Part 6: Popish Ceremonies are Proved to be Idolatrous Because They are Badges of Present Idolatry (EPC 3.3)

George Gillespie (1613-1648)George Gillespie

The Popish Ceremonies (including Holy Days) are proved to be Idolatrous Because they are badges of Present Idolatry

Copyright © 1998 Naphtali Press

The following are chapters and sections taken from George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland, ed. Christopher Coldwell (Dallas TX: Naphtali Press, 1993). All page references to EPC will be to that edition. One can find these sections in older editions by following the part, chapter, and section designations (e.g. 1.1.1).

EPC 3.3, 181-197.

That The Ceremonies Are Unlawful, Because They
Sort Us With Idolaters, Being The Badges Of
Present Idolatry Among The Papists.

Sect. 1

It follows according to the order which I have proposed, to show next that the ceremonies are idolatrous, participativè. By communicating with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we ourselves become guilty of idolatry; even as Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10), was an idolater, eo ipso [for that very reason], that he took the pattern of an altar from idolators. Forasmuch, then, as kneeling before the consecrated bread, the sign of the cross, surplice, festival days, bishopping, bowing down to the altar, administration of the sacraments in private places, etc., are the wares of Rome, the baggage of Babylon, the trinkets of the whore, the badges of Popery, the ensigns of Christ’s enemies, and the very trophies of Antichrist: we cannot conform, communicate and symbolize with the idolatrous Papists in the use of the same, without making ourselves idolaters by participation.

Shall the chaste spouse of Christ take upon her the ornaments of the whore? Shall the Israel of God symbolize with her who is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt? Shall the Lord’s redeemed people wear the ensigns of their captivity? Shall the saints be seen with the mark of the beast? Shall the Christian church be like the Antichristian, the holy like the profane, religion like superstition, the temple of God like the synagogue of Satan? Our opposites are so far from being moved with these things, that both in pulpits and private places they used to plead for the ceremonies by this very argument, that we should not run so far away from Papists, but come as near them as we can. But for proof of that which we say, namely, that it is not lawful to symbolize with idolaters (and by consequence with Papists), or to be like them in their rites or ceremonies, we have more to allege than they can answer.

Sect. 2

For, 1st, We have Scripture for us. “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring ye, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them . . . saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God” (Deut. 12:30). “Thou shalt not . . . do after their works” (Ex. 23:24). Yea, they were straitly forbidden to round the corners of their heads, or to make any cuttings in the flesh for the dead, or to print any mark upon them, or to make baldness upon their heads, or between their eyes, forasmuch as God had chosen them to be a holy and a peculiar people, and it behoved them not to be framed nor fashioned like the nations (Lev. 19:27, 28; 21:5; Deut. 14:1). And what else was meant by those laws which forbade them to suffer their cattle to gender with a diverse kind, to sow their field with diverse seed, to wear a garment of diverse sorts, as of woollen and linen, to plow with an ox and an ass together (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:6-11)? This was to hold that people in simplicity and purity, ne hinc inde accersat ritus alienos [lest they bring here strange ceremonies from that side], Calvin says upon these places. Besides, find we not that they were sharply reproved when they made themselves like other nations? Ye “have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands” (2 Chron. 13:9). “They followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them” (2 Kings 17:15).

The gospel commends the same to us which the law did to them: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? . . . And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols,” etc. “Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:14-17). “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:9, 10). And the apostle Jude (v. 12; 23), will have us to hate the very garment spotted with the flesh, importing that, as under the law, men were made unclean not only by leprosy, but by the garments, vessels and houses of leprous men; so do we contract the contagion of idolatry, by communicating with the unclean things of idolaters.

Sect. 3

Before we go further, we will see what our opposites have said to those Scriptures which we allege. Hooker says, that the reason why God forbade his people Israel the use of such rites and customs as were among the Egyptians and the Canaanites, was not because it behoved his people to be framed of set purpose to an utter dissimilitude with those nations, but his meaning was to bar Israel from similitude with those nations in such things as were repugnant to his ordinances and laws.1

ANSWER. 1. Let it be so: he has said enough against himself. For we have the same reason to make us abstain from all the rites and customs of idolaters, that we may be barred from similitude with them in such things as are flatly repugnant to God’s word, because dissimilitude in ceremonies is a bar to stop similitude in substance; and, on the contrary, similitude in ceremonies opens a way to similitude in greater substance.

2. His answer is but a begging of that which is in question, forasmuch as we allege those laws and prohibitions to prove that all the rites and customs of those nations were repugnant to the ordinances and laws of God, and that Israel was simply forbidden to use them.

