Reasons Against Festival Days1
Copyright © 1997 Naphtali Press
[Taken from David Calderwood’s (1575-1651) Perth Assembly (1619).]
From the beginning of the Reformation to this present year of our Lord 1618, the Kirk of Scotland has diverse ways condemned the observation of all holy days, the Lord’s Day only excepted. In the first chapter of the First Book of Discipline penned anno 1560, the observation of holy days to Saints, the feast of Christmass, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, and other fond feasts of our Lady are ranked amongst the abominations of the Roman religion, as having neither commandment nor assurance in the word. It is further affirmed that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abomination should not escape the punishment of the civil magistrate. The book aforesaid was subscribed by the Lord’s of secret Council.
In the General Assembly held at Edinburgh anno 1566, the latter confession of Helvetica was approved, but with special exception against some holy days dedicated to Christ: these same very days that now are urged. In the Assembly held anno 1575, complaint was made against the Ministers and Readers beside Aberdeen, because they assembled the people to prayer and preaching upon certain patron and festival days. Complaint likewise was ordained to be made to the Regent upon the town of Drumfreis for urging and convoying a Reader to the kirk with Tabret and Whistle to read the prayers all the holy days of Yule, or Christmass, upon the refusal of their own Reader. Item, an article was formed to be presented to the Regent, craving that all days heretofore kept holy in time of Papistry beside the Lord’s Day, such as Yule day, Saint’s days, and other like feasts, may be abolished, a civil punishment appointed against the observers of the said days. Banqueting, playing, feasting, and such other vanities upon the days foresaid is condemned.
In the Assembly held in April anno 1577, it was ordained that the Visitor with the advice of the Synodal Assembly, shall admonish ministers preaching or ministering the communion at Pasche, Yule [Easter & Christmass], or other like superstitious times, or Readers reading, to desist, under the pain of deprivation. Dedicating of days was abjured in the confession of faith penned anno 1580. An Article was formed in the Assembly anno 1581, craving an act of Parliament to be made against observation of feast days dedicated to Saints, and setting out of bone-fires. In the Assembly held in February anno 1587, it was humbly moved to his Majesty that Pasche and Yule were superstitiously observed in Fife and about Drumfreis. In the Assembly held anno 1590, his Majesty in open audience of the Assembly praised God for that he was born to be a King in the sincerest Kirk in the world: sincerer than our neighbor Kirk of England, for their service was an evil-said Mass in English. Sincerer than Geneva itself; for they observed Pasche and Yule.
In the Parliament held anno 1592, the act of King James the third about the Saturday and other vigils to be kept holy from Even-song to Even-song was annulled. Item, the act made by Queen Regent granting license to keep Yule and Pasche. In the Assembly held anno 1596, when the covenant was renewed, superstition and idolatry breaking forth in keeping of festival days, setting out of bone-fires, and singing of carols, is reckoned amongst the corruptions which were to be amended. The pulpits have sounded continually against all festival days. The censures of the kirk have been put in execution in all due form against the observers.
In the pretended Assembly held at Perth in August last past, it was concluded that hereafter every minister shall make commemoration of the inestimable benefits received from God, by and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, his Birth, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, and sending down of the Holy Ghost, upon the days appointed for that use. That they shall make choice of several and pertinent texts, and frame their doctrine and exhortation accordingly. This their conclusion was ratified and allowed by act of council, and proclamation was made thereupon, commanding cessation and abstinence from all kind of labor and handy work upon the five days above written, that everyone may the better attend the holy exercises which are to be kept in the kirk at these times.
But first we will premit the proper description of a festival day.
THE DESCRIPTION OF A FESTIVAL DAY.
Piscator describes a festival day in this manner, (Gal. 4:9-11) Festum proprie loquendo est publica & solennis ceremonia mandata … Deo, ut certo anni tempore cum singulari latitia obeatur ad gratias agendum Deo pro certo aliquo beneficio in populum suum collato. A feast in proper speech is a public and solemn ceremony commanded by God to be celebrated a certain time of the year, with singular gladness to give thanks to God for some certain benefit bestowed on his people. Hooker entreating this argument intitules [entitles] the subject festival days. He makes festival solemnity to be nothing else but the due mixture, as it were, of these three elements; Praises set forth with cheerful alacrity of mind: delight expressed by charitable largeness more than common bounty: and sequestration from ordinary labor (Policy, lib. 5. sect. 7.).
By these descriptions we may see that the sabbath day is not properly a festival day. The ordinary sabbath is weekly; the festival day is anniversary. We may fast upon the ordinary sabbath, but we cannot fast and mourn upon a festival day (Neh. 8:10) for that were to confound fasting and festival days. The Council of Laodicea inhibited to celebrate the feasts of martyrs in Lent, for the same regard upon the ordinary sabbath all the parts of God’s worship may be performed as occasion shall offer. Upon the festival days we are bound to the commemoration of a particular benefit. Proper texts, Epistles, Gospels, Homilies, and sermons are framed for the mystery of that day. So that the ordinary sabbath is moral and for the worship of God in general, the festival is mystical. Esentialia festi, the essential parts of a festival day are cessation from work; hearing of the word; participation of the sacraments. Commemoration of divine mysteries may be performed upon the ordinary sabbath, but to make up a festival day Bellarmine (De Cultis Sanctorum, lib. 3. cap. 10.) requires a determination of a day, signification, and representation of the mysteries wrought on such days. Scaliger (Addenda prolegominia in lib. de emendat. temp. [Annexed preliminary remarks to the book On the Emendation of Periods of Time.]) observes that the ordinary sabbaths were never called Chaggim as the anniversary solemnities were.
REASONS AGAINST FESTIVAL DAYS.
1. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou hast to do. These words are either a command to do the works of our calling, as many both Jewish and Christian divines do interpret; or else a permission, as others do interpret. If they contain a command, no contra-command may take it away. If a permission, no human authority may spoil men of the liberty that God has granted unto them, as long as they have any manner of work to do for the [sustaining] of life. The Muscovits therefore say very well: that it is for Lords to keep feasts, and abstain from labor [Calvin. lib. 3. ct. 12. l. 4.]. The citizens and artificers amongst them upon the festival days after divine service, do betake themselves to their labor, and domestic affairs, as Gaguiaus reports.
It may be objected that Constantine the Emperor made a law that none but the Prince may ferias colere, erect an idle day: the Prince then may enjoin a day of cessation.
ANSWER. The laws of the Code are not rules of theology. A prince may not enjoin cessation from economical and domestic works but for weapon showing, exercise of arms, defense of the country or other public works and affairs. But that is not to enjoin a day of simple cessation, but to enjoin a politic work in a place of the economical. Every particular member ceasing from their particular work exercises another work serving for the preservation of the whole body. The curse that Adam shall eat with the sweat of his brows, is mitigated by the permission of six days labor. The Lord permits unto man six, lest he devour the seventh day which is sanctified.
