On Ceremonies

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Mt. 15:9


Order of Contents

Articles  4
Books  4
Quotes  2

Rutherford’s Propositions
Latin  3





Calderwood, David – ‘Propositions on Indifferent Things & Ceremonies in Worship’  trans. T. Fentiman  (1623; RBO, 2021)

Calderwood (1575–1650) was a Scottish minister and arch-presbyterian.  This section of Calderwood is taken from his large Latin work refuting the polity of the Church of England being sought to be imposed on Scotland.

Specifically, these propositions were set against the Articles of Perth (1618) which had instituted in the Church of Scotland (1) kneeling in receiving Communion, (2) observing religious festival days (such as Christmas, Easter, etc.), (3) episcopal confirmation of youth, and (4 & 5) administering baptism and the Lord’s Supper in private places.

Calderwood’s propositions are solid, timeless and are pardigmatic of classical presbyterianism.

Lunan, Alexander – ‘Problems put Forward by the Rev. Alexander Lunan, Presbyter’  in The First Book [of Two] of the Irenicum of John Forbes of Corse…  tr. & ed. Edward G. Selwyn  (1629; Cambridge Univ. Press, 1923), pp. 66-69

These problems were theological objections to the imposed ceremonies deriving from the Five Articles of Perth (1618) in the Church of Scotland.  Lunan was a minister of the Church of Scotland (see p. 31).  Forbe’s Irenicum was a response to Lunan’s Problems.

David Calderwood responded to Forbes in his Re-Examination of the Perth Articles (1636), as did George Gillespie in his Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies (1637).

Rutherford, Samuel

‘Samuel Rutherford & Thomas Sydserff, Bishop of Galloway, ‘An Discussing of Some Arguments Against Canons & Ceremonies in God’s Worship’ 1636′  in Religious Controversy in Scotland, 1625-1639  ed. David G. Mullan  in Scottish History Society, Fifth Series, vol 11 (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1998), pp. 82-99  A debate between the two men.

The debate first centers around whether ceremonies in worship, claimed to be indifferent, are legitimately scandals to the weak or not.  Then is more specifically discussed the episcopal practice of kneeling in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  At the end Rutherford gives a definition of worship.

‘The Introduction’ & Ch. 1 of The Divine Right of Church Government  1646, pp. 1-192

Calamy, Benjamin – A Discourse Concerning the Rise & Antiquity of Cathedral Worship in a Letter to a Friend  (London, 1699)  35 pp.

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

Calamy argues against the Anglican cathedral worship, which, unlike the more simple English, parish worship, included instruments, musicians, conductors, choirs, interludes, complex music and singing, and other ceremonious displays as worship unto God.





Ames, William

A Reply to Dr. 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] 1622)  114 pp.

A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship, or a Triplication unto Dr. Burgess’s rejoinder for Dr. Morton  ([Rotterdam?], 1633)  Index  ToC, Pt. 1Pt. 2  GB

Gillespie, George – A Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland…  (1637)

This launched the 2nd Reformation in Scotland, in 1638.  Gillespie here argues, with the authority of God’s Word, against much of contemporary presbyterian and reformed worship.

Baxter, Richard

5th Disputation, ‘Of Human Ceremonies: whether they are necessary, or profitable to the Church, and how far they may be imposed or observed?’  (London, 1658)  in Five Disputations of Church-Government & Worship…  (London, 1659), pp. 393-492

Table of Contents

ch.1, ‘Distinctions & propositions in order to the decision’  395

ch. 2, Proposition 1, ‘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’  399

ch. 3, Proposition 2, ‘In such unlawful impositions…  it is an aggravation of the sin if Governors pretend that their ceremonies are divine’  425

ch. 4, Propositions 3 & 4, ‘If things unlawful are commanded as indifferent, or things indifferent as necessary, they are sinfully imposed, and the more because of such pretenses’  427

ch. 5, Proposition 5, ‘A lawful and convenient thing is sinfully commanded, when it is commanded on a greater penalty than the nature and use of it does require, or than the common good will bear’  429

ch. 6, Proposition 6, ‘It is not lawful to make any thing the subject’s duty by a command that is merely indifferent antecedently, both in itself, and as clothes with its accidents’  433

ch. 7, Proposition 7, ‘Some things may be lawfully and profitably commanded at one time and place, and to one sort of people, that may not at, or to, another; no nor obeyed, if commanded’  439

ch. 8, Proposition 8, ‘Those orders may be profitable for the peace of the Churches in one nation, that are not necessary to the peace of the Churches in many nations’  445
ch. 9, Proposition 9, ‘There is no mere human, universal sovereign, civil or ecclesiastical, over the whole Church, and therefore none to make laws obligatory to the whole’  448

ch. 10, Proposition 10, ‘If it be not our lawful governors that command us, but usurpers, we are not formally bound to obey them, though the thing be lawful which they command’  452

ch. 11, Proposition 11, ‘The commands of lawful governors about lawful ceremonies must be understood and obeyed with such exceptions as do secure the end, and not to the subverting of it’  458

ch. 12, Proposition 12, ‘It may be very sinful to command some ceremonies, when yet it may be the subject’s duty to use them when they are commanded’  460

ch. 13, ‘The constant use of things indifferent should not be (ordinarily) commanded; but they should be sometimes used , and sometimes disused’  464