3. Yet this was not a framing of Israel of set purpose to an utter dissimilitude with those nations, for Israel used food and raiment, sowing and reaping, sitting, standing, lying, walking, talking, trading, laws, government, etc., notwithstanding that the Egyptians and Canaanites used so. They were only forbidden to be like those nations in such unnecessary rites and customs as had neither institution from God nor nature, but were the inventions and devices of men only. In things and rites of this kind alone it is that we plead for dissimilitude with the idolatrous Papists; for the ceremonies in controversy are not only proved to be under the compass of such, but are, besides, made by the Papists badges and marks of their religion, as we shall see afterwards.

Sect. 4

To that place (2 Cor. 6:14-17), Paybody answers, that nothing else is there meant, than that we must beware and separate ourselves from the communion of their sin and idolatries.2

ANSWER 1. When the Apostle there forbids the Corinthians to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, or to have any communion or fellowship with idolaters, and requires them so to come out from among them, that they touch none of their unclean things, why may we not understand his meaning to be, that not only they should not partake with pagans in their idolatries, but that they should not marry with them, nor frequent their feasts, nor go to the theatre to behold their plays, nor go to law before their judges, nor use any of their rites? For with such idolaters we ought not to have any fellowship, as Zanchius resolves,3 but only in so far as necessity compels, and charity requires.

2. All the rites and customs of idolaters, which have neither institution from God nor nature, are to be reckoned among those sins wherein we may not partake with them, for they are the unprofitable works of darkness, all which Calvin judges to be in that place generally forbidden,4 before the Apostle descends particularly to forbid partaking with them in their idolatry. As for the prohibition of diverse mixtures, Paybody says, the Jews were taught thereby to make no mixture of true and false worship.5

ANSWER. 1. According to his tenets, it follows upon this answer, that no mixture is to be made between holy and idolatrous ceremonies, for he calls kneeling a bodily worship, and a worship gesture, more than once or twice. And we have seen before how Dr. Burges calls the ceremonies worship of God.

2. If mixture of true and false worship is not lawful, then forasmuch as the ceremonies of God’s ordinance, namely, the sacraments of the New Testament are true worship; and the ceremonies of Popery, namely, cross, kneeling, holidays, etc., are false worship; therefore, there ought to be no mixture of them together.

3. If the Jews were taught to make no mixture of true and false worship, then by the self-same instruction, if there had been no more, they were taught also to shun all such occasions as might any ways produce such a mixture, and by consequence all symbolizing with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies.

Sect. 5

As touching those laws which forbade the Israelites to make round the corners of their heads, or to mar the corners of their beards, or to make any cuttings in their flesh, or to make any baldness between their eyes, Hooker answers, that the cutting round of the corners of the head, and the tearing off the tufts of the beard, howbeit they were in themselves indifferent, yet they are not indifferent being used as signs of immoderate and hopeless lamentation for the dead; in which sense it is that the law forbids them.6 To the same purpose Paybody says, that the Lord did not forbid his people to mar and abuse their heads and beards for the dead, because the heathen did so, but because the practice does not agree to the faith and hope of a Christian, if the heathen had never used it.7

ANSWER 1. How much surer and sounder is Calvin’s judgment, that the counsel of God was no other than to separate His own people from the unholy Gentiles by an interposed hindrance?8 For albeit the cutting the hair is a thing in itself indifferent, yet because the Gentiles used it superstitiously, therefore, Calvin says, albeit it was of itself undetermined, nevertheless God did not want it to be allowable to His own people, so that they would learn just as boys do from their first small beginnings, that they would not be pleasing to God otherwise than if they were utterly different on the outside and the foreskin, and were very far aloof from their examples, but especially they should avoid all rites by which the religion (of those others) would be attested.9 So that from this law it most manifestly appears that we may not be like idolaters, no not in things which are in themselves indifferent, when we know they do use them superstitiously.

2. What warrant is there for this gloss, that the law forbids the cutting round of the corners of the head, and the matting of the corners of the beard, to be used as signs of immoderate and hopeless lamentation for the dead, and that in no other sense they are forbidden? Albeit the cutting of the flesh may be expounded to proceed from immoderate grief, and to be a sign of hopeless lamentation; yet this cannot be said of rounding the hair, marring the beard, and making of baldness, which might have been used in moderate and hopeful lamentation, as well as our putting on of mourning apparel for the dead. The law says nothing of the immoderate use of these things, but simply forbids to round the head, or mar the beard for the dead; and that because this was one of the rites which the idolatrous and superstitious Gentiles used, concerning whom the Lord commanded his people, that they should not do like them, because he had chosen them to be a holy and peculiar people, above all people upon the earth. So that the thing which was forbidden, if the Gentiles had not used it, should have been otherwise lawful enough to God’s people, as we have seen out of Calvin’s Commentary.