What if the kirk representative enjoin a weekly holy day, as another sabbath, ought the kirk to be obeyed? What power has the kirk representative to enjoin an anniversary day more than a weekly or hebdomadary holy day. If a day of simple cessation from all manner of work economical and political may not be enjoined, a festival day may not be enjoined. I say further that the poor craftsman can not lawfully be commanded to lay aside his tools, and go pass his time, no not for an hour, let be for a day, as long as he is willing to work, and perhaps urged with the sharpness of present necessity. And yet further, that he ought not to be compelled to leave his work to go to divine service except on the day that the Lord has sanctified.
2. It is the privilege of God’s power to appoint a day of rest, and to sanctify it to his honor, as our best divines maintain (Perkins, Gal. 4; Willet, Synopsis, page 501, and Romans 14 controversy 4; Kuchlein in catechis. Holland de diebus festis.). Zanchius (In 4 pr‘cept col. 655) affirms that it is proper to God to choose any person or any thing to consecrate and sanctify it to himself, as it belongs to him alone to justify. Catechismus Hollandieus says no wise man will deny that this sanctification belongs only to God, and that it is manifest sacrilege to attribute these things to men, which are only of divine ordination. Willet says, It belongs only to the Creator to sanctify the creature. In the book of Ecclesiasticus (cap. 33: 7, 8) it is demanded, Why doth one day excel another, when as the light of every day of the year is of the Sun? It is answered, By the Knowledge of the Lord they were distinguished, and he altered seasons and feasts. Some of them hath he made high days, and hallowed them; Some of them he hath made ordinary days.
The common tenet of the divines was acknowledged by the pretended Bishop of Galloway in his sermon at the last Christmass. It may offend you, he said, that this is an holy day. I say there is no power either civil or ecclesiastical can make a holy day: no King, no Kirk: only the Lord that made the day, and distinguished it from the night: he hath sanctified the seventh day. The like was acknowledged by M. P. Galloway in his Christmas Sermons. If the special sanctification of a day to an holy use depends upon God’s commandment and institution, then neither King nor kirk representative may make a holy day.
The observers of days will say they count not their anniversary days holier than other days, but that they keep them only for order and policy, that the people may be assembled to religious exercises. ANSWER. The Papists will confess that one day is not holier than another in its own nature, no not the Lord’s Day: for then the Sabbath might not have been changed from the last to the first day of the week. But they affirm that one day is holier than another in respect of sacred mysteries whereof they carry the names, as Nativity, Passion, Ascension, etc. And so do we. The presence of the festivity puts a man in mind of the mystery, howbeit he have not occasion to be present in the holy assembly. We are commanded to observe them in all parts, as the Lord’s Day, both in public assemblies, and after the dissolving of the same. Yea it is left free to teach any part of God’s word on the Lord’s Day; but for solemnity of the festival, solemn texts must be chosen: Gospels, Epistles, Collect, Psalms must be framed for the particular service of these days, and so the mystical days of man’s appointment shall not only equal, but in solemnity surpass the moral sabbath appointed by the Lord. Does 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 may assemble to religious exercises, wherefore is there but one day appointed between the Passion and Resurrection? Forty days between Resurrection and Ascension? Ten between the Ascension and Pentecost? Wherefore follow we the course of the moon, as Bonaventura alludes (Lib. 2. Dist. 4. num. 48.). Wherefore is there not a certain day of the month kept for Easter, as well as for the Nativity? Does not Bellarmine give this reason out of Augustine, that the day of the Nativity is celebrated only for memory, the other both for memory and for sacraments (De Cultis Sanctorum, Lib. 3 Cap. 12.) Ille celebratur solum ob memoriam, & ideo semper die 25. Decembris: at iste celebratur ob memoriam & sacramentum, & ideo variatur [The one is celebrated only on account of memory, and therefore always on the 25th of December, but the other is celebrated on account of memory and sacrament, and so it changes].
If the anniversary commemorations were like the weekly preachings, as the two forenamed preachers made the comparison, why is the husbandman forced to leave his plough at the one, and not at the other? Why has the one proper service and not the other? Why did not M. Galloway curse the people for absence from the one, as well as from the other? Why are the days of the one changeable, and not the other? To make solemn commemoration of Christ’s nativity upon any other day, than upon the putative day of his nativity, would be thought a great absurdity; such like of his Passion, Ascension, etc. And last, how could M. Galloway affirm that the evidence of God’s Spirit appeared in the Christmas Sermons that are extant, more lively than in any other sermons?
Next it may be objected that the people of God might have indicted days of fasting at their own determination, and an interdiction of all kind of work. ANSWER. They had a general warrant from God (Joel 2:15) to proclaim a general fast, according to the occurrence of their calamities and other affairs of the kirk. The light and law of nature leads a man to this observation of an occasional fast; nature teaches him presently to withdraw his hand and heart from worldly affairs, and to lift them up to God to deprecate his wrath when his judgment is above our heads. The like may be said by analogy of thanksgiving, that we ought to praise God in the meantime when we receive the benefit. But to make of the occasional days of fasting, or feasting, anniversary and set festival and fasting days is without warrant. It remains therefore that it is the Lord’s sovereignty to make or ordain a thing to be holy. God first sanctifies by commandment and institution: man sanctifies thereafter by observation, applying to an holy use the time sanctified by God. It was a part of the idolatry of the golden calf to proclaim a holy day. It is numbered among one of Jeroboams sins that he ordained a feast after the devise of his own heart (1 Kings 12:33). Musculus (Loci Communes Praec. 4.) says, If any man shall attempt to make holy at his pleasure the things that God has not sanctified, is not only superstitious, but challenges unto himself that which belongs only to God. When God blesses and sanctifies a day, then may man look for a blessing in sanctifying it.
3. We come from privilege to fact. As de jure none may, so de facto none did appoint holy days under the law but God, and that either by himself, or by some extraordinary direction. Therefore none can be allowed under the Gospel without the like warrant; seeing the times under the Gospel are not so ceremonious as the times under the Law. Against this reason two instances are commonly alleged; the one of the days of Purim instituted by Mordecai; the other of the feast of dedication instituted by Judas Maccabees, and graced by Christ’s presence, as is alleged [in] John 10. But the answer is easy.