14. ‘Reasons against the imposing of our late controverted mystical ceremonies, as crossing, surplice, etc.  467

15. ‘Reasons for obedience in lawful things’  483
Satisfaction to certain calumniators  491-92




On Beza

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), pt. 2, ch. 4, p. 21

“…he [Saravia] says he could have wished that Beza had not generally condemned all ceremonies without making any difference.

Answer:  Neither Beza, nor any other who mislike the English ceremonies, condemns such rites and circumstances in the external worship of God and serve only for decency; but those sacred and significant ceremonies which admonish men of their duty are not of this sort.”


Robert MacWard

The True Non-Conformist…  (1671), 3rd Dialogue, pp. 111-12

“…whereas your surplice is arbitrarily institute[d], and imposed to signify innocency, without either real foundation or sufficient warrant, wherein, whether you do more usurp against God’s prerogative to appoint sacred and mysterious signs, and that simplicity, in which he hath set forth his Gospel, or be more grossly mistaken in the event, and fruit of your application, is a great question?

I grant, that neces­sity or decency have introduced many things circumstantial that are rational, and consequently upon some real antecedent ground expressive of their use and end: as grave apparel in pastors, a becoming covering of pulpits, tables in sacred use, regulation of time, postures, gestures and the like, without which worship cannot be performed;

But to ascribe a liberty to the Church of appointing ceremonies, having for reason of their signification, the will of the instituter, and their use only in the representation, is so manifest an impingement upon Divine authori­ty and the sacraments thereby ordained, and has already produced such a mass of superstitious super­fluity in the Romish-Church, that I much admire to find a serious person pleading for such fopperies…”



Rutherford’s 13 Propositions from Rom. 14 & 1 Cor. 7-8

The Divine Right of Church Government…  (London, 1646), Appendix, Introduction to the Doctrine of Scandal, Question 1, ‘Whether or not ceremonies, & the use of things not necessary in God’s worship, when they scandalize, be unlawful?’, pp. 4-7

“1st Proposition.  The weak are not to be thralled in judgement or practice in thorny and intricate disputes in matters indifferent.  This is clear, Rom. 14:1.  Therefore, when people know not misty distinctions of relative and absolute adoration, of worship-essential or accidental, they are not to be here thralled by a law to practice ceremonies-human.

2.  If a weak one eat herbs, fearing the practice of things forbidden by God’s law, he is commended, and his abstinence praise-worthy, as Rom. 14:2-3; and he ought not to be judged, and so ought not to be a wed by a law.  Then abstinence and non-conformity is lawful in such a case.

3.  He that eats, he that eats not; he that practices, he that practices not indifferent things, is not to be judged: 1. God has received the eater.  2. You are not to judge another man’s servant.  It is against the Law of Nations.  3. If the weak fall, God is able to raise them.  Therefore, if he be not to be judged as a contemner of God’s law in things indifferent, far less should he be judged by the Church law.

4.  Observers of days, or non-observers of days, should have certainty of faith in these indifferent things; Therefore, the light of the Word should lead rulers and people here, v. 5, in things indifferent.

5.  The observer of indifferent things, as days in that case at Rome, and the non-observers of days, should not trouble one another, because both are to observe and not observe indifferent things for God’s glory:  1. Both give thanks.  2. Both live and die as Christ’s, for God’s glory, vv. 6-9.  Therefore God’s glory is the end that rules the use of ceremonies, as they are indifferent.

6.  vv. 10-12, a Christian should not condemn a Jew, nor one brother another, in things indifferent:  1. Because we are brethren.  2. Because it is Christ’s place to judge and condemn.  3. Because every man must give an account for himself.  Therefore, laws of rulers to condemn or punish are not to be made in such cases.

7. v. 13, When the use of things indifferent is a stumbling block and scandal to our brethren they are against charity and unlawful.