Sect. 6

Secondly, we have reason for that which we say; for by partaking with idolaters in their rites and ceremonies, we are made to partake with them in their religion too. For, all ceremonies are certain declarations of faith, Aquinas says.10 Therefore, mutual participation in rites of worship is like a symbol of mutual participation in religion, says Balduine.11 They who did eat of the Jewish sacrifices were partakers of the altar (1 Cor. 10:18), that is, says Paræus, they publicly declared that they were partners of the Jewish religion and worship.12 For the Jews by their sacrifices confirm their mutual joining in one and the same religion, says Beza.13 Whereupon Dr. Fulk notes,14 that the Apostle in that place compares our sacraments with the altars, hosts, sacrifices or immolations [oblations] of the Jews and Gentiles, in that point which is common to all ceremonies, to declare them that use them to be partakers of that religion whereof they be ceremonies. If then Isidore thought it unlawful for Christians to take pleasure in the fables of heathen poets, because not only is incense burned in offering to demons, but also by receiving the words of those men with pleasure;15 much more have we reason to think that, by taking part in the ceremonies of idolaters, we do but offer to devils, and join ourselves to the service of idols.

Sect. 7

Thirdly, as by Scripture and reason, so by antiquity, we strengthen our argument. Of old, Christians did so shun to be like the pagans, that in the days of Tertullian it was thought they might not wear garlands, because thereby they had been made conformable to the pagans. Hence Tertullian justifies the soldier who refused to wear a garland as the pagans did.16 Dr. Morton himself alleges another case out of Tertullian,17 which makes to this purpose, namely that Christian proselytes did distinguish themselves from Roman pagans, by casting away their gowns and wearing of cloaks. But these things we are not to urge, because we plead not for dissimilitude with the Papists in civil fashions, but in sacred and religious ceremonies.

For this point then at which we hold us, we allege that which is marked in the third century out of Origen,18 namely, that it was held unlawful for Christians to observe the feasts and solemnities, either of the Jews or of the Gentiles. Now we find a whole council determining thus: it is not fitting to accept either from Jews or heretics the feast days which are offered, nor to celebrate feast days along with them.19 The council of Nice also condemned those who kept Easter upon the fourteenth day of the month. That which made them pronounce so (as is clear from Constantine’s epistle to the churches) was, because they held it unbeseeming for Christians to have anything common with the Jews in their rites and observances.20 Augustine condemns fasting upon the Sabbath day as scandalous, because the Manichees used so, and fasting upon that day had been a conformity with them.21 And wherefore did Gregory advise Leander to abolish the ceremony of trin-immersion? His words are plain: Since now up to this point an infant was immersed three times by heretics in baptism, I think it ought not to be done among you.22 Why does Epiphanius, in the end of his books contra hæreses [against heresies], rehearse all the ceremonies of the church, as marks whereby the church is discerned from all other sects?23 If the church did symbolize in ceremonies with other sects, he could not have done so. And, moreover, find we not in the canons of the ancient councils, that Christians were forbidden to deck their houses with green boughs and bay leaves, to observe the calends [first day] of January, to keep the first day of every month, etc., because the pagans used to do so?24 Last of all, read we not in the fourth century of the ecclesiastical history, that the frame of Christians in that age was such, that they did not wish to have anything in common with the heretics?25

Sect. 8

One would think that nothing could be answered to any of these things, by such as pretend no less than that they have devoted themselves to bend all their wishes and labors for procuring the imitation of venerable antiquity. Yet Hooker can coin a conjecture to frustrate all which we allege.26 In things, he says, of their own nature indifferent, if either councils or particular men have at any time with sound judgment misliked conformity between the church of God and infidels, the cause thereof has not been affectation of dissimilitude, but some special accident which the church, not being always subject unto, has not still cause to do the like. For example, he says, in the dangerous days of trial, wherein there was no way for the truth of Jesus Christ to triumph over infidelity but through the constancy of his saints, whom yet a natural desire to save themselves from the flame might, peradventure, cause to join with the pagans in external customs, too far using the same as a cloak to conceal themselves in, and a mist to darken the eyes of infidels withal; for remedy hereof, it might be, those laws were provided.

