That the Ceremonies are Unlawful, Because Superstitious
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 3.1.7 – 3.1.15, 140-153.
That The Ceremonies Are Unlawful, Because Superstitious, Which Is Particularly Instanced In Holidays,
And Ministering The Sacraments In Private Places.
7. I will now apply this argument, taken from superstition, particularly to holidays. We teach, Beza says, that it is superstition to decide that one day is holier than another. (( Confess., cap. 5, art. 41. Superstitiosum esse docemus, says Beza, arbitrari unum aliquem diem altero sanctiorem. )) Now I will show that Formalists observe holidays, as mystical and holier than other days, howbeit Bishop Lindsey thinks good to dissemble and deny it. Times (he says) are appointed by our church for morning and evening prayers in great towns; hours for preaching on Tuesday, Thursday, etc.; hours for weekly exercises of prophesying, which are holy in respect of the use whereunto they are appointed; and such are the five days which we esteem not to be holy, for any mystic signification which they have, either by divine or ecclesiastical institution, or for any worship which is appropriated unto them, that may not be performed at another time, but for the sacred use whereunto they are appointed to be employed as circumstances only, and not as mysteries. (( Proc. in Perth Assembly, part 3, p. 18. ))
ANSWER This is but falsely pretended, for as Didoclavius observes, one is to appoint, another to dedicate, yet another to sancitfy. (( [Calderwood,] Alt. Damasc., cap. 10, p. 878. aliud est deputare, aliud dedicare, aliud sanctificare. )) Designation or deputation is when a man appoints a thing for such an use, still reserving power and right to put it to another use if he please; so the church appoints times and hours for preaching upon the week-days, yet reserving power to employ those times otherwise, when she shall think fit. Dedication is when a man so devotes a thing to some pious or civil use, that he denudes himself to all right and title which thereafter he might claim unto it, as when a man dedicates a sum of money for the building of an exchange, a judgment-hall, etc., or a parcel of ground for a church, a churchyard, a glebe, (( A portion of land assigned to a clergyman as part of his benefice (OED). )) a school, an hospital, he can no longer claim right to the dedicated thing. Sanctification is the setting apart of a thing for a holy and religious use, in such sort that hereafter it may be put to no other use (Prov. 20:25). Now whereas times set apart for ordinary and weekly preaching, are only designed by the church for this end and purpose, so that they are not holy, but only for the present they are applied to an holy use; neither is the worship appointed as convenient or beseeming for those times, but the times are appointed as convenient for the worship.
Festival days are holy both by dedication and consecration of them; and thus much the Bishop himself forbears not to say, only he labors to plaster over his superstition with the untempered mortar of this quidditative (( Full of Equivocations. )) distinction, (( Ubi Supra, p. 29. )) that some things are holy by consecration of them to holy and mystical uses, (( Ibid., p. 28. )) as water in baptism, etc., but other things are made holy by consecration of them to holy political uses. This way, he says, the church has power to make a thing holy, as to build and consecrate places to be temples, houses to be hospitals; to give rent, lands, money and goods, to the ministry and to the poor; to appoint vessels, and vestures, and instruments for the public worship, as table, table-cloths, etc.
ANSWER. (1.) The Bishop, I see, takes upon him to coin new distinctions at his own pleasure; yet they will not, I trust, pass current among the judicious. To make things holy by consecration of them to holy uses for policy, is an uncouth speculation, and, I dare say, the Bishop himself comprehends it not. God’s designation of a thing to any use, which serves for his own glory, is called the sanctification of that thing, or the making of it holy, and so the word is taken (Isa. 13:3; Jer. 1:5), as G. Sanctius notes in his commentaries upon these places; and Calvin, commenting upon the same places, expounds them so likewise; but the church’s appointing or designing of a thing to an holy use, cannot be called the making of it holy. It must be consecrated at the command of God, and by virtue of the word and prayer: thus are bread and wine consecrated in the holy supper.