8. v. 14, There is a prolepsis.  Meats clean or not clean may be eaten, but all meats are clean; and Paul is persuaded of that by Jesus Christ.  Therefore the apostle answers by denying the major proposition in two cases and sets down a distinction:  All things are clean in themselves, but they become unclean in two cases:

1.  If one weak in the faith believe that the meat that he eats is against the Word of God, the meat to him is unclean.

2.  If he eat before one that believes it is forbidden in God’s Law to eat such meats, his eating is a stumbling block to the weak.  But one might say it is a taken scandal and not given: for it is lawful to eat; thy brother deems it unlawful out of ignorance of Christian liberty; so say Formalists: ceremonies be indifferent; if any offend at the use of them, it is a scandal taken, not given.  O but Paul forbids to scandalize, or to eat.

9.  The use of things indifferent, as ceremonies, before any law be made of them, by confession of Formalists, is indifferent and may be done and not done; but if they scandalize, Paul proves by eight arguments [that] they are unlawful:

1. It fights with charity, that for meat, so little a thing, for the knot of a straw, a ceremony, thou slay thy brother for whom Christ died, v. 15.  Where these reasons be: 1. It is uncharitable walking; 2. it is murder; slay not him.

3. It is contrary to Christ’s love, who died for thy brother.

4. It makes religion and Christian liberty to be evil spoken of, v. 16.

5. From the nature of these things which are indifferent, these in which the Kingdom of God consists not, as meats and surplice, crossing, kneeling, etc. when they scandalize, ought to be omitted, as being: [1.] against righteousness and being sins of murder.  2. against peace, sins of contention; 3. against joy of the Holy Ghost, making sad, and discouraging thy brother in his Christian race; and he that serves God in peace and righteousness and joy is acceptable, v. 18.

6.  The use of things indifferent, in case of scandal, conduce not to peace and edification, v. 19.

7.  It is a destroying of the work of God, v. 20, illustrated by a repeated prolepsis: But the meat is clean; yea, but (says Paul) it is evil, and so morally unclean to him that eats with offence, v. 20.

8.  Ab equo et bono [from equity and the good], we are to do good, but to eat and drink with the scandalizing of our brother, and to practice ceremonies is not good.

10.  The practicing of things indifferent, or ceremonies, for the very keeping of the faith, that we have Christian liberty to practice, or not practice in the case of scandal, is not lawful, v. 22, set down by a prolepsis: Keep the faith of thy Christian liberty (in case of scandal) to thyself and to God.

11.  In the use of things indifferent, we are to allow ourselves, that is to have the approbation of our conscience, that what we do is lawfully, v. 22.

12.  He that practices indifferent things with a doubting conscience, and not in faith, sins and is condemned, v. 23.

1 Cor. 6:12, ‘All things (indifferent) are lawful in themselves, but they are not expedient,’ if we be brought under the power or band of them by law.  Therefore, in the means of worship, not only must we see what is lawful, but also what is profitable and conducing to the end.  He reasons upon a given, but not granted hypothesis, that fornication is indifferent [v. 13], as the gentiles taught, as we do in the matter of ceremonies.

1 Cor. 7:6, ‘But this I speak by permission, not of commandment.’  Therefore in things in which God has granted us liberty, to do or not to do, permission has place, not obliging necessity or penal laws.

13.  There cannot be commanding laws in things that are politicly good or evil according to the individual complexion, temperature, or gifts of singular men; to marry or not to marry, cannot be commanded, for where God looses, no power on earth can bind, v. 33.

1 Cor. 8:7, Paul condemns them in the use of their liberty Christian, ‘Howbeit there be not in every man this knowledge;’ then that rulers may make laws in things indifferent, without scandal, they must remove ignorance.  2. If there be but one person weak in knowledge (there is not in every man that knowledge), a law obliging all in things indifferent cannot be made.

v 8, There is a definition of a thing indifferent.  It is a thing that commends us not to God, which neither helps, nor hinders piety, nor makes a man better or worse before God.  Then ceremonies pretended to be for order, decency, edification, to stir up the dull mind to spiritual duties, cannot be things indifferent.



Latin Articles


Calderwood, David – ch. 9, ‘Of Indifferent Things & Ceremonies’  in The Altar of Damascus, or the Polity of the Anglican Church Obtruded upon the Scottish Church…  (1623; Leiden, 1708), pp. 366-420  The eight propositions in this chapter are translated above in the English articles.

Alting, Henry – Syllabus of Controversies with the Lutherans, Part 2, ‘On Controversies Surrounding Ceremonies’  appended to A Logical & Theological Exegesis of the Augsburg Confession with an Appendix of the Problems Involved…  (Amsterdam, 1647)

Table of Contents

Part 2, Controversies About Ceremonies  258

1. Of the Discrepancy of Rituals in the Administration of Baptism & the Supper  261  “Lutherans everywhere affirm [the following questions]; We, on the contrary, deny.”

