (1583-1662) was a Scottish covenanter.  See this Introduction by Fentiman to the work in general.

Sharp, John

A Discourse Concerning Conscience: Wherein an Account is Given of the Nature and Rule and Obligation of it: and the Case of those who Separate from the Communion of the Church of England as by Law Established, upon this pretense, that it is against their conscience to join in it, is stated and discussed  (London: 1684)

Sharp (1645–1714) was a latitudinarian, Anglican archbishop and divine.

‘A Discourse of Conscience, showing, I. What Conscience is, and what are its acts and offices: II. What is the rule of it: III. The several sorts of conscience: IV. How some practical cases or questions concerning conscience may be resolved: V. The benefit and happiness of a good conscience, and the unhappiness of an evil one: VI. How a good conscience may be attained, and how we may judge whether we have attained it’  (London: 1697)

Sermon 16, on Heb. 13:18, ‘Concerning Man’s Conscience, when it is good, when it is not’  in Sixteen Casuistical Sermons Preached on Several Occasions, vol. 3  (London, 1716)

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Books

1500’s

Perkins, William – A Discourse of Conscience, Wherein is set Down the Nature, Properties & Differences Thereof: as also the Way to get and Keep Good Conscience  GB  (Cambridge: 1596)

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1600’s

Howesoun, John – A Short Exposition of the 20th & 21st verses of the Third Chapter of the First Epistle of St. John, Containing a very profitable discourse of Conscience, and of all the actions, sorts and kinds thereof, whereby every man may easily know his estate wherein he stands in the sight of his God, and whether his conscience be good or evil, with all things also belonging either to get a good conscience or else to relieve it out of trouble, being grieved and wounded, as in the Epistle to the Reader is more specially mentioned, and in the discourse itself clearly expressed  (Edinburgh, 1600)

Howesoun was reformed.

Worship, William – The Christian’s Jewel, or the Treasure of a Good Conscience  (London, 1617)  Chapters 1-17 especially deal with the conscience in general.

Worship (fl.1603-1625) was a reformed, English chaplain.

Huit, Ephraim – The Anatomy of Conscience, or, The Sum of Paul’s Regeneracy, wherein are handled the places of conscience, worship, and scandal, with diverse rules of Christian practice: very profitable for the Weak Christian  (London, 1626)  ToC

Bernard, Richard – Christian See to thy Conscience: or a Treatise of the Nature, Kinds & Manifold Differences of Conscience…  (London, 1631)  450 pp.  ToC

Bernard (bap.1568-1642) was an English conforming puritan.

Ames, William – Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof Divided into Five Books, bks 1-3  ([Leiden & London] 1639)  Here is bk. 3, ch. 1, ‘Of Obedience’ (EEBO has missing pages) which deals only with obedience to God (not to men).  Bks. 4-5 do not appear to be online.

Fenner, William – The Soul’s Looking-Glass, Lively Representing its Estate Before God with a Treatise of Conscience: Wherein the Definitions & Distinctions Thereof are Unfolded, & Several Cases [are] Resolved  (Cambridge, 1643)  212 pp.

Fenner (c.1600-1640) was a reformed puritan.

Sanderson, Robert – Bishop Sanderson’s Lectures on Conscience & Human Law, Delivered in the Divinity School of Oxford  (d. 1663; Oxford, 1877)  ToC  The first four lectures deal with the conscience generally.

Sanderson (1587-1663) was a reformed Anglican and casuist.

Sanderson, as was typical of the Anglican context, gets the answer to the bindingness of human laws wrong; he states at the end of the fifth lecture: “A human ruler does not oblige the conscience to obey the law, but God obliges the conscience to obey the human ruler, in all things not unlawful.”

Taylor, Jeremy – Ductor Dubitantium [A Guide to Doubtings]: or the Rule of Conscience in All her General Measures, Serving as a Great Instrument for the Determination of Cases of Conscience, in Four Books  2nd ed.  (d. 1667; London, 1671)  890 pp.  ToC

Taylor (1613–1667) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian, cleric in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.  He is sometimes known as the ‘Shakespeare of Divines’ for his poetic style of expression, and he is frequently cited as one of the greatest prose writers in the English language.

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1700’s

La Placette, Jean – The Christian Casuist: or, a Treatise of Conscience  (London: 1705)  490 pp.  ToC

La Placette (1629-1718) was a French Huguenot minister.

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That the Ultimate Rule of Actions is God’s Word, Not Conscience

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Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646), p. 212

“God’s Word, not men’s persuasions of conscience (except in this also he be an Arminian) is the rule of men’s actions.”

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Articles

1600’s

Bernard, Richard – chs. 21-38  of Christian See to thy Conscience: or a Treatise of the Nature, Kinds & Manifold Differences of Conscience…  (London, 1631)

Bernard (bap.1568-1642) was an English conforming puritan.

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1700’s

La Placette, Jean – Bk. 3, ‘Of the Care which every man ought to take of his own Conscience’, chs. 3-5  of The Christian Casuist: or, a Treatise of Conscience  (London: 1705)

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Does an Erroneous Conscience Oblige, or Bind?

Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience…  (1649), ch. 11, ‘Of the Obliging Power of Conscience’, pp. 133-136.  See the whole chapter for more.

“But touching an erring conscience, the question is not whether an erroneous conscience does so tie that we must do nothing on the contrary, nor is the question whether the nearest, actually obliging rule, be conscience; the Arminians tell us [that] though the Word of God, of itself, and by itself, have power to oblige, yet it actually obliges no man except it be understood, and so is believed to be understood, after we use all possible diligence and prudence, for no man is obliged to follow the true sense of the Word against his conscience, though it be erroneous;

But we think the Word of God is both the farest and nearest, and the only obliging rule, and that the ditement [judgment] of the conscience does neither bind potentially nor actually, but is a mere [in Greek], a messenger and an official relater of the will and mind to God to us, and all the obliging power is from the Word;

[???] the messenger of a king and judge is not the obliging [???] that ties the subject, or the herald’s promulgation of the Law, is no obliging rule; for [the] promulgation of heralds is common both to just and to unjust laws, and certainly unjust laws from a just prince lay no band on the conscience or on the man, far less can the promulgation, as the promulgation, lay any bands on the conscience; the word of a messenger and herald is at the best but a condition, or the approximation of the obliging power to us, but all the obliging power is from the king and the judge.