The days of Purim were simply called the days of Purim; not the holy days of Purim. They are neither called Chag, nor Mogned, nor Gnatsarah as the other anniversary feasts are called in the Old Testament. No mention is made of holy convocations on these days, nor divine service proper to them, notwithstanding of their return to the temple, and promise that the memorial of the days of Purim should not fall from among them, nor perish from their seed (Esther 9:27-28). It is true that now a days they read the book of Esther, and therefore call it the feast of Megilla, after the reading whereof they spend the rest of the time in revelling, more mad than the Gentiles were in their Bacchanals. This reading was not the first institution, but an addition of the later Jews. The days of Purim were instituted only for civil days, and the ordinance required nor further, but that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and sending of portions one to another, and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:19) to be documents and testimonies of their fasting and crying, that is in remembrance of their fasting and prayers, by which they obtained that deliverance. At the instant time of their delivery, it is said they rested, but in the edict when the days were made anniversary, rest from all kind of work was not forbidden; therefore Hospinian (De Orig…..) says In festo Phurim operari prohibitum non est [On the feast day Purim work was not forbidden]: they were not forbidden to work. And Willet (Synopsis, Controversie of Holy Days) compares it with the fifth of November, and affirms the like.
Next, it is to be considered that Mordecai is thought to be the penman of the book of Esther, and consequently a Prophet. He was one of the 120 masters of the great Synagogue, amongst whom were both priests and prophets, Ezra and his society, Daniel and his companions, Zachary, Malachy, etc.
Thirdly, it appears (Esther 9:28) that it was an order to endure, as long as the feast days appointed by the Lord himself, and in no case to be altered. Holy days of ecclesiastical constitution are not of such a nature, as D. Fulk acknowledges (Against the Rhemists, Apoc. 1:10.). Whatsoever therefore was the quality of these days, whether holy or civil, the warrant was more than ordinary.
The feast of dedication whereof mention is made [in] John 10, some take for the dedication of the Temple in Zerubbabel’s time, as the Magedeburg Centuries (Cent. 1 Col. 244.). So likewise Chrysostome, Theophilactus, Cajetanus, Abulensis, Euthymius, and others, as Barradius reports (Comment. in Evangel. Tom 3 lib. 4. cap. 16.). But let it be meant as is alleged. If the feast of dedication in Solomon and Zerubbabels time was anniversary, then the Maccabees did follow the example of these who had prophetical direction. If they were not anniversary, as indeed Toletus (In John 10) leaves it as uncertain, then this annual memory was an addition of the Pharisees, who enlarged the glory of this feast, as they did their Phylacteries. Junius (In John 10) relates out of the Talmud, that the wise men decreed that the eight days of that feast should be yearly days of joy. By the wise men are meant the Pharisees, who were called Sapientes Israelis [Wise men of Israel]. The renewment of the Altar, and of certain other decayed places, was honored by them with an annual memory, whereas the whole Temple, with all the implements and furniture thereof in Solomon and Zerubbabel’s time had not the like honor. Neither do we read that any annual memory was instituted by Hezekiah after the profanation of the Temple by Manasses and Amon. Christ’s walking in Solomon’s Porch, makes nothing for approbation of this feast. He had remained in Jerusalem from the feast of the Tabernacles, and came not up of purpose to keep that feast. He takes hold of the present opportunity to thrust his sickle into a thick harvest.
We have to consider for a general answer to all instances alleged from the Jewish Kirk, first that they had extraordinary directions which we want [lack]. They had prophets by office, or commission, who ended in Malachi. They had prophets who were only prophets by the Spirit, as Daniel, David, and Solomon, who endured after the days of Malachi, as Drusius (In 2 Peter 1:21) affirms. They had Urim and Thummim under the first Temple, and in place thereof, a slender voice sounding from heaven, called Bathkol under the second Temple, as Tremellius (in Acts 12:22) has observed. Next the Pharisees and degenerating Jews filled their calendar with fond feasts of their own invention, as the festivities of the Equinoctial and festival days, other ways called the feasts of the Tekuphas: or converted any ancient order into a solemn feast, as the day appointed for carrying wood to the Temple to maintain the fire of the altar (Neh. 10:34) they turned into a feast called the feast of Xylophoria. A holy day is to be observed not by a few but by all; but all were not appointed to bring wood, but those only who were designed by lot. It is no wonder therefore that they took the like course with the days of Purim. But we are not to imitate the Pharisees and fond Jews.
4. The observation of anniversary days pertained to the ceremonial law; but so it is that the ceremonial law is abolished. The anniversary days were distinguished from the moral sabbath. Many were the preeminences of the ordinary sabbath above the anniversary. (1.) It was more ancient, given to Adam in the state of innocence. (2.) Uttered by God’s own mouth. (3.) Written with God’s own finger in durable stone. (4.) The Lord himself in a manner rested on it, when as he rained not manna that day. (5.) It was more strictly observed than the other holy days, therefore some say it was called Shabbath, Shabbathon. Therefore like[wise] the Jews measured unto it a sabbath day’s journey. (6.) Other holy days were celebrated either in remembrance of a bypast benefit, or to signify something to come. It excelled them both, says Bellarmine (De Cultis Sanctoram, lib. 3, cap. 12.). Other holy days gave place unto it. The Jews made a Canon that two Sabbaths should not concur together propter olera & propter mortuos [Because of the smell and because of the dead], that is, because they could not keep in that hot region then sodden meats two days together; nor the bodies of the dead unburied for stink, and putrefaction. Therefore they transferred this sabbath of extraordinary solemnity immediately proceeding the ordinary sabbath to the ordinary sabbath. They were drawn to it, it was never drawn to them (See Casaubon, De exercistat. p. 482.). In a word, the Jews held it in greater estimation than the rest. They called it the Queen of the holy days, and the secret of the living God.
The three solemnities called Regalim, were Temple feasts. They were bound to celebrate them at the Temple, the public theater of all the Jewish ceremonies. The Apostle calls them Weak and beggarly elements (Gal. 4:9, 10). The elements of the world (Col. 2:20). Shadows of things to come (Col. 2:16, 17). The Apostle says not the observation of Judaical days, but simpliciter [simply], the observation of days served to the people of God for a typical use, and a rudiment of religion. If the observation of some anniversary days was prescribed to the Jews, as elements and rudiments for their instruction, it follows that the observation of anniversary days is of itself a rudimentary instruction; otherways[otherwise] the Apostle’s reason will not hold. The Apostle condemns difference of days as he condemns difference of meats. To esteem some meats clean, and some unclean, is Judaical, howbeit we observe not the same difference that the Jews did. Days and meats are paralleled together; to esteem one day holier than another, not so discerned by the Lord’s commandment must be also Judaical.