Question 1, ‘Whether in the right administration of baptism, exorcism is adjoined; and in the administration of it in the case of necessity, it is able to be permitted to women by right?’  261

Question 2, ‘Whether the breaking of the bread is so an indifferent ceremony that it may be left off?  Whether the Supper ought to be offered separately to the sick?  And whether rations of bread by place are to used for hosts (commonly so called) or circular wafers of bread?’  265

Question 3, ‘Whether the Supper is to be administered on an altar?’  Whether the wine, in a goblet, is to be stretched forth and poured to the communicants, so that, indeed, the minister being dressed in white garments, each of the elements is not given into the hands, but is put into the mouths of the communicants?’  270

2. Of Other Certain Rituals  274

“The State of the controversy is:  Whether private confession and absolution is necessary?  Whether bowing of the knees and an uncovering of the head is at the mention of the name of Jesus has been commanded?  and lastly, whether Latin songs may be allowed in public assemblies?  The Lutherans affirm; we deny.”

3. Of the Furnishing of Church Buildings [with Images & Organs]  278-81

“The state of the controversy is:  Whether in church buildings of Christians images are to be tolerated, and also whether organs ought to be used?  They affirm; we deny.”

Voet, Gisbert – Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1  (Amsterdam, 1663-1676), Pt 1, Bk. 2, ‘Of Ecclesiastical Things, or Acts & Exercises’, Tract 1, ‘Of Formularies, or Liturgies & Rituals’

ch. 1, ‘Of Formularies, or Liturgies’, pp. 343-360

Voet discusses regarding liturgies their (1) definition, (2) requisites and conditions, (3) divisions and (4) things opposite to them (false liturgies).

Under (1) their definition, Voet also discusses their genus, object and efficient cause (pp. 343-5).

Their (2) requisites and conditions are divided into those pertaining to their matter and those pertaining to their form (p. 345).

(3) How liturgies may be divided is discussed in sections 3-4 on pp. 346-54.  They may be divided (1) on account of their material, extension or object, either partial or total, (2) on account of their form or construction, into guides and directories, formularies, or mixed; (3) on account of their efficient cause in public or private; (4) p. 347, according to Churches or nations:

1. ancient Churches, 2. p. 349, Swiss, 3. French, 4-5. Anglican, 6. p. 350, Scottish, 7. German, 8. Dutch; p. 351 Appendix on books of psalms and hymns by nations.

Section 4 (pp. 351-5) is on classifying liturgies according to groups outside of the protestant and reformed Churches, namely (1) the sects, (2) the Papacy, and (3) pp. 353-5 infidels (Jews, Samaritans, Muslims and heathens).

Section 5 on p. 355 discusses (4) the true and false liturgies of the ancients; Section 6, p. 356-9, of the modern eastern Churches.

ch. 2, ‘Some Questions on Liturgies & Liturgical Actions Determined’, pp. 360-374  “We come now to the problems, which are either of sacred [Scriptural] history and are didactic, or of Church history.”

1st Problem, ‘Whether ‘liturgy’ may designate a sacrifice properly so-called, it even being propitiating, or be a rule or order to be accomplished as like a sacrifice?’, p. 360

“We respond: it is further asked whether it be of a Scriptural or ecclesiastical use, or an ancient or new use.”  5 conclusions are given.

2nd Problem, ‘Whether the Old Testament Church from Moses to Ezra began to use and maintained liturgies?’, p. 361

3rd Problem, ‘Whether a liturgy from Ezra and the men of the great Synagogue (that consistory or Sanheidren, as it is termed in the Hebrew, beit deenu) was established, having been prescribed to the people of God, and was publicly used till Christ?’, p. 363  3 conclusions are given on p. 364.

4th Problem, ‘Whether forms & litugies were established in the apostolic Church from the apostles to that Church, such that they have been prescribed to all succeeding churches?’, p. 364  3 conclusions.

5th Problem, ‘Whether a universal liturgy ought to be formed and written, and imposed on all the Churches throughout the whole globe?’, p. 365  3 reasons are given.

6th Problem, ‘Whether one provincial or national liturgy ought to be established, and introduced into all of its consociating churches?’, p. 367  4 conclusions.

7th Problem, ‘Whether liturgies in the national language, whatever is commonly used to write, ought to be taken up in the churches?’, p. 368

8th Problem, ‘Whether a liturgy in Churches already settled, from their first gathering or its introduction at the Reformation, may be changed?, p. 369  1 conclusion.