Sacred things, says Fennerus, are those which are sanctified and dedicated by the word of God to commanded use. (( Theol., lib. 6, cap. 3. Res sacræ, says Fennerus, sunt quæ Dei verbo in prædictum usum sanctificatæ et dedicatæ sunt. )) Polanus, speaking of the sacramental elements, says, the sanctification of an earthly thing is a ministerial act, by which it appoints an earthly thing for a sacred use, as a result of the command of God, etc. (( Synt., lib. 6, cap. 51, p. 433. Sancitficatio rei terrenæ est actio ministri, qua destinat rem terrenam ad sanctum usum, ex mandato Dei, etc. )) The Professors of Leyden call only such things, persons, times and places holy, as are consecrated and dedicated to God and his worship, and that divina præscriptione [by divine precept]. (( Syn. Pur. Theol., disp. 21, thes. 7. ))
If our ordinary meat and drink cannot be sanctified to us, so that we may lawfully, and with a good conscience, use those common things, but by the word of God and prayer, how then shall anything be made holy for God’s worship but by the same means (1 Tim. 4:5)? And, I pray, which is the word, and which be the prayers, that make holy those things which the Bishop avouches for things consecrated and made holy by the church, namely, the ground whereupon the church is built, the stones and timber of an hospital; the rents, lands, money, or goods given to the ministry and the poor; the vessels, vestures, tables, napkins, basons, etc., appointed for the public worship.
(2.) Times, places and things, which the church designs for the worship of God, if they be made holy by consecration of them to holy political uses, then either they may be made holy by the holy uses to which they are to be applied, or else by the church’s dedicating of them to those uses. They cannot be called holy by virtue of their application to holy uses; for then (as Ames argues) (( Fresh Suite, cap. 5, p. 59. )) the air is sacred, because it is applied to the minister’s speech, whilst he is preaching; then is the light sacred which is applied to his eye in reading; then are his spectacles sacred which are used by him reading his text, etc. But neither yet are they holy, by virtue of the church’s dedicating of them to those uses for which she appointed them; for the church has no such power as by her dedication to make them holy.
P. Martyr condemns the dedication or consecration (for those words he uses promiscuously) whereby the Papists hallow churches, and he declares against it the judgment of our divines to be this, Certainly, rather be required of an oath of piety, than that we should give thanks to God, and celebrate his goodness at the beginning by usurping his business, etc. We good men united request a religious and holy practice. (( Comm. in 1 Reg. viii. de Tempt. Dedic. Licere, imo jure pietatis requiri, ut in prima cujusque rei usurpatione gratias Deo agamus, ejusque bonitatem celebremus, etc. Collati boni religiosum ac sanctum usum poscamus. )) This he opposes to the popish dedication of temples and bells, as appears by these words: Quanto sanius rectiusque decernimus [By so much we determine quite reasonably and rightly]. He implies, therefore, that these things are only consecrated as every other thing is consecrated to us. Of this kind of consecration he has given examples. In the book of Nehemiah, the dedication of the fortifications of the city is recounted, which was nothing else except that when the city walls had been restored, the people as one with the Levites and priests, likewise the chief men, gathered there and there gave thanks to God for the rebuilt fortifications, and asked that the use of the city be righteous, for which reason likewise we, before we consume food, also bless it. (( In libro Nehemiæ dedicatio mæniam civitatis comemoratur, quæ nil aliud fuit nisi quod muris urbis instauratis, populus una cum Levitis et sacerdotibus, nec non principibus, eo se contulit, ibique gratias Deo egerunt de mænibus reædificatis, et justam civitatis usuram postularunt, qua item ratione prius quam sumamus cibum, nos etiam illum consecramus. ))
As the walls of Jerusalem then, and as our ordinary meat are consecrated, so are churches consecrated, and no otherwise can they be said to be dedicated, except one would use the word dedication, in that sense wherein it is taken [in] Deut. 20:5; where Calvin turns the word dedicavit [dedicated]; Arias Montanus, initiavit [consecrated]; Tremelius, cæpit uti [began to use]. Of this sort of dedication, Gaspar Sanctius writes thus: There is another kind of dedication, used not only among the common peoples, but also among the Hebrews, which has nothing sacred about it, but is only a sign, or commencement of the work for which the place is intended, or the thing whose use was then first consecrated. Thus Nero Claudius is said to have dedicated his own home when he first began to live in it. Thus Suetonius on Nero. In the same way Pompey dedicated his theatre, when he first opened it to public games and common use; Cerco on that, lib. 2, epist. 1. (( Alia dedicatio est, non solum inter prophanos, sed etiam inter Hæbreos usitata, quæ nihil habet sacrum sed tantum est auspicatio aut initium operis, ad quod destinatur locus aut res cujus tunc primum libatur usus. Sic Nero Claudius dedicasse dicitur domum suam cum primum illam habitare cæpit. Ita Suetonius in Nerone. Sic Pompeius dedicavit theatrum suum, cum primum illud publicis ludis et communibus usibus aperuit (de quo Cicero lib. 2, epist. 1.). )) Any other sort of dedicating churches we hold to be superstitious.