It is most false then, that these Libertines say that the Word does not actually oblige except it be understood, for the understanding, information and indictment of conscience does not add any actual obligation to the Word that it had not before, it only is a reporter, to carry both the Word and the actual obligation to the man; the herald promulgating the law adds no obligation, actual or potential, to the law that it had not before, only it makes an union in distance, and near application and conjunction between the actually obliging law and the understanding knowledge of the person or subject, who is obliged to keep the law; though it be true the fire cannot actually burn but as timber is cast to it, yet the fire has from its own nature both potential and actual burning, not from the act of casting the timber in the fire;

Nor is this a concludent reason, ‘no man is obliged [to] follow how the true sense of the Word against his conscience, though erroneous, ergo [therefore] the erroneous conscience does oblige, or ergo, actual obligation to obedience is not from the Word, but from the conscience;’ no more than this is a good consequence: no man is obliged to obey the Law in itself, just contrary to the promulgation of an erring and mistaking herald, ergo, the mistaking herald’s promulgation gives to the Law actual obligation over the subject; for it only follows [that] we are not to do contrary to the actual indictment of an erroneous conscience, but not obliged to follow the erroneous conscience;

Nor are we obliged to follow what our conscience says is true and good, because, or upon this formal reason and ground, that the conscience says so, more than we are to believe and practice what the Church or the conscience of others, [who are] the Church, the learned and godly, say; for we make not the word of the Church the formal object of our faith, but ‘thus saith the Lord’ only, because the Church is but a company of men and so our faith should depend upon men, even though holy and speaking ingenuously what their conscience dictates as true, which is absurd, ergo, by the same reason, what one man’s conscience, our own or others’ say, is not the formal object of our faith and practices, for so also our faith should depend on man, not on God.

And we say the conscience, at its best, is but regula regulata [a rule being regulated] not, regula regulans [a regulating rule], nor ought it to have the throne of God, for God is only Regula Regulans.  If it were a rule, it is to be ruled by God and his Word, yea, as we are to try all things and not believe with a blind faith what others say, or their conscience proposes to themselves and us, as truth, for then we make a Pope of the consciences of men under the notion of teachers and Church; so we are not to be ruled without trying, and absolutely [ruled] by our own conscience, but to try its dictates by the Word of God, otherwise we make a Pope and a God of our own conscience.

…an erroneous conscience must be a transgressing conscience, and it is a contradiction that a faculty sinning should oblige to obedience to the Law of God, in the same consideration, because it sins.”

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That Good Intentions do Not Make an Evil Work Good

Quotes

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), p. 215

“We all know the intention of the end goes in the intention before the action, but not as an essential cause to make an evil action good, or [to] make an indifferent action necessary and honest: A good intention does make a good action good and better, but that a good intention (as idolators are full of good intentions) can never so season the means, as…  that it can make evil to be good.

Vasquez condemns the Fathers of ignorance, because they said, Propositum bonum excusat malum opus [A proposed good excuses a bad work]: so Cassianus said [that] it was lawful to lie for a good end, and Chrysostom and Ambrose said the same, as Vasquez says: see Aquinas for this.”

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Robert Sanderson

pp. 76-77  of Case 4, ‘of Scandal’  in Nine Cases of Conscience Occasionally Determined  (London, 1678)

“2. The first [way in which a man may be guilty of scandal] is, when a man does something before another man, which is in itself evil, unlawful and sinful, in which case, neither the intention of him that does it, nor the event, as to him that sees it done, is of any consideration;

For it matters not whether the doer had an intention to draw the other into sin thereby, or not: neither does it matter whether the other were thereby induced to commit sin or not: the matter or substance of the action being evil, and done before others, is sufficient to render the doer guilty of having given scandal, though he had neither any intention himself so to do, nor were any person actually scandalized thereby; because whatsoever is in itself, and in its own nature evil, is also of itself and in its own nature scandalous and of evil example.

Thus did Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, give scandal by their wretched profaneness and greediness about the sacrifices of the Lord, and their vile and shameless abusing the women, 1 Sam. 2:17,22.  And so did David also give great scandal in the matter of Uriah, 2 Sam. 12:14.  Here the rule is, Do nothing that is evil, for fear of giving scandal.”

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On Attaining & Maintaining a Good Conscience

1500’s

Perkins, William – A Discourse of Conscience, Wherein is set Down the Nature, Properties & Differences Thereof: as also the Way to get and Keep Good Conscience  GB  (Cambridge: 1596)

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1600’s

Worship, William – The Christian’s Jewel, or the Treasure of a Good Conscience  (London, 1617)

Worship (fl.1603-1625) was a reformed, English chaplain.

Ward, Samuel – Balm from Gilead to Recover Conscience, in a Sermon  (1616; London, 1618)

Ward (1577-1640) was an English puritan minister.  Ward’s four heads are:

1. What Conscience is.
2. What a good one is; how it may be discerned from bad ones and known to be good.
3. How good a thing it is.
4. What is the use, office and effect of a good one.

Dyke, Jeremiah – Good Conscience: or a Treatise Showing the Nature, Means, Marks, Benefit & Necessity Thereof  (London, 1626)  ToC

Sibbes, Richard – ‘The Demand of a Good Conscience’  a sermon on 1 Pet. 3:21  in Evangelical Sacrifices, in 19 Sermons...  (London, 1640)

Amyraut, Paul – The Triumph of a Good Conscience.  Or a Sermon Preached upon the 2nd of the Revelation, the latter part of the 10th verse.  Wherein the nature of faithfulness is in part opened, and the doctrine of perseverance confirmed, and some cases of conscience cleared  (London, 1648)  This work has an imprimatur by Edmund Calamy.

We do not have any bio info on this Amyraut (b. 1600 or 1601).