The kirk under the Gospel has past the rudiments, and therefore the observation of anniversary days does not beseem her. To substitute other days in place of the Jewish, a Christian Pasche and Pentecost for the Jewish, is but to substitute rudiments and elements to the Jewish, and not to chase away, but to change the Jewish holy days, as Bellarmine does (De Cultis Sanctorum, c. 10.), Non est sublata sed mutata significatio et diseretio dierum [The giving of significance to and setting apart of particular days has not been taken away, but has been changed]. The Jewish frankincense was perfume: the Popish is a simple frankincense without any other ingredient The Jewish lights were of oil: the popish of wax, and yet we charge them with Judaizing. The Jews had no anniversary days, but such as were abrogated; they were abrogated not only as shadows of things to come, but also as memorials of bygone benefits. Even as they were days of remembrance they belonged to the pedagogy of the law. Converted Jews may not lawfully observe the Jewish festivities, even as remembrances of bygone benefits. In every respect all their anniversary days are abolished, and they had none other, but such as were abolished. Therefore in every respect they belonged to the ceremonial law. The observation therefore of anniversary days even in respect of remembrance was to the Jew’s pedagogical, rudimentary and elementary, and consequently ceremonial.
The Bishop of Chester (Defense of the Ceremonies, p. 64.) confesses that all the solemn feasts were of a ceremonial nature. If the Jews had no anniversary solemnities to endure after Christ’s coming when they should be converted to Christianism, how can the observation of anniversary days be taken up by Christians?
5. The prerogative belonging to God in the Old Testament was transferred to Christ, God and Man, the lawgiver in the New Testament, one that was faithful in all the house of God. But so it is that Christ neither by his own commandment, nor by direction of his Spirit inspiring the Apostles, instituted any other day but the Lord’s Day. If there had been any other days dedicated to Christ, the Apostle spoke improperly and obscurely when he said, he was ravished in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. If there had been a day for his Nativity, another for his Passion, he should have said, he was ravished in the spirit upon one of the Lord’s Days. Seeing John out-lived the rest of the Apostles, it follows that there was no other holy day observed in the Apostolical times. Neither was the institution of the Lord’s Day so much a new institution, as a change of the ordinary Sabbath.
The extraordinary sabbaths were in every respect ceremonial. The ordinary Sabbath had both substance and ceremony. By reason of the substance it was changed into the Lord’s Day answering analogically to it. The moral use of the ordinary Sabbath both was for the service of God in general both private and public. The mystical use was to be a memorial of things bypast, and a shadow of things to come. The moral use endures, the mystical uses are evanished.
Christ appeared the first day of the week, and every eighth day thereafter until he ascended, says Junius (In Gen. 2:2.). And that therefore the Apostles delivered to the kirk the observation of this day from Christ’s example and institution, which he confirms with the judgment of Cyril and Augustine. The blessing of the seventh day was translated to this day instituted by Christ, because all sanctification flows to Christians from Christ. But it is sufficient that the Apostles inspired by his Spirit have recommended this day to the kirk.
There is another reason to prove that there were no other days appointed in the Apostle’s times. The Apostle had occasions to treat of holy days, reasoning against the observation of Jewish days, they direct them to no other as the purpose required. The Apostle condemns not only the observation of the Jewish days, [but also] the Jewish observation of the Jewish days to a typical use. For the converted Jews did not observe them as shadows of things to come, for then they had denied Christ; but he condemns observation of days as a Jewish custom and rite, as a pedagogical and rudimentary instruction not beseeming the Christian Kirk. Zanchius (In 4 praecept. p. 171.) speaks to this purpose after this manner: Magis consentaneum est cum prima institutione & cum scriptis Apostolicis ut unus tantum dies in septimana sanctificetur. It is more agreeable to the first institution, and the writings of the Apostles, that one day of the week only be sanctified.
Against this argument is first alleged that the Apostle compares with the observation of days, Rom. 14: 5, 6. Answer. The Apostle bears with the infirmity of the weak Jews, who understood not the fulness of the Christian liberty. And the ceremonial law was as yet not buried. But the same Apostle reproves the Galatians who had attained to this liberty, and had once left off the observation of days. Next, the Judaical days had once that honor, as to be appointed by God himself; but the anniversary days appointed by men have not the like honor.
It is secondly objected that seeing the Lord’s Day was instituted in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, the other notable acts of Christ ought likewise to be remembered with their several festivities. Answer. (1.) It follows not that because Christ did institute in remembrance of one benefit, therefore men may institute for other benefits. (2.) Christ’s resurrection was a benefit including the rest, as an accomplishment of the work of redemption, and answered anagogically [allegorically] to the common benefit of creation by the beginning of a new creation. (3.) We deny that the Lord’s Day was appointed to celebrate the memory only of Christ’s resurrection. For then the Lord’s resurrection, the proper subject of all Homilies, Sermons, Gospels, Epistles, Collects, Hymns and Psalms belonging to the Paschal service should be the proper subject of divine service every Lord’s Day. Then the Lord’s Day should be a festival day: and it were unlawful to fast on it. It was instituted for the remembrance of all his actions, and generally for his worship. Athanasius says (Homilia de semente.) In Sabatho convenimus ut Dominum Sabathi Iesum adoremus. We convene on the Sabbath that we may adore Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath. Augustine (De Verbis Apostol. Serm. 15.) says Domino ut hic dies ideirco dicitur, quia eo die Dominus resurrexit, vel ut ipso nomine doceret illus Domino consecratum esse debere. It is called the Lord’s Day because the Lord rose that day, or that the name might teach us that it ought to be consecrated to the Lord. It is called the Lord’s Day, either because the Lord did institute it, as the days of Purim are called Mordecai’s days, in the second of the Maccabees, and communion is called the Lord’s Supper; or else because it was instituted to the Lord’s honor and worship. The Jewish Sabbath was the Sabbath of the Lord our God. The Christian Sabbath is the Sabbath of Christ our Lord, God and man.
The name of Lord was more frequent in the mouths of Christians in the Apostolic times than the name of Christ, as Rbenanus (In Tertul. de corona militis.[On Tertullian’s The Soldier’s Crown]) has observed. When it is called commonly the Lord’s Day, it is all one as if it were commonly called Christ’s day, changing the title but not the purpose. If the ordinary sabbath be Christ’s day appointed by himself or his Apostles at his direction, for the remembrance of all his actions, and for his worship in general; to divide his actions, and appoint anniversary and mystical days for their remembrance, is superstitious will-worship, and a judaical addition to Christ’s institution. Christ’s day answers analogically to the moral sabbath. It may be applied to the remembrance of Christ’s resurrection seeing he rose that day, and in some sort to be a sign of the heavenly rest. But that is typus communis & factus [a common and formal type]. A common type fitted to resemble such things. But not typus distinctus [a distinct type] appointed by God for that end. It rests then that Christ’s day, or the Lord’s Day is the Christian sabbath, a continuation of the moral sabbath, and to be observed in a moral manner for all the praise of God’s worship in and through Christ, and not in a mystical manner, for the joyful remembrance of Christ’s resurrection only.