Peter Waldus, of whom the Waldenses were named, is reported to have taught that the dedication of temples was but an invention of the devil. (( Hist. of the Waldenses, lib. 1, cap. 1. )) And though churches be dedicated by preaching and praying, and by no superstition of sprinking them with holy water, or using such magical rites, yet even these dedications, say the Magdeburgians, seem born out of Judaism, but without being any teaching of God. (( Cent. 4, cap. 6, col. 480. ex Judaismo natæ videntur sine nullo Dei præcepto. )) There is, indeed, no warrant for such dedication of churches as is thought to make them holy. Bellarmine would warrant it by Moses’ consecrating of the tabernacle, the altar, and the vessels of the same; but Hospinian answers him: Moses’ action had the express command of God; however, no teaching at all appears in the word of God about consecrating the temples of Christians; (( De Orig. Temp., lib 4, cap. 2. Mosis factum expressum habuit Dei mandatum: de consecrandis autem templis Christianorum, nullum uspiam in verbo Dei Præceptum extat, ipso quoque Bellarmino teste. )) Bellarmine himself also is witness. Whereupon he concludes that this ceremony consecrating or dedicating the churches of Christians, is not to be used after the example of Moses, who, in building and dedicating of the tabernacle, did follow nothing without God’s express commandment.
What I have said against the dedication of churches, holds good also against the dedication of altars. The table, whereupon the elements of the body and blood of Christ are set, is not to be called holy. Neither can they be commended who devised altars in the church, to be the seat of the Lord’s body and blood, as if any table, though not so consecrated, could not as well serve the turn. And what though altars were used in the ancient church? Yet this custom from the Judaic tradition, has penetrated into the Church of Christ and afterward offered material for superstition, say the Magdeburgians. (( Cent. 4, cap. 6, col. 409. à Judaica, in ecclesiam Christi permanavit ac postea superstitioni materiam præbuit. )) Altars savor of nothing but Judaism, and the borrowing of altars from the Jews, has made Christians both to follow their priesthood and their sacrifices. For these three, certainly the priest, the altar and the sacrifice, are interrelated, and where one is, it is necessary that the other two be present, says Cornelius à Lapide. (( Comm. in Mal. 1:11. Hæc enim trio, scilicet sacerdos, altare, et sacrificium, sunt correlativa, ut ubi unum est, cætera duo adesse necesse sit, says Cornelius à Lapide. ))
(3.) If some times, places and things, be made holy by the church’s dedication or consecration of them to holy uses, then it follows that other times, places and things, which are not so dedicated and consecrated by the church, howbeit they be applied to the same holy uses, yet are more profane, and less apt to divine worship, than those which are dedicated by the church. I need not insist to strengthen the inference of this conclusion from the principles of our opposites; for the most learned among them will not refuse to subscribe to it. Hooker teaches us, (( Eccl. Polity, lib. 5, sect. 16. )) that the service of God, in places not sanctified as churches are, has not in itself (mark in itself) such perfection of grace and comeliness, as when the dignity of the place which it wishes for, does concur; and that the very majesty and holiness of the place where God is worshipped, betters even our holiest and best actions.