9th Problem, ‘What is the Gregorian or Roman service (named after Gregory VII) and what is the Mozarabic, or Gothic, and in what place were they used, or are used in the Roman Church?’, p. 370

[No 10th Problem]

11th Problem, ‘How far it is better for a populace having been accustomed to the Roman liturgies and rites from the Papacy to the Reformation, to carry them over, if they had been so engaged initially by the reformers, having purged and yet retained the Missal, Breviary and other liturgical books and rites?’, pp. 372-4

ch. 3, ‘Of Rituals or Ecclesiastical Ceremonies’, pp. 374-384

This chapter is on the general introductory principles of the nature and properties of ceremonies, including (1) their name, (2) their nature and definition, (3) division and (4) opposites.

Under (1) Voet also briefly discusses adiaphora on p. 375.

Under (2) Voet gives numerous principles and distinctions as to worship (and its kinds) in general (p. 375) before delineating distinctions about ceremonies in general (p. 376).

p. 375, Voet distinguishes the following distinctions about worship: It is either natural or instituted.  Natural is internal; instituted may be both internal and external.  External is either alone or social, or private or public.  Public worship is performed by the Church.

p. 376, Ceremonies are either divine or human.  Divine ceremonies have been immediately instituted by God; therefore their observance is necessary.  Divine ceremonies are either political or ecclesiastical.  Political are either general and perpetual, observance of natural decorum, or particular, as ceremonies of the judicial law of Moses.  Ecclesiastical are sacred, mystical and religious, either of the Old Testament (before or after Moses) or of the New Testament.

A human ceremony “which is observed in the practice of men, is called free.  It is either civil or ecclesiastical.  Civil is some external formality or a mode to be done between men, practiced by law or custom.  These things are twofold:  Either by a natural reason or necessity supporting, and therefore contributing to the essence or well being of something, such as a natural decorum or many aspects in the instruction of civil manners; or they are received by men as merely arbitrary and instituted.  And such free ceremonies are either well-grounded or tolerated, or will be hissed at as vain, inept and rediculous as they may be seen openly in courts, halls, schools, barracks, colleges…”

p. 377, “Ecclesiastical is which is in the Church and is observed about the ecclesiastical exercises of religion; and the rite is called by another name, of indifferent things and decorum.”

Also under (2), Voet lists as requisites to ecclesiastical ceremonies, that they are to be: (1) few, (2) simple and easily observed, (3) free and indifferent, (4) that indifferent things in themselve may not be prescribed to the universal Church, that is, all churches, nor to the end of the world, nor to all particular churches in a nation, region, province or a city, nor by the magistrate, (5) they are to be held as mutable, even according to private pleasure, and (6) sister Churches may disregard them, not conform to them, but may retain their liberty as to what may serve them. (p. 378)

(3) On pp. 379-381 Voet discusses how human ecclesiastical ceremonies may be categorized by their (1) fundamentals, (2) efficient causes, (3) forms or modes, (4) subjects, or according to the times and states of the Church, or (5) by the ecclesiastical rites they occur in.

(4) In section 6, pp. 382-4, Voet (I) classifies those who oppose ceremonies:

(1) too much, the Enthusiasts and Libertines, in repudiating all external worship, (2) too little, who urge them as necessary and are indirectly involved in superstition, and (3) minimally, who bear up the appearance of evil and hold forth an occassion of evil and scandal.

Then (II) he says that ceremonies may be classified according to those who practice them, discussing the rites of:

(1) magicians and heathens, (2) the Jews, (3) the Muslims, (4) the Papists, (5) the Eastern Churches, (6) the Fathers and their successors, who merged into the Papal Antichrist, (7) the Anglicans & the Scots, and (8) the German, or Lutheran churches.

ch. 4. ‘The Controversy which Comes Between us & the Papacy on the Same Ceremonies, in General’, pp. 384-405  Irregular numbering

Section 1, Intro, p. 384

Section 2, 1st Consideration, p. 391  Irregular numbering

Section 3, 2nd Consideration, p. 392

Section 4, 3rd Consideration, p. 395

Section 5, 4th Consideration, p. 397

Section 6, 5th Consideration, p. 397

Section 7, 6th Consideration, p. 399

Section 8, 7th Consideration, p. 400

Section 9, Problem, ‘Whether all papal ceremonies, according to them, are properly sacred and mystical, mystically signifying or working sacred or spiritual things?  I respond: Yes.’, pp. 404-05

ch. 5, ‘Of the Ceremonies yet Remaining in the Greater Part of the German [Lutheran] Churches’, pp. 405-413

p. 405, Voet lists as the Lutheran practices disputed by the reformed: using images and altars, keeping feasts on account of the apostles and saints, baring the head and bowing the knee at the name of Jesus, ministers using sacerdotal vestments, baptism with exorcism and the sign of the cross, practicing private confession and absolution in preparation for the Lord’s Supper, using unleavened bread and a money-changer[?] with respect to the Supper, the minister not breaking the bread in the Supper, baptism (of infants) by women and other private individuals, administering the Supper privately to the sick, receiving the eucharistic symbol by the mouth and not first receiving it in the hand, singing latin songs, using a harmonious concert and organs, lighting candles for the administration of the eucharist, and bowing the knee at the sight of the eucharist.