It is thirdly objected that Paul kept the feast of Pentecost (Acts 20; 1 Cor. 16). I answer, it was the Jewish Pentecost, whereof mention is made in these places Paul needed not to have travelled to Jerusalem, for he might have observed the Christian Pentecost everywhere. Bellarmine himself will not be so bold as to affirm that it was the Christian Pentecost. Francolinus (De horis canonicus cap. 84.) puts it out of doubt, and says it is against the common exposition of the interpreters, for he says, Tunc temporis non erant celebres christianorum festivetates cum Evangelium non esset ad huc plene promolgatum, the festivities of Christians were not as yet celebrated, for the Gospel was not yet fully published.
It is fourthly objected out of the Epistles of Polycarp and Polycrates, extant in the history of Eusebius, and out of Bede following Eusebius, that the Apostles kept the feast of Easter. Answer. Beda was but a fabler, and a follower of fabulous reports. Eusebius was little better treading unknown footsteps, as [he] himself confesses in the beginning of his story. The Epistles alleged are counterfeit; for it is said in these Epistles that John was a Priest and bore on his forehead the Patalum, that is the golden plate, like that of the high priests (Ex. 37:36). But no man will grant, says Scaliger (Elench Trihertes, c. 25.) Ne utrum concedit, qui sciverit nullum Christi Apostolum sacerdotem fuisse, & nulli pr‘ter quam Summo Sacerdoti Petalon gestare licuisse. That either John or James bore it, who understand that none of Christ’s Apostles was a priest: and that it was lawful to none, but the high priest to bear the golden plate. And yet these Epistles are the eldest records that Eusebius can ground upon. The Bishop of Ely in his sermon takes needless pains to prove the antiquity of Easter. But when he proves it to be Apostolical, he shoots short. His eldest antiquity is the counterfeit Epistles before alleged. His proof out of scripture (Ps. 118:8; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8) are very weak. For the first testimony in applied to every Lord’s Day, and is not to be restrained to Pasche day. Christ crucified and refused of the builders was demonstrated to be the cornerstone. For that day he was demonstrated to be the son of God by his resurrection according to David’s prophecy, Today have I begotten thee, applied to the resurrection by the Apostle (Acts 13:33).
The Lord’s Day is the day the Lord has created, let us exult and rejoice in it. Christ instituted it; David prophesied of it (Ps. 110), where it is called the day of the Lord’s Assemblies. Many memorable things were done under the Old Testament upon this day, to declare that it should be an excellent day under the New Testament, specially circumcision was commanded on the eighth day as a sacrament of that day, says Junius (In Gen. 27:12), Quia Sacramentum fuit dies illius octavi quo dominus Jesus Christus resurrexit, following in this conceit the Ancients, Cyprian, Ambrose, etc. If it be true that is affirmed by the Council of Constantinople (Conc. Constant. 6. Can. 8.), it would appear that the Lord has of purpose heaped his wonderful works upon this day: for there it is said that Christ was born on it: The star shined to the wise men on it: Christ fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish on it: Christ was baptized on it, rose on it, sent down the Holy Ghost on it: on it the light was created. Pope Leo likewise says, Dies dominica tantis dispensationum mysteris est consecrata, ut quicquld gru admodum est constitutum in terris, in hujus diei dignitatem sit gestum: id est. that the Lord’s Day is consecrated with so many mysteries dispensed on it, that it appears that whatsoever notable thing was done on earth, was done to the honor of this day. So if the prophecy of David should be applied to any precise day, it should be applied to the Lord’s Day. But seeing the words are to be understood, as well of David as of Christ, the day is taken for the time indefinitely, wherein David was made King, and the cornerstone of God’s people.
The other testimony imports not the celebration of Easter feast upon any anniversary day, but rather the Apostle teaches us to celebrate this feast of the Passover all the year long, with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Doctor Fulk in his answer to the Rhemists upon the same place cites Augustine, referring this feasting not to the celebration of Easter, nor to the receiving of Pasche communion, but to our whole life. It is therefore only the Bishops conjecture that the incestuous person was cut off against the feast of Easter, that a little leaven might not leaven the whole lump.
His last proof is taken from the custom of baptism and the Eucharist ministered upon Pache day, as if they had been ministered only on that day. It was the decree of Pope Innocentius in the Lateran Council that all should communicate at Easter. The Christian Sabbath was called the Lord’s Day, the day of light, and the day of Bread. The day of light because of baptism ministered ordinarily on the Lord’s Day: for the ancients called baptism light or illumination. The day of bread because of the administration of the Supper ordinarily upon the Lord’s Day, as Junius (In Gen. 2.) proves out of Chrysostome. Baptism was tied of old to Pentecost as well as Easter. It was an evil custom disallowed both by ancient and modern Divines. It was not so in the primitive kirk, as Cassander bears witness (Expositio de author. consue. bapti Infant. adulti.). Apostolorum doctrin‘ consentientes nullo temporum aut locorum delectu statim post fides professionem ab Apostlis vel Apostolorum discipulis baptismi sacramento in Ecclesiam Christi captalantur. [(Exposition on the authority of the Custom of Baptizing Infants and Adults). They were in agreement with the teaching of the Apostles that they be taken eagerly into the church of Christ by the sacrament of baptism administered by the Apostles or the disciples of the Apostles, with not distinction as to time or place, immediately upon their profession of faith.]
I will now frame an argument against this conceit of Apostolical tradition and observation of Pasche.
The Apostles were led all their life time by the infallible direction of the Spirit. If they had accorded on the observation of Easter they had not disagreed on the day. But their most ancient records, the bastard Epistles above mentioned, report that Philip and John kept the fourteenth day of the moon, as the Jews did, and Peter the Lord’s Day following the fourteenth day of the moon. It is well said in the preface of the harmony of confessions that the old contention about the celebration of Easter tossed very hotly the space of two hundred years or thereabout, between the Greeks and the Latins, was long since of us thought worthy of laughter. Whitaker (De Scriptura quest. 6. c. 9.) says, Magnam quidem de hoc re olim fuisse contentione sed sine causa: ut miru sit de re tantilla, et pene nullius momenti tantas et tam graves fuisse dissentiones [(On Scripture, Question 6, Chapter 9) says, “Indeed at one time there was a great deal of argument on this subject for no apparent reason: strange that there should have been so weighty disagreements over such a matter as that, one of almost no importance”], wondering at their frivolous contention. The golden number invented to find out the new moon, for observing the right day, after that they accorded upon one day, has often failed, and notwithstanding of all the rules set down by the Council of Nice for uniformity in keeping the day, it has been differently observed through mistaking, as Bellamine himself (De Cultis Sanctoram, c. 12.) confesses. So God suffered the Christian world to wander, notwithstanding of their golden number, to let the world see such customs had not his allowance. He suffered not the Jews to wander in such uncertainties, after he had appointed them unto the keeping of their Passover.
