In a Single Volume

Originally published 1549-1552

In Four Volumes



The Parker Society











Formatting, corrections, updated language, and additional notes

by William H. Gross © Jan 2009, 2017

Scanned images obtained from

Scripture in notes taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Last Updated 10/12/2017


Note on Modernization. viii

The Anabaptists. ix





















The cause of it; and how, and by whom, it was revealed to the world. 18


To whom, and to what end, it was revealed; also in what manner it is to be heard; and that it fully teaches the whole doctrine of godliness. 30


Of the sense and right exposition of the word of god, and by what manner of means it may be expounded. 38


Where it comes from; that it is an assured belief of the mind, whose only stay is upon God and his word. 44


That there is only one true faith, and what the virtue of it is. 53


That the faithful are justified by faith, without the law and works. 57


Of the first articles of the Christian faith contained in the Apostles' Creed. 67


Of the latter articles of Christian faith contained in the Apostles' Creed. 77


Of the latter articles of Christian faith contained in the Apostles' Creed. 87


Of the love of God and our neighbour. 100



Of laws, and of the law of nature, then of the laws of men. 107


Of God's law, and of the two first commandments of the first tablet. 116


Of the third precept of the Ten Commandments, and of swearing. 132


Of the fourth precept of the first tablet, that is, of the order and keeping of the sabbath-day. 141


Of the first precept of the second tablet, which is the fifth in order of the Ten Commandments, touching the honour due to parents. 149


Of the second precept of the second tablet, which in order is the sixth of the Ten Commandments, you shall not kill: and of the magistrate. 167


Of the office of the Magistrate, whether the care of religion pertains to him or not, and whether he may make laws and ordinances in cases of religion. 181


Of judgment, and the office of the judge; that Christians are not forbidden to judge: of revenge and punishment: whether it is lawful for a magistrate to kill the guilty: Therefore, when, how, and what the magistrate must punish: whether he may punish offenders in religion or not. 194


Of war; whether it is lawful for a magistrate to make war. What the scripture teaches touching war. Whether a Christian man may bear the office of a magistrate. And the duty of subjects. 208


Of the third precept of the second tablet, which in order is the seventh of the Ten Commandments: you shall not commit adultery; of wedlock; against all intemperance; of continence. 222



Of the fourth precept of the second tablet, which in order is the eighth of the Ten Commandments, you shall not steal. Of owning and possessing proper goods, and the right and lawful getting of the same; against sundry kinds of theft. 245


Of the lawful use of earthly goods; that is, how we may rightly possess, and lawfully spend, the wealth that is rightly and justly gotten; of restitution, and alms-deeds. 263


Of the patient bearing and abiding of sundry calamities and miseries: and also of the hope and manifold consolation of the faithful. 273


Of the fifth and sixth precepts of the second tablet, which are in order, the ninth and tenth of the Ten Commandments. That is, you shall not speak false witness against your neighbour: and you shall not covet your neighbour's house, etc. 299


Of the ceremonial law of God, but especially of the priesthood, time and place appointed for the ceremonies. 307


Of the sacraments of the Jews; of their sundry sorts of sacrifices, and certain other things pertaining to their ceremonial law. 332


Of the judicial laws of God. 361


Of the use or effect of the law of God, and of the fulfilling and abrogating of it: of the likeness and difference of both the testaments and people, the old and the new. 373


Of Christian liberty, and of offences. Of good works, and their reward. 409


Of sin, and of the kinds of it: namely, of original and actual sin, and of sin against the Holy Ghost; and lastly, of the most sure and just punishment of sins. 442



Of the gospel of the grace of God, who has given His son to the world, and in him all things necessary to salvation, that we, believing in him, might obtain eternal life. 482


Of repentance and its causes; of confession and remission of sins; of satisfaction and indulgences; of the old and new man; of the power or strength of men, and the other things pertaining to repentance. 512


Of God; of the true knowledge of God, and of the diverse ways how to know him; that God is one in substance, and three in persons. 546


That God is the creator of all things, and governs all things by his providence: where mention is also made of the goodwill of God toward us, and of predestination. 573


Of adoring or worshipping, of invocating or calling upon, and of serving the only, living, true, and everlasting God: also of true and false religion. 584


That the Son of God is unspeakably begotten of the Father; that he is consubstantial with the Father, and therefore true God. That the self-same Son is true man; consub- stantial with us: and therefore true God and man, abiding in two unconfounded natures, and in one undivided person. 609


Of Christ, king and priest; of his only and everlasting kingdom and priesthood; and of the name of a Christian. 628


Of the Holy Ghost, the third person in trinity to be worshipped, and of his divine power. 642


Of good and evil spirits; that is, of the holy angels of god, and of devils or evil spirits; and of their operations. 658


Of the reasonable soul of man; and of his most certain salvation after the death of his body. 680



Of the Holy Catholic Church; what it is, how far it EXTENDS, by what marks it is known, from where it springs, how it is maintained and preserved, whether it may err. Also of the power and studies of the church. 704


There is one catholic Church: without the Church there is no light or salvation. Against schismatics. Why we depart from the upstart church of Rome. The church of God is the house, vineyard, and kingdom of God; and the body, sheepfold, and spouse of Christ; a mother and a virgin. 730


Of the ministry, and the ministers of God's word; why and for what end they are instituted by God. That the orders given by Christ to the church in times past were equal. From where and how the prerogative of ministers sprang. And of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome. 755


Of calling to the ministry of the word of God. What manner of men, and in what fashion, ministers of the word must be ordained in the church. Of the keys of the church. What the office is of those who are ordained. Of the manner of teaching the church; and of the holy life of the pastors. 775


Of the form and manner of how to pray to God; that is, of calling on the name of the Lord: where also the Lord's Prayer is expounded; and also singing, thanksgiving, and the force of prayer, is treated. 795

Praying. 795

The Kinds of Prayers. 795

The Manner of Prayer. 799

The Spirit of Prayer. 801

The Ability to Pray. 801

The Place of Prayer. 806

The Posture of Prayer. 807

The Subjects of Prayer. 808

The Language of Prayer. 809

Singing. 810

The Lord's Prayer. 816

Preface. 818

Six Petitions. 820

Thanksgiving. 826


Of signs, and the manner  of signs; of sacramental signs: what a sacrament is; of whom, for what causes, and how many sacraments were instituted by Christ for the Christian church; what things they consist of; how these are consecrated; how the sign and the thing signified in the sacraments are either joined together or distinguished; and of the kind of speech used in the sacraments. 830


We must reason reverently about sacraments; they do not give grace by themselves, nor do they have grace included in them. Again, what the virtue and lawful end and use of sacraments is. They do not profit without faith; they are not superfluous to the faithful; and they do not depend upon the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister. 866


Of holy baptism; what it is; by whom, and when it was instituted, and that there is but one baptism of water. Of the baptism of fire. Of the rite or ceremony of baptism; how, of whom, and to whom it must be ministered. Of baptism by midwives; and of infants dying without baptism. Of the baptism of infants. Against anabaptism or re-baptizing; and of the power or efficacy of baptism. 898


Of the Lord's Holy Supper; what it is, by whom, when, and for whom it was instituted; in what way, when, and how often it is to be celebrated, and its ends. Of the true  meaning of the words of the supper, "this is my body." of the presence  of Christ in the supper. Of the true eating of Christ's body. Of the  worthy and unworthy eaters of it: and how every man ought  to prepare himself for the Lord's Supper. 925


Of certain institutions of the church of God. Of schools. Of ecclesiastical goods, and the use and abuse of them. Of churches and holy instruments of Christians. Of the admonition and correction of the ministers of the church, and of the whole church. Of matrimony. Of widows. Of virgins. Of monks. What the church of Christ determines concerning the sick; and of funerals and burials. 968


APPENDIX I. Dedication to the Marquis of Dorset 995

APPENDIX II. Dedication to Masters Gualter, Simler, etc. 1007






Note on Modernization.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is upon us. This modernized collection commemorates an extraordinary man, whose labors remain significant. Since first published, Bullinger's work has influenced generations of pastors to follow their calling with conviction and urgency. It has encouraged them to be diligent in their studies, in their duties, and in caring for Christ's body in every circumstance of time, place, and opposition. Bullinger asked of his hearers, "Do not yet cease to pray, that this wholesome doctrine may be taught by me as it should be, and received by you with much increase and profit." (p. i.180) Amen to that!

Bullinger was a 2nd generation Swiss reformer. He contributed to the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566, which was based on his personal statement of faith. These fifty sermons (many of which are treatises) are likewise clear and powerful statements of Christian faith for all generations. Some are intended for ordinary believers, others for theologians and teachers. Yet they all explain in clear, exacting, and memorable fashion, the basic beliefs, doctrines, and practices of the faith at a turning point in history. Our time, the 21st century, looks much like Bullinger's. Hopefully this Reformation edition will sound Bullinger's call to arms yet again (see the Preface).

The references that Bullinger makes to particular personalities and writings, were footnoted by Rev. Harding in the 1849-52 edition (300th anniversary edition). My additional notes are blue to distinguish them from his. I dropped many of his incidental notes. Therefore, footnote numbers will not match that edition, but the page numbers will. These sermons were translated into English some 450 years ago. Thankfully, Rev. Harding modernized the Middle English. But language changes with time; even his 19th c. edition needed further modernization. Italics were added to highlight distinctions; additional paragraph breaks and occasional bullets and headings were added to aid readability; page breaks were adjusted to avoid split sentences. Bullinger's content, however, is unchanged, and his rendering of the Scriptures remains, to the extent that the original translator preserved it in English. Rev. Harding was scrupulous to compare that translator's work with Bullinger's Latin, and to identify additions and omissions made by that translator. Citations and marginal citations are either footnoted, or superscripted in the text. Quaint spellings are uniformly updated: e.g., Jonah for Jonas, Jerome for Hierome (or Hieron.).

Extensive Greek and Latin quotations, and Harding's addenda, were removed — except where Bullinger addresses an original language issue, or Rev. Harding took fair exception to the original translator's rendering. These were subjective choices on my part. My goal was to preserve the content of the English translation, rather than a later scholarly edition of it. Even so, this edition has over 3600 footnotes and 3000 Scripture citations. I added an overview of the Anabaptists, to provide perhaps a more balanced view than Bullinger's. If I missed some things, I apologize.

Note: The four volumes of the five Decades are presented here in a single volume. Originally, Decade 5 was in vol. 4; Decades 1 and 2 were combined in vol. 1. To avoid confusion, sermons are now titled and numbered by Decade (1-1, 2-1, etc.). To allow for citations and cross-references, the page numbers of the 1849-52 edition are included in the text. However, a Roman numeral prefix has been added to each page number, corresponding to its Decade, i.–v., rather than its original Volume; e.g., you'll see pages iii.42, iv.11, v.402, etc. Decade 2 originally started on page 193 of vol. 1; it's now page ii.193. Footnote and Index page references were adjusted accordingly. The Biographical Notice of Bullinger's life, was moved from Decade 5 to the front of this consolidated edition; but the list of principal works in that Notice, and the article it contained on the English translation, were appendixed. The Dedications to Prince Edward VI in Decades 3 and 4, were likewise moved to the front, but their original page numbers were retained. This arrangement allows the sermons to be presented sequentially, without intervening material.

William H. Gross Jan 2017

The Anabaptists

Bullinger mentions the Anabaptists frequently, and never favorably. To put that in context, here is a brief account of that movement. Anabaptists were called "radical reformers." Some associates of Zwingli, such as Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, didn’t think the Reformation was radical enough. They wanted to end the tithe, usury, and military service. They wanted a totally self-governing church, free of government interference. Other Reformers were content with a state church, merely free of Rome — perhaps fearing that without government patronage, they wouldn't be able to withstand the political intrigues and power of the Pope. Zwingli therefore sought gradual, orderly change – widely acceptable change. So he parted ways with these men.

On January 21, 1525, the Zurich council forbade the radicals from disseminating their views. That evening, they met in a nearby village, where they baptized each other. Anabaptist, or “rebaptizer,” was subsequently applied to them as an epithet. Anyone that wasn't Protestant, Lutheran, or Catholic, was labelled an Anabaptist. Thus, other reformers rejected Anabaptist theology, and considered them anarchists. That was largely because of an incident in Münster, in 1534–35. The Anabaptists came to power there and uncharacteristically took up arms. They practiced polygamy, and claimed to have bizarre revelations from God. This aberrant group tainted the reputation of the rest of the movement. Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the Anabaptists, executing them by fire, sword, or drowning.

Not having government backing, and being persecuted, Anabaptists created independent churches, and promoted personal evangelism. Both of those were considered radical at the time. These radicals called the very first synod of the Protestant Reformation in February 1527, where they composed their Schleitheim Confession. Its leading figure, Michael Sattler, was arrested in May of that year, by Count Joachim of Zollern, and burned at the stake in Rottenburg.

There were four basic convictions that the Anabaptists enumerated in their confession of faith, that many Protestants later adopted.

First is the need for discipleship. The Christian’s relationship with Christ must go beyond the mystical inner experience of Christ espoused by the monastics, and it must go beyond the acceptance of doctrinal stances espoused by synods and councils. It must involve “a daily walk with God, in which Christ’s teaching and example shape a transformed style of life.” “No one can truly know Christ except he follow him in life.”

The second conviction was the “principle of love” which naturally flows from the first conviction. They treated non-Anabaptists with pacifism, going neither to war against strangers nor to defense of themselves against their persecutors. They also refused to become participants in the exercise of state domination over individuals. Within the Anabaptist community, love led to mutual aid, redistribution of wealth, and in some cases, communal living.

The third conviction was the congregational view of church authority. Membership came only by baptism based on a confession of personal faith in Christ. Decisions were made by the entire membership. Doctrine was established by consensus in open and vigorous discussion. Discipline was corporate, as each individual was “assisted” in living a life of faith.

The fourth conviction was the insistence on separation of church and state. Christians are a “free, unforced, uncompelled people.” Faith is a free gift of God, and civil authorities exceed their competence when they “champion the Word of God with a fist.” The church is distinct from society even when society claims to be Christian. The Anabaptists were the first and foremost champions of religious freedom: the right to worship without state support and without state persecution. [1]



Henry Bullinger

[To avoid multiplying references it is here generally stated that the following abstract of Bullinger's life has been compiled from a Diary of Bullinger's, in the Library of Zurich (Acta Eccles. Mscr. F. 106); from a memoir of Bullinger, in the 1st volume of Miscell. Tigur. part 2; from the biographies of Simler, Melchior Adam, and Pastor Hess; and from D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation, (Books viii. xi. xv. xvi.), where much use has been made of Bullinger's own "Chronick."]

 Henry Bullinger, the fifth child of Henry Bullinger and Anna Widerkehr,[2] was born on the 18th of July, 1504, at Bremgarten, a small town, of which his father was parish-priest and dean, about ten miles west of Zurich. In his childhood he was preserved several times from imminent perils: once from the plague and risk of premature interment; again, when by a fall in the street, a whistle which was in his hand was driven into his neck; and again, when the enticement of a beggar would have stolen him from his home and friends.