p. 406, Section 2, “we come now to an examination of the controversy.  They contend that the ceremonies are indifferent things, even working for good order.”  Voet gives 6 considerations against this in section 2.

p. 408, Section 3, “Reasons and exceptions in defence of those [Lutheran] ceremonies are either general or particular.  The particulars which have been so judged by Eckhard, have been briefly and vigorously refuted by Alting (Syllabus of Controversies with the Lutherans, Part 2, ‘On Controversies Surrounding Ceremonies’)”  Voet then gives 5 general exceptions, with responses, and then, pp. 409-13, 6 testimonies from various figures used in support of the ceremonies, with responses.

ch. 6, ‘On the Controversy about Some Ceremonies of the Anglican Church’, pp. 413-422

Voet first lists and describes the categories of those who oppose the Anglican ceremonies: (1) the conformists, (2) the puritans, and (3) the complete separatists (the Brownists and Barrowists).  p. 414, bot, Voet describes the puritans, both conforming and non-conforming.

p. 415, mid, Voet lists as the disputed ceremonies: the cross and creed [catechismus] in baptism, confirmation, woman baptism, a white outer-garment [the surplice], reception to the communion of the Church and the Supper without a foregoing examination, a ring in the confirmation of matrimony, the succession[?, serie] of saints, bowing the knee or tipping the head at the name of Jesus, the reading of the apocryphal books [in the Church], a harmony of music, whether vocal or instrumental, without being accommodated for edification, the lengthy recitation of the liturgy and divine office, the terms ‘priest’ and ‘absolution’ and others occuring in the service-book, and kneeling at the Supper.

He also lists the ordinal of reading Scripture, involving the excluding from the public, ecclesiastical reading genuine books of Scripture, the reading of a translation which is not consistent, and the bad explanations and applications of Scripture texts in the service-book.

pp. 415-6, “Out of the ceremonies strictly so called, three are principal…  genuflexion [bowing of the knees], that is, in the Supper, the cross in baptism and the white outer-garment [surplice] in the divine services.”  Voet then gives a history of the literature of the dispute.

In Section 2, Voet gives 10 reasons which are commonly opposed to these ceremonies, pp. 416-8.  On p. 418, Voet mentions the orthodox conforming clergyman and pious students who disputed with the puritans, over the point of conformity to inconvenient ceremonies on point of deprivation of the ministry, a leading author of which was John Sprint.

Section 3 gives a historical survey of how these old Anglican ceremonies and Papal relics were introduced (especially in Scotland by the Articles of Perth, 1618) and opposed by public authority.

Section 4, pp. 419-22, “I add now this small testimony” on how “the so-called indifferent ceremonies” entered England by law under Edward VI, and the context surrounding that.  A’Lasco is block quoted near the end.

ch. 7. ‘Questions Further Explained on the Nature, Causes & Properties of the Ceremonies’, pp. 422-460  “On the public controversies [previously] explicated, we respond to various problems and questions on the ceremonies, by which the nature and properties of them may be the better laid open.  I divide them into problems on ceremonies in general and on ceremonies in particular.  The first classes [on ceremonies in general] pertain to what it is, or the definition, or the causes or properties.”

On the defintion of a ceremony:

1st Problem, ‘Whether precepts have been instituted about sacred or divine ceremonies by God immediately by positive law, being called by another name in Scripture than law or moral precepts?  We respond: No.’, p. 422

2nd Problem, ‘Whether all rites and external observances about divine worship in the Old Testament Church may have been formally sacred or divine, even types or prefiguring?  We respond: No.’, p. 423

3rd Problem, ‘Whether therefore rites of order or decorum, or of whatever indifferent, ecclesiastical observation in the Old Testament are of no use in the New Testament?  We respond: No.’, p. 423

4th Problem, ‘Whether something divinely consecrated, that is, an institution, prescription of external form, or a promise and assignation of moral efficiency worked by God in divine worship and spiritual things is a foundation properly so called of a religious or sacred ceremony?  We Respond: Yes.’, p. 424

5th Problem, ‘Whether Ceremonies of whatever significance in the Word of God, or institution or prescription in whatever thing, immediately works divine, mystical, sacred or religious things?’  We respond: We deny in three following ways, but it is conceded in one way.’, p. 424

6th Problem, ‘Whether an indifferent or ecclesiastical ceremony from and in the Churches after the apostles, being observed or instituted by the apostles, may be founded by divine law?  We respond: positively we deny; permissively we affirm.’, p. 424