Lastly, they reason with Augustine (Epistle 118), a posteriori, that seeing the Lord’s Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, and coming down of the Holy Ghost, is celebrated with anniversary solemnity, through all the world, they must needs have been ordained either by the Apostles, or by general councils. But so it is, that those days were solemnly kept before there was any general council. It must follow therefore that the Apostles ordained them.
Answer. Augustine’s disjunction is not necessary: For many customs crept in, and prevailed thereafter universally, which were neither ordained by the Apostles, nor general councils. Socrates in his history (Lib. 5. c. 22.), says, I am of opinion that as many other things crept in of custom in sundry places, so the feast of Easter to have prevailed among all people of a certain private custom and observation: insomuch that not one of the Apostles had anywhere prescribed so much as one rule of it to any man. The success and event has manifestly declared unto the world, that of old it was observed, not of canon, but of custom. And a little after, They that keep Easter the 14th day of the month, bring forth John the Apostle for their author. Such as inhabit Rome, and the West parts of the world, allege Peter and Paul for themselves, that they should leave such a tradition: yet there is none of them that can show in writing any testimony of theirs for confirmation and proof of that custom. Thus far Socrates translated by Doctor Hammer, a formalist, for answer to Augustine’s rule (See further in Socrates in the same chapter).
In the days of Justin Martyr, that is, in the midst of the second age after the Apostles, there is no mention made of any other holy day than the Lord’s Day. In his second apology he seems to affirm that the Christians had only two times of public meetings: the one ordinary upon the Lord’s Day; the other extraordinary and uncertain, viz. when any was converted to the Christian faith, and baptized. As for the questions extant among Justin’s works, the learned do not acknowledge them for his.
In Augustine’s rule there is no mention of the nativity day. As for the other four days mentioned, put the case they were universally observed in Augustine’s time, that is, in the fifth age after the Apostles, yet except they were perpetually observed, Augustine’s rule will not help them. If they cannot prove Pasche to be Apostolical, how will they prove the Pentecost, the Passion, Ascension day to be Apostolical? There are sermons extant amongst Cyprian’s works upon the Passion and Ascension days. But Bellarmine (De Scriptoribus Eclesiasticis. page 93.) himself confesses these sermons of Christ’s cardinal works to be superstitions. The observing of the passion day brought into the kirk, set days of fasting, the Friday fast, Lenten fast, and a number of superstitions accompanying the said fastings together with the opinion of merit by fasting. Set anniversary fasts are condemned by our divines. The right manner of fasting is to fast when some judgment is imminent, some great work to be performed. And as for the private man, when he is greatly tempted to sin, and cannot overcome his tentation, then is it fittest time for him to fast. The Paschal fasts were also abused for the Paschal communion following, as if Easter communion required greater preparation than any other communion in the year.
6. If it had been the will of God that the several acts of Christ should have been celebrated with several solemnities, the Holy Ghost would have made known to us the day of his Nativity, Circumcision, presentation to the Temple, Baptism, Transfiguration, and the like. For it is kindly to remember Opus diei in die sua, the work of the day in the own day. This was the custom of old under the Law. Hooker says, That the wondrous works of God advanced the day and time wherein they were wrought.
Bellarmine says, That Christ’s acts did consecrate the days and times wherein they were wrought. If the principal works of God advance some days above others, all the days of the year should be holy. If we should honor the memory of Christ’s acts, all days likewise should be holy, because every one of them is full of his miracles, as he says (Epistol. 4. c. 4) Christ by his actions did no more consecrate the times wherein they were wrought, than his body did the manger or the cross. Not Christ’s action on a day, but his institution makes a day holy. If Christ’s actions advance and consecrate the days whereon they were wrought, the days ought to be known. Otherwise it will fall out that we shall keep the days holy that were never advanced, nor consecrate others by Christ’s action or institution. But so it is, that the day of Christ’s nativity, and consequently the other days depending upon the calculation of the same, is hid from mortal men.
That Christ was born the 25th of December is grounded upon an erroneous conceit that Zachary the father of John Baptist was a high priest, when as he was a priest of one of the 24 orders, that is, the order of Abijah. The ancients made John the Baptist to be conceived the 24th of September, when Zachary as high priest should have offered up incense. And from the conception of John they counted six full months to the conception of Christ, that is, to the 25th of March, when as they should have counted but five full months. This opinion of Christ’s nativity on the 25th day of December was bred at Rome. Scaliger (De emendat temporum, lib. 6) says, Post seculum Constantini Rom‘ h‘c observatio instituta & tempore Chrysostomi Constantinopolim derivata est [After the age of Constantine this observation was instituted, and it was derived from the time of Chrysostom at Constantinople], that this observation was instituted at Rome after Constantine’s time. Chysostom in his Homilies upon the Nativity says, that ten years ago before the making of the said Homily, the 25th day of December was made known to the Oriental Kirks by the Occidental, to have been the day of Christ’s Nativity. Epiphanius testifies that he was ignorant that the Occidental Kirk had ordained the 25th day of December to have been the day of the Lord’s nativity, a little before he made his book against heresies. All the kirks of the East, and of Egypt, observed one day for the nativity and baptism of Christ upon the Epiphany day. Ambrose is the most ancient who makes mention of the 25th day of December, says Scaliger (Canon, Isa. gog. lib. 3., p. 301.).
The diversity of the ancients observing some the 6th of January, some the 19th of April, some the 19th of May, some the 25th of December, argues that the Apostles never ordained it. Bellarmine, nor no other can produce a writer for 300 years to testify that the nativity day was kept. Clemens Constitutions are known to be counterfeit and late, as Scaliger proves in the same place. Because they make mention of the 25th day of December which was not received in his time, namely in the Oriental Kirk. By the same argument may the counterfeit Epistle of Theophilus be rejected, for it makes like[wise] the nativity to fall on the 25th day of December, as a matter out of all doubt. Cyprian’s sermon on the Nativity is acknowledged by Bellarmine himself to be superstitious as I have said before. You see then as God hid the body of Moses, so has he hid this day, and other days depending on the calculation of it, wherein he declared his will concerning the other days of his notable acts. To wit that not Christ’s action but Christ’s institution makes a day holy.
Bellarmine (De Cultis Sanctorum, cap. 12.) says, Dies dominica refert nobis memoriam natalis Christi et resurrectionis ejusdem, et adventus Spiritus Sancti, nam Christus die dominica natu est [Bellarmine (On the Manners of Worship of the Saints, chap. 12) says, “The Lord’s day brings back to us the memory of Christ’s death and his resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, for Christ was born on the Lord’s day”], Christ was born upon the Lord’s Day. If this be true, what needs us an anniversary day after a Jewish manner. They will not suffer the ordinary sabbath, that is Christ’s day, [to] serve in a moral manner for unknown days; but they will set up a mystical day uncertain and unknown, and equal it with the Lord’s Day, that is, the true Christ’s day, instituted by himself.