His earliest education was commenced in his fifth year in the school of his native place: but such was his fondness for learning, application, and forwardness, that in his twelfth year, June 11, 1516, his father sent him to a grammar-school at Emmerich on the Rhine. There he continued three years, and made rapid advances, especially in his Latin studies. Meanwhile his pecuniary resources were kept so straitened, that he was obliged to beg for a livelihood from one neighbour's door to another, with singing. This severe discipline his father exercised, not out of necessity, nor from covetousness, but (as he thought) to train his son to moderation in his own habits, and to sympathy with the sufferings of the poor.[3]


Nor was this hardship, connected as it was with the superstitious notions of his day, uncongenial with young Bullinger's own temperament: rather he has left it on record, that he already purposed with himself to become a Carthusian monk after a few years, because it was the most strict of all the orders.

From Emmerich, Bullinger was removed to the university of Cologne; and entered July 8, 1519, [4] at the college Bursae-Montis. There the works of the school-divines, and chiefly of Peter Lombard and Gratian, soon engrossed his attention — and in the providence of God, were converted into instruments for detaching him from the religion of Rome. For in this course of reading, meeting with frequent extracts from the fathers, he felt an earnest desire quickened within him to peruse their entire writings. Accordingly, he solicited and obtained admission to a well-stored library of the Dominicans; and there he studied with intense ardour several treatises of Chrysostom, Ambrose, Origen, and Augustine. Simultaneously the earlier tracts of Luther, especially his "Babylonish Captivity" and treatise "On Christian Liberty," with the "Loci Communes" of Melancthon, came into his hands. He also procured for himself a copy of the New Testament, and devoted days and nights to the perusal of it, with the aid of the Commentaries of Jerome. The result of these pursuits was that Bullinger's mind and heart opened gradually to the knowledge and reception of the gospel in its purity.

In this transition state, and having taken his bachelor's degree in October 1520, and his master's in February 1522, Bullinger returned in April of that year to his father's roof at Bremgarten. There he devoted himself to the study of the Bible with still greater eagerness; and joined to it the writings of Athanasius, Cyprian, and Lactantius,[5] and several of Luther's treatises, especially "On the Abrogation of the Mass," and "On Vows." These occupations powerfully promoted, under God, his improved views of Christian truth. [6]


But his profiting was not to be for himself only. The Cistercian abbot of Cappel, Wolfgang Joner, since his elevation in 1519, had laboured much to improve the moral and intellectual condition of his convent. Having heard therefore of Bullinger's excellent character, studiousness, and abilities, he sent an invitation to him early in 1523, to become lecturer and teacher of the monks and other students in his monastery; and as the offer was disconnected with any constraint of vows, profession, or observances, that could interfere with his enlightened conscience, Bullinger consented to enter (17th January) upon the proposed duties. The engagement, however, was a further development of God's gracious providence toward him; and as it allowed him to discourse on the holy scriptures, with the writings of the fathers and Erasmus and Melancthon, it was a signal means to himself and his hearers of advancement in sound Christian doctrine,[7] notwithstanding severe oppositions even to the risk of life. Six years were passed by Bullinger in this useful retirement. There he also composed, principally for his own practice and improvement, more than fifty treatises, mostly on religious topics: the larger part of which remained in manuscript;[8] but some were either published afterwards, or incorporated in his later writings, or distributed among his friends. [9]


During the same interval, Bullinger formed an intimate acquaintance with Zwingle and Leo Judae, and was much influenced by the religious sentiments of the former, especially on the subject of the eucharist. Indeed, in the end of June 1527, he obtained from his abbot a leave of absence for five months to attend Zwingle's lectures at Zurich where also ho availed himself of the opportunity to perfect his acquaintance with Hebrew and Greek literature.

In December of the same year, the senate of Zurich deputed Bullinger to accompany Zwingle to the important disputation at Berne.[10] On his return he was prevailed on to undertake the pastoral office; and preached his first sermon on Sunday, June 21, 1528, at the village of Husen, near Cappel.

A new sphere of usefulness now opened on Bullinger; and yielding to the advice of his relatives and patron,[11] and to the solicitations of the inhabitants, he went back to Bremgarten, June 1, 1529, and by incessant preachings and expositions there and in neighbouring places, greatly furthered the spreading cause of the Reformation.[12]


On the 17th of August he was united in marriage in the church of Birmenstorf, a small village near Bremgarten, by his brother John, the cure, to Anne Adlischweiler, to whom he had been pledged during his visit to Zurich two years previously, and who had formerly been a nun in the convent of Oetenbach, where daughters of the first families in Zurich were received.[13] During the two years of this residence at Bremgarten, Bullinger composed some of his Commentaries on parts of holy Scripture. He often disputed in public and largely wrote against the prevailing errors of the anabaptists.

In consequence of the disastrous defeat of the protestant confederates at Cappel,[14] October 11, 1531,[15] Bullinger was compelled to remove with his family and parents into Zurich for safety.[16] There he settled on the 21st of November; and on the 9th of December following (at the same time that the senate of Bale applied for him as successor to Oecolampadius,[17] and the senate of Berne solicited him for a pastor) [18] he was appointed by the authorities of Zurich to supply the vacancy in the preachership of their cathedral, which had been created by the melancholy death of Zwingle. Bullinger continued in this important post for the remainder of his long life, labouring with most assiduous diligence and widespread influence.


For several years, from 1531 to 1538, his preachings were daily, sometimes twice in the day; his publications, of which many were suggested by passing events, were voluminous [19] and frequent; his pastoral and synodical, civil and ecclesiastical, engagements were unceasing and very various; his correspondence was exceedingly extensive and critical: and his house was always open, and his interpositions ready to shelter and befriend especially refugees from every country where religious persecution raged.[20] And during the protracted efforts to effect a reconciliation between the Lutherans and the church of Zurich on the sacramentarian question, his moderation and sincerity were eminently conspicuous.[21]

In the middle of January 1536, Bullinger was deputed with Leo Judae to attend the conference of deputies from all the Swiss reformed churches at Basle.[22] There he assisted in drawing up the first Helvetic Confession of Faith, and commenced a personal acquaintance with Calvin. His hospitalities also were liberally experienced at Zurich by Englishmen, John Butler,[23] Nicolas Partridge,[24] and William Woodroofe, in the month of August of the same year. Bartholomew Traheron [25] joined them in September of the following year.[26]

A fatal plague in 1541 deprived Bullinger of his aged mother (August 16) and one of his sons (September 30); and in the next year, of his beloved colleague Leo Judae (June 19), in the midst of his invaluable labours on the Biblia Tigurina.[27]


The preface to this translation, which Bibliander had principally completed, was written by Bullinger in February 1543.

In his extant diary, Bullinger has marked March 29, 1547, as the day when Hooper and his wife, in their exile,[28] accomplished their long-cherished desire of visiting him;[29] and March 24, 1549, when they left him for England with their daughter Rachel, his god-child.[30] In the end of May of that year, Calvin and Farell also came to Bullinger, and a "consensus" or agreement was completed on the subject of the Lord's Supper, between the churches of Geneva and Zurich.[31] At the same instant, as appeared by various decrees in the following year,[32] the whole weight of the papal party, imperial and ecclesiastical, was combining to condemn Bullinger and all his writings. But nothing turned him aside from his steady course of usefulness; and early in 1554 the largest influx of English refugees enjoyed his sympathy and interest. Among them were Parkhurst, Jewel, Horn, Pilkington, Lever, Humphrey, and Cole.[33] Italian exiles from Locarno also sought and obtained like shelter in Zurich, through his interventions, in the spring of the following year.[34]

From 1556 to 1564 Bullinger's time and exertions were largely and painfully consumed in combating the errors of Jehoiakim Westphalus,[35] Stancari,[36] George Blandrata,[37] Brenthis,[38] and Ochin.[39]


While in the last-mentioned year, a pestilence deprived him of his wife,[40] and his second daughter, married to Lavater; and in the following year, of two other daughters — his eldest, the wife of Zwingle jun.; and his third, who had married Josiah Simler.[41] By the same plague, he had himself also been brought to the brink of the grave;[42] and not long after, his sufferings from the stone commenced, which embittered the remainder of his days.[43] Notwithstanding his declining health, family bereavements, and public trials, however, Bullinger's manifold labours continued unabated. And in the year 1571, he exerted himself most indefatigably in relieving his destitute country people during a very grievous famine.

Early in October 1574, his last and fatal disorder attacked him.[44] In the first instance, indeed, the severity of the seizure yielded so far to the remedies that were applied, that he was able to resume his public duties. But the disease returned on the 24th of May in the following year, with excruciating violence, and lasted until the 17th of September: when, after exhibiting a bright example of Christian patience, and having taken a touching personal farewell of all his colleagues, and written a letter to the senate of Zurich, to be delivered after his decease — (one object of which was to commend to them Rodolph Gualter as his successor) — he expired, in the exercise of much prayer and in the peace of the gospel, in the 71st year of his age.[45]

His remains were deposited in the cathedral of Zurich, amid the sincere and living regrets of all classes of his townspeople.



To the most renowned Prince Edward the Sixth, King of England and France,
Lord of Ireland, Prince of Wales and Cornwall, Defender of the Christian Faith.

Grace and Peace From God the Father Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

YOUR Majesty would, I know right well, most royal king, admit a stranger to talk with your grace, if any new guest were to come and promise that he would briefly, out of the statements and judgments of the wisest men, declare the very truest causes of the felicity and unhappy state of every king and kingdom. And therefore I hope that I will not be excluded from the speech of your Majesty, because I assuredly promise to briefly lay down the very causes of the felicity and lamentable calamities of kings and their kingdoms so clearly and evidently, that the hearer will not need to trouble himself with over-busy diligence to seek out my meaning, but only to give an attentive ear to what is spoken. For by the help of God, I will make this treatise to be perceived not only by the wit and true judgment of learned heads, but also to be seen with the eyes as it were,[47] and handled with the hands as it were, by veritable idiots [48] and unlearned hearers; and that too, is not out of the doubtful decrees and devices of men, but out of the assured word of the most true God. Even the wisest men very often deceive us with their counsel, and greatly damage those who follow it. But God, who is the Light and eternal Wisdom, cannot at any time either err, or conceive any false opinions or repugning counsels, much less teach others anything but truth, or seduce any man to go out of the right way.


The Wisdom of the Father in the holy gospel cries out and says, "I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Joh 8.12 This eternal wisdom of God, just as it does not wrap things together in a disorderly way and make them intricate, but lays them down in order and teaches them plainly, so it not only ministers wholesome counsels, but it brings them to the effect which they wish, who obey her. Oftentimes, truly, men give good counsels that are not unwholesome; yet in their counsels, what should have been first and especially mentioned, is altogether omitted.

All the wise men, almost of the world, have been of the opinion that kings and kingdoms would be most happy if the king of the country is a wise man; if he has many wise, aged, faithful, and skilful counsellors; if his captains are valiant, warlike, and fortunate in battle; if he abounds with substance; if his kingdom is surely fortified on every side; and lastly, if his people are of one mind and obedient. All of this, I confess, is truly, rightly, and very wisely spoken. Yet there is another singular and most excellent thing which is not reckoned here among these necessaries. And without it, no true felicity can be attained; nor once gotten, can it be safely kept. Just as contrarily, where that one thing is present, all those other necessaries, of their own accord, fall to men as they themselves can best wish or devise. The Lord our God, therefore, who is the only giver of wise and perfect counsels, encloses all far more briefly and better in the gospel, saying in short: "But seek first rather the kingdom of God, and the righteousness of it, and all these things will easily be given to you." Mat 6.33 Again, "Blessed are the eyes who see what you see: for I say to you, that many kings and prophets have wished to see the things that you see, and to hear the things that you hear, and have neither heard nor seen them." Luk 10.24 And again, "No rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it." Luk 11.28 And this thing, [49] above all others, is very necessary: "Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her." Luk 10.42


Having my warrant from the word of God, therefore, I dare boldly avow that those kings will flourish and be in a happy state, who wholly give and submit themselves and their kingdoms to Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, being King of kings and Lord of lords, acknowledging Him to be the mightiest prince and monarch of all, and themselves to be his vassals, subjects, and servants; who, finally, in all their affairs, do not follow their own mind and judgment, nor the laws of men that are contrary to God's commandments, nor the good intents of mortal men; but who themselves both follow the very laws of the mightiest king and monarch,[50] and also cause them to be followed throughout their kingdom, reforming both themselves and all theirs, at and by the rule of God's holy word. For in so doing, the kingdom will flourish in peace and tranquility, and its kings will be most wealthy, victorious, long-lived, and happy. For thus speaks the mouth of the Lord, who cannot possibly lie: "When the king sits upon the seat of his kingdom, he shall take the book of the law of God, that he may read in it all the days of his life, that he may do it, and not decline from it either to the right hand or to the left; but that he may prolong the days in his kingdom both of his own life and of his children." Deu 17.18-20 And again, "Let not the book of this law depart out of your mouth," (Joshua, or whoever you are that have a kingdom), "but occupy your mind in it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be happy." Jos 1.8 It is assuredly true, therefore, confirmed by the testimony of the most true God, and pronounced in express words, that the prosperity of kings and kingdoms consists in true faith, diligent hearing, and faithful obeying of the word or law of God; their calamity and utter overthrow follows the contrary.

This I will make, as my promise is in this annexed demonstration, both evident to the eyes, and as it were, palpable to the very hands, by the examples of most mighty kings — not taken out of Herodotus or any profane [51] author, but out of the infallible history of the most sacred scriptures. Saul, the first Saul — king of Israel, was both most fortunate and victorious, so long as he followed the word of God in all things.


But once he gave way to his own good intents and meaning, being utterly forsaken by the Lord, he hears Samuel say to his face: "You have refused and cast off the word of the Lord; therefore God has also cast you away, so that you shall not be king of Israel." 1Sam 15.16 I will not stand here to largely declare the miseries and calamities in which he was wrapped from that time forward. For as he himself was horribly haunted and vexed with the evil spirit, so he did not cease to vex and torment his people and kingdom, until he had brought them all into extreme danger, where he and some of his were slain and put to the worst by the heathen, their enemies, leaving nothing behind him but a perpetual shame and endless ignominy. Next after Saul, David succeeds in the seat and kingdom, who without any controversy, was the happiest of all other kings and princes. But what store he set by the word of the Lord, is to be seen by many notable acts of his, and especially in that alphabetical psalm (in order and number), the hundred and nineteenth.[52] For in this psalm he sets forth the praise of God's word, the wholesome virtue of which he wonderfully expounds at large, in teaching what great desire and zeal we ought to have for it. For he was schooled and had learned before, by private mishaps and shameful deeds, and lastly, by the unhappy sedition of his graceless son Absalom, what an evil it is to decline from the word of the Lord. Solomon, the son of David, the wisest and most commended king of the whole world, enjoyed prosperity and praise at the mouth of the Lord, so long as he did not neglect to obey his word with reverence. But once he had transgressed the Lord's commandment, the Lord immediately said to him: "Because this is done by you, and you have not kept my ordinances and my statutes which I commanded you, I will rend your kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant." 1Kng 11.11 Now, mark this saying, for immediately after Solomon's death, the kingdom was accordingly torn in two; ten tribes followed Jeroboam, the servant of Solomon; two tribes still clung to Rehoboam, Solomon's son.