Stubbes, Henry – Conscience, the Best Friend upon Earth: or, The Happy Effects of Keeping a Good Conscience…  (London, 1677)  being 3 sermons

Stubbes (c.1605-1678) was an English presbyterian puritan that was ejected from the Church of England in 1662.

Durham, James – Heaven Upon Earth in the Serene Tranquility & Calm Composure, in the Sweet Peace & Solid Joy of a Good Conscience Sprinkled with the Blood of Jesus & Exercised Always to be Void of Offence Toward God & Toward Men: brought down and holden forth in 22 very Searching Sermons on Several Texts of Scripture…  (Edinburgh, 1685)

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On Wounded, Afflicted, Troubled & Burdened Consciences

On a Wounded Conscience

Bernard, Richard – ch. 45, ‘Of the Wounded Conscience, the Causes, the Continuance Longer or Shorter Time; the Effects & Preparatives to Cure it, of the Sovereign Salve, and Cordials After; how to keep from a Wounded Conscience, of the Difference Between it & the Desperate, & between it & Melancholic Passion’  in Christian See to thy Conscience: or a Treatise of the Nature, Kinds & Manifold Differences of Conscience…  (London, 1631), pp. 304-344

Bernard (bap.1568-1642) was an English conforming puritan.

Fuller, Thomas – The Cause & Cure of a Wounded Conscience…  (d. 1661; London, 1867)  123 pp.  ToC  The additional work appended to the volume is unrelated to this topic.

Fuller (c.1607-1661) was a reformed Anglican.

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On an Afflicted or Troubled Conscience

1500’s

Greenham, Richard

Propositions Containing Answers to Certain Demands in Diverse Spiritual Matters Specially Concerning the Conscience Oppressed with the Grief of Sin.  With an Epistle Against Hardness of Heart…  (Edinburgh, 1597)  ToC

Paramuthion, Two Treatises of the Comforting of an Afflicted Conscience…  with Certain Epistles of the same argument. Hereunto are added Two Sermons, with certain grave and wise counsels and answers…  (London, 1598)

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1600’s

Burton, Henry

Conflicts & Comforts of Conscience, a Treatise, Showing how the Conscience, in Cases of Deepest Distress & Distraction, may Recollect Itself, & Recover Solid & Sound Comfort  (London, 1628)

Burton (bap.1578-1648) was an English, Independent (though he switched his views numerous times), puritan.  Burton’s ears were cut off in 1637 for writing pamphlets attacking the views of Archbishop Laud.  He appears to write in this book from personal experience.

Conformity’s Deformity.  In a Dialogue Between Conformity & Conscience.  Wherein the Main Head of all the Controversies in these times concerning Church-Government is Asserted & Maintained…  (London, 1646)  27 pp.  ToC

Bolton, Robert – Instructions for a Right Comforting [of] Afflicted Consciences: with Special Antidotes against some grievous Temptations: delivered for the most part in the lecture…  EEBO  (London, 1631)  445 pp.  ToC

Downame, John – The Christian Warfare: Written Especially for their Sakes who are Exercised in the Spiritual Conflict of Tentations [Trials or Temptations], and are Afflicted in Conscience in the Sight & Sense of their Sins  4th ed.  (London, 1634)  ToC of pt. 1

Sedgwick, John – The Bearing & Burden of the Spirit, wherein the Sickness & Soundness of the Soul is Opened, and Eight Cases of Conscience Cleared & Resolved for the settling & comforting of perplexed Consciences  (London, 1639)

We do not have any bio info on Sedgwick (c.1600-1643).

Sibbes, Richard – A Consolatory Letter to an Afflicted Conscience Full of Pious Admonitions & Divine Instructions  (London, 1641)  6 pp.  The first half deals with an afflicted conscience; the second half argues against separatism.

Sibbes (c.1577-1635) was a conforming puritan.

Baxter, Richard – The Right Method for a Settled Peace of Conscience and Spiritual Comfort, in 32 Directions; Written for the Use of a Troubled Friend, etc.  (1653)  540 pp.  ToC

Dickson, David – Book 3  of Therapeutica Sacra [Sacred Therapeutics], Showing Briefly the Method of Healing the Diseases of the Conscience, Concerning Regeneration  (Edinburgh, 1664)  Use the links in the tables of contents to go the relevant chapter.

Dickson (1583-1662) was a Scottish covenanter.

Goodwin, Thomas – Certain Select Cases Resolved: I. A Child of Light Walking in Darkness, or a Treatise Showing the Causes by which, the Cases Wherein, and the Ends for Which, God Leaves his Children to Distress of Conscience, Together with Directions how to Walk so as to Come forth of such a Condition…  on Isa. 50:10-11  in Works, vol. 3, pp. 231-344

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On a Burdened Conscience

Collinges, John – A Cordial for a Fainting Soul, or, Some essays for the satisfaction of wounded spirits laboring under several burdens, in which several cases of conscience most ordinary to Christians, especially in the beginning of their conversion, are resolved: being the sum of fourteen sermons, delivered in so many lectures…  with a table annexed, containing the several cases of conscience which…  are spoken to directly or collaterally  (London, 1649)

Collinges (1623-1690) was a puritan who continued Matthew Poole’s commentary on the whole Bible after he died.  He is also represented in the six volumes of Puritan Sermons.

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On a Scrupulous Conscience

Article

Calamy, Benjamin – ‘A Discourse about a Scrupulous Conscience, Preached…’  (London, 1683)  41 pp.

Calamy (bap.1646-c.1685) was reformed.

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On a Doubting Conscience

Sharp, John – ‘The Case of a Doubting Conscience’  in Sermons Preached on Several Occasions: with Two Discourses of Conscience, vol. 2  2nd ed.  (London, 1729), p. 305 ff

Sharp (1645–1714) was a latitudinarian, Anglican archbishop and divine.