ANSWER. 1. This answer is altogether doubtful and conjectural, made up of if, and peradventure, and it might be. Neither is anything found which can make such a conjecture probable.

2. The true reason why Christians were forbidden to use the rites and customs of pagans, was neither a bare affectation of dissimilitude, nor yet any special accident which the church is not always subject unto, but because it was held unlawful to symbolize with idolaters in the use of such rites as they placed any religion in. For in the fathers and councils which we have cited to this purpose, there is no other reason mentioned why it behoved Christians to abstain from those forbidden customs, but only because the pagans and infidels used so.

3. And what if Hooker’s divination shall have place? Does it not agree to us, so as it should make us mislike the Papists? Yes, surely, and more properly. For put the case, that those ancient Christians had not avoided conformity with pagans in those rites and customs which we read to have been forbidden them, yet for all that, there had been remaining between them and the pagans a great deal more difference than will remain between us and the Papists, if we avoid not conformity with them in the controverted ceremonies; for the pagans had not the word, sacraments, etc., which the Papists do retain, so that we may far more easily use the ceremonies as a mist to darken the eyes of the Papists, than they could have used those forbidden rites as a mist to darken the eyes of pagans. Much more, then, Protestants should not be permitted to conform themselves unto Papists in rites and ceremonies, lest, in the dangerous days of trial (which some Reformed churches in Europe do presently feel, and which seem to be faster approaching to ourselves than the most part are aware of), they join themselves to Papists in these external things, too far using the same as a cloak to conceal themselves in, etc.

4. We find that the reason why the fourth council of Toledo forbade the ceremony of thrice dipping in water to be used in baptism, was lest Christians should seem to assent to heretics who divide the Trinity.27 And the reason why the same council forbade the clergymen to conform themselves unto the custom of heretics, in the shaving off the hair of their head, is mentioned to have been the removing of conformity with the custom of heretics from the churches of Spain, as being a great dishonor unto the same.28 And we have heard before that Augustine condemns conformity with the Manichees, in fasting upon the Lord’s day, as scandalous. And whereas afterwards the council of Cæsar-Augusta forbade fasting upon the Lord’s day, a grave writer lays out the reason of this prohibition thus: It would appear that this council had a desire to abolish the rites and customs of the Manichean heretics, who were accustomed to fast upon the Lord’s day.29

5. Lastly, we have seen from Constantine’s epistle to the churches, that dissimilitude with the Jews was one (though not the only one) reason why it was not thought beseeming to keep Easter upon the fourteenth day of the month. Who then can think that any special accident, as Hooker imagines, was the reason why the rites and customs of pagans were forbidden to Christians? Were not the customs of the pagans to be held unbeseeming for Christians, as well as the customs of the Jews? Nay, if conformity with heretics (whom Hooker acknowledges to be a part of the visible church),30 in their customs and ceremonies, was condemned as a scandal, a dishonor to the church, and an assenting unto their heresies, might he not have much more thought that conformity with the customs of pagans was forbidden as a greater scandal and dishonor to the church, and as an assenting to the paganism and idolatry of those that were without?

Sect. 9

But to proceed. In the fourth place, the canon law itself speaks for the argument which we have in hand: It is not permitted to carry on unsuitable observances of special days, and free oneself for the leisure times of foreigners, nor to decorate homes with the laurel or tree-greens: for every one is an observance of paganism.31 And again: Let him be accursed who respects the worship of pagans and their special days.32 And after: the Egyptian calends and the first day of January are not to be observed.33

Fifthly, our assertion will find place in the school too, which holds that Jews are forbidden to wear a garment of diverse sorts,34 as of linen and woollen together, and that their women were forbidden to wear men’s clothes, or their men women’s clothes, because the Gentiles used so in the worshipping of their gods. In like manner, that the priests were forbidden to round their heads,35 or mar their beards, or make incision in their flesh, because the idolatrous priests did so.36 And that the prohibition which forbade the commixtion [breeding] of beasts of diverse kinds among the Jews has a figurative sense,37 in that we are forbidden to make people of one kind of religion, to have any conjunction with those of another kind.