For neglecting the word of the Lord, and following after strange gods, Rehoboam is overwhelmed with an infinite number of woeful miseries. For the scripture testifies that the Egyptians came up against Jerusalem, and destroyed the city, palace, and temple of the Lord.

Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, overcame the host of Israel, and bore away a triumphant victory, when he had wounded and slain five hundred thousand men of the ten tribes of Israel. And no other cause is mentioned of so great a victory, but that he believed the word of the Lord. Next after Abijah, his son Asa, 2Chr 14 a renowned and most powerful king, reigned in his stead; of whom the holy scripture testifies that he abolished all superstition, and restored sincere religion according to the word of God. By this he obtained a most flourishing kingdom in peace and quietness for the span of forty years. Again, we read of Jehoshaphat, Asa's son: "The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David, and did not seek Baalim, but sought the God of his father, and walked in his commandment." 2Chr 17.3-4 And therefore, for his prince-like wealth and famous victories, he was renowned throughout the world. But to his son Joram, who forsook the word of God, Elijah the prophet said: "Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, and in the ways of king Asa, but have walked the ways of the kings of Israel, behold, with a great plague the Lord will strike your folk, your children, your wives, and all your goods; and you shall suffer great pain, even a disease of the bowels, until your bowels [53] fall out." 2Chr 21.12-15 And whatever the Lord threatened to bring upon him by the mouth of the prophet, the unhappy king felt it with unspeakable torments to his great reproach: being made an example of wretchedness and misery, which lights on the heads of all those who forsake the word of God.

Nor was what happend to Ahaziah, son of king Joram and Athaliah, in any point better. For at the commandment of Jehu, he was stabbed and slain wretchedly, because he chose to follow the laws and rites of the kings of Israel, rather than the very true laws of the Lord his God.


Moreover Joash, 2Chr 23-24 a child only seven years old, being restored to and settled in the place of his father by the labour, faith, and diligence of the faithful priest Jehoiada (who was slain before him) reigned most happily and in a prosperous state after the wicked Athaliah was put to death — so long as Jehoiada the priest lived.[54] But once the high priest departed out of this world to the Lord, the king, being immediately seduced by the malice and wiliness of his wicked counsellors, left off following the word of the Lord. And as he ceased to follow the Lord, so felicity and glory ceased to follow him. For the Syrians, coming on with a very small power of armed men, destroyed and put to flight an infinite host of Jewish people. They put to the sword all Joash' counsellors, and made a spoil of all his kingdom. And Joash, for rejecting the Lord, deserved with excessive grief, first to behold this misery; and then to pine away with a long consuming sickness; and lastly, upon his bed, to have his throat cruelly cut by his own household servants.

Amaziah, 2Chr 25.1 the son of Joash, is renowned for a famous victory which he obtained against the Idumites, for no other cause than for obeying the word of the Lord. But afterward, when he began to rebel against God and his prophets, he is vanquished in battle by Joash, king of Israel; by whom when he was defeated, and compelled to see the overthrow of a great part of the walls of Jerusalem, he was himself entrapped in the end by conspirators, and miserably murdered. His son Uzziah 2Chr 26.1 succeeded him. Like the father, he also enjoyed a singular felicity and most happy life, so long as he did not doubt the mouth of God. But when he usurped and took upon himself that office which God had properly appointed to the Levites alone, directly opposing himself to the word of the Lord, he was stricken with leprosy. And for his uncleanness, he was compelled to dwell apart in banishment from the company of men, until his last and dying day.


Jotham also, 2Chr 27.1 the son of Uzziah, is reported to have been wealthy and victorious in his wars. As the cause of this felicity, the scripture briefly adds and says: "Jotham became mighty, because he directed his ways before the Lord his God." But contrarily, Ahaz, 2Chr 28.1 the son of Jotham, as he was nearly the wickedest of all the Jewish kings, so he was the most unfortunate in his life. For in foraking the law of the Lord his God, the Lord delivered both him and his people first into the hands of the king of Syrians, and afterward into the hands of the Israelites, who in one day slew one hundred and twenty thousand Jews, and took away captive with them two hundred thousand women and children. So Ahaz himself, and all who were his, by feeling it, had proof of all kinds of calamities, being made an example to terrify all others who doubt the word of God.

The good and godly king Hezekiah 2Kgs 18.1 succeeded his ungodly father in the seat and kingdom. We have this testimony of him in the scripture: "He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David did. He put away the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and altogether broke the bronze serpent which Moses had made: for in those days the children of Israel burnt sacrifices to it. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel. For he clung to the Lord, and did not depart from him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses." 2Kngs 18.3-6 And now, let us hear what followed upon this obedience and faith of his. The scripture goes on to say: "And the Lord was with him, so that he prospered in all things that he took in hand." 2Kng 18.7 While he reigned, the most ancient and powerful monarchy of the Assyrians was broken and diminished. For when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, besieged the city of Jerusalem, the angel of the Lord in one night slew in the Assyrian camp one hundred eigthty-five thousand soldiers.2Kng 19.35 And the king of Babylon also very honourably sent by his ambassadors prince-like gifts to Hezekiah, earnestly desiring his amity and friendship: for the glory of that most godly king had blown abroad, and was known throughout the world. Again, when his son Manasseh, a very wicked man, did not tread the path and express the deeds of his most holy father, but being made king in the twelfth year of his age, purposefully crossed the word of God, and brought in again all the superstition which his father had abolished, he was taken captive and carried away to Babylon.


And although, by the goodness and mercy of God, he was restored to his seat again, yet, when he died, he left a maimed and a troublesome kingdom to his son Amon. 2Kng 21.18 He too, for rebelling against the word of God, as a most unfortunate man, reigned only two years, and was wretchedly slain at last by his own household servants.

In place of his murdered father, his son Josiah was settled in the kingdom. He was a child, only eight years old when he was crowned. Of all the kings of Judah, he was the flower and especial crown. He reigned quietly and in all points most happily for the span of thirty-one years. Now, the scripture, which cannot lie, paints for our eyes the faith and obedience which he devoutly showed to the word of God, for which that felicity accompanied his kingdom. He was not at all moved with the admonitions of his father Amon's counsellors; but as soon as he heard the words of the law read out of the book which Hilkiah the high priest found in the temple at Jerusalem, he immediately committed himself wholly to God and his word. Nor did he wait to look for the minds and reformations of other kings and kingdoms; but quickly forecasting the best for his people, he began to reform the corrupted religion, which he did especially in the eighteenth year of his age. And in that reformation, he always had a regard to follow the meaning of the holy scripture alone, and not to give ear to the deeds of his predecessors, to the prescribed order of long continuance, nor to the common voices of the greatest multitude. For he assembled his people together, before whom he laid open the book of God's law, and appointed all things to be ordained according to the rule of his written word. And thereupon it comes, which we find written, that he did not spare the ancient temples and long accustomed rites which Solomon and Jeroboam had erected and ordained against the word of God. To be short, this king Josiah pulled down and overthrew whatever was set up in the church or kingdom of Judah against the word of God. And lest perhaps anyone should cavil [55] and say he was over-hardy and too rough in his dealings, the scripture gives this testimony of him, saying: "There was no king like him before, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and all his might, according to all the law of Moses: nor did any like him arise after." 2Kng 23.25


Though we read, therefore, that this so commended and most fortunate king was overcome and slain in a battle, that his death is to be counted part of his felicity, and not of his misery. For the Lord himself said to Josiah: "I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be buried in peace, that your eyes may not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place." 2Kng 22.18-20 There is no greater argument that the people and very princes of the kingdom under that most holy king were mere hypocrites and idolaters, than because next and immediately after his death, both his sons and peers, rejecting the word of God, brought all the superstition and blasphemous wickedness in again. Upon which we read that for the whole twenty-two years in which the kings of Judah reigned after the death of Josiah, there was no peace or quiet in Jerusalem, but perpetual seditions and most bloody murders.

Next after Josiah reigned his son Jeconiah. But Jeconiah, within three months, was taken, bound, and led captive away into the land of Egypt. After Jeconiah was led away, his brother Jehoiakim wore the crown. In the eleventh year of his reign, being bound in chains, he was slain by Nebuchadnezzar, and lastly (as Jeremiah says) Jer 22.18, 19 he was buried in the sepulchre of an ass. His son Coniah was set up in Jehoiakim's stead; but about three months after, he with his princes and substance, was taken captive and led away to Babylon. After him, the kingdom was given to Zedekiah, the son of Josiah. But because he would not obey the word of God preached by the prophet Jeremiah, he loses both his life and kingdom in the eleventh year of his reign. In his time the temple is also set on fire, Jerusalem is sacked, and most of the people were slain, or led away captive. This much up to here, touching the kings of Judah. For in Zedekiah, both the kingdom and the majesty or dignity of it, failed and came to an end.

To these, if we add the ends and destinies of the kings of Israel, we will again be compelled to confess that all the felicity of kings and kingdoms consist in hearing and following the word of God; and that contrarily, calamities and miseries rise by the contempt and neglecting of it.


For Jeroboam, the first king of the separated Israelites, letting pass the word of God, ordained new rites to worship the Lord by, and erected a new temple. But by doing so, he overthrew himself, his house, and all his kingdom. After him, Baasha succeeded both in the kingdom and in idolatrous religion, which was the cause why he and his were utterly destroyed. Then follows Amri, the father of Ahab. For augmenting idolatrous impiety, he is horribly slain with all his family, so that not one of his escaped the revenging sword of God's anger and jealousy.[56] And because Jehu was faithful and valiant in killing those tyrants, in dispatching Baal's priests, and rooting out idolatrous superstition, the Lord promises and says to him: "Because you have zealously done what you have done, according to all that is right in my sight, therefore your children, to the fourth generation, shall sit on the seat of Israel." 2Kng 10.30 And we read truly, that his sons and nephews were notable princes who succeeded in the kingdom, even Jeconiah, Joash, Jeroboam the second of that name, and Zechariah. The other kings, such as Shallum, Manahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hosea,[57] had their kingdom altogether like the kingdom of the son of Josiah: namely, in a seditious, troublesome, and most miserable taking. For they despised the mouth of the Lord. Therefore they were utterly cut off, and for the most part, either slain or carried away captive by their enemies, the Assyrians. From the division of the people into two separate kingdoms after the death of Solomon, there were nineteen kings of Israel, and eighteen kings of Judah. The kings of Israel altogether reigned about two hundred and seventy-two years, and those of Judah about three hundred and ninety-three.[58] Now, for the span of so many years, in the most renowned and peculiar people of God, was a mirror as it were, set before the eyes of all nations to view and behold themselves in. There might the truest causes of felicity and calamities of all kings and kingdoms in the whole world be so lively represented and perfectly painted, that there would be no need to fetch from elsewhere a plainer and more evident demonstration of it.


And yet for all that, we are not without other foreign examples by which to prove it. For the Pharaohs of Egypt were the destruction both of themselves and also their kingdom, by their stubborn rebellion against God's word. Again, Darius Priscus [59] and the great Nebuchadnezzar, enjoyed no small felicity because they did not despise the counsels of Daniel. Balthazar, king of Babylon, a spiteful contemner of God and his word, is destroyed in one night with all his power. Babylon, the most ancient and famous city of the world, is taken, set on fire, sacked, and overthrown, and the kingdom is translated to the Medes and Persians.[60] Nor were the kings of Persia unfortunate at all — I mean Cyrus and Darius, otherwise called Artaxerxes [61] —because they favoured the word of God, and promoted his people and true religion. But on the other side, we read that Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, was most unfortunate. Making war with God himself, as it were, he most wickedly burned and made off with the books of holy scripture.[62] Furthermore, we also have as great a store of examples, even out of those histories which immediately followed the time of Christ's ascension. For, as many Roman emperors, kings, and princes as persecuted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who advanced idolatry and superstitious blasphemy — that many, I say, died a foul and shameful death. Eusebius and Orosius, renowned historiographers, are assured witnesses of this.[63] Again, St. Augustine, Lib. v. de Civit. Dei, affirms that incredible victories, very great glory, and most absolute felicity has been given by God to those kings who have in faith sincerely embraced Christ their Lord, and utterly subverted idolatry and superstitious blasphemy.[64]


It is evident, therefore, that felicity comes by good-will and obedience to the word of God; and that all kings and kingdoms will be unhappy, which forsake the word of God and turn themselves to men's inventions. And I trust I have declared this so plainly up to here, that the hearers may seem not only to understand, but also to see before their eyes, and to feel with their hands as it were, the pith and material substance of this whole treatise.

But to what does all this tend? That your royal Majesty, truly, may undoubtingly know, and be assuredly persuaded, that true felicity is gotten and retained by faithful study in the word of God — namely, if you submit yourself altogether and your whole kingdom to Christ, the chief and highest prince; if throughout your whole realm, you dispose and order religion, and all matters of justice, according to the rule of God's holy word; if you decline not one hair's breadth from that rule, but study to advance the kingdom of Christ, and go on (as you have happily begun up to now) to subvert and tread underfoot the usurped power of that tyrannical antichrist. It is not that your Majesty needs my admonitions or instructions any whit at all: for you undoubtedly have that heavenly teacher in your mind (I mean, the Holy Ghost [65]), who inspires you with the very true doctrine of sincere and true religion. Your Majesty has the sacred Bible, the holiest book of all books, in which, as in a perfect rule, the whole matter of piety and our true salvation is absolutely contained and plainly set down.[66] Your Majesty has noble men, and many counsellors, belonging to your kingdom — faithful, valiant, and skilful heads both in the law of God and men — who for their wisdom and love that they bear for the sincere truth, are greatly commended among foreign nations. And for that cause, all the faithful think and call your Majesty most happy.


And that happy king Hezekiah, although he especially used the help of those excellent men, Isaiah and Micah, he did not despise faithful admonishers, even among the meanest sort of Levites. Neither did they think that in admonishing the king, they lost and spent their labour in vain. Therefore, having good affiance in your Majesty's good and godly disposition, I truly hope that this short discourse of mine, touching the true causes of the felicity and calamities of kings and kingdoms, will have a profiting place with you. Twelve years ago, I dedicated to your father of famous memory, Henry the Eighth, a book touching the authority of the holy scripture, and the institution and function of bishops,[67] against the pontifical chuffs [68] of the Romish superstition and tyranny. And now by experience, I know that that labour of mine brought forth no small fruit within the realm of England. I am now so bold again as to dedicate these, my sermons, to your royal Majesty.

In these sermons I handle not the least and lowest points or places of Christian religion, the law, sin, grace, the Gospel, and repentance. Nor do I handle them irreligiously, I think. For I confer one scripture with another — there is no better and safer way to follow than this, in the handling of matters touching our religion. And because you are the true defender of the Christian faith, it cannot be but well, undoubtedly, to have Christian sermons come abroad under the defence of your Majesty's name. My mind was, according to my ability and the measure of faith which is in me, to further the cause of true religion, which now begins to bud in England, to the great rejoicing of all good people. I have therefore written these sermons at large, and handled the matter in such a way, that from one, many more may be gotten— in which the pastor's discretion will easily discern what is most available and profitable for every particular church.