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On How Church Rulings Do & Don’t Bind

Articles

1600’s

Turretin, Francis – Question 31, ‘Does a legislative power properly so called, of enacting laws binding the conscience, belong to the church?  Or only an ordaining (diataktike) power, of sanctioning constitutions and canons for the sake of good order (eutaxian)?  The former we deny; the latter we affirm against the Romanists.’  under ‘Ecclesiastical Power’ in the 18th topic, ‘The Church’ in Institutes, vol. 3, pp. 285-293

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1700’s

La Placette, Jean – Ch. 10, ‘Of Ecclesiastical Ordinances’ & ‘Remarks on the 10th Chapter’  in The Christian Casuist: or, a Treatise of Conscience  (London: 1705). pp. 64-92

La Placette (1629-1718) was a French Huguenot minister.

“…if the laws of the Church obliged the conscience in such a [absolute] manner, as that the transgression of them were a sin, the observance of them would then be a good action…

…the persons against whom I dispute, pretend the violation of ecclesiastical laws to be therefore only sinful, because it implies an infraction of the law of God, who has commanded us to obey the Church: but if not to do what the Church enjoins be to violate the law of God, must it not be allowed, that to comply with her injunctions, is to observe the same divine law, and consequently to perform a good and virtuous act?…

Lastly, if ecclesiastical laws obliged the conscience, the Church would only have changed her yoke by the establishment of Christianity: she would still continue a slave; and the only difference would be, that whereas under the [Mosaic] Law her servitude was terminated with respect to God, she would now be in bondage to men…

…ever since the Reformation, it has been a particular controversy between the Romanists and us, whether ecclesiastical laws oblige the conscience, in other cases besides those of contempt and scandal.  The Church of Rome has declared for the affirmative; and Protestant authors, as well Lutherans as Calvinists, for the negative.

If any question this, let them give themselves the trouble of reading Bellarmine De Bonis Operibus [Of Good Works], particularly book 2, ch. 7 [‘Ecclesiastical Law Obliges the Faithful in Conscience…’], and the Brothers of Valemborch, tome 1, p. 183; tome 2, p. 187, among the papists; and among those of our communion, the supplement to Chamier, p. 375; Rivet’s Summary of Controversies [in French], tract 2, question 9 [‘Whether the Church may Make Laws?’]; [Jean] Mestrezat, Of the Church, Theses of Salmur, tome 1, disputation 1 [‘Whether Conscience to the Faith is Prior to that of the Church, or that to the Church is Prior to that of the Faith?’].  But this is not all, the Confession of Faith, published by the Reformed Churches of France, is express to the same purpose; see Article 33.  So that if I have gone too far in this respect, I have all the Protestant Churches for my vouchers.” – pp. 71-75

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Quotes

1500’s

The Ten Theses of Bern  1528

The Mass was suspended in Bern, Switzerland in 1525.  Notable figures involved shortly thereafter in the Bern Reformation included Oecolampadius, Bucer & Capito.  These theses were drafted by Berthold Haller and Franz Kolb, and were revised by Zwingli.

in ed. Dennison, Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries…  vol. 1 (2008), pp. 41-2

“1.  The holy catholic church, whose sole head is Christ, has been begotten from the Word of God, in which also it continues, nor does it listen to the voice of any stranger.

2.  The Church of Christ establishes no laws or statutes beyond the Word of God.  Thus all traditions of men, which are called by us precepts of the Church, bind our consciences only insofar as they are founded, or have been commanded, in the Word of God.

3.  Christ alone is our wisdom, righteousness…”

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The French Confession  1559

ed. Dennison, Reformed Confessions (RHB, 2010), vol. 2, p. 151

Article 33

“But we exclude all human inventions and all those laws which are introduced to bind the conscience under pretense of God’s service.  And we do only reserve such as serve to keep up concord, and retain everyone, from the highest unto the lowest, in due obedience.”

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1600’s

George Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1641), pp. 152-3

“But may one say, if the decrees of a Synod concerning matters of faith or worship, may and ought to be examined by the sure rule of the Word of God, and only to be re­ceived when they do agree therewith; and if also the constitutions of a Synod in exter­nal circumstances do not bind, except ex aeque et bono [out of equity and with/by good], and propter justas mandandi causas [of commanding according to just causes]: or, as divines speak, in casu scanda­li & contemptus [in the case of scandal and contempt], and not for the mere will or authority of a Synod; and if therefore all Christians are by the private judgment of Christian discretion, following the light of God’s Word and Spirit, to try and examine all decrees and constitutions of any Synod whatsoever, to know whether they may law­fully receive the same, as our divines main­tain and prove against Papists.

If these things be so, it may seem contrary to Chri­stian liberty, and to the doctrine of Prote­stant writers, that Synods should exercise the foresaid critic power, or inflict any spiritual censures, at least upon those who profess, that after examination of the de­crees or constitutions, they cannot bee per­suaded of the lawfulness of the same.

Answer:

1.  Our divines, by those their tenets, mean not to open a door to disobedience and contempt of the ordinances of a Synod, but only to oppugne the Popish error con­cerning the binding power of ecclesiastical laws, by the sole will and naked authority of the law-maker, and that Christian people ought not to seek any further reason or motive of o­bedience.

2.  A Synod must ever put a dif­ference betwixt those who out of a real scruple of conscience, do in a modest and peaceable way, refuse obedience to their or­dinances, still using the means of their bett­er information, and those who contemptuously or factiously disobey the same, labouring with all their might to strengthen themselves in their error, and to persuade others to be of their mind.

3.  This objection does militate no less against ecclesiastical censures in a particular congregation than in a Natio­nal Synod…

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Samuel Rutherford

A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline Penned by Mr. Thomas Hooker…  (London, 1658), bk. 4, ch. 12, ‘Of the Magistrate’s Power in Convocating Synods’, p. 497

“…for neither magistrate nor people can be bound to follow the judgement of the Churches or ministry farther than they follow the rule of the Word; they follow their judgement conditionally, not absolutely and simply;

and it is a great calumny of Mr. [Henry] Burton and our [Independent] Brethren, that we lay bands on the consciences of prince and people to follow the acts and determinations of the Church, be they true or false: and that there is no place left to appeal to the next, or a better informed synod, and to the consciences of the collective Church of the godly judicious professors, and to protest and deny obedience to erring assemblies.”