7th Problem, ‘Whether the material of a ceremony, whether properly called sacred, or human or ecclesiastical, is only an action; or whether it may also be a quantity, quality or relation, and this for all that is predicated of it, as Swarez would have it?  We affirm’, indeed, if with regard to ‘substance’ you take it with a grain of salt.’, p. 424

8th Problem, ‘Whether even a ceremony may be able to be appointed by a privation, ommision or abstinence?  We respond: Yes.’, p. 425

9th Problem, ‘Whether the use is of the essence of a ceremony, whether truly sacred, or only apparently or supposedly so?  We respond: No.’, p. 425

10th Problem, ‘Whether in the O.T. before Moses there had been sacred ceremonies properly so-called, and the observing of indifferent ecclesiastical ceremonies for the sake of decorum and good-order?  I respond: Yes.’, p. 425

11th Problem, ‘Whether in the time of the N.T. there were instiuted, or observed by the apostles ceremonies properly called sacred and mystical, whether in their signifying or working, which however were not parts of divine worship, nor instituted by divine law, nor consequently necessary by the necessity of a precept?  I respond:  No.’, p. 425

“Indeed, nothing like the example of a ceremony has been exhibited thus far.  On the laying on of hands and of the holy kiss, we speak below.”

12th Problem, ‘Why may authors, the Papists as well as our own, be seen to vary in the definition of a ceremony in the assignment of, even, the genera, or the object, or the foundation, or the efficient cause or the end?  See Thomas, 1.2, Q. 99, art. 3; Hemmingsen, Works in folio, pp. 471, 800, 1,389; Zegedinum, Common Places in folio, p. 53; Francis Junius, On the Polity of Moses, ch. 7; Polanus, Syntagma in folio, p. 635; Daneus, Introductions, bk. 3, pt. 4, ch. 22; also Melanchthon, Pezel and Aretius cited below.  We respond: A various acceptation of the term is in case.”, p. 425

Section 2, “Problems surrounding the causes of the ceremonies are these:”

1st Problem, ‘Whether by an apostolic example or practice any ceremonies may have had been founded to be observed in the Churches of the New Testament?  We respond, you ought to distinguish…’, p. 425, bot.

2nd Problem, ‘Whether order and decorum in the receiving of the Supper (1 Cor. 11:21-22) and in the exercise of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:29,34) are ceremonies having been instituted by the Church?’, p. 426

3rd Problem, p. 426  6 conclusions.

4th Problem, p. 427

5th Problem, ‘Whether ceremonies ought to be changed without a grave and urgent necessity?  We respond, ceremonies ought to be distinguished…’, p. 427

6th Problem, ‘From who is a change able to be made, from whatever pleases a minister, or from whatever pleases a session, a presbytery, or a provincial or national synod?’, p. 430

7th Problem, ‘Whether it may be conducive to prescribe or prohibit all the indifferent ecclesiastical laws or canons, or at least decrees?’, p. 430  2 conclusions.

8th Problem, p. 430

9th Problem, p. 431

10th Problem, p. 431, 2 conclusions with a denial.

Section 3, “Problems on the affections or properties of the ceremonies follow…” p. 431, bot.

1st Problem, p. 431, 8 conclusions.

2nd Problem, p. 433

3rd Problem, ‘Whether a ceremony or rite, or type or shadow in the Old Testament may be turned back?  We respond: No.’, p. 434

4th Problem, p. 436

5th Problem, p. 449

6th Problem, p. 451

7th Problem, p. 452

8th Problem, p. 452

Section 4, 9th Problem, ‘Whether rites in themselves and properly indifferent may always remain such even through the changed time and state of the Church? or whether indifferent things are able to be dismissed or taken off, and by what way?’, pp. 454-60

2 Conclusions, p. 454-7
6 Responses, p. 457
4th-6th Problems, pp. 457-60

ch. 8. ‘Questions on Some Rituals in Particular: on the Laying on of Hands, the [Holy] Kiss, Abstinence from Things Strangled & Blood, the Marriage Rite, Anointing, Shaking the Feet of Dust, Love Feasts, the Rite of Covenanting & of the Washing of Feet.’, pp. 460-81  3 sections

Section 1, p. 460  “Problems on rites follow, certainly not all, but only some select ones in particular that the Scripture has mentioned.  Those remaining are nearly innumerable which occur in the books of the Old and New Testament or ecclesiastical writings, whether ancient, medieval, modern or recent…”

1st Problem, ‘What of the rite of laying on of hands in miracles (Mk. 16:18; 6:13)?’, p. 460  2 Conclusions.