And the pastor's duty, truly, is to rightly divide the word of truth, [69] and to aptly give the fodder of life to the Lord's flock. They will not think less, I hope, because in these sermons I use the same matter, the same arguments, and the very same words, that others before me, both ancient and recent writers, (whom I have judged to follow the scriptures), have used before now, [70] or which I myself have elsewhere alleged in other books of my own, previously published. For as this doctrine, at all times, and in all points agreeable to itself, is safest to be followed, so has it always been worthily praised by all good and godly people. If the Lord grants me life, leisure, and strength, I will shortly add the other eight sermons of the fourth decade, which remain.[71] And all that I say here, I speak it still without any prejudice to the judgment of the right and true Church.

Our Lord Jesus, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,
lead you with the Spirit, and defend you to
the glory of his name, and safety of all
your realm. At Tigure,[72] in the
month of March, the year
of our Lord,

Your Majesty's dutifully bound
and daily Orator,[73]

Henry Bullinger,
Minister of the Church at Tigure in Swicerland.




King of England and France, Lord of Ireland,
Prince of Wales and Cornwall, Defender of the Christian Faith,

Grace and peace from God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dedication from the Fourth Decade, Third Sermon

THE promise, that I made to your most royal majesty not long ago,[75] I now perform, offering here the other eight sermons of the fourth Decade, which I dedicate to your royal majesty, that you may have from me two decades of sermons full and wholly finished. In March I sent twelve sermons to you, which were favourably accepted by your royal majesty, as I understand by the letters of that godly and worthy learned man, Master J. Hooper,[76] the most vigilant bishop of Glocester, my brother and reverend fellow-father in Jesus Christ: who also by the commendation of your royal majesty's good will toward me has heartened me on, so that now, with far more confidence and liberty than before, I send to your majesty this other part of my work, treating most weighty and holy matters. In this, my dedication, I regard nothing else but that which I declared in my former epistle: namely, that according to the gift that the Lord has endued me with, I may help forward and advance the state of Christian religion, now again happily springing up in the famous realm of England by your royal majesty's good beginnings and counsels of your worthy nobles. All those of every nation in Christendom, who truly believe in Christ Jesus, heartily rejoice on your majesty's behalf and the behalf of your most flourishing kingdom, for this renovation of true religion; and we earnestly pray to Christ the Lord, that he will happily bring to a good end the thing that you have happily begun in the fear of him.


Your royal majesty truly has ventured upon a work both very great and full of troubles: but he will never fail your godly endeavours, who said, "Behold, I am with you forever, to the end of the world." And now also, even as it has always been from the first beginning of the church, there are many obstructions and great impediments, that are objects against most holy and wholesome intents, doing what they can to hinder and trouble the reformation of religion. And among others, this is one of the greatest: that no small number, even of the wisest sort, say that no such haste should be made on private authority. Rather, the determination of the general council in controversies of religion must be awaited and altogether looked to. Without the judgment of this, they say, it is not lawful for a kingdom, much less for any other commonweal,[77] to alter any one point in religion once received and previously used. But the prophets and apostles do not send us to the councils of priests or elders, but to the word of God. Indeed, in Jeremiah we read, "How can you say, We are wise, we have the law of the Lord among us? Truly, the lying pen of the scribes have written a lie.[78] The wise have been ashamed; they were afraid and were taken: for look, they have cast out the word of the Lord; what wisdom then can there be among them?"

Again, in the Gospel we read, "No man who lays his hand to the plough and looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luk 9.62 Therefore, the authority of the prophets and evangelists gives counsel, to fully absolve and perfectly end the reformation of religion once begun with the fear of God, out of or by the word of God; and not to look for or wait upon councils, which are directed, not by the word of God, but by the affections and motions of men.

For the past examples of some ages, in these last 400 years or thereabout, sufficiently teach us what we may look for by the determination of general councils. The causes of councils of old were the corruption either of doctrine or else of the teachers, or else the ruin of ecclesiastical discipline.


And good and zealous men have strongly cried now, for the span of 500 years and more, that superstitions, errors, and abuses have crept into the church; that the salt of the earth is unsavoury — that is, that the ministers of the churches have become unseasonable by sloth, ignorance, and wickedness; and that all discipline in the church has fallen into ruin. Bernard Clarevallensis,[79] being one among many, is a notable witness of this thing and condition. And for that cause, there have been many councils of priests celebrated, at the calling together of the bishop of Rome, together with the mutual aid of many kings and princes. But what became of them, what was done in them, and what small amendment or correction of doctrine, teachers, and discipline was obtained by them, the thing itself plainly declares (the more it is to be lamented). For the more that councils were assembled, the more superstition and error prevailed in doctrine, abuse in ceremonial rites, pride, riot,[80] covetousness, and all kinds of corruption in the teachers or priests, and a foul blotting out of all honest discipline. For such men were made presidents of the councils, as had a need first of all, either to be brought into a better order themselves, or else to be utterly excommunicated out of the congregation of the saints. And being presidents in the councils, they handled causes neither lawful nor lawfully. For the word of God had neither due authority nor dignity among them; nor did they allow the examination and discussing of causes by those men whom it was decent to have chiefly admitted, but by those of whom they thought it good to like. And in them, they did not seek the glory of God and the safeguard of the church, but they sought themselves — that is, the glory and pleasures of this transitory world. Therefore, in holding so many general councils, we see no amendment or reformation in the church obtained, but rather errors, abuses, and the kingdom and tyranny of the priests confirmed and augmented. [81]

And even today, although we would wink at and not see it, we cannot help but with our hands, to feel what we may look and hope for in a general council. At this day, no council would have any authority unless it is lawfully called together (as they expound "lawfully").


None seems to be lawfully called together except that which the bishop of Rome calls together, and that which is held to the ancient custom and laws received; namely, that in which they alone sit, and have "deciding voices," as they call it — to whom power is permitted to determine and give sentence in the council. And they think it a heinous crime, and directly contrary to the oath given to them, to so much as think, much less speak, anything against the bishop and see of Rome, against the decrees of the fathers, and constitutions of the councils.

What therefore may you look for in such a council? That truth which I told you, that now for the span of 400 years and more, the afflicted church of God, to the detriment of godliness, has seen and felt this: namely, that the sincere doctrine of Christ is being trodden underfoot, and holy discipline is utterly oppressed. We see that every day, more and more, with the great and intolerable tyranny of the see and church of Rome, there increase and are confirmed, unsound and faulty doctrine, most filthy abuses, and too great licentiousness and wicked living of the priests. They in truth cry that it is heresy to accuse the pope of error, in the chest of whose breast (they claim) all heavenly doctrine is laid up and contained. They cry that all the decrees of the apostolic see must be received as if they were confirmed by the very voice of Peter himself. They cry that it is a wicked thing to start any controversy, or call into doubt the doctrine and ceremonies received and used in the church of Rome; especially touching their sacraments, from which to their advantage they make filthy merchandise. They cry that the church of Rome has power to judge all men, but that no man has any authority to judge her judgment. There are in the decretals,[82] most evident canons that set out and urge these things, as I have told them.[83]

Now what manner of reformation would we think they are likely to admit, who stand so stiffly to the defence of these things? Truly, they would rather that Christ with his gospel, and the true church his spouse, should wholly perish, than to have them depart one inch from their decrees, rites, authorities, dignities, wealth, and pleasures.


They truly come into the council, not to be judged by others, that they may amend those things which even their own consciences and the whole world say should be amended; but they come to judge and yoke all other men, to still keep their power and authority, and to overthrow and take away whatever withstands their lust and tyranny. For before, horrible thunders were sent out against the accusers or adversaries of the apostolic see — that is, of papistic corruption. Afterward followed the hot bolts of that thunder, even definitive sentences of excommunication. The secular power, for the span of thirty years and more, has been called on, and persecution has been raised up everywhere, against guiltless Christians [84] — not for committing heinous crimes and defending naughtiness, [85] but for inveighing against mischiefs and mischievous men, and for requiring the reformation of the church. And yet, even today, most cruel edicts are out, and cruelty is exercised every day more and more, against those who confess the name of Christ. Yes, such is their impudence and brazen-faced boldness, that they do not dissemble that the council (if any must be celebrated) shall be called for rooting out heresies. Indeed, they openly profess that the council, once held at Trent, was assembled to this end. Now, since these things, more clearly than the sun, are perceived to be most true, you would do wisely and religiously, most holy king, if — without looking for the determination of a general council — you proceed to reform the churches in your kingdom according to the rule of the books of both Testaments, which we rightly believe to be the very word of God, being written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

But now, it is thereby manifest that it is lawful for every Christian church, much more for every notable Christian kingdom, without the advice of the church of Rome and its members, in matters of religion depraved by them, to make a reformation wholly according to the rule of God's most holy word. This is because Christians are the congregation, the church, or subjects of their king, Christ, to whom they owe by all means, most absolute and perfect obedience.


Now the Lord gave his church a charge of reformation: he commended to it the sound doctrine of the gospel, together with the lawful use of his holy sacraments. He also condemned all false doctrine, I mean, that which is contrary to the gospel. He damned the abuse and profanation of the sacraments; and delivered to us the true worship of God, and proscribed the false. Therefore, Christians — obeying the laws and commandments of their prince — should utterly remove or take away all superstition, and restore, establish, and preserve the true religion, according to the manner that Christ their prince appointed them. He truly is a fool or a madman, who says that the church of Christ has no authority to correct such errors, vices, and abuses as daily creep into it. And yet the Romish tyranny has so bewitched the eyes of many men, that they think they cannot lawfully do anyhing except what it pleases Rome to give them leave to do. The ecclesiastical histories mention provincial synods, held in sundry provinces, in which there were handled matters of faith and the reformation of the churches; and yet no mention is made even once of the bishop of Rome. What may be thought of this, moreover: that in certain synods — not heretical, but orthodox and catholic — you may find some who were excommunicated for appealing from their own churches to the church of Rome? [86]

St. Cyprian, writing to Cornelius, the bishop of Rome, says:

"Since it is ordained by us all, and it is just and right that every man's cause should be heard where the crime is committed; and to every individual pastor a portion of the flock is appointed which each one must govern and give an account of his doings before the Lord — it is expedient, truly, that those over whom we have charge, should not wander about, [87] and by that means, with their subtle and deceitful petulance, make ajar the concord of bishops; but plead their causes there, where they may have their accusers present, and witnesses of their [alleged] crime that was committed." [88]


But letting pass the testimonies of men, we now come to the testimonies in the book of God. The most holy king Josiah, most godly prince, may alone in this case teach you what to do and how to do it, with the warrant and authority of God himself. By the diligent reading of the holy book of God, and by the contemplation of present things, and the manner of worshipping God that was then used, he undertood that his ancestors greatly and very far erred from the plain and simple truth. For this cause, he calls together the princes and other estates of his kingdom, together with all the priests, to hold and celebrate a council with them. In that council, he does not stand disputing at length whether the examples of the elders should be followed, rather than God's commandment simply received; whether he should believe the church rather than the scripture; and whether all the judgment of religion should be referred to the high priest. For laying abroad the book of the law, he submits both himself and all his, to the sacred scripture. Out of the book of the law, he himself learns, and he bids all his to learn, what it is that pleases God — namely, that which was commanded and learned in reading the law of God. And presently he charged that all men should do and execute it — not having any regard to the ancient custom, or to the church that existed at that time: he made all subject to the word of God. This deed of his is so commended, that next to David, he is preferred above all the kings of Judah and Israel.

Now, your royal majesty cannot follow any better or safer counsel than this, considering that it proceeds from God, and that it is most fit for the cause which even now is in hand. The disputation is about the reformation of religion, and the true faith of Christ. You know that it springs from heaven — namely, that it is taught by the word of God, and poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost. For Paul says: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Rom 10.17 Therefore, just as true faith is not grounded on the word of man, so is it not taught or planted by them. For in another place the same apostle says:


"My preaching was not in the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the showing of the Spirit and of power; that your faith might not be in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God." 1Cor 2.4 It is not without good cause, therefore, that we refuse the traditions of men, and turn only to the doctrine of the word of the Lord, without which it is assuredly certain that there is no doctrine nor any foundation of true faith.

Nor are they worthy to be heard, who think that the canonical scriptures are not plain enough, full enough, or sufficient enough, to minister a perfect platform of reformation. They blaspheme the Spirit of God, imputing to it obscureness and imperfection — faults which no profane writer can well abide to hear. St. Paul, in defence of the truth, says, "All scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, instructed unto all good works." 2Tim 3.16,17 What now, I ask you, is omitted in these words, that may seem to pertain to a most absolute reformation? What, I beseech you, have those impudent fellows to say against this? Proceed, therefore, proceed most holy king, to imitate the most godly princes, and the infallible rule of the holy scripture: proceed, I say, without waiting for man's authority, by the most true and absolute instrument of truth — the book of God's most holy word — to reform the church of Christ in your most happy England.[89]

The Lord Jesus, the head and mighty prince of this
church,[90] preserve and lead you his most faithful
worshipper in the way of his truth until
the end, to the glory of his name, and
the good estate and welfare of
the whole Christian church.
At Tigure, in the month
of August, the year
of our Lord,

Your royal majesty's most dutifully bound,

Henry Bullinger,

Minister of the church at Tigure in Switzerland.



ONE of the Parker Society's objects, as stated in the first of its Laws, is "the printing, as may appear desirable, of some of the Early English translations of the Foreign Reformers." Accordingly, the re-publishing of the English Version of the Decades of Bullinger was announced, as in the contemplation of the Council of the Society, in a List which was appended to the Second Annual Report; and the first volume is now, at length, presented to the subscribers. The edition, which is reprinted here, is that of 1587, which scarcely differs at all, in any material respects, from the former edition of 1584, and very little from that of 1577; but any important variations between the translation and the original Latin are carefully specified in the notes. The Version was made, as stated in the title page, "by H. I. Student in Divinitie," – "a person," according to Strype's testimony, "of eminency in the Church." [91]

These Decades, it is conceived, possess a peculiar claim on the regard of the members of the Church of England. For not only was Bullinger "well-deserving by this nation for his kind entertainment and harbour of our divines and scholars who fled abroad in Queen Mary's reign, and of note for that friendship and correspondence ever after maintained between him and them;" [92] but several of his writings, as they became known here, were eminently appreciated by our theologians and religious persons of the era of the Reformation.[93]

And above all, in the Convocation of the province of Canterbury, held in 1586, among the "Orders for the better increase of learning in the inferior Ministers," introduced by Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, the following direction stands foremost: "Every minister having cure, and being under the degrees of master of arts, and bachelors of law, and not licensed to be a public preacher, shall before the second day of February next provide a Bible, and Bullinger's Decades in Latin or English, and a paper book, and shall every day read over one chapter of the Holy Scriptures, and note the principal contents of it briefly in his paper book, and shall every week read over one Sermon in the said Decades, and note likewise in the said paper, the chief matters contained in it; and shall once in every quarter (viz. within a fortnight before or after the end of the quarter) show his said note to some preacher near adjoining to be assigned for that purpose."[94] And, agreeably with this order, it is recorded by Strype, Dr. Theophilus Aylmer, Archdeacon of London, acted in his visitation in the early part of the year 1587, "the Bishop's pious and painful son." [95]

Although a Memoir of Bullinger (together with indexes to the whole work) will be given in the last volume, it may be useful here to state briefly, that he was born at Bremgarten, near Zurich, on July 18, 1504; commenced his studies at the University of Cologne in 1519; began to unite himself to the divines of the Reformation in the course of 1524; was chosen pastor of Zurich, on the decease of Oecolampadius, at the close of 1531; dedicated to Rodolph Gualter and others his first volume of the Decades, March 1, 1549; and died September 17, 1575, in the 71st year of his age.[96]

N.B. The editing of these Decades having been commenced by the Rev. Steuart A. Pears; the notes which have the initial (P.) affixed to them, are due to his research.






chief and principal points of Christian Religion,

written in three several Tomes or Sections,

by Henry Bullinger Minister

of the Church of Tygure in



to which are added certain

epistles of the same

Author concerning the Apparel of

Ministers and other indifferent things.