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The Divine Right of Church Government  (London, 1646)

Introduction, Section 2, p. 15

“For the Church does bind and loose in the external court, either by a commission from Him who as head of the Church, and who as King gave to her the keys of the Kingdom…”

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pp. 648-9

“The apostles would make no laws at all of things indifferent except in the case of scandal…

If then nothing be good [simply] because rulers command it; but, by the contrary, they do lawfully command it because it is good.  The Church’s power is one and the same in things indifferent, and necessary in matters of doctrine, discipline and order; for in both, the Church does not create goodness, but does by the light of the Word, or (which is a part of the Word) by nature’s light, find pre-existent goodness in doctrine, discipline, and matters of order.

Therefore, will of authority, as will, has no power to dispose of the least circumstance of time, place or person; but the Church’s power is ministerial and determined to what is good, expedient and convenient.”

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p. 652

“Necessity of obeying the Church can make nothing necessary and good, for the Church commands it because it is necessary and good and it has not goodness, necessity and aptness to edify from men’s will and the Church’s commandment.”

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Appendix, ‘An Introduction to the Doctrine of Scandal’, Question 4, p. 43

“6.  If matters in their expediency be questionable and probable on both sides, the Church’s determination should end the controversy (say the Doctors), this is the doctrine of the Jesuits, Suarez, Thomas Sanches, and Gregory de Valentia, as I show[ed] before (supra, Question 6 of this treatise), when a thing is probable and I be resolved in conscience against neither of the sides, and fear the one side be [a] murdering him for whom Christ died, which is against God’s commandment, and know that human authority commands the contrary and am persuaded it is indifferent and a positive commandment of men: if the Church’s determination be here to sway my conscience to practice, is to me blind obedience for human authority, as it is such, gives no light.  Ergo, it [the Church’s judgment] cannot remove my doubting and beget faith; and also the conscience is so much the bolder to venture on a sin against God for fear of eschewing a sin against men, which is questionable, and [that] in a matter indifferent; this is also the stout conscience of Bonaventura (2 Sentences, dist. 39), plus est standum praecepto Praelati quam conscientiae.

7.  Our [Prelatist] Doctors say [that] our way is against the peace of the Church: But I answer [that] their way is Popish and against the truth of God in commanding our consciences to rest upon the wicked will of men.”

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Question 5, p. 59

“…the Church ministerially does judge, so as the obligatory power is from the things themselves, not from the will of human superiors.  No necessity of peace which is posterior to truth, no necessity of obedience to authority, no necessity of uniformity in these externals, simply, and as they are such, are necessities obliging us to obedience: For things must first in themselves be necessary, before they can oblige to obedience.

I must obey superiors in these things of convenient necessity, because they are convenient, and most convenient in themselves, and so intrinsically most necessary, but they are not necessarily to be done in themselves, because I must obey superiors, and because I must keep uniformity with the Church.  The will of superiors do find in things necessity, and good of uniformity, but they do not make necessity, nor the good of uniformity:

We should be servants of men if our obedience were ultimately resolved in the mere will of superiors in any the least circumstance of worship: and what I say of actions, holds in matters of mere custom also.”

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On an Erring Council

Theodore Beza

‘Theodore Beza’s Confession (1560): A Brief & Pithy Sum of Christian Faith’, 5th Point, ‘Of the Church’, 12. ‘How Far We May Differ from Councils’  in Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries, ed. Dennison  (RHB, 2010), vol. 2, pp. 311-12

“St. Augustine says, ‘The church ought not to be preferred before Jesus Christ.  For He always judges truly; but the ecclesiastical judges often may deceive themselves and truly do so.’

For who condemned Jesus Christ?  A council lawfully assembled, if we consider that outward succession and appearance.  Who concluded that those who were baptized by heretics should be re-baptized?  A council in Africa where St. Cyprian was.”

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James Guthrie

Protesters No Subverters…  (1658), p. 96-7

“[4.] Calvin treating of Church-power, says well, ‘Non est igitur ecclesiae potestas in•…inita, sed subjecta verbo Domini, & in eo quasi inclusa.’ (Institutes, bk. 4, ch. 8, sect. 4)  That all Church-judicatories, whether congregational-elderships, or presbyteries or synods, whether provincial or national, or ecumenic, being constituted of men that are weak, frail and ignorant in part, are in their determinations fallible and subject to error, Isa. 40:6-8; Rom. 3:4; 1 Cor. 13:9,12.

5.  That insofar as any of these do actually err and decline from the truth, they do insofar act without power and authority from Jesus Christ: They can do nothing (of themselves, they may do, but not by His commission and warrant) against the truth, but for the truth, 2 Cor. 13:8.  The power which He has given them being to edification, and not to destruction, 2 Cor. 13:12.

6.  Sad experience, almost in every generation, does teach us that Church-guides and Church-judicatories do oftentimes decline from the straight-ways of the Lord, and decree unrighteous decrees, and write grievous things which they have prescribed, Isa. 9:15-16; Jer. 8:8-9; Mal. 2:8-9; Jer. 2:8.  And that whilst they are boasting of the authority given to them of God, and of their skill in the Law, and professing to walk according thereto, they are perverting the precious truths of God, and persecuting these who cleave thereunto, Jer. 18:18; Isa. 66:5; Jn. 7:48-49.

7.  That the same Lord, who has commanded us not to despise prophesying, 1 Thess. 5:19, has also commanded us to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good, ver. 20.  And no[t] to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they be of God, because many false prophets are gone forth into the world, 1 Jn. 4:1.  And that whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:15.  And that we ought not to be the servants of men, 1 Cor. 7:23.  That is to do things (especially in the matters of God) for which we have no other warrant, but the mere pleasure and will of men, which the apostle Peter calls living to the lusts of men, and not to the will of God, 1 Pet. 4:2.