2nd Problem, ‘Of what sort was the laying on of hands in blessing (Heb. 6:2)?’, p. 460

3rd Problem, ‘What ought to be decided about the laying on of hands in Acts 8 & 19:6 considered with Heb. 6:2?’, p. 461  3 Conclusions

4th Problem, ‘What is to be decided about the laying on of hands in ordination or the constituting of ministers (on which see 1 Tim. 4 & 5)?’, pp. 461-66

“I respond:  The Papists make ordination a sacrament, and this the the material of it, the laying on of hands (see Cornelius a Lapide, Commentary in location).  This opinion has been refuted, see their antagonists.  The Lutherans however reckon it according to the indifferent rites (see Eckhardt in location cited); however they are seen to discover something in it mystical and necessary however often they knowingly touch upon our indifferent things on this rite.  We, however varied in locations and possibly in however many churches this right is used, yet adjudge it to be merely indifferent.  See Piscator, Daneus and other commentators in 1 Timothy and Acts 6 & 13; and Alting in the Exegesis of the Augsburg Confession, p. 90.  This right was commonly used in synagogues, schools and the polity of the Jews, from where it is seen the apostles took it, which is the opinion of Calvin in his Commentary on Acts 6 & 13, and Institutes, bk. 4, ch. 3, section 16.”

Queries 1-4, p. 462
Queries 5-7, p. 463-4
Query 8, p. 465-6

Section 2, ‘We come now to the rite of the kiss (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26; 1 Pet. 5:14), of which it is queried, whether it may be a mystical or sacred rite, and have been by divine law imposed?’, p. 466

“I respond:  It was a common rite, in species and form, from custom or practice then and there received; it was accustomed to be used as a sign of love, friendship, familiarity, even of subjection, etc.

On this rite: the Philology & Antiquary of [John de] Pineda [1558–1637, a Jesuit] on Job 31:27 has informed.  Out of theologians other than Pineda:  Aretius, pt. 3, [Jean de] Lorinus [1559-1634, a Jesuit] and [Andrew] Rivet on Ps. 2; and Lorinus in the same has cited Joseph Stephanus in the Tractate on Kissing the Feet of the Pontiff.”, p. 466

Section 3

Problem 3, ‘What ought to be made of abstinence from suffocated things and blood (Acts 15)? , p. 471

“I respond that it was a part of the obedience to the divinely given ceremonial laws until the death of Christ, and a fulfilling of the time of correction (Col. 2; Heb. 9).  But by the death of Christ, it being one with the other ceremonials, became defunct as to observing it in conscience, yet not however until it had an honest funeral, but from reason of the scandal of the weak from amongst the circumcision, some of them were to observe them in parts till the Jews may be fully and plainly convicted of the cessation of the ceremonial law.”

Voet then says that this subject has been treated in other places and to see especially Hoornbeek’s Diatribe on Blood and Suffocation (not able to find on the net) and Andreas Libavius (1555-1616) on the Singulars (on the Hexameron), pt. 2 (the page number does not line up).

4th Problem, ‘Whether the joining of hands in the sign of a contract and the entrance of marriage is a divine, sacred or religious ceremony?  I respond:  None of them.’ p. 471

5th Problem, ‘What is to be decided of anointings or besmearings of oil and ointments?’, p. 472

6th Problem, ‘What of the Covering of Women in the Churches (1 Cor. 11)?’, p. 475 bot.

“It is not a rite indifferent, nor a sacred ecclesiastical ordinance, but a common one, by which out of a natural decorum it ought to obtain everywhere and ordinarily; where and however often women come together in some assembly or go out in public.  That being, moreover, a covering or sheltering of the head, even [tum] natural, that is, the hair, or in addition [tum] something put on.  Of that is put forth in verse 6 [14?], ‘Doth not nature teach…'”, pp. 475-6

7th Problem, ‘What about the shaking of the dust of the feet (Mt. 10:14; Mk. 6:11; Lk. 9:5, 10:11; Acts 13:51)?’, p. 476-8

8th Problem, ‘What about love-feasts?’, p. 478

9th Problem, ‘What of the rite of covenanting, or confederating, that is by a passing through slain, divided animal parts, which is mentioned in Gen. 15:17 & Jer. 34:18?’, p. 479

10th Problem, ‘What of the washing of feet (Jn. 13)?, p. 481

“I respond: Of this we have discussed above in the chapter, and thus I will not repeat it here.”

Voet may be referring to the 7th problem above on the command to shake the dust of of one’s feet.  Though foot-washing is not explicitly mentioned in that section, the same principles would apply.




Related Pages

The Regulative Principle of Worship

Against Conformity to What is Not Right

On Passive Obedience

The Right of Continued Protest unto the Truth

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

On Head Coverings in Public Worship

On Human & Unwritten Traditions