Translated out of Latin into English, by

H. I., Student in Divinity.



This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased: Hear him.


Imprinted at London by Ralph Newberry,

dwelling in Fleet Street a little above the Conduit,


Cum gratia & privilegio Regiae Maiestatis.








It may easily appear to someone who ponders this matter only a little, that there is just cause for all spiritual shepherds, and specially these of our time, to see carefully to the feeding of the flocks committed to their charge. For first, the commandments of the Almighty touching this thing are very earnest, the authority of which should greatly enforce it. Secondly, the rewards which He proposes for vigilant and careful pastors are large and bountiful, the sweetness of which should greatly allure them. Thirdly, the plagues and heavy judgments which he denounces against slothful and careless shepherds are grievous and portentous, the terror of which should make them afraid. Then the nature and condition of the sheep over whom they watch, the vigilance of the wolf against whom they watch, the conscience in taking the fleece for which they watch, and this time and age in which they watch being rightly considered, will enable them to sufficiently understand that they have good cause to watch.

How earnestly God commands, as it appears in Isaiah 58, where he says, "Cry aloud, and do not spare; lift up your voice like a trumpet, show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. And Isaiah 62, "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who all day and all night do not cease: you who are mindful of the Lord, do not stay silent." And John 21, "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, and if you love me, feed." And 2Tim 4, "Preach the word: be instant in season and out; reprove, rebuke, exhort," etc. How sweetly with rewards he allures, as it appears in Daniel 12, "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever."


And 1Tim 4, "Take heed to yourself and to doctrine; occupy yourself in them continually. For in so doing, you will save yourself and those who hear you." Also, how fiercely he urges and drives on the sluggish and careless shepherds by threatening them with terrible plagues and whips as it appears in Ezekiel 3, where he says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, 'you will surely die,' and you do not give him warning, nor speak to admonish the wicked of his wicked way, that he may live, the same wicked man will die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at your hand." And Jer 1:17, "You, therefore, gird up your loins and arise and speak to all those that I command you; do not be afraid of their faces lest I destroy you in front of them." And 1Cor 9:16-17, "Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to rejoice about,[97] for necessity is laid upon me. And woe to me if I do not preach the gospel: for if I do it willingly, I have a reward. But if I do it against my will, nonetheless, the dispensation is committed to me."

Now the sheep, which spiritual shepherds have undertaken as their charge, are not beasts but men. They are the very images of God himself, endued with ever-living souls, citizens with the saints and blessed angels, clothed with God's uniform, beautified with his cognizance and all the badges of salvation, admitted to his table, and to no lesser dishes than the body and blood of the undefiled Lamb, Christ Jesus. They were also bought and redeemed out of the wolf's jaws with no less price than of that same blood, more precious than any gold or silver. They are sheep of that nature which, if carefully fed and discreetly ordered, will prove gentle and loving towards their shepherds, and serviceable towards the chief Shepherd Jesus Christ. But if they are neglected and left to themselves, they degenerate into bloody wolves, ever-watching for an opportunity to rend their shepherds into pieces, and any other sheep that have not degenerated into their wolfish nature.


As for the spiritual wolf, against whom they watch, which is Satan, "He," as the apostle Peter witnesses in 1Pet 5:8, "never rests, but like a roaring lion, he walks around ever-seeking whom he may devour." And for that reason he is also called "a dragon," (Rev 20:2), which is a beast that is naturally very malicious and crafty, and watchful. So then, if the spiritual shepherd must watch while the spiritual wolf is awake, he cannot promise himself even one secure moment in which he may be careless.

God, by his prophet Ezekiel, chapter 34 says, "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves; should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fattest portions, and you clothe yourselves with the wool; you kill those that are well-fed, but you do not feed the sheep." This statement should awake the sleepy and careless consciences of many shepherds. For as the priest that serves the altar is worthy to live upon the offerings, and the soldier that ventures is worthy of his wages, and the husbandman that toils is worthy of the harvest, and the shepherd that feeds the flock is worthy to be fed with the milk, and clothed with the wool; so without question, the priest who does not serve is worthy of no offerings; the soldier who does not fight is worthy of no wages; the husbandman who loiters is worthy of weeds; and the shepherd who does not feed cannot with good conscience ask for either the milk or the fleece. Instead, his due reward and just recompense is punishment, for through his fault, the sheep are starved and destroyed by the wolf.

But let the ministers of our time weigh well the condition and manner of the time; and then, no doubt, they will see that it is high time to stir them to do their duties. This time succeeds a time in which there was extreme famine of all spiritual food, so that the sheep of this time can never recover themselves from the feebleness into which they were brought, except by some great and extraordinary diligence. This time succeeds a time in which the multitude of wolves and ravenous beasts was so great, and their rage and fury so fell upon every sheepfold, that the good shepherds were either put to flight, or pitifully murdered; so that the sheep, being committed to wolves, either perished or degenerated into wolves themselves: so that to regenerate them again into sheep requires no small labour. The church in this time is like land that has lain, time out of mind, unmanured, uncompassed, and untilled.


For this reason, it is so out of heart that it requires arms of iron and legs of brass to recover it again: or like a ship so worn with winds and tempests, so rent with rocks, so cracked and utterly decayed, that it takes a rare piece of craftsmanship to enable her to take the seas again.

There is no remedy, then, but the ministry of this time. If there is any love or fear of God in them, if they would not have all things run to ruin, if they regard either God, themselves, or their brethren, then they must at once, without further delay, set themselves to feed their flocks, to teach, to exhort, to strengthen, to bind up, to build, to plant, to water, to set, to oversee, to leave nothing undone that pertains to feeding and fattening the Lord's flocks, to planting the Lord's paradise, tilling the Lord's fields, dressing the Lord's vineyard, raising and rearing up the Lord's temple. The great deficiency in many to discharge their duties in this behalf is very lamentable, and by some means (as much as possible) it is to be supplied and remedied, rather than made a common theme and argument of railing, which many do today. In this, they show themselves to be like those who find fault in other men's garments – it is not that they love them, or have in mind to give them better, but that they are proud of their own, and would scornfully shame and grieve others. The cause of this great deficiency does not need to be disputed here; but indeed, any man may judge how impossible it was with so populous a kingdom, abounding with so many separate congregations, to furnish them all with fit and able pastors; and to do so immediately after such a general corruption and apostasy from the truth. For unless they had suddenly come from heaven, or been raised up miraculously, they could not have been. This is because, of the ancient preachers of king Edward's time,[98] some of them died in prison, many perished by fire, many perished otherwise; many also fled into other countries where some died; a few returned, but they were a handful to furnish this whole realm. The universities were also infected this way at first, so that many wolves and foxes crept out from them who detested the ministry, and wrought the contempt of it everywhere; only a very few good shepherds came abroad.[99]


And although since that time (now eighteen years), the universities being well-purged, there was good hope that all the land would have been overspread and replenished with able and learned pastors, the devil and corrupt patrons have taken hold to such an extent, that much of that hope is cut off. For patrons [100] now-a-days do not search the universities for a good pastor; instead, they look up and down the country for the peddler who will gain them the most. The one with the biggest purse to pay is presented, not the one with the best gifts to preach learnedly. The bishops bear great blame for this matter, and they admit (they say) unworthy men. See the craft of Satan: he falsely charges the worthiest pillars of the church with the ruin of the church, to the end that all the church-robbers and caterpillars of the Lord's vineyard may lie unseen. There is nothing that brings the bishops of our time more trouble and displeasure, than that they zealously withstand the covetousness of patrons in rejecting their insufficient clerics. For it stands them above all others that the church of God prospers; in the decay and fall of the church they cannot stand, but instead perish. But however it comes to pass, it is certain that many are far behind in those gifts which are necessary for their function; and there is yet small likelihood that the church shall be served with better, but rather with worse: for it does not seem that patrons in the future will lessen the market one penny, but rather raise it more and more.

This being the case, the labour of the ministry which is now in place, surely could not be worse bestowed. They neither promote the glory of God nor profit the church in the least, when the end to which they apply their endeavours is that the current ministry may come forward and be better able to do their duties. I mean such things as presenting godly and learned treatises, or expositions of the holy scriptures, compiled by themselves in our mother tongue; or else such things as translating the worthy works of the famous divines of our time. Both these sorts of men, no doubt, greatly edify the godly, and greatly help to improve all those ministers who understand the Latin tongue either poorly or not at all: so that among them are found many who by painful industry and diligent reading of such books, serve God well in the church; and so might all the rest of them serve, if sloth and worldly affairs did not hinder them.


Some of that sort complain that Calvin's manner of writing in his Institutions [101] is too deep and profound for them: Musculus also, in his Common Places, is very scholastical; the Commentaries of Marlorat [102] upon John, of Peter Martyr upon the Judges, of Gualter upon the small Prophets, and many others are translated and extant;[103] together, they handle most points of Christian doctrine excellently well. But these sorts of ministers, for the most part, are so bare-bitten by their patrons,[104] that to buy them all would be exorbitant. Therefore, without question, no writer yet in the hands of men can fit them better than master Bullinger in his Decades. In them he greatly amends Calvin's obscurity with singular perspicuity, and Musculus' scholastical subtlety with great plainness and even popular facility. And all those points of Christian doctrine, which are not to be found in one volume, are packed together and handled by Bullinger in good order in this one short book. There are various persons of the ministry who lack knowledge, and some who have knowledge but still lack order, discretion, memory, or audacity. They cannot, by reason of their deficiency, either expound, or exhort, or otherwise preach, but can only read the order of service. The Decades of master Bullinger may do more good in this respect than may be conceived at first. For indeed this book is a book of sermons; they are sermons in name and in nature, fit to be read out of the pulpit to the simplest and uneducated people of this land. Their doctrine is very plain, without ostentation, oddness, perplexity, vanity, or superfluity.


They are very sound also, without popery, Anabaptism, Servetianism,[105] or any other heresy. They are fifty in number, the five Decades containing (as the word imports) ten sermons, so that they may be easily divided so as to have one for every Sunday in the year. Nor is it material what those fanatical fellows say, who would do away with reading homilies or sermons in churches, no matter how sound, pithy, and effectual they may be. They are like physicians who forbid their patients all those meats which they may have and which would do them good, and prescribe them only those which they cannot obtain; for it will be some time before every parish has a learned and able preacher resident and abiding in it. And in the meantime, it cannot be denied that a homily or sermon, penned by some excellent cleric, being read plainly, orderly, and distinctly, will greatly move the hearers, that it will teach, confirm, confute, comfort, and persuade even as the same sermon pronounced without the book would do.

Perhaps some hearers, who delight more to have their eyes fed with the preacher's action, than to have their hearts edified with his sermon, are more moved with a sermon that is not read: but to a good Christian hearer, whose mind is most occupied on the matter, the odds are small. Better is a good sermon read than none at all. But nothing (they say) must be read in the open congregation except the canonical scriptures.[106] That rule is somewhat strict and precise. Then may not the Apostles' Creed, Nicene creed, or Athanasian creed, nor any prayers which are not word for word contained in the canon of the scriptures, nor any contents of chapters, be read in the congregation? The church and congregation of the Colossians were enjoined by St. Paul (Col 4.16) to read among them the epistle written from Laodicea, an epistle (as Calvin thinks [107]) which was not written by Paul, but by the church of Laodicea, and sent to Paul, and is not contained in the canon of the scriptures.


The church of Corinth and other churches of the godly, did likewise soon after the apostles' times (as it appears from Eusebius, Lib. iv. cap. 23,[108] and the writers of the Centuries,[109] Cent. II. cap. 10). They used to read openly, for admonition sake, certain epistles of Clement, and of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth. Master Bucer, in his Notes upon the Communion Book in King Edward's time, writes this: "It is better, where there are no scriptures to expound to the people, that godly and learned homilies should be read to them, rather than have no exhortation at all in the administration of the supper." [110] And a little after he says: "There are too few homilies, and too few points of religion taught in them; when, therefore, the Lord shall bless this kingdom with some excellent preachers, let them be commanded to make more homilies of the principal points of religion, which may be read to the people by those pastors who cannot make better ones themselves." [111] And that worthy martyr, Doctor Ridley, bishop of London, speaking of the Church of England during the reign of King Edward (as reported by master Foxe, in his Book of Acts and Mon., Tom. ii. page 1940) [112] says this:

"[The Church] also had holy and wholesome homilies in commendation of the principal virtues which are commended in scripture, and likewise it had other homilies against the most pernicious and capital vices that, alas! used to reign in this church [113] of England."


Therefore, as long as none are read in the church except those which are sound, godly, and learned, and fit for the capacity of the people; and as long as they are not thrust into the church to replace the canonical scriptures, but are read as godly expositions and interpretations of them; and since they occupy no more time in the church than what is usually left after reading the canonical scriptures, preaching, and exhortation; and because they are used, not to the contempt, derogation, or abandoning of preaching, but only to supply the lack of it; then no good man can dislike their use except those contentious persons who defy all things which they do not devise themselves.

And if it is said that there are already good homilies, and those are also authorised, and are likewise wholesome expositions of assorted parts of scripture, and for the same purpose, then I grant they be used as well. But store is no sore.[114] Meats may be most tasty; but if they come to the table too often, we do not care for them; so it is with sermons which are most excellent: if they come to the pulpit too often, they oftentimes do not please; instead, others are desired.

But, to end, these sermons of master Bullinger's are such that, whether they are used privately or read publicly, whether by ministers of the word or others of God's children, there will certainly be found in them such light and instruction for the ignorant, such sweetness and spiritual comfort for the consciences, and such heavenly delights for the souls, that like perfumes, the more they are chafed, the better they smell. And like gold mines, the deeper you dig them, the more riches they show; so it is with these:

the more diligently you peruse them, the more delightfully they

will please; and the deeper you dig with daily study

in their mines, the more golden matter they

will deliver forth to the glory of

God: to whom only be praise,

for ever and ever.