Sixthly, Papists themselves teach, that it is generally forbidden to communicate with infidels and heretics, but especially in any act of religion.38 Yea, they think that Christian men are bound to abhor the very phrases and words of heretics, which they use.39 Yea, they condemn the very heathenish names of the days of the week imposed after the names of the planets, Sunday, Monday, etc.40 They hold it altogether a great and damnable sin to deal with heretics in matter of religion, or any way to communicate with them in spiritual things.41 Bellarmine is plain, who will have catholics to be discerned from heretics, and other sects of all sorts, even by ceremonies, because, as heretics have hated the ceremonies of the church, so the church has ever abstained from the observances of heretics.42

Sect. 10

Seventhly, our own writers do sufficiently confirm us in this argument. The bringing of heathenish or Jewish rites into the church is altogether condemned by them,43 yea, though the customs and rites of the heathen are received into the church for gaining them,44 and drawing them to the true religion, yet is it condemned as proceeding out of wrong emulation, or improper imitation of the heathen.45 J. Rainold rejects the popish ceremonies, partly because they are Jewish, and partly because they are heathenish.46 The same argument Beza uses against them.47 In the second command, as Zanchius48 expounds it, we are forbidden to borrow anything, from the idolatrous rites of the Gentiles. For the faithful (Calvin says) it is not permissible to display any symbol, for there to be on their part, agreement with the superstitions.49 To conclude, then, since not only idolatry is forbidden, but also, as Paræus notes, every sort of communicating with the occasion, appearances, or instruments of the same;50 and since, as our divines have declared,51 the Papists are in many respects gross idolaters, let us choose to have the commendation which was given to the ancient Britons for being enemies to the Roman customs,52 rather than, as Pope Pius V was forced to say of Rome, that it did more to Gentilize than to Christianize;53 so they who would gladly wish they could give a better commendation to our church, be forced to say, that it does not only more to Anglicize than to Scotticize,54 but also more to Romanize than to Evangelize.55

Sect. 11

But our argument is made by a great deal more strong, if yet further we consider that, by the controverted ceremonies, we are not only made like the idolatrous Papists, in such rites of man’s devising as they place some religion in; but we are made likewise to take upon us those signs and symbols which Papists account to be special badges of Popery, and which also, in the account of many of our own reverend divines, are to be so thought of. In the oath ordained by Pius IV, to be taken of bishops at their creation (as Onuphrius writes),56 they are appointed to swear, I do most steadfastly receive and embrace the Apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and the remaining observances and institutions of that very church; and after, I take and receive the received and approved rites of the Catholic church, in the formerly appointed ministration of the words of the sacraments. We see bishops are not created by this ordinance, except they not only believe with the church of Rome, but also receive her ceremonies, by which, as by the badges of her faith and religion, cognizance may be had that they are indeed her children.

And farther, Papists give it forth plainly,57 that as the church has ever abstained from the observances of heretics, so now also catholics (they mean Romanists) are very well distinguished from heretics (they mean those of the reformed religion) by the sign of the cross, abstinence from flesh on Friday, etc. And how do our divines understand the mark of the beast, spoken of [in] Rev. 13:16, 17? Junius comprehends confirmation under this mark.58 Cartwright also refers the sign of the cross to the mark of the beast.59 Paræus approves the Bishop of Salisbury’s exposition, and places the common mark of the beast in the observation of Antichrist’s festival days, and the rest of his ceremonies, which are not commanded by God.60 It seems this much has been plain to Joseph Hall, so that he could not deny it; for whereas the Brownists allege, that not only after their separation, but before they separated also, they were, and are verily persuaded that the ceremonies are but the badges and liveries of that man of sin whereof the Pope is the head and the prelates the shoulders, he, in this Apology against them, says nothing to this point.61

Sect. 12

As for any other of our opposites, who have made such answers as they could to the argument in hand, I hope the strength and force of the same has been demonstrated to be such that their poor shifts are too weak for gain-standing it. Some of them (as I touched before) are not ashamed to profess that we should come as near to the Papists as we can, and therefore should conform ourselves to them in their ceremonies (only purging away the superstition), because if we do otherwise, we exasperate the Papists, and alienate them the more from our religion and reformation.

ANSWER. 1. Bastwick, propounding the same objection, If anyone objects that we ourselves, by our obstinate contempt for Papal ceremonies, have given offense to the Papists, so much the less will they join with our churches, he answers out of the Apostle (Rom. 15:2), that we are to please every one his neighbor only in good things to edification, and that we may not wink at absurd or wicked things, nor at anything in God’s worship which is not found in scripture.62

2. I have shown that Papists are but more and more hardened in evil by this our conformity with them in ceremonies.63

3. I have shown also,64 the superstition of the ceremonies, even as they are retained by us, and that it is as impossible to purge the ceremonies from superstition, as to purge superstition from itself.