How much more soundly do we hold with J. Rainolds, that unto us Christians, no land is strange, no ground unholy – every coast is Jewry, every town Jerusalem, and every house Sion – and every faithful company, yea, every faithful body, a temple to serve God in. (( Confer. with J. Hart, cap. 8, divis. 4, p. 491. )) The contrary opinion Hospinian rejects as favoring Judaism, (( Eccl. Polity, lib. 5, sect. 69. )) for it binds the religion to particular places. Whereas the presence of Christ among two or three gathered together in his name, makes any place a church, even as the presence of a king with his attendants makes any place a court.
As of places, so of times, our opposites think most superstitiously. For of holidays Hooker says thus, No doubt as God’s extraordinary presence has hallowed and sanctified certain places, so they are his extraordinary works that have truly and worthily advanced certain times, for which cause they ought to be with all men that honor God more holy than other days. (( Ubi Supra. alligat enim religionem ad verta loca. )) What is this but popish superstition? For just so the Rhemists think that the times and places of Christ’s nativity, passion, burial, resurrection, and ascension, were made holy; (( Annot. on 1 Tim. 4:5. )) and just so Bellarmine holds, that Christ did consecrate the days of his nativity, passion, and resurrection, being born in that stable he consecrated it; dying, the cross; rising again, the tomb. (( De Cult. Sanct., cap. 10. eo quod nascens consecrarit. )) Hooker has been of opinion, that the holidays were so advanced above other days, by God’s great and extraordinary work done upon them, that they should have been holier than other days, even albeit the church had not appointed them to be kept holy. Yet Bishop Lindsey would have us believe that they think them holy, only because of the church’s consecration of them to holy political uses.
But that now, at last, I may make it appear to all that have common sense, how falsely (though frequently) it is given forth by the Bishop, that holidays are kept by them only for order and policy, and that they are not so superstitious as to appropriate the worship to those days, or to observe them for mystery and as holier than other days:
(1.) I require the Bishop to show us a difference between the keeping of holidays by Formalists, and their keeping of the Lord’s day; for upon holidays they enjoin a cessation from work, and a dedicating of the day to divine worship, even as upon the Lord’s day. The Bishop alleges five respects of difference, (( Ubi Supra, p. 21. )) but they are not true. First, he says, that the Lord’s day is commanded to be observed of necessity, for conscience of the divine ordinance as a day sanctified and blessed by God himself. ANSWER. . So have we heard from Hooker that holidays are sanctified by God’s extraordinary works; but because the Bishop dare not say so much, therefore I say, [2.] This difference cannot show that they observe holidays only for order and policy, and that they place no worship in the observing of them, as in the observing of the Lord’s day (which is the point that we require), for worship is placed in the observing of human as well as of divine ordinances, otherwise worship has never been placed in the keeping of Pharisaical and popish traditions. This way is worship placed in the keeping of holidays, when for conscience of an human ordinance, they are both kept as holy and thought necessary to be so kept. [3.] The Bishop contradicts himself; for elsewhere he defends, that the church has power to change the Lord’s day. (( Ep. to the Pastors of the Church of Scotland. ))
Secondly, he gives us this difference, that the Lord’s day is observed as the Sabbath of Jehovah, and as a day whereon God himself did rest after the creation. ANSWER. [1.] This is false of the Lord’s day; for after the creation, God rested upon the seventh day, not upon the first. [2.] Dr. Downame says, that festival days also are to be consecrated as Sabbaths to the Lord. (( On Præc. 5. ))
Thirdly, the Bishop tells us, that the Lord’s day is observed in memory of the Lord’s resurrection. ANSW. He shall never make this good; for we observe the Lord’s day in memory of the whole work of redemption. [2.] If it were so, this could make no difference, for just so Christmas is observed in memory of the Lord’s nativity, Good Friday in memory of his passion, etc.
His fourth and fifth respects of differences are certain mysteries in the Lord’s day. But we shall see by and by how his fellow Formalists, who are more ingenuous than himself, show us mysteries in the festival days also.
Lastly, albeit the Bishop has told us that there is no worship appropriated unto the festival days, which may not be performed at any other time, yet this cannot with him make a difference between them and the Lord’s day; for in his epistle, which I have quoted, he declares his judgment to be the same of the Lord’s day, and teaches us, that the worship performed on it is not so appropriated to that time, but lawfully the same may be performed at any other convenient time, as the church shall think fit. Now, as the worship performed on the Lord’s day is appropriated (in his judgment) to that time, so long as the church alters it not, and no longer, just as much thinks he of the appropriating to festival days the worship performed on the same.