Of The


SINCE the time of the apostles, many councils have been celebrated in sundry provinces. Those (councils) then were synods or assemblies of bishops and holy men, meeting together to consult for keeping the soundness of faith, the unity of doctrine, and the discipline and peace of the churches. The epistles of the blessed martyr Cyprian have made us acquainted with some of this sort. [116]

The Nicene Council

The first general or universal synod, therefore, is reported to have been called by that most holy emperor Constantine in the city of Nicaea, the year of our Lord 324, [117] against Arius and his partners, who denied the natural deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to that place came, out of all nations under heaven, two hundred and eighteen [118] bishops and excellent learned men, who wrote the Creed commonly called the Nicene Creed. Up to this point, the creed of the Apostles sufficed and it had been sufficient for the church of Christ, even in the time of Constantine. For all men confess that all the churches used no other creed than that of the Apostles (which we mention and expound in the first Decade), with which they were content throughout the whole world.


But in the days of Constantine the Great, that wicked blasphemer Arius sprang up, corrupting the pureness of Christian faith, and perverting the simple truth of doctrine taught by the apostles; the ministers of the churches were compelled of necessity to set themselves against that deceiver. In publishing a creed to present and declare out of the canonical scriptures, the true and ancient confession of faith, they condemned those novelties brought in by Arius. For in the creeds set forth by the other three general councils following shortly after, nothing was changed in the doctrine of the apostles, nor was there any new thing added which the churches of Christ had not before taken and believed out of the holy scripture. Instead, the ancient truth, being wisely made manifest by confessions made of faith, was profitably and godly set against the new corruptions of heretics. Yet the writings of the prophets and apostles were the spring, the guide, the rule, and judge in all these councils; nor did the fathers allow anything to be done there according to their own minds.[119] And yet I do not speak of every constitution and canon, but namely [120] of those ancient confessions alone, to which we attribute so much as is permitted by the canonical scripture, which we confess to be the only rule how to judge, speak, and do.

The Council of Constantinople

The second general council was held in the royal city of Constantinople, under Gratian the emperor, in the year of our Lord 384. There were assembled in that synod (as Prosperus Aquitanicus [121] witnesses) one hundred and eighty fathers or bishops who condemned Macedonius and Eudoxius for denying that the Holy Ghost is God.[122]


The Council of Ephesus

And about the year of our Lord 434, in the very same year that the blessed father Augustine died, when that godly prince Theodosius the Great was emperor, there came together at Ephesus the third synod, of two hundred priests or thereabouts, against Nestorius,[123] who tore the mystery of the incarnation and taught that there were two Sons, the one of God, the other of man. This council condemned him, together with the Pelagians, helpers of this doctrine as a cousin to their own.

The Council of Chalcedon

The fourth general council was assembled at Chalcedon, in, the year of our Lord 454, under the emperor Martian. There, six hundred and thirty fathers were gathered together who, according to the scriptures, condemned Eutyches, who mistook the two natures in Christ for the unity of the person.[124]

Beda de ratione temporum,[125] and many other writers, add to these four universal councils two more general synods: the fifth and the sixth, which were celebrated at Constantinople. For the fifth was gathered together when Justinian was emperor, against Theodorus and all heretics, about the year of our Lord 552.[126]

The sixth came together under Constantine the son of Constantius, in the year of our Lord 682. And there were assembled two hundred and eighty-nine bishops [127] against the Monothelites. But there was nothing determined in these synods, except what is to be found in the four first councils. That is why I have noted nothing out of them.





WE believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father; God of God, light of light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of the same essence and substance with the Father; by whom all things were made, which are in heaven, and which are on earth: who for us and for our salvation came down, was incarnate and manned (was made man). He suffered, and rose again the third day, he ascended into heaven, and shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And (we believe) in the Holy Ghost. As for those who say, [there] was sometime when he was not, and before he was born he was not; and who say, because he was made of things not being (out of nothing) or of another substance, that therefore the Son of God is either created, or turned, or changed, the holy catholic and apostolic church curses or excommunicates them.[128]





I believe [130] in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of his Father before all worlds, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made;


being of the same substance with the Father, by whom all things were made: who for us, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the virgin Mary, and was made man. He was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried: and he rose the third day, according to the scriptures. And he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father: and he shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who, proceeding from the Father, is to be worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son; who spoke by the prophets: in one catholic and apostolic church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the world to come.


Because I note all things briefly here, in writing, I could not include with them that large synodal epistle written by St. Cyril [131] to Nestorius, in which is contained the full consent of the general council held at Ephesus. I have therefore rather chosen out of Cyril's 28th epistle, a short confession sent to the synod, and allowed by the whole council. Before the confession are set these words:

"Even as in the beginning we have heard out of the divine scriptures, and the tradition of the holy fathers, so will we briefly speak, not adding anything at all to the faith set forth by the holy fathers in Nicaea. For that suffices to all knowledge of godliness, as well as to the utter forsaking of any heretical contrariness."

And a little after this, the confession is set down in these words:

"We acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, to be perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and body; born of the Father according to his Godhead before the worlds, and the very same according to his humanity born in the latter times of the virgin Mary for us, and for our salvation: for there was made a uniting of the two natures.


Wherefore we confess both one Christ, one Son, and one Lord. And according to this understanding of the unconfounded unity, we acknowledge the holy virgin to be the mother of God, because God the Word was incarnate and made man, and by the very conception gathered to himself a body taken of her. But for the statements uttered by the evangelists and apostles touching the Lord, we know that the divines divide them because of the two natures, yet so as they belong to one person; and some refer them to the Godhead of Christ because they are more agreeable to the Divinity, and others (because they are) base, refer them to his humanity."

To this confession Cyril adds these words:

"When we had read these holy words of yours (even in the synod to which the confession was sent), and perceived that we ourselves were of the same opinion (for there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism), we glorified God the Saviour of all (men), rejoicing together in ourselves, because both your churches and ours believe agreeably to the scriptures of God and tradition of the holy fathers." [132]



AFTER the rehearsal of the creeds set forth by the synods of Nicaea and Constantinople, with a few words put between, the holy council of Chalcedon immediately prescribes (their confession) in these words,[134]

"We therefore, agreeing with the holy fathers, with one accord teach to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; and him (to be) perfect God in the Deity, and the same also truly man, of a reasonable soul and body: touching his Godhead, (being) of one nature with his Father; and the same, as touching his manhood, of one nature with us, like us in all things, sin excepted: touching his Godhead, born of his Father before the worlds; and the same in the latter days, made man for us and for our salvation. (We teach) to consider that he is one and the same Christ, the Son, (our) Lord, the only-begotten Son, in two natures, neither confounded, nor changed, nor divided, nor separated;


and that the difference of the natures is not to be taken away because of the unity; but rather, the property of both (his) natures remaining whole and meeting together in one person and one substance, that he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same Son, the only-begotten Son, God, the Word, (our) Lord Jesus Christ: even as the prophets from the beginning (have witnessed) of him, and as he himself has instructed us, and the confession of the fathers has taught us. These things therefore being ordered by us with all care and diligence, the holy and universal synod determines that it should not be lawful for any man to profess any other faith, or to write, to teach, or speak to the contrary."




BUT now let us consider the last article in the decree of the synod of Chalcedon:

"We confess that Christ our Lord, the only-begotten Son, is to be understood to be one and the self-same in (his) two natures, neither confounded, nor changed, nor divided, nor separated, not making void the difference of the two natures because of the unity, but keeping sound the property of both natures coming together into one person and substance, not as being divided or separated, but (as being) one and the same only-begotten Son, God, the Word, (our) Lord Jesus."

In this article, this displeases them, because they said, "The property of both natures remaining sound;" or, "The difference of the natures not being made void." And that they may persuade us that those things (which they disapprove) are assuredly so, using their usual large words and vain assertions, they bring in many testimonies out of the articles of Cyril, in which he does not deny the two natures in Christ, but teaches that there is but one person. With the intent, therefore, that we may not confute them with our disputation alone, let us set down also the words of Cyril, that even as they lean to the testimony of Cyril, so by the testimony of Cyril they may be overcome. In the synodal epistles of Cyril to Nestorius it is thus (written):


"For we do not affirm that the divine nature is turned or changed into flesh, nor yet that it is transformed into the whole man, which consists of the body and soul. But we say rather, that the reasonable soul has coupled to itself the substance of living flesh, that it is unspeakably and inconceivably made man, and is also called the Son of man, not of bare will alone, nor by only taking on the person, but because the two natures, in a certain manner, come together in one: so that there is one Christ, and one Son, of both (the natures) by joining them in one; not in making void or taking away the difference of the natures, but because they, that is, the Godhead and the manhood together, by that hidden and unspeakable knitting to the unity, have made for us one Lord, and (one) Christ, and (one) Son."

What could be spoken more plainly than this? What could be shown more clearly out of the epistles of Cyril to agree with the determination of the council of Chalcedon? For see, there is nothing contrary, whether words to words, or sentence to sentence: but even as they had one meaning of faith, so they use in a manner, the self-same words.

The holy synod said, "The difference of the two natures being nowhere made void;" St. Cyril said, "The difference of the natures not being made void, or taken away, by joining them together." The holy synod said, "Both the natures meeting together in one person;" St. Cyril says, "Not of a bare will only, nor yet by only taking on a person, but because the two natures in a way meet together in one." The holy synod said, "Not being divided into two persons, but being one and the same Christ;" St. Cyril said, "So that of two, that is to say (of two) natures in one Christ the Son;" and again, "Because they, that is, the Godhead and the manhood together, have made to us one Lord, (one) Christ, and (one) Son," etc.




We believe in one true God, the Father Almighty, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, maker of things visible and invisible, by whom all things were made in heaven and on earth. We believe, that there is one God and one Trinity of the divine substance. And that the Father himself is not the Son, but that he has a Son, which is not the Father. That the Son is not the Father, but that the Son of God is of the nature of the Father. And also that the Holy Ghost is the Comforter, which neither is the Father himself, nor the Son, but proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Father, therefore, is unbegotten, the Son begotten, the Comforter not begotten but proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Father is he from whom this voice was heard out of heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased: hear him." The Son is he who said, "I went out from the Father, and came from God into the world." The Comforter is the Holy Ghost, of whom the Son said, "Unless I go away to the Father, the Comforter shall not come."


We believe in this Trinity differing in persons (but) all one in substance, not divided nor differing in strength, power and majesty; (and) we believe that beside this there is no divine nature, either of angel, or of spirit, or any power, which may be believed to be God.

We therefore believe that this Son of God, being God begotten of his Father altogether before all beginning, sanctified the womb of the virgin Mary, and that from her he took upon himself true man, begotten without the seed of man, the two natures only, that is, of the Godhead and manhood, coming together into one person only, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ. Neither (do we believe) that there was in him an imagined or any fanciful body, but a sound and true (body), and that he both hungered, and thirsted, and taught,[137] and wept, and suffered all the damages of the body. Last of all, that he was crucified by the Jews, and was buried, and rose again the third day, and afterward was familiar with his disciples, and the fortieth day after his resurrection ascended into heaven. This Son of man, and also the Son of God, we call both the Son of God and the Son of man.

We believe truly, that there shall be a resurrection of the flesh of mankind; and that the soul of man is not of the divine substance, or of God the Father, but is a creature created by the will of God.




As we have learned from the holy fathers that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are of one Godhead and substance, (so) is our confession, believing the Trinity in the difference of persons, and openly professing the unity in the Godhead; neither do we confound the persons, nor divide the substance. We say that the Father is made or begotten of none: we affirm that the Son is not made, but begotten of the Father: and we profess that the Holy Ghost is neither created nor begotten, but proceeding from the Father and the Son. And (we confess) that the Lord himself Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the maker of all things, begotten of the substance of his Father before all the worlds, came down from his Father in the latter times for the redemption of the world, who (nevertheless) never ceased to be with the Father. For he was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the glorious virgin Mary the holy mother of God, and of her was born alone the same Lord Jesus Christ, one in the Trinity, being perfect (man) in soul and body, taking on man without sin, still being what he was, taking to himself what he was not. Touching his Godhead, he was equal with the Father; (and) inferior to his Father touching his manhood, having in one person the property of two natures. For (there are) in him two natures, God and man: and yet not two Sons or two Gods, but the same (God and man) one person in both natures, who suffered grief and death for our salvation, not in the power of his Godhead, but in the infirmity of his manhood.


He descended to them below to draw out by force the saints which were held there. And he rose again, the power of death being overcome. He was taken up into the heavens, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. By whose death and blood we, being made clean, have obtained forgiveness of (our) sins, and we shall be raised up again by him in the last day in the same flesh in which we now live, (and) in that manner in which the same (our) Lord rose again; (and) some shall receive from him, in reward for their well doing, life everlasting; and some shall receive for their sins, the judgment of everlasting punishment. This is the faith of the catholic church, this confession we keep and hold, which whoever keeps steadfastly, he shall have everlasting salvation.



The church, dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples, the belief in one God, the Father Almighty, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them. And in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, [who was] incarnate for our salvation. And in the Holy Ghost, who by the prophets preached the mystery of the dispensation, and the coming of the beloved Jesus Christ our Lord, with his nativity of the virgin, and his passion, and resurrection from the dead, and his ascension in the flesh into the heavens, and his coming again out of the heavens in the glory of the Father to restore all things, and to raise up again all flesh of mankind: so that to Christ Jesus our Lord, both God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, every knee may bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue may praise him, and that he may judge rightly in all things, and that he may cast into eternal fire the spirits of evil, with the angels which transgressed and became rebels, and wicked, unjust, mischievous, and blasphemous men.


And that to the just and holy ones, and those who have kept his commandments and remained in his love, partly from the beginning and partly by repentance, he may grant life, bestow immortality, and give glory everlasting. The church, although it is dispersed throughout the whole world, having obtained, as I said, this confession and this faith, dwelling together as it were in one house, diligently keeps them, and likewise believes them, as if it had one soul and the same heart; and it preaches, teaches, and agreeably delivers these things, as if it had all one mouth. For in the world the tongues are unlike, but the force of teaching is one and the same. Nor do the churches, whose foundation is laid in Germany, believe otherwise, or teach to the contrary: nor those in Spain, nor those in France, nor those in the east, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which are in the rest of the world: but even as the sun, (which is) the creature of God, is one and the same in the whole world; so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and gives light to all men who are willing to come to the knowledge of the truth. And neither shall he who is among the chief overseers of the church, who is able to say much, speak contrary to this; for no man is above his master: neither shall he, who is able to say little, diminish this doctrine any whit at all. For seeing that faith is all one and the same, neither does he, who is able to say much of it, say more than should be said: neither does he, who says little, ever make it a whit the less.[140]


Read further in the fourth chapter of his third book Contra Valent, and you will perceive that by the term apostolic tradition, he means the Creed of the Apostles.