Sect. 13

There are others who go about to sew a cloak of fig leaves, to hide their conformity with Papists, and to find out some difference between the English ceremonies and those of the Papists; so say some, that by the sign of the cross they are not ranked with Papists, because they use not the material cross, which is the popish one, but the aerial only. But it is known well enough that Papists, do idolatrize the very aerial cross; for Bellarmine holds, the sign of the cross is worthy of reverence, which is fashioned on the forehead, in the air, etc.65 And though they did not make an idol of it, yet forasmuch as Papists put it to a religious use, and make it one of the marks of Roman Catholics (as we have seen before), we may not be confirmed to them in the use of the same. The fathers of such a difference between the popish cross and the English have not suceeded in this their way, yet their posterity approve their sayings, and follow their footsteps.

Bishop Lindsey by name will trade in the same way, and will have us to think that kneeling in the act of receiving the communion, and keeping of holidays, do not sort us with Papists; for that, as touching the former, there is a disconformity in the object, because they kneel to the sign, we to the thing signified. And as for the latter, the difference is in the employing of the time, and in the exercise and worship for which the cessation is commanded.66 What is his verdict, then, wherewith he sends us away? Verily, that people should be taught that the disconformity between the Papists and us, is not so much in any external use of ceremonies, as in the substance of the service and object whereunto they are applied. But, good man, he seeks a knot in the bulrush [he seeks a difficulty where none exists]:

For 1. There is no such difference between our ceremonies and those of the Papists, in respect of the object and worship whereunto the same is applied, as he pretends; for, as touching the exercise and worship whereunto holidays are applied, Papists tell us, that they keep Pasche and Pentecost yearly for memory of Christ’s resurrection, and the sending down of the Holy Ghost;67 and, I pray, to what other employment do Formalists profess that they apply these feasts, but to the commemoration of the same benefits? And as touching kneeling in the sacrament, it shall be proved in the next chapter, that they do kneel to the sign, even as the Papists do. In the meanwhile, it may be questioned whether the Bishop meant some such matter, even here where professedly he makes a difference between the Papists’ kneeling and ours. His words, wherein I apprehend this much, are these: The Papists in prayer kneel to an idol, and in the sacrament they kneel to the sign: we kneel in our prayer to God, and by the sacrament to the thing signified. The analogy of the antithesis required him to say, that we kneel in the sacrament to the thing signified; but changing his phrase he says, that we kneel by the sacrament to the thing signified. Now, if we kneel by the sacrament to Christ, then we adore the sacrament as objectum materiale [a material object], and Christ as objectum formale [a formal object]. Just so the Papists adore their images; because per imaginem [through the image], they adore prototypon [the prototype].

2. What if we should yield to the Bishop that kneeling and holidays are with us applied to another service, and used with another meaning than they are with the Papists? Does that excuse our conformity with Papists in the external use of these ceremonies? If so, J. Hart did rightly argue out of Pope Innocentius, that the church does not Judaize by the sacrament of unction or anointing, because it figures and works another thing in the New Testament than it did in the Old.68 Rainold answers, that though it were so, yet is the ceremony Jewish; and mark his reason (which carries a fit proportion to our present purpose), I trust, he says, you will not maintain but it were Judaism for your church to sacrifice a lamb in burnt-offering, though you did it to signify, not Christ that was to come, as the Jews did, but that Christ is come, etc. St. Peter did constrain the Gentiles to Judaize, when they were induced by his example and authority to follow the Jewish rite in choice of meat; yet neither he nor they allowed it in that meaning which it was given to the Jews in; for it was given them to betoken that holiness, and train them up into it, which Christ by his grace should bring to the faithful. And Peter knew that Christ had done this in truth, and taken away that figure, yea the whole yoke of the law of Moses; which point he taught the Gentiles also. Wherefore, although your church keeps the Jewish rites with another meaning than God ordained them for the Jews . . . yet this of Peter shows that the thing is Jewish, and you to Judaize who keep them.69 By the very same reasons prove we that Formalists do Romanize by keeping the popish ceremonies, though with another meaning, and to another use, than the Romanists do. The very external use, therefore, of any sacred ceremony of human institution, is not to be suffered in the matter of worship, when in respect of this external use we are sorted with idolaters.