(2.) If the holidays are observed by Formalists only for order and policy, then they must say the church has power to change them. But this power they take from the church, by saying that they are dedicated and consecrated to those holy uses to which they are applied. Something consecrated to God must not at the same time be, in addition, applied to human uses, says one of the popes. (( Bonifac.VIII, de Reg. Juris, reg. 51. Simul Deo dicatum ono est ad usus hum manos ulterius transferendum. )) And, by the dedication of churches, the founders surrender that right which otherwise they might have in them, says one of the Formalists themselves. (( Hooker, Eccl. Polity, lib. 5, sect. 12. )) If, then, the church has dedicated holidays to the worship of God, then has she denuded herself of all power to change them, or put them to another use: which were otherwise if holidays were appointed to be kept only for order and policy.
Yea, farther, times and places which are applied to the worship of God, as circumstances only for outward order and policy, may be by a private Christian applied to civil use, for in so doing he breaks not the ordinance of the church. For example, material churches are appointed to be the receptacles of Christian assemblies, and that only for such common commodity and decency which has place as well in civil as in holy meetings, and not for any holiness conceived to be in them more than in other houses. Now, if I am standing in a churchyard when it rains, may I not go into the church that I may be defended from the injury of the weather? If I must meet with certain men for putting order to some of my worldly affairs, and it fall out that we cannot conveniently meet in any part but in the church, may we not there keep our trust? A material church, then, may serve for a civil use the same way that it serves to an holy use. And so, for times appointed for ordinary preaching upon week-days in great towns, may not I apply those times to a civil use when I cannot conveniently apply them to the use for which the church appoints them? I trust our prelates shall say, I may, because they use to be otherwise employed than in divine worship during the times of weekly preaching. Now if holidays were commanded to be kept only for order and policy, they might be applied to another use as well as those ordinary times of weekly meetings in great towns, whereas we are required of necessity to keep them holy.
(3.) If the holidays are kept only for order and policy, why do they esteem some of them above others? Does not Bishop Andrews call the feast of Easter the highest and greatest of our religion? (( Serm. on Matt. 6:16. )) And does not Bishop Lindsey himself, with Chrysostom, call the festival of Christ’s nativity, metropolim omnium festorum [the mother-city of all festivals]? (( Ubi Supra, p. 25. )) By this reason does Bellarmine prove that the feasts of Christians are celebrated not only for the reason of order and policy, but also that of mystery, because otherwise they should be all equal in celebrity, whereas Leo calls Easter festum festorum [festival of festivals], and Nazianzen, celebritatem celebritatum [solemnity of solemnities]. (( De Cult. Sanct., cap. 10. non solum ratione ordinis et politiæ, sed etiam mysterii. ))
(4.) If the holidays are kept only for order and policy, then the sanctification of them should be placed in the very active exercise of outward worship. (( Zanc. in 4 Præc., p. 682.in ipso actuali externi cultus exercitio. )) But Hooker has told us before, that they are made holy and worthily advanced above other days by God’s extraordinary works wrought upon them. Whereupon it follows, that as God sanctified the seventh day with a holy freedom, and by an ordinance to holy use, (( Pæreus, Com. in Gen. 2:3. Deus septimum sanctificavit vacatione sancta, et ordinatione ad usum sanctum. )) so has he made festival days no less holy in themselves, and that as the Sabbath was holy from the beginning, because of God’s resting upon it, and his ordaining of it for an holy use, howbeit it had never been applied by men to the excercises of God’s worship, even so festival days are holy, being advanced truly and worthily by the extraordinary works of God, and for this cause commended to all men that honor God to be holier with them than other days, albeit it should happen that by us they were never applied to an holy use.
If Bishop Lindsey thinks that all this touches not him, he may be pleased to remember that he himself has confessed, that the very presence of the festivity puts a man in mind of the mystery, howbeit he has not occasion to be present in the holy assembly. (( Ubi Supra, p. 20. )) What order or policy is here, when a man being quiet in his parlor or cabinet, is made to remember of such a mystery on such a day? What has external order and policy to do with the internal thoughts of a man’s heart, to put in order the same?