Why should we follow antiquity blinded in this point, and foster a gross error of Zacharius high priesthood against the express word of God? He was a priest of the eighth order; every order kept their course and station about the Temple from sabbath to sabbath (1 Chron. 9:25). None of them encroached upon [the] other, but kept the order set down by David, and to that effect was made a severe canon, Every priest or Levite, that meddled with the function of another let him die the death, as Scaliger reports out of then ancient laws (Canon Isagog. lib. 3. p. 393.) Omnis sive Sacerdos sive Levita qui sese inmiscuerit functi ni alterius, capite luat. This order was so observed that if any of the 24 families had failed either by famine or by the sword, the daily sacrifice ceased in the time of their function, and no other family would supply the room. But from the instauration [restoration] and dedication made by Judas Maccabees the 22nd day of November, when the first family began to keep their station, there was no intermission of the daily sacrifice, no interruption of the courses, till the destruction of the Temple, as Scaliger proves in the end of his book. (De emendat temporum.)
By the calculation from the 22nd of November at the dedication made by Maccabees, he makes John the Baptist to be conceived after the 28th day of July, and consequently Christ’s birth to fall out about the end of September, an hot time of the year, when the Shepherds were watching in the field. Casaubon (Exercit. 1. pag. 163.) says That the custom of the Kirk of Alexandria doth wonderfully confirm the calculation of Scaliger. The day of the week when Christ was born, can no mortal man know, says the same Scaliger (Canon Isagog. lib. 3, p. 300.). They who were of one family divided the services among themselves, as it fell by lot: some fell to offer Incense, some to dress the lamps, some to order the wood on the Altar (1 Chron. 23:28-31). And the book of the Jewish Liturgies testifies the same. So you see how it fell Zachary to offer up incense, and that he was not high priest. If antiquity erred so grossly in the matter itself, that is in taking the 25th day of December for the day of Christ’s nativity, might they not have erred as grossly in appointing any day at all? Nay let us utter the truth, December-Christmas is a just imitation of the December Saturnal of the ethnic Romans, and so used as if Bacchus, and not Christ were the God of Christians.
It is commonly objected that we may as well keep a day for the nativity as for the resurrection of Christ. We have answered already that Christ’s day, or the Lord’s Day, is the day appointed for remembrance of his nativity, and all his actions and benefits, as well as for the resurrection. Next, the one is moral and weekly: the other is mystical and anniversary. The Lord’s Day itself is no longer to us mystical, but moral, says Willet (Synops. Pap. Of holy days.): and therefore Pasch-day is a mystical sabbath, and anniversary: whereas the Lord’s Sabbath should be only moral.
It is still objected, the benefits of God ought to be remembered, specially Christ’s notable benefits. ANSWER. It is one thing to remember, another thing to remember with solemn festivities. To remember is a moral duty, and perpetual; for we ought to keep not only an anniversary, but also a weekly and daily remembrance. But to celebrate an anniversary solemnity, and to keep a sabbath of rest in remembrance, it is a pedagogical ceremony of the Jews. The Lord helped their understanding with types and figures, their affections with instruments of music. Their memories with frontlets and Phylacteries to put them in mind of God’s Law. But we are to keep says Jerome (Ad Celanthiam, Epist. 14. c. 3.), not a literal by outward signs, but a spiritual memory of God’s Law. Everything set up for remembrance of God is not acceptable to him: for so the Lutheran shall defend his images. As oft as the Gospel is preached, Christ is remembered. When the word is preached, Christ is crucified, and by the same reason, he may be said to be born, to rise again, to ascend, etc. When the sacrament is ministered, Christ’s death and passion are remembered, and that with solemnity. We cannot worship Christ privately or publicly, but we must remember his birth and his passion.
Pope Alexander III (Decreta lib. 2. Tit. 9, cap.), gives this reason wherefore the Roman Kirk kept not a holy day to the Trinity, Quoniam Ecclesiae Romanae in usu non valet quod in aliquo tempore; huius modi celebret specialiter festivitatem: cum singulis diebus gloria Patri & filio & Spiritui Sancto, & coetera simula dicantur ad laudem pertinentia Trinitatis [Since what used to be the custom of the Roman church does not prevail now, it celebrates a festivity of this kind in a particular way every day when “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,” and other similar things are said which are pertinent to the praise of the Trinity], because he says, Glory to the father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, and other such like things belonging to the praise of the Trinity, are uttered daily. The Popes reason is grounded upon this rule, Whatsoever is entreated or remembered in the ordinary divine service, ought not to have one special holy day to celebrate the memory of the same, beside the day already discerned by the Lord. We assume, Christ’s nativity, death, resurrection, etc., are not only the continual meditation of a Christian in private, but also are remembered and entreated in the ordinary and public service. Every communion Sunday is a passion holy day. Every sabbath that Christ’s nativity is preached is a time of remembrance of his nativity. But to ordain an anniversary day, or hour of rest for commemoration of his nativity, or passion, and specially upon a week day, is a Jewish rudiment, and a prejudice to Christian liberty.
As for the fifth of November, it is not an holy day. It is not a day of cessation from work, which is one of the chief elements of an holy day. The bonfires set out in token of joy are no part of Christian sanctification of the day. Bellarmine tells us (De relquijs c. 4.), Ignis accendi solet ad l‘titiam significandam etiam in rebus prophanis, that fire used to be kindled, even in civil and profane things. Scaliger (De Emendat tempor. lib. 7. p. 713.), calls the candles and torches light upon Midsummer Eve, the footsteps of ancient gentility.
Anniversary commemoration of a benefit, with a cessation from work, suppose for a part of a day, is Jewish. To praise God with public thanksgiving in the instant time of receiving the benefit was our duty. But to appoint an anniversary hour of cessation and public commemoration, is not competent to the times of the New Testament. Willet compares this day to the days of Purim. Be it so, but those days were of a ceremonial nature, as we have said.