3. If conformity with idolaters in the external use of their ceremonies is lawful, if so be there is a difference in the substance of the worship and object whereunto they are applied, then why were Christians forbidden of old (as we have heard before) to keep the calends [first day] of January, and the first day of every month, forasmuch as the pagans used so? Why was trin-immersion in baptism, and fasting upon the Lord’s day forbidden, for that the heretics did so? Why did the Nicene fathers inhibit the keeping of Easter upon the fourteenth day of the month,70 so much the rather because the Jews kept it on that day? The Bishop must say there was no need of shunning conformity with pagans, Jews, heretics, in the external use of their rites and customs, and that a difference ought to have been made only in the object and use whereunto the same was applied. Nay, why did God forbid Israel to cut their hair as the Gentiles did? Had it not been enough not to apply this rite to a superstitious use, as Aquinas shows the Gentiles did? Why was the very external use of it forbidden?71

Sect. 14

There is yet another piece brought against us, but we will abide the proof of it, as of the rest. Saravia says,72 it is enough to satisfy us as forbearing and pious Christians that they have so far withdrawn from the superstitions and idolatrous practice of the Roman church, that they do not reject the customs approved by the orthodox Fathers. So have some thought to escape by this postern [back door], that they use the ceremonies, not for conformity with Papists, but for conformity with the ancient fathers.

ANSWER 1. When Rainold speaks of the abolishing of popish ceremonies, he answers this subtlety: But if you say, therefore, that we be against the ancient fathers in religion, because we pluck down that which they did set up, take heed lest your speech do touch the Holy Ghost, who says that Hezekiah (in breaking down the brazen serpent) did keep God’s commandments which he commanded Moses (2 Kings 18:6); and yet withal says, That he brake in pieces the serpent of brass which Moses had made (2 Kings 18:4).73

2. There are some of the ceremonies which the fathers used not, as the surplice (which we have seen before)74 and kneeling in the act of receiving the eucharist (as we shall see afterwards).75

3. Yielding by concession, not by confession, that all the ceremonies about which there is controversy now among us, were of old used by the fathers; yet that which these Formalists say, is (as Parker shows)76 even as if a servant should be covered before his master, not as covering is a late sign of pre-eminence, but as it was of old, a sign of subjection; or as if one should preach that the prelates are tyranni [tyrants] to their brethren, fures [thieves] to the church, sophistæ [sophists] to the truth, and excuse himself thus: I use these words, as of old they signified a ruler, a servant, a student of wisdom. All men know that words and actions must be interpreted, used and received, according to their modern use, and not as they have been of old.

 