(5.) By their fruits shall we know them. Look whether they give so much liberty to others, and take so much to themselves upon their holidays, for staying from the public worship and attending worldly business, as they do at the diets of weekly and ordinary preaching; yet they would make the simple believe that their holidays are only appointed to be kept as those ordinary times set apart for divine service on the week-days. Nay, moreover, let it be observed whether or not they keep the festival days more carefully, and urge the keeping of them more earnestly than the Lord’s own day. Those prelates that will not abase themselves to preach upon ordinary Sabbaths, think the high holidays worthy of their sermons. They have been also often seen to travel upon the Lord’s day, whereas they hold it irreligion to travel upon an holiday. And whereas they can digest the common profanation of the Lord’s day, and not challenge it, they cannot away [tolerate, endure] with the not observing of their festivities.
(6.) By their words shall we judge them. Says not Bishop Lindsey that the five anniversary days are consecrated to the commemoration of our Savior, his benefits being separate from all other ordinary works, and so made sacred and holidays? (( Ubi Supra, p. 29. )) Will he say this much of ordinary times appointed for weekly preaching? I trow [trust] not.
Dr. Downame holds that we are commanded, in the fourth commandment, to keep the feasts of Christ’s nativity, passion, resurrection, assension, and Pentecost, and that these feasts are to be consecrated as sabbaths to the Lord. Bishop Andrews, a man of the greatest note amongst our opposites, affords us here plenty of testimonies of the proof of the point in hand, namely, that the anniversary festival days are kept for mystery, and as holier than other days. (( On Præc. 4. ))
Sermon on Ps. 85:10, 11, he says of Christmas, That mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, of all the days of the year meet most kindly on this day. Sermon on Ps. 2:7, he says of the same day, That of all other hodies, (( From hoddie, an adjective for healthy, cheerful, pleasant, or, perhaps from the verb, hode, meaning “to ordain.” )) we should not let slip the hodie of this day, whereon the law is most kindly preached, so it will be most kindly practised of all others.
Sermon on Heb. 12:2, he says of Good Friday, Let us now turn to him, and beseech him by the sight of this day. Sermon on 1 Cor. 5:7, 8, he says of the keeping of the Christian passover upon Easter, That then it is best for us to do it, it is most kindly to do it, most like to please Christ, and to prosper with us. And, indeed, if at any time we will do it, quando pascha nisi in pascha, etc. [When (should we keep) the Passover if not (at the time of) the Passover, etc.], so that without any more ado, the season pleads for this effectually, etc. Sermon on Col. 3:1, he says, That there is no day in the year so fit for a Christian to rise with Christ, and seek the things above, as Easter day. Sermon on Job. 2:19, he says, That the act of receiving Christ’s body is at no time so proper, so in season, as this very day. Sermon on 1 Cor. 11:16, he tells us out of Leo, This is a peculiarity that Easter day has, that on it all the whole church obtains remission of their sins.
Sermon on Acts 2:1-8, he says of the feast of Pentecost, That of all days we shall not go away from the Holy Ghost empty on this day; it is dies donorum: his giving day. Sermon on Eph. 4:30, he says, This is the Holy Ghost’s day, and not for that originally so it was, but for that it is to be intended, ever he will do his own chief work upon his own chief feast, and opus diei, the day’s work upon the day itself. Sermon on Ps. 68:18, he says, That love will be best and soonest wrought by the sacrament of love upon Pentecost, the feast of love. Sermon on Acts 10:34, 35, he says, That the receiving of the Holy Ghost in a more ample measure is opus diei, the proper work of this day. Sermon on James 1:16, 17, he calls the gift of the Holy Ghost the gift of the day of Pentecost, and tells us that the Holy Ghost, the most perfect gift of all, this day was, and any day may be, but chiefly this day, will be given to any that will desire. Sermon on Luke 4:18, he says of the same feast, That because of the benefit that fell on this time, the time itself it fell on, is, and cannot be but acceptable, even eo nomine [by that name], that at such a time such a benefit happened to us.