7. Grant the keeping of holy days to have been at the beginning a matter indifferent, and setting aside all the former reasons, yet ought they to be abolished, because according to the rule of the Fathers, commended to us by Zanchius (In 4. Praecept. Col. 678.), Non male igitur fecerint qui omnis pr‘ter diem Dominicum aboleverunt, Things indifferent, when they are abused and polluted with superstition, ought to be abolished. In this rank he places holidays, and therefore infers that they have not done evil, who have abolished all other holidays but the Lord’s Day. When he says, They have not done evil, it is all one as if he had said, They have done well, for they have done according to that laudable rule. Sure it is that in former times holidays have not only been abused to idleness and licentiousness, but also polluted with the opinion of worship, merit, necessity, and judaical conceit that the Devil did not tempt on these days, as he did on other days. Therefore the same Zanchius says in the place aforesaid, If any feasts were celebrated before religiously and holily, but thereafter were contaminate with superstition and idolatry, that worthily they were taken away by our Reformers, who imitate herein the example of Hezekiah’s bruising to powder the brazen serpent when it was abused to idolatry. And again he says (See Further in Zanchius in Col 2), The number, the abuses, the superstitions, the false worships, the will-worships of feasts so increased, that there is nothing in the kirk so unsavory to God, so pernicious to men, as to sanctify such and so many days. We pretend that we place no part of God’s worship in the observation of days. But how can we observe a day to the honor of Christ, and not worship him by that observation? That were to make his honor no honor. We use to reason against the Papists, after this manner. To dedicate days to Saints is religious worship. Is it not then religious worship to dedicate a day to Christ; yea surely, and will-worship. And so they were not only polluted with will-worship, but are at this hour of themselves a mere will-worship.
8. That which lawfully has been abolished by civil and ecclesiastical laws, and by consent and uniform practice in the contrary without interruption, and beyond the prescription of time allowed to things moveable (put the case holy days were things moveable, and indifferent) and has been borne down by sermons of all the most reverent preachers since the reformation, corrected with censures, and abjured by public oaths of preachers and professors, cannot lawfully be received, and put in practice again.
Hooker and Saravia urged for maintenance of their ceremonies, Law, custom, prescription, and crave that the impiety and unlawfulness of their ceremonies be proved; or else that the nonconformists conform. May we not plead after the same manner for our former order so long established, and that they prove it was impious, and unlawful before we make a change. And so much the rather, because we have sworn. Our oath by itself binds more than Law, custom, and prescription: far more when it concurs with them. The assumption is evident by that which I have already set down in the beginning. If Zanchius approved the abolition of holy days in some kirks where they were, because they have been polluted and grossly abused, much more would he and other divines knowing the truth of our case think it unlawful to reinduce them amongst us.
The Judgment of the Reformed Kirk.
Of the ancient kirks I have spoken before. Some excuse the ancients with good intention, because to win the Gentiles they converted their days into Christian holy days. Others excused them with the circumstance of time, that dwelling among pagans, they made profession before their eyes of Christ’s birth, passion, resurrection, etc., by observing such days. But the wisdom of their intention has proven folly, as the seventh reason makes manifest. The like circumstance of time is not offered: therefore we may not be excused. It is gross ignorance to say that holy days were so many hundred years before Papistry. For Papistry has been in the kirk ever since the days of Apostles; yea the mystery of iniquity was working in their times. The errors of the Orthodox Kirk were the beginnings of Papistry, at length they grew to a great mass. So howbeit the whole lump was not formed till the Antichrist came to his full strength, yet many particulars were entered before, and like brooks came into the great river. As the Antichrist was born and did grow in years, so did Papistry. As for the reformed kirks, except our neighbor kirk, they have abandoned days dedicated to saints. Some admit days dedicated to Christ, some two, some five; but not with the full consent and good liking of the learned, but either forced by authority of the Magistrate, or willfulness of the people, or because remaining in the midst of their enemies, they are not permitted other[wise] to do.
Farel and Viret removed all holy days out of the Kirk of Geneva, as Calvin testifies (Epistle 118). The same decree which banished Farel and Calvin out of Geneva brought in holy days. They were all again abrogated except the sabbath day. Howsoever after came in the keeping of Pasche and the Nativity. Calvin was so far from liking holy days, that he was slandered of intention to abolish the Lord’s Day. The Belgic Kirks in their Synod held at Dort anno 1578, wished that only the Lord’s Day might be celebrated. Yea Luther himself in his book de bonis operibus, set forth anno 1520, wished that there were no feast days among Christians, but the Lord’s Day. And in his book to the Nobility of Germany, he says, Consultum esse ut omnia festa aboleantur, solo Dominico die retento. It were expedient that all feast days were abrogated, the Lord’s Day only retained. Howsoever foreign divines in their Epistles & Councils speak sometime sparingly against holy days, when their advice was sought of kirks newly risen out of Popery, and greatly distressed, they never advised a kirk to resume them where they were removed, neither had they leisure to consider narrowly the corruption of every error, that prevailed in their time, the work of reformation was so painful [painstaking] to them.
I wish therefore that the judicious Reader would ponder the reasons set down in this treatise. As for our neighbor kirk standing in the midst between the Roman and reformed kirks as Bucer once said (Brightman, In Apocalypse cap 3.) is more liberal in feasts, as in other ceremonies, than the other reformed kirks, as Gretzerus the Jesuit has observed (De Festa lib. 1 c. 2.). Calvino Papistae Angli ut in aliis quae ritus et ceremonias pertinent, longe liberaliores sunt quam puritani in Gallia, Germania, Belgia: ita et in festis retinentis long largiores [As in other things which pertain to rituals and ceremonies, to Calvin the English Papists are far more liberal than the Puritans of France, Germany and Belgium, they are likewise far more permissive on the subject of retained feast days]. They observe not only the five holy days already mentioned, but other days also dedicated to Christ. The feast of circumcision was not remembered in the calendars, but within this 500 years. Nazianzen is the first that makes mention of the Epiphany day. Neither was it instituted at the first for the wise men. There is no homily of any farther extent for the feast of purification before the days of Justinian. The feast of the Trinity was not kept at Rome itself in the days of Alexander the third. They keep also a number of Saints days: so that their days in number are more than the Jews themselves observed.
The reasons already alleged against days dedicated to Christ, may serve also against days dedicated to saints and angels. We may look assuredly that the five days presently urged will bring in all the rest, to make up our conformity with our neighbor kirk, which to us is not lawful. They were never removed from amongst them: we have abandoned and abjured them. If the Apostle reproved the Galatians so sharply that beginning in the spirit, they returned to the flesh, that is to the ceremonies of Moses’ Law, some time ordained by God, what reproof deserve we after we have begun in the Spirit, and run so well, and so long, if we return to human traditions and superstitions.
To conclude then, to esteem one day above another in respect of any mystery certainly known, or commonly reputed to have been wrought upon that day; to testify this estimation by cessation from work; to devise a particular service to be done upon it accounting that form or part of service acceptable to God, because it is performed on that day, is to observe a day; and in this manner do we observe anniversary days. The same consideration may be applied to an anniversary hour.
- The common tenet of the divines was acknowledged by the pretended Bishop of Galloway in his sermon at the last Christmass. It may offend you, he said, that this is an holy day. I say there is no power either civil or ecclesiastical can make a holy day: no King, no Kirk: only the Lord that made the day, and distinguished it from the night: he hath sanctified the seventh day. [↩]