And that it is therefore both the duty and privilege of every Church-member, and of every inferior Church-judicatory, to examine by the judgement of discretion every thing which the Church-authority joins, whether it be agreeable or repugnant to the rules of the Word; and if after a diligent and impartial search, it be found repugnant, they are not to bring their consciences in bondage thereto;

neither is the allowing and exercising of the judgement of discretion by inferiors, the setting them as judges over their superiors, or making them transgress the line, or limits of that due subordination and submission appointed unto them of God.  Protestant divines in their writings, de judice controverstarum [on the judge of controversies] have fully answered this, and showed us that it does not make a private man or an inferior, judge of the sentences and decrees of his superiors, but only of his own actions.”

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French

1600’s

Rivet, Andrew – Tract 2, Question 9, ‘Whether the Church may Make Laws?’  in The Orthodox Catholic Opposite the Catholic Papist, in Four Tracts, which Disputes are a Summary of All the Controversies of this Time touching Religion...  3rd ed.  (Saumur, 1616)

La Placette (1629-1718), a French Huguenot minister:

“…ever since the Reformation, it has been a particular controversy between the Romanists and us, whether ecclesiastical laws oblige the conscience, in other cases besides those of contempt and scandal.  The Church of Rome has declared for the affirmative; and Protestant authors, as well Lutherans as Calvinists, for the negative.

If any question this, let them give themselves the trouble of reading Bellarmine De Bonis Operibus [Of Good Works], particularly book 2, ch. 7 [‘Ecclesiastical Law Obliges the Faithful in Conscience…’], and the Brothers of Valemborch, tome 1, p. 183; tome 2, p. 187, among the papists; and among those of our communion, the supplement to Chamier, p. 375; Rivet’s Summary of Controversies [in French], tract 2, question 9 [‘Whether the Church may Make Laws?’]; [Jean] Mestrezat, Of the Church, Theses of Salmur, tome 1, disputation 1 [‘Whether Conscience to the Faith is Prior to that of the Church, or that to the Church is Prior to that of the Faith?’].  But this is not all, the Confession of Faith, published by the Reformed Churches of France, is express to the same purpose; see Article 33.  So that if I have gone too far in this respect, I have all the Protestant Churches for my vouchers.” – pp. 71-75  of Ch. 10, ‘Of Ecclesiastical Ordinances’ in The Christian Casuist: or, a Treatise of Conscience  (London: 1705)

Mestrezat, Jean – Disputation 1, ‘Whether Conscience to the Faith is Prior to that of the Church, or Whether Conscience to the Church is Prior to that of the Faith?’  in Of the Church  (Geneva, 1649)

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On Those who are Better Informed

George Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1641)

pp. 108-9

“There be some that call in question the warrant and authority of classical presbyteries, of provincial synods and national assemblies, as they are used and maintained in the Church of Scotland.  I mean not the praelatical facti­on, whom we set aside, but even some who are as anti-episcopal as we are.  The scru­pulosity of such (at least of many such) herein [of the Independents] does (we conceive) proceed not from any perverseness of mind, but only from cer­tain mistakings, which better information may remove.”

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pp. 152-3

“A Synod must ever put a dif­ference betwixt those who out of a real scruple of conscience, do in a modest and peaceable way, refuse obedience to their or­dinances, still using the means of their bett­er information, and those who contemptuously or factiously disobey the same, labouring with all their might to strengthen themselves in their error, and to persuade others to be of their mind.”

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On the Power of Authorities to Bind in Indifferent Things

William Ames

Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof  ([Leiden & London] 1639), bk. 3, ch. 18, ‘Of Things Indifferent’, p. 89

“Question 3.  Whether indifferent actions differ nothing among themselves, but are all equally distant from good and evil?

7th Answer.  In their own intrinsic nature they differ nothing at all; but yet there are some which for the most part have evil circumstances annexed to them, and so bend more toward evil, and have an evil name, as to do the work of an accuser, the office of an hangman, etc.  Some there be also which for the most part have good circumstances, and so bend toward good, and have a good name, as, to till the ground, to follow our study diligently, etc.

Question 4.  Whether do things indifferent make any thing for order and comeliness?

8th Answer.  Whatsoever it is that of its own nature serves for order or comeliness, or edification, is not indifferent: for when they do participate [in] the nature of goodness, they are not in the middle betwixt good and bad.  And when they produce good, they must needs have some good force and efficacy in them: every thing brings forth its like.

Question 5.  Whether do indifferent things cease to be indifferent when any certain thing is set down concerning them, by such as are in authority?

9th Answer.  Nothing ought to be commanded, but that which is good, nor to be forbidden, but what is evil; That which is indifferent cannot simply, absolutely, and forever be either enjoined or forbidden; but commanded, as it draws near to good, forbidden, as it approaches to evil.”

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That the Magistrate Does not Bind the Conscience & the Church Craves the Conscience to be Subject to the Word

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646)

pp. 550-551

“3.  Magistrates as magistrates hold forth in their Law abstinence from these sins [of adultery, incest, murder, etc.], not as the ambassadors of Christ, craving subjection of conscience and divine faith to those charges, but only external obedience:

For though ministers as ministers crave faith and subjection of conscience to all commandments and inhibitions, as in Christ’s stead, 2 Cor. 5:19-20, yet the magistrate as the magistrate does not crave either faith or subjection of conscience, nor is he in Christ’s stead to lay divine bands on the conscience to submit the soul and conscience to believe and abstain; he is the deputy of God as the God of Order and as the Creator, and Founder, and another of human societies and of peace, to exact external obedience and to lay bands on your hands, not to shed innocent blood, and on your body not to defile it with adultery or incest, nor to violate the chastity of your brother;

Hence it is evident that the adversaries are far out who would have ministers who do hold forth commands that lay hold on the conscience and crave faith and soul-submission under the pain of eternal wrath, to do and act as the deputies and vicars of those who have nothing to do with the conscience [such as prelates who simultaneously held civil offices], and have neither office nor authority to crave soul submission or to threaten or inflict any punishment but such as is circumscribed within the limits of time and which the body of clay is capable of; yea, when the magistrate punishes spiritual sins, heresy, idolatry, he punishes them only with temporary punishment.”

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The Grounds upon which the Magistrate Punishes

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), p. 600

“If any say [such as the Erastians], ‘Who can deny but the magistrate as the magistrate may command that which is obedience to Christ, and reward it, and forbid sin and punish it?’