Much more of this stuff I might produce out of this prelate’s holiday sermons which I supersede as more tedious than necessary. (( See Serm. on Gal. 4:4; Serm. on Luke 2:10, 11; Serm. on Lam. 1:12; Serm. on John 20:19; Serm. on Job 19:23; Serm. on John 20:17; Serm. on Heb. 13:20, 21; Serm. on Matt. 6:16; Serm. on Acts 2:16; Serm. on John 5:6, etc. )) Neither yet will I stay here to confute the errors of those and such like sentences of his; for my purpose is only to prove against Bishop Lindsey, that the festival days, whereabout we dispute, are not observed as circumstances of worship, for order and policy, but that, as the chief parts of God’s worship are placed in the celebration and keeping of the same, so are they kept and celebrated most superstitiously, as having certain sacred and mystical significations, and as holier in themselves than other days, because they were sanctified above other days by the extraordinary works and great benefits of God which happened upon them; so that the worship performed on them is even appropriated to them; all which is more than evident from those testimonies which I have in this place collected.
And, finally, the author of The Nullity of Perth Assembly, (( Page 67. )) proves this point forcibly: Doth not Hooker say “That the days of public memorials should be clothed with the outward robes of holiness?” They allege for the warrant of anniversary festivities, the ancients, who call them “sacred and mystical days.” If they were instituted only for order and policy, that the people might assemble to religious exercises, wherefore is there but one day appointed between the passion and the resurrection? forty days between the resurrection and ascension? ten between the ascension and Pentecost? Wherefore follow we the course of the moon, as the Jews did, in our moveable feasts? etc. Wherefore is there not a certain day of the month kept for Easter as well as for the nativity? etc.
That which is here alleged out of Hooker and the ancients, Bishop Lindsey passes quite over it, and neither inserts nor answers it. As touching those demands which tie him as so many Gordian knots, because he cannot unloose them, he goes about to break them, telling us, that they order these things so for unity with the catholic church. (( Ubi Supra, p. 23. )) This is even as some natural philosophers, who take upon them to give a reason and cause for all things in nature, when they can find no other, they flee to sympathia physica [natural sympathy]. When it is asked, wherefore the loadstone [magnet] does attract iron rather than other metal? they answer, that the cause thereof is sympathia physica inter magnetem et ferrum [natural sympathy between the magnet and the iron]. With such kind of etymology does the Bishop here serve us; yet peradventure he might have given us another cause. If so, my retractation is, that if he be excused one way, he must be accused another way; and if he be blameless of ignorance, he is blameworthy for dissimulation.
The true causes why those things are so ordered, we may find in Bishop Andrew’s sermons, which I have made use of in handling this argument. For example, the reason why there is but one day between the passion and the resurrection, is, because that Jonas was but one day in the whale’s belly, and Christ but one day in the bosom of the earth; for in their going thither he sets out Good Friday; in their being there, Easter eve; in their coming thence, Easter day. (( Serm.on Matt. 12:39, 40. )) As for the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, he says, (( Serm. on Luke 4:18, 19. )) Fifty is the number of the jubilee; which number agrees well with this feast, the feast of Pentecost; what the one in years, the other in days; so that this is the jubilee as it were of the year, or the yearly memory of the year of jubilee: that, the pentecost of years; this, the jubilee of days. In the end of the sermon, he tells us the reason why there are ten days appointed between the ascension and Pentecost. The feast of jubilee (he says) began ever after the high priest had offered his sacrifice, and had been in the sancta sanctorum, as this jubilee of Christ also took place from his entering into the holy places, made without hands, after his propitiatory sacrifice, offering up for the quick and the dead, and for all yet unborn, at Easter. And it was the tenth day; and this now is the tenth day since. He has told us why there is not a certain day of the month appointed for Easter, as there is for the nativity, namely, because the fast of Lent must end with that high feast, according to the prophecy of Zechariah. (( Serm. on Matt. 6:16. )) Wherefore I conclude, aliquid mysterii alunt, and so aliquid monstri too [Wherefore I conclude, they maintain some mystery, and some portent too].