The rule of faith is that, out of hand, we openly profess what our belief is; which is that by which indeed, we believe that there is one God only, and not any other beside the maker of the world, who by his Word, sent out first of all, brought forth all things out of nothing. That Word, being called his Son, being seen after sundry sorts of the patriarchs, being always heard in the prophets, and lastly by the Spirit and power of God the Father being brought into the virgin Mary, being made flesh in that womb and born of her, became Jesus Christ, (who) afterward preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, wrought miracles, sat at the right hand of the Father, was nailed to the cross, rose again the third day, was taken into the heavens, sits at the right hand of the Father, sent the power of the Holy Ghost to govern the believers in his own stead, shall come with glory to take the saints into the joy of eternal life and heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, when both the parties are raised up and have their flesh restored again.

This rule, as it will be proved, being ordained by Christ, has no doubts among us at all, except those which heresies bring in, and which make men become heretics.





Whoever would be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith.

Unless every one keeps this faith holy [143] and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.

Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated: and the Holy Ghost uncreated.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty: and the Holy Ghost almighty.

And yet they are not three almighties: but one almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.

And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.

And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.

For just as we are compelled by Christian verity to acknowledge every person [of the Godhead] by himself to be God and Lord; so we are forbidden by the catholic religion, to say there are three Gods or three Lords.


The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.

The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

And in this Trinity none is before or after the other: none is greater or less than the other.

But the whole three persons are coeternal together: and coequal.

So that in all things — as said before — the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.

He therefore that would be saved, must think of the Trinity thus.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that he also believe rightly [144] in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother born in the world.

Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father touching his manhood.

Who although he is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ.

One, not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.

One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

For just as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ.

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.


He ascended into heaven, he sits on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works.

And those that have done good, shall go into life everlasting; and those that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith which, unless a man believes it faithfully,[145] he cannot be saved.




WE believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in one Jesus Christ our Lord the Son of God, and in the Holy Ghost. We worship and confess God, not three Gods, but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God: one God, not so as though he were alone, nor as one which is himself Father to himself, and Son himself also; but him to be the Father which begot, and (him) to be the Son which was begotten; but the Holy Ghost to be neither begotten, nor created, nor made, but proceeding from the Father and the Son, co-eternal, co-equal, and working together with the Father and the Son: because it is written, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were established," that is, by the Son of God, "and by the breath of his mouth all the powers thereof;" and in another place, "Send forth Your breath, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth." And therefore under the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we confess one God, which is the name of the power, and not of the property. The proper name of the Father is the Father: and the proper name of the Son is the Son: and the proper name of the Holy Ghost is the Holy Ghost. In this Trinity of persons, we worship one God (in substance), because that which is of one father is of one nature with the father, of one substance, and one power. The Father begat the Son, not by will or necessity, but by nature.

The Son in the last time came down from the Father to save us and to fulfil the scriptures, who (nevertheless) never ceased to be with the Father. And he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin: he took upon himself flesh, and soul, and sense; that is, he took on himself true man, neither losing what he was, but began to be what he was not; so that, in respect to his own properties, he is perfect God; and in respect to ours, he is true man. For he which was God is born man; and he which is born man, works miracles as God; and he that works miracles as God, dies as a man; and he that dies as man, rises again as God: who in the same flesh, in which he was born and suffered and died and rose again, ascended to the Father, and sits at his right hand in the glory which he always had, and yet still has.


By his death and blood we believe that we are cleansed; and that at the latter day we shall be raised up again by him in this flesh in which we now live. And we hope that we shall obtain a reward for our good deeds; or else the pain of everlasting punishment for our sins. Read this, believe this, hold this, submit your soul to this faith, and you shall obtain life and a reward at Christ's hand.

St. Peter, bishop of Alexandria, taught and believed the very same with the blessed Athanasius and Damasus, as it may be gathered out of the thirty-seventh chapter of the seventh book, and the fourteenth chapter of the eighth book, of the Tripartite history.[147]



THE noble emperors, Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, to the people of the city of Constantinople. We would have all people, whom the royal authority of our clemency rules, to be of that religion, which the religion brought in by (Peter) himself does at this time declare that St. Peter the apostle taught to the Romans, and which it is evident that bishop Damasus, and Peter the bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness, follow: that is, that according to the discipline of the apostles and doctrine of the evangelists, in the equality of the majesty and in the holy Trinity, we believe that there is (but) one Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Those who keep this law, we command to have the name of catholic Christians: but for the others, whom we judge to be mad and out of their wits, (we would) have them, sustaining the infamy of heretical doctrine, be punished first by God's vengeance, and after that by punishment according to the motion of our minds, which we, by the will of God, think best.

Given the third of the Calends of March,

at Thessalonica; Gratian the Fifth,

Valentinian, and Theodosius,

Aug. Coss [149]








The cause of it; and how, and by whom,
it was revealed to the world.

ALL the decrees of Christian faith, with every way how to live rightly, well, and holily, and finally, all true and heavenly wisdom, have always been fetched out of the testimonies, or determinate judgments, of the word of God. Neither can they be drawn, taught, or, last of all, soundly confirmed from elsewhere, than from the word of God, whether by those who are wise men indeed, or by the faithful and those who are called by God to the ministry of the churches. Therefore, whoever is ignorant of what the word of God is, and the meaning of the word of God, seems like one who is blind, deaf, and without wit, in the temple of the Lord, in the school of Christ, and lastly, in the reading of the very sacred scriptures. But though some are not at all zealous, and hardly drawn to hearing sermons in the church, that springs out of no other fountain than this: it is because they neither understand rightly, nor weigh diligently enough, the virtue and true force of the word of God. Therefore, so that nothing may cause the zealous desirers of the truth and of the word of God to stick on this point — but rather that the estimation of God's word which is due may be laid up in all men's hearts — I will (by God's help) lay out for you, dearly beloved, those things which a godly man ought to think and hold concerning the word of God.


And pray earnestly and continually to our bountiful God, that it may please Him to give to me his holy and effectual power to speak, and give to you the opening of your ears and minds, so that in all that I will say, the Lord's name may be praised, and your souls be profited abundantly.

First, I have to declare what the word of God is. Verbum in the scriptures, and according to the property of the Hebrew tongue, is diversely taken. For it signifies whatever thing a man wills; even as the word ding is largely used among the Germans. In St. Luke, the angel of God says to the blessed virgin: "With God no word [150] shall be impossible:" which is the same as if he had said, all things are possible for God, or to God nothing is impossible. Verbum also signifies a word uttered by the mouth of man. Sometimes it is used for a charge, sometimes for a whole sentence, or speech, or prophecy. There are many examples of this in the scriptures. But when verbum is joined with anything else, as in this place we call it verbum Dei, then is it not used in the same sense. For verbum Dei, "the word of God," signifies the virtue and power of God: it is also put for the Son of God, which is the second person in the most reverend Trinity. For that saying of the holy evangelist is evident to all men, "The word was made flesh." Joh 1.14 But in this treatise of ours, the word of God properly signifies the speech of God, and the revealing of God's will — first of all uttered in a lively-expressed voice by the mouth of Christ, the prophets and apostles; and after that, it was again registered in writings which are rightly called "holy and divine scriptures." The word shows the mind of the one out of whom it comes. Therefore the word of God makes a declaration about God. But God naturally speaks truth about himself: he is just, good, pure, immortal, and eternal. Therefore it follows that the word of God also, which comes out of the mouth of God, is true, just, without deceit and guile, without error or evil affection, holy, pure, good, immortal, and everlasting. For in the gospel the Lord says, "Your word is truth." Joh 17.17 And the apostle Paul says, "The word of God is not tied." 2Tim 2.9 Again, the scripture everywhere cries: "The word of the Lord endures forever." [151]


And Solomon says: "Every word of God is purely cleansed. Add nothing to his words, lest perhaps he reprove you, and you be found a liar." Pro 30.5-6 David also says: "The sayings of the Lord are pure sayings, like silver cleansed in the fire, and seven times refined from the earth." Psa 12.6

This you will more fully perceive, dearly beloved, if I say speak more largely about the cause or beginning, and certainty, of the word of God. The word of God is truth; but God is the only well-spring of truth. Therefore, God is the beginning and cause of the word of God. And here indeed, since God does not have members like mortal men, he also lacks a bodily mouth. Yet, because the mouth is the instrument of the voice, a mouth is attributed to God. For he spoke to men in the voice of a man, that is, in a voice easily understood by men, and fashioned according to the speech usually spoken among men. This is evidently seen in the things in which he dealt with the holy fathers, with whom we read that He talked many times and often, as with our parents Adam and Eve, Noah, and the rest of the fathers. In Mount Sinai, the Lord himself preached to the great congregation of Israel, repeating so plainly, that they might understand those Ten Commandments, in which is contained every point of godliness. For in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy we read, "These words," meaning the Ten Commandments, "the Lord spoke with a loud voice, from out of the midst of the fire, to the whole congregation." Deu 5.22

And in the fourth chapter: "A voice of words you heard, but you saw no similitude besides the voice." Deu 4.12 Truly, God oftentimes used the means of angels, by whose ministry he talked with mortal men. And it is very well known to all men, that the Son of God the Father, being incarnate, walked about on the earth; and being very God and man, he taught the people of Israel for the span of almost three years.[152] But in times past, and before the Son of God was born into the world, God, little by little, made himself acquainted with the hearts of the holy fathers, and after that with the minds of the holy prophets; and last of all, by their preaching and writings, He taught the whole world.


So also, Christ our Lord sent the Holy Ghost, who is from the Father and the Son, into the apostles, by whose mouths, words, and writings he was known throughout the world. And all these servants of God, were the elect vessels of God, having received with sincere hearts the revelation of God from God himself. First of all, in a living expressed voice, they delivered to the world the oracles and word of God which they had learned before; and afterward, when the world drew more to an end, some of them put them in writing for a memorial to posterity. And it is good to know how, and by whom, all this was done. For by this narration the true cause, certainty, and dignity of the word of God plainly appears.

The writings of any man from the beginning of the world are not extant to be seen, until the time of Moses, and these have come to our knowledge — although it is likely that this same ancient and first world was not altogether without any writings. For the written prophecy of our holy father Enoch (who was seventh from our father Adam) is cited by St. Jude, the apostle, and brother of St. James. Jude 14-15 Furthermore, the writing or history of Job seems to have been set forth a great while before. But however it is, all the saints in the church of God give to Moses, the faithful servant of God, the first place among the holy writers.

From the beginning of the world, therefore, God by his Spirit and the ministry of angels, spoke to the holy fathers; and by word of mouth they taught their children, and children's children, and all their posterity, what they had learned from the mouth of God. When they had truly heard it, it was not with the intent to keep it close to themselves, but also to make their posterity partakers of it. For God oftentimes witnesses that "he will be the God of the fathers and of their seed forevermore." Gen 17.7 This is most plainly seen in the history of Adam, Noah, and Abraham, the first and great grandfathers.


In the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, truly, we read that the angel of God, and what is more indeed, that even the Lord himself, said to Abraham:

"And shall I hide from Abraham what I mind to do? since from Abraham shall come a great and mighty people, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? And this I know, that he will command his children and his posterity after him, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice, judgment," Gen 18.17-19 and the rest.

Abraham therefore, a faithful and zealous worshipper of God, did not (even as those old fathers of the first world also did not) grow negligent at all in this, but diligently taught men the will and judgments of God. Thus he is called a prophet by Moses, yes, and by God himself. Gen 20.7 That devout and living tradition of the fathers, from hand to hand, was in use continually, even from the beginning of the world until the time of Moses.

Moreover, God of his goodness provided that no age should at any time be without most excellent lights, to be witnesses of the undoubted faith, and fathers of great authority. For the world before the deluge had in it nine most excellent, most holy, and wise men: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech. The chief of these, Adam and Methuselah, begin and make an end of all the sixteen hundred and fifty-six years [153] of the world before the deluge. For Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years; Gen 5.5 he therefore dies in the seven hundred and twenty-sixth year before the flood. And Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years; Gen 5.27 he dies in the very same year that the flood overflowed; and he lived together with Adam two hundred and forty-three years — so that he might be instructed by Adam abundantly enough concerning the beginning of things, concerning God, the falling and restoring again of mankind, and all other things belonging to religion, even as he was taught by God himself. These two fathers, with the rest named above, were able to instruct the whole age sufficiently enough in the true salvation and right ways of the Lord.

After the deluge, God gave excellent men to the world again, and very great lights. Their names are Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Here have we thirteen most excellent patriarchs, among whom the first two, Noah and Shem, are the chief; next to whom Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were more notable than the rest. Noah lived nine hundred and fifty years in all. He was six hundred years old when the flood drowned the world. Gen 7.6 He therefore saw and heard all the holy fathers of the first world before the deluge, only three excepted: Adam, Seth, and Enosh. And he also lived many years together with the others, who had both seen and heard them; so that he could be ignorant in no point of those things which Adam had taught. Noah dies (which is a marvel to be told, and yet very true) in the forty-ninth year of Abraham's age.[154] Shem, the son of Noah, lived many years with his father; for he lived six hundred years in all. He was born to Noah about ninety-six years before the deluge. He saw and heard, therefore, not only his father Noah and his grandfather Lamech, but also his great grandsire Methuselah, with whom he lived ninety-six years before the deluge. From him he might be informed of all those things which Methuselah had heard and learned from Adam and the other patriarchs. Shem dies after the death of Abraham, in the fifty-second year of Jacob, which was thirty-seven years after the death of Abraham, in the year one hundred and twelve of Isaac's age. So that Jacob, the patriarch, might very well learn all the true divinity from Shem himself, even as he had heard it from Methuselah, who was the third witness and teacher from Adam.

Furthermore, Jacob the patriarch delivered to his children that which he received from God, to teach to his posterity. In Mesopotamia, there is born to Jacob his son Levi, and to him again is born Kohath,[155] who both saw and heard Jacob. For Kohath lived no small number of years with his grandfather Jacob; for he is recounted in the roll of those who went with Jacob down into Egypt. Gen 46.11 But Jacob lived seventeen years with his children in Egypt.


Kohath is the grandfather of Moses, the father of Amram, from whom Moses perfectly drew that full and certain tradition by hand, as concerning the will, commandments, and judgments of God, even as Amram his father had learned them from his father Kohath, Kohath from Jacob, Jacob from Shem, Shem from Methuselah and from Adam the first father of us all — so that now, Moses is the seventh witness from Adam in the world. And from the beginning of the world to the birth of Moses are fully complete two thousand three hundred and sixty-eight years of the world. And whoever diligently reckons the years, that were not in vain set down by Moses in Genesis and Exodus, he will find this account to be true and right.[156]

Now, it also benefits us to know those chief principles of that living tradition, delivered by the holy fathers at the appointment of God, from hand to hand as it were, to all the posterity. The fathers taught their children that God, of his natural goodness, wishing well to mankind, would have all men come to the knowledge of the truth, and to be in nature like God himself: holy, happy, and absolutely blessed. And therefore God, in the beginning, created man in his own similitude and likeness, with the intent that he should be good, holy, immortal, blessed, and partaker of all the good gifts of God. But man did not continue in that dignity and happy state; by means of the devil, and his own proper fault, he fell into sin, misery, and death, changing his likeness to God into the similitude of the devil. Moreover, God here again began the work of salvation afresh, whereby mankind, being restored and set free from all evil, might once again be made like God. And He meant to bring this mighty and divine work to pass by a certain middle mean: that is, by the Word incarnate. For just as he joined man to God by taking on flesh, so by dying in the flesh, he cleansed, sanctified, and delivered mankind with his sacrifice.