Answer:  But the magistrate as such forbids not sin as sin, for then as a magistrate he should forbid sin under the punishment of eternal wrath, which he cannot do as a magistrate, he only can forbid sin under the pain of his temporary punishment, which he can inflict, and as it disturbs societies and incorporations.”

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On Non-Moral Actions, Ignorance, Fear & Guilt

William Ames

Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof  (1639), bk. 3, ch. 19, ‘Of a Voluntary Act’, p. 92-4

Question 2.  What are those things which make an action to become not voluntary.

4th Answer.  Nothing at all but either absolute violence of constraint, or chance which could not be foreseen or prevented.  And for such things as are done through absolute violence or mere chance, they have neither the nature of obedience or sin.  As if one should be forced to offer incense or bow the knee before an idol, or should merely by chance kill another, Deut. 19:5-10.

Question 3.  What are we to think of those actions which are done through ignorance?

5th Answer.  First, that ignorance which is in some sort a cause of the action (so that if a man knew what he did, he would not do it), if it be involuntary, both in itself and in its cause, that is, not affected nor procured, nor tolerated, does make the action merely casual and involuntary, and so excuses from sin.

6.  Secondly, ignorance of the Law does never wholly excuse, because all men are bound to know the Will of God: but yet it does somewhat lessen the fault if it be not affected, 1 Tim. 1:13; John 4:41; Acts 3:17.  But if it be affected, it is of itself a sin and so does not diminish, but rather increase the guilt of other sins, 2 Pet. 3:5.

7.  Thirdly, an ignorance of the fact, if a man has used such diligence as he ought, does excuse him, because by such an ignorance the fact is made casual.  So Jacob being deceived lay with Leah, whom he took to be Rachel, Gen. 29.  But if due diligence have not been used, ignorance of the fact does not altogether excuse, although it do somewhat lessen the fault.  And this seems to have been the case of Abimelech, Gen. 20:5.

Question 4.  What are we to judge of those actions which are done through fear?

8th Answer.  First, fear does not simply make an action involuntary: but does, considering the circumstances of time and place, etc., impel a man to will this or that.  As appears in that known instance of the merchant, who is induced through fear of death to throw away his merchandise into the sea.  Fear therefore does never wholly excuse from sin: yea more, fear itself is oft a sin forbidden, and a cause too of most grievous sins, Mt. 10:26; Phil. 1:28; 1 Pet. 3:14; Apoc. 21:8.  Although therefore, a great fear or terror, such as is wont sometimes to trouble even a man of good courage before men, be accounted for a good excuse, and is of force to make contracts done through fear void, yet before God such an excuse will not be taken.

9.  Secondly, yet that sin which is committed through some strong terror, is not so grievous (if other things be alike) as that which is committed of the voluntary inclination of the will without any such fear of danger, because in fear the temptation is stronger: and such a fall, if repentance follow, does proceed not so much from malice, as from infirmity and perturbation.  And this was Peter’s case when he denied Christ.”

Question 6.  What are we to judge of those actions which are done through inadvertency or through not minding of what we do?

11 Answer.  Inadvertency or mindlesness is of the same nature with ignorance: because it differs not from it, but only as the privation of an act does differ from the privation of a disposition.  Inadvertency therefore is itself often a sin and is opposed to watchfulness.  At such a time therefore as we are bound to watch and attend, if we watch not and attend, not we may be rightly said to will this watchfulness, not to will it, yea to will our inadvertency, Isa. 1:3.

12.  Again this inadvertency is sometimes voluntarily chosen in itself, Amos 6:10.  Sometimes it is voluntarily chosen in its cause, Mt. 13.

Question 7.  How are we said to will a thing in its cause?

13th Answer.  When we do will something upon which another thing follows.  He which will be present at immoderate drinkings may be said to will drunkenness.  He which willingly gives himself to sleep and idleness, may be accounted guilty of a willing neglect of the duties of his calling.  He which will please men may be said with his will to displease God, Gal. 1:10.”

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On Obedience to Human Authority

Books

Du Moulin, Pierre – A Vindication of the Sincerity of the Protestant Religion in the Point of Obedience to Sovereigns: Opposed to the Doctrine of Rebellion, Authorized & Practiced by the Pope and the Jesuits. In Answer to a Jesuitical Libel Entitled, Philanax Anglicus  (London, 1679)  148 pp.  There is no table of contents.

Baxter, Richard

The Second Part of The Non-Conformists’ Plea for Peace being an Account of their principles about Civil and Ecclesiastical Authority and Obedience…  (London, 1680)  ToC  The book ends with ch. 11, even though the ToC has 14 chapters.  Ch. 3, ‘Of the Power of Kings & the Peoples’ Obedience’ is not recommended.

Obedient Patience in General; and in 20 Particular Cases, with Helps to Obtain & Use it…  (London, 1683)  ToC  The main emphasis of this work is on patience, or patient obedience in suffering wrong.

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That the 5th Commandment does not Take Precedence Over the 6th Commandment

Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government…   (1646), Question 4, ‘Whether the Precept of Obedience to Superiors, or the Precept of Eschewing Scandal be More Obligatory?’, p. 47

“[Rutherford’s Anglican opponents said:] ‘Notwithstanding, that crossing, kneeling, surplice, human holy days occasion the soul-murder of him for whom Christ died, yet we the Prelates command the practice of the foresaid ceremonies as good and expedient for edification, for our commandment makes the murdering of our brethren, to be obedience to the Fifth Commandment.’

[Rutherford responds:]  But if Prelates may command that which would be otherwise, without, or before the Commandment [of God], [even] spiritual murdering and scandalizing of our brother, they may command also that which would be otherwise without or before their command: adultery against the Seventh, and theft against the Eighth, and Perjury and lying against the Ninth Commandment, and concupiscence against the Tenth; for the Fifth Commandment has the precedency before the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Commandments no less than before the Sixth, which forbids the killing of our brother’s soul.”