  1. Eccl. Polity, lib. 4, sect. 6. []
  2. Apol., part 3, cap. 4, sect. 5. []
  3. In Præc. 2, p. 543. []
  4. Com. in illum locum. []
  5. Ubi Supra. []
  6. Eccl. Polity, lib. 4., sect. 6. []
  7. Ubi Supra. []
  8. Com. in Lev. 19:27, 28. non aliud fuisse Dei consilium, quam ut interposito obstaculo populum suum a prophanis Gentibus dirimiret? []
  9. per se medium, Deus tamen noluit populo suo liberum esse, ut tanquam pueri discerent ex parvis rudimentis, se non aliter Deo fore gratos, nisi exteris et proeputiatis essent prorsus dissimiles, ac longissime abessent ab eorum exemplis, proesertim vero ritus omnes fugerent, quibus testata fuerit religio. []
  10. Aquin., 2, 2æ, quest. 103, art. 4., ceremoniæ omnes sunt quædam protestationes fidei. []
  11. De Cas. Cons., lib. 2, cap. 14, cas. 7. communio rituum est quasi symbolum communionis in religione. []
  12. Com. in illum locum. socios Judaicæ religionis et cultus se profitebantur. []
  13. Annot., ibid. mutuam in una eademque religione copulationem sanciunt. []
  14. Ag. the Rhem., Annot., 1 Cor. 10, sec. 8. []
  15. Apud Gratian., Decr., p. 1, dist. 37, cap. 15. non solum thura offerendo dæmonibus immolatur, sed etiam eorum dicta libentius capiendo. []
  16. De Corona Militis. []
  17. Partic. Def., cap. 1, sect. 1. []
  18. Magd., cent. 3, cap. 6, col. 147. []
  19. Concil. Laodicen., can. 37. Non oportet a Judæis vel hæreticis, feriatica quæ mittuntur accipere, nec cum eis dies agere feriatos. []
  20. Apud Theod., lib. 1, cap. 10. []
  21. Epist. 86, ad Casulan. []
  22. Lib. 1, epist. 41. Quia nunc huc usque ab hæreticis infans in baptismate tertio mergebatur, fiendum apud vos esse non censeo. []
  23. Apud Bell., de Effect. Sacr., lib. 2, cap. 31. []
  24. Conc. African., can. 27; Conc. Tolet. 4, can. 5, et 10; Conc. Brac. 2, can. 73. []
  25. Magd., cent. 4, cap. 6, col. 458. nec cum hæreticis commune quicquam habere voluerunt. []
  26. Eccl. Polity, lib. 4, sect. 7. []
  27. Can. 5. []
  28. Can. 40. []
  29. Sims., History of the Church, lib. 4, cent. 6. []
  30. Eccl. Polity, lib. 3, sect. 1. []
  31. Decr., part 2, causa 26, quest. 7, cap. 13. Non licet iniquas observationes agere calendarum, et otiis vacare Gentilibus, neque lauro, aut viriditate arborum, cingere domos: omnis enim hæc observatio paganismi est. []
  32. Ibid., cap. 14. Anathema sit qui ritum paganorum et calendarum observat. []
  33. Ibid., cap. 17. Dies Ægyptiaci et Januarii calendaæ non sunt observandæ. []
  34. Aquin., 1, 2æ, quest. 102, art. 6, resp. ad 6m. []
  35. Ibid., resp. ad 11m. []
  36. Baruch 6 [also known as Apocraphal Letter of Jeremiah], 1 Kings 18:28. []
  37. Ibid., resp. ad 8m. []
  38. Rhem. Annot. on 2 Cor. 6:14. []
  39. Rhem. on 1 Tim. 6, sect. 4. []
  40. Rhem. on Apoc. 1:10. []
  41. Rhem. on 2 John 10. []
  42. De Effect. Sax., lib. 2, cap. 31. []
  43. Magd., cent. 4, cap. 6, col. 406. []
  44. Hosp., de Orig. Templ., lib. 2, cap. 7, p. 115. []
  45. ex [kakozhlia] seu prava Ethnicorum imitatione. []
  46. Confer. with J. Hart, divis. 4, cap. 8. []
  47. Antith. Pap. et Christ., art. 9. []
  48. In 2 præc., col. 363. []
  49. Com. in Psalm 16:4. ex ritibus idololatrarum Gentium. Fidelibus fas non est ullo symbolo ostendere, sibi cum superstitiosis esse consensum. []
  50. Com. in 1 Cor. 10:14. []
  51. Synops. Purior. Theol., disp. 19. []
  52. Usher, of the Relig. Prof. by the Anc. Irish, cap. 4. []
  53. Apud. Hosp., de Orig. Imag., p. 200. Gentilizare, quam Christianizare. []
  54. Anglizare, quam Scotizare. []
  55. Romanizare, quam Evangelizare. []
  56. De Vit. Pii. 4. Apostolicas et ecclesiasticas traditiones, reliquasque ejusdem ecclesiæ observationes et constitutiones firmissime admitto et amplector; and after, Receptos quoque ac approbatos ecclesiæ Catholicæ ritus, in supra dictoram sacramentorum solemni administratione, recipio, et admitto. []
  57. Bell., de Effect. Sacr., lib. 2, cap. 31. []
  58. Annot. in illum locum. []
  59. Annot., ibid. []
  60. Com., ibid. []
  61. Sect. 48. []
  62. Elench. Relig. Papist. in Præfat. Si quis objiciat nos ipso pertinaci ceremoniarum papalium contemptu, Papistis offendiculum posuisse, quo minus se nostris ecclesiis associent. []
  63. Part 2, cap. 6. []
  64. Supra, cap. 1. []
  65. De Imag. Sanct., cap. 29. venerabile esse signum crucis, quod effingitur in fronte, ære, etc. []
  66. Proc. in Perth Assemb., pt 2, p. 22. []
  67. Rhem.., Act. 2:1. []
  68. Rain., Conf. with Hart, cap. 8, div. 4, p. 496. []
  69. Ibid., p. 496. []
  70. Zanch., lib. 1, in 4 Præc., col. 674. []
  71. Aquin., 1, 2æ, q. 102, ar. 6, resp. ad 11m. []
  72. N. Fratri et Amico, resp. ad art. 12m. Nobis, satis est, modestis et piis Christianis satisfacere, qui ita recesserunt a superstitionibus et idololatriæ Romanæ ecclesiæ, ut probatos ab orthodoxis patribus mores, non rejiciant. []
  73. Ubi Supra, p. 510. []
  74. Supra, part 2, cap. 9, sect. 14. []
  75. Infra, cap. 4, sect. 26-28. []
  76. Of the Cross in Baptism, cap. 2, sect. 2. []