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On Conformity

Henry Burton

Conformity’s Deformity.  In a Dialogue Between Conformity & Conscience.  Wherein the Main Head of all the Controversies in these times concerning Church-Government is Asserted & Maintained…  (London, 1646), pp. 11-14, 23-4

“For this mystery of iniquity [of conformity] had its first rise even in the apostles’ times, it began then to work.  And what was this mystery of iniquity, but an exaltation of man’s power above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so as to sit upon, or over, or in the Temple of God, over the consciences of God’s people, and over the Church as God Himself?

And note there also, it is called an ‘apostasy’, or (as Tit. 1:14) a turning away from, or of the truth (as afore) and such are adversaries too, and all Antichristian.  Such an one was Diotrephes; that [in Greek], who loved the preeminence (the very spawn of this mystery) which sets him a work to raise himself:

1. In not receiving the apostle John;
2. In prating against him with malicious words;
3. In not receiving the brethren;
4. In forbidding those that would;
And 5. In casting them out of the Church.

Thus also did this mystery begin to work, as the apostle intimates both in Tit. 1:14 and in Col. 2:8,17,18, 20, 22, 23.  But then this mystery was but in the swadling clouts, which afterward growing by degrees to the full stature, was so bedecked with infinite varieties of ceremonies, and daily new fashions in religion (as the crow with every bird’s feather) that getting an unlimited, usurped power, and that under the color of Jure Divino [by divine right], all men’s consciences, churches must conform to the present fashion of worship and Church-government.

Thus by degrees this Mystery of iniquity mounted to its height, and has now obtained such a prescription of antiquity, as is equivalent to a law.  And not only the Pope claims and exercises this power over his whole Popedom and Hierarchy, but from him our late Prelates.  And whence, or from whom you derive this very power, unless immediately either from the Pope or from our late Prelates, whose personal Prelacy you have abandoned, saving their Prelatical spirit and usurped power: or else from the antiquity of this mystery; you may do well to inform us.

And in truth, this was that very sluice, which when first opened, did let in that inundation and deluge not only of will-worship, in all kind of ceremonies and superstitions, but also of human forms and frames of Church-government, and in all of them such a tyrannical power over all consciences and Churches as has wholly drowned all; so as Christ’s Dove can nowhere find where to set her foot.  And therefore in this time of pretended Reformation, to erect this great idol, to wit, a power in man to prescribe laws and to legitimate commandments for worship and Church government, and to press them upon every man’s conscience: what is it, but with Nebuchadnezzar to erect his golden image and with an immortal law of the Medes and Persians, to bind all men to fall down and worship it?

Or what is it, but with Jeroboam and his counsel (and so in every alteration of the State) to set up the golden calves with a strict commandment of universal conformity; none daring among all those Ten Tribes openly to profess the pure worship of God, saving the prophet Eliah, to whom those seven thousand were not known.  And therefore God rooted out Jeroboam’s house; and did the Tribes escape scot-free for their yielding willing obedience to the commandment of the king’s counsel, though it were a public act of State?  Was not Ephraim oppressed and broken in judgement because he willingly walked after the commandment?

For God set wicked kings over them, who oppressed and brake them in judgement, tyrannizing at their pleasure.  As always where a people is brought under the spiritual yoke of bondage, they are never free from the temporal.  Nor only this, but they were carried into perpetual captivity and never returned unto this day.  An example to be laid to heart both of rulers and people.

Remember Ephraim therefore, the horribleness of whose sin appears by the horribleness of the punishment.  And like to this is that of Jerusalem and of the Jews.  They said indeed, ‘If we thus let Him alone, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’  No, blind Jews, because ye did renounce your King Christ, and so envy the people’s salvation, therefore the Romans came and took away both your place and nation.

And how did the Jews reject this their King?  Christ tells us in a parable of a nobleman, Luke 19, saying (v. 14), But his citizens hated him and sent a message after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’  Where note:

First, they were such as professed to be the people of God, His citizens.

Secondly, the ground of their refusal of Him to be their king was hatred of Him, and so to refuse Him is to hate Him.

Thirdly, the manner of their refusal:

1. They sent a message after Him (as the vulgar translation renders it), but the original is, ‘They sent [in Greek] an ambassage after Him,’ which is more then a message.  It must be done by a public act of State, to make all cock-sure.

And 2. the matter of the ambassage, ‘We will not have this man, or this fellow ([in Greek]) this, noting their contempt of Him.  And the reason hereof was their will: ‘We will not.’

But what was the issue?  Read and mark it, v. 27, where Christ not long after returns in judgement against them, which He executes by those very Romans whom they so feared, to whom He gives this commission: ‘But those mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them, etc.’ which was done accordingly.

Such as conform to a State religion, or a State church-government, make that the supreme law and lord over their conscience, and so exclude Christ’s supremacy.  Enough is said of that.  But you cut me off from what I was about to add:

Man’s nature is too prone to idolize the Power so, as to make it as the shadow of the bramble, in Jotham’s parable, under which to ease themselves of the labor to search into the Scriptures and so to come to know what they believe; most men pinning their religion upon the sleeve either of the priest, as the Papists do, or also of the magistrate, as our common Protestants do, wrapping all up in an implicit faith and blind obedience, according to your Remonstrance that urges conformity to the religion and government of Christ already established, or which shall be set up.

Thus it was enough for the Pharisees to say, ‘We have a law, and by that law Christ ought to die.’  Thus Christ must not be God, because the Roman Senate, according to their law formerly made, had not first motioned it, or passed their vote for it, before Tiberius Caesar had commended it to them, namely to admit of Christ into their pantheon to take place among their gods.  And is it not even so with us?  Must not Christ be King of the Jews, only because by an act of State (as before) they will not have this man to reign over them.  And Christ must not be God, because the Roman Senate had not pre-resolved it.  And so Christ must not be sole Lord over the conscience, nor sole Lawgiver of his Church, nor his Word the sole rule of worship and of Christ’s Kingly government of his spiritual Kingdom in the conscience, and Churches of the saints, nor indeed Christ’s kingdom-spiritual, because the Sate has made a law which must rule the conscience in point of forms of worship and of Church-government, that Christ’s kingdom must be worldly…”

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