And by giving man His Holy Spirit, he made him again in nature like God: that is, immortal, and absolutely blessed. And last of all, He works in us a willing endeavour to aptly resemble the property and conditions of Him to whose likeness we are created, so that we may be holy, both body and soul. They added moreover, that the Word should be incarnate in his due time and appointed age — and also, that there remained a great day for judgment, in which, though all men were gathered together, yet only the righteous would receive that reward of heavenly immortality.

So then, this is the brief sum of the holy fathers' tradition, which it is best to untwist more largely, and to speak of it more diligently, by parts.

First, therefore, the fathers taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God, in the most reverend Trinity, the maker and governor of heaven and earth and all things which are in it; by whom man was made, and who made all things for man, and put all things under mankind, to administer necessary things to him, as a loving Father and most bountiful Lord. Then they taught that man consisted of soul and body, and that he indeed was made good according to the image and likeness of God; but that by his own fault, and by the egging on of the devil, falling into sin, man brought death and damnation into the world, together with a web of miseries, out of which it cannot rid itself. So that now, all the children of Adam, even from Adam, are born the sons of wrath and wretchedness; but that God, whose mercy abounds, according to his incomprehensible goodness, taking pity on the misery of mankind, even of his mere grace, granted pardon for the offence, and laid the weight of the punishment upon his only Son, with the intent that, when his heel was crushed by the serpent, he might himself break the serpent's head. Gen 3.15 That is to say, God makes a promise of a seed — that is, of a Son — who, taking on the flesh of a peerless woman (I mean, that virgin who is most worthy of commendations), would by his death vanquish death and Satan, the author of death; and he would bring the faithful sons of Adam out of bondage; and indeed, what is more, he would make them the sons of God by adoption, and heirs of life everlasting.


The holy fathers, therefore, taught to believe in God, and in his Son, the redeemer of the whole world — when in their very sacrifices they showed his death, an unspotted sacrifice, with which he intended to wipe away and cleanse the sins of the whole world.

And therefore, they had a most diligent eye to the stock and lineal descent of the Messiah. For it is brought down in a line as it were, from Adam to Noah, and from Noah by Shem, even to Abraham himself. And to him again it was said, "In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Gen 22.18 In these words the promise once made to Adam, touching Christ the redeemer and changer of God's curse into blessing, is renewed and repeated again. The same line is brought down from Abraham by Isaac to Jacob. And Jacob, being full of the Spirit of God, pointed out his son Judah as the root of the blessed Seed, as seen in the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis. Lastly, in the tribe of Judah the house of David was noted, out of which that seed and branch of life would come.

Moreover, the holy fathers taught that God, by a certain league, has joined himself to mankind, and that he has most strictly bound himself to the faithful, and the faithful likewise to himself again. Upon which, they taught us to be faithful to God, to honour God, to hate false gods, to call upon the only God, and to worship him devoutly. Furthermore, they taught that the worship of God consisted in spiritual things, such as faith, hope, charity, obedience, upright dealing, holiness, innocence, patience, truth, judgment, and godliness. And therefore they reprehended naughtiness and sin,[157] falsehood, lack of belief, desperation, disobedience, impatience, lying, hypocrisy, hatred, malicious taunts, violence, wrong, unrighteous dealing, uncleanness, riotousness, surfeiting,[158] whoredom, unrighteousness, and ungodliness. They taught that God was a rewarder of good, but a punisher and revenger of evil. They taught that the souls of men were immortal, and that their bodies would rise again in the day of judgment. Therefore, they exhorted us all to so live in this temporal life, that we do not lose the eternal life.


This is the sum of the word of God revealed to the fathers, and delivered by them to their posterity. This is the tradition of the holy fathers, which comprehends all religion. Finally, this is the true, ancient, undoubted, authentic, and catholic [159] faith of the fathers.

Besides this, the holy fathers taught their children, and children's children, the account of the years from the beginning of the world, and also the true historical course (profitable as well as necessary) of things from the creation of the world even to their own times — lest perhaps their children be ignorant of the beginning and succession of worldly things, and also of the judgments of God, and the examples of those who lived, godly as well as ungodly.

I could declare all this to you evidently, and in very good order, out of the first book of Moses, called Genesis, if it were not that thereby the sermon would be drawn out somewhat longer than useful. But I suppose that there are few present here, or rather none at all, who do not perceive that I have repeated what I have said, touching the tradition of the ancient fathers, word for word as it were, out of the book of Genesis; so that now I may very well go forward in the narration which I have begun.

So then, whatever was previously delivered by the fathers to the world by word of mouth, and from hand to hand as it were, that was put into writing first of all by the holy man Moses, together with those things which were done during the time of Moses' life, for the span of one hundred and twenty years. And that his estimation might be greater throughout the whole world, among all men, and in all ages — and that none should fail to know that the writings of Moses were the very word of God itself — Moses was furnished and consecrated by God, with signs and wonders to be marvelled at indeed, which the Almighty brought to pass by the hand (that is, by the ministry) of Moses. And truly, he wrought them not just in any corner of the world, or in an unknown place, but in Egypt, the most flourishing and renowned kingdom of that age.

Those miracles were greater and far more by many, than can be repeated here in a few words. Nor is it needful to repeat them, because you, dearly beloved, are not unskilful or ignorant of them at all. After that, God also procured authority for Moses by other means.


For many and oftentimes God had communication with Moses; and among the rest of his talk he said, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear me talking with you, and may believe you forevermore." Exo 19.9

Nor was the Lord content with that, but he commanded Moses to call together all the people, six hundred thousand men, I say, with their wives and children. They are called out to mount Sinai, where God appears in a wonderful and terrible fashion; and He himself, preaching to the congregation, repeated to them the Ten Commandments. But the people, being terrified by the majesty of God, prayed and beseeched that God himself would no more afterward preach to the congregation with his own mouth, saying that it would be enough if he used Moses as an interpreter for them, and spoke to the church by him. Exo 20.19 The most high God liked the offer; and after that, he spoke to the people by Moses whatever He would have done. And because the people were stiff-necked, and not a little corrupted by keeping company with idolaters in Egypt, Moses now began to set down in writing those things which the holy fathers had taught by tradition, and also the things which the Lord had revealed to him. The reason why he wrote them down was that, lest perhaps by oblivion, by continuance of time, and by the obstinacy of a people so slow to believe, they might either perish, or else be corrupted. The Lord also set Moses an example to follow. For whatever God had spoken to the church in mount Sinai, he immediately wrote it with His own finger on two tablets of stone, as he had written it with his finger in the hearts of the fathers from the beginning of the world.[160]

Afterward also, in plain words, he commanded Moses to write whatever the Lord had revealed. Moses obeyed the Lord's commandment, and wrote them. The Holy Ghost, who was wholly in the mind of Moses, directed his hand as he wrote. There was no ability lacking in Moses, that was necessary for a most absolute writer. He was abundantly instructed by his ancestors.


For he was born of the holiest progeny of those fathers whom God appointed to be witnesses of His will, commandments, and judgments — such as Amram, Kohath, Jacob, Shem, Methuselah and Adam. He was therefore able to write a true and certain history, from the beginning of the world even until his own time. To this he added those things which were done among the people of God in his own lifetime, of which he was a very true witness, as one who saw and heard them. Yes, and what is more, whatever he set forth in his books, he read to his people, and among so many thousands, there was not one found who questioned what he repeated. So that the whole consent and witness-bearing of the great congregation brought no small authority to the writings of Moses.

Moses therefore contained in the five books, called the five books of Moses, a history from the beginning of the great world, even to his own death, for the span of two thousand four hundred and eighty-eight years. He declared most largely in these, the revelation of the word of God made to men, and whatever the word of God contained and taught. In these, just as we have the manifold oracles of God himself, so we have most enlightening testimonies, statements, examples, and decrees of the most excellent, ancient, holy, wise, and greatest men of the world, touching all things which seem to pertain to true godliness, and the way to live well and holily. These books therefore found a ready-prepared entrance of belief among all the posterity, as books which are authentic, and which have authority sufficient of themselves, and which, without questioning, ought to be believed by the whole world.

Yes, and what is more, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, refers the faithful to reading Moses — yes, and indeed, that is in the chief points of our salvation. The places are to be seen in John 5, and Luke 16. In the fifth chapter of Matthew he says, "Do not think that I have come to destroy the law and the prophets; for I have not come to destroy them, but to fulfil them. For, truly, I say to you, though heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle of the law shall not pass away till all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, undoes one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Mat 5.17-19


Truly, some have been found who have spoken against Moses, the servant of God. But God has imputed that questioning as done against his divine majesty, and punished it most sharply. The proofs of this are to be seen in Exodus 16 and Numbers 12: first, the people murmuring against Moses; then Miriam, Moses' sister, speaking against her brother. But to the people it was said, "Your complaints ar not against the ministers, but against the Lord." Exo 16.8 As for Mary, she was horribly stricken with a leprosy.[161] Theotectus was stricken blind, and Theopompus fell to be mad, because he had irreverently touched the word of God.[162] For, although the word of God is revealed, spoken, and written by men, yet it does not therefore cease to be that which indeed it is; nor does it therefore begin to be the word of men, because it is preached and heard by men — no more than the king's commandment, which is proclaimed by the crier, is said to be the commandment of the crier. Whoever contemns Moses, by whom God speaks to us — and at whose hand we have received those things which the patriarchs from the beginning of the world by tradition delivered to their posterity — despises God, and with God all the holy patriarchs. There is no difference between the word of God, which is taught by the living expressed voice of man, and that which is written by the pen of man. But so far as the living voice and writing differ between themselves, the matter undoubtedly — the sense and meaning in the one and in the other — is all one. By this, dearly beloved, you have perceived the certain history of the beginning of the word of God.


Now let us go forward to the rest; that is, to add the history of the proceeding of the word of God, and by what means it shined ever and awhile very clear and brightly to the world. Later, after the departure of the holy man Moses out of this world into heaven, the Lord, of his bountifulness, gave most excellent prophets to his church, whom he had chosen with the intent that by them he might reveal his word to the whole world. And the prophets were to those of olden times, as prophets, priests, wise men, preachers, pastors, bishops, doctors [163] or divines are among us today: most skilful in heavenly things, and given by God to guide the people in the faith. And whoever reads the holy history, will confess that there flourished no small number of this sort; and those were not obscure, even till the captivity of Babylon. Among them are reckoned these singular and excellent men: Phineas, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. David and Solomon were both kings and prophets. In the time of the captivity at Babylon, Daniel and Ezekiel were notably known. After the captivity, among the rest, flourished Zechariah the son of Berechiah.

Here have I reckoned up a few among many. Although they flourished at various times, and the one a great while after the other, yet with one consent, they all acknowledge that God spoke to the world by Moses who (God so appointed it) left to the church in the world, a breviary [164] of true divinity, and a most absolute sum of the word of God contained in writing. All these priests, divines, and prophets, in all that they did, had an eye especially to the doctrine of Moses. They also referred all men, in cases of faith and religion, to the book of Moses. They diligently beat the law of Moses into the minds of all men. It is indeed the law of God, and it is most properly called Torah,[165] the guide and rule of faith and life as it were. According to the times, persons, and places, they expounded this to all men.


For all the priests and prophets, before the incarnation of Christ, taught the men of their time godliness and true religion, by word of mouth. Nor did they teach any other thing than what the fathers had received from God, and which Moses had received from God and the fathers. And immediately after committing it to writing, they set it out to all of us who follow, even to the end of the world. So that now in the prophets, we have the doctrine of Moses and the tradition of the fathers, and in all and every point, they are more fully and plainly expounded and polished, being moreover very fitly applied to the places, times, and persons.

Furthermore, the doctrine and writings of the prophets have always been 0f great authority among all wise men throughout the whole world. For it is well perceived by many arguments, that they did not have their beginning from the prophets themselves, as their chief authors; but they were inspired from God out of heaven by the Holy Spirit of God. For it is God who, dwelling by his Spirit in the minds of the prophets, speaks to us by their mouths. And for that reason, they have a most large testimony at the hands of Christ and his elect apostles. What do you say to this, moreover: that by their ministry God has wrought miracles and wonders to be marvelled at, and those are not a few; that by mighty signs we might at least learn that it is God by whose inspiration the prophets teach and write whatever they left for us to remember?

Furthermore, so many commonweals [166] and congregations, gathered together and governed by the prophets according to the word of God, show most evident testimonies of God's truth in the prophets. Plato, Zeno, Aristotle, and other philosophers of the gentiles, are praised as excellent men. But which of them could gather a church to live according to their ordinances? And yet our prophets have had the most excellent and renowned commonweals or congregations — yes, and what is more, the most flourishing kingdoms in the whole world under their authority. All the wise men in the whole world (I mean those who lived in his time) reverenced [167] Solomon, a king and so great a prophet, and came to him from the very outmost ends of the world.


Daniel also had preeminence among the wise men at Babylon, being then the most renowned monarchy in the whole world. He was, moreover, held in great estimation by Darius the Mede, the son of Astyages [168] or Ahasuerus, and also with Cyrus that most excellent king. And here it suits me well to say something of that divine foreknowledge in our prophets, and most assured foreshowing of things which were to come after many years passed. And now, to say nothing of others, did not Isaiah most truly foretell those things which were afterward fulfilled by the Jews in our Lord Christ? He did not in vain seem to those of olden times to be a prophet rather than a evangelist, foretelling things to come.[169] He openly told the name of king Cyrus one hundred and sixty years, at least, before Cyrus was born. Daniel also was called by those in olden times by the name of one who knew much. For he foretold those things which are and have been done in all the kingdoms of the world almost, and among the people of God, from his own time until the time of Christ — and further, until the last day of judgment — so plainly that he may seem to have compiled a history of those things as if they were then already gone and past. All these things, I say, very evidently prove that the doctrine and writings of the prophets are the very word of God, by which name and title they are set forth in various places of the scriptures. Truly, Peter the apostle says, "The prophecy did not come in olden times by the will of man. But holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2Pet 1.21.


And although God largely, clearly, plainly, and simply revealed his word to the world by the patriarchs, by Moses, by the priests and prophets; yet in the last of all times, He set it forth most clearly, simply, and abundantly to the whole world, by his Son. For the true and only begotten Son of God the Father, as the prophets had foretold, descending from heaven, fulfils all of whatever they foretold, and for the span of almost three years, teaches all points of godliness. For John says, "No man at any time has seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him." Joh 1.18 The Lord himself, moreover, says to his disciples, "All things which I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." Joh 15.15 And again he says, "I am the light of the world: whoever follows me does not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Joh 8.12 Our Lord also taught that whoever would enter into heaven and be saved, heavenly regeneration was needful, Joh 3.5 because in the first birth, man is born to death; in the second to life; but regeneration is made perfect in us by the Spirit of God, who instructs our hearts in faith — I say, faith in Christ, who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. Rom 4.25 He taught that by that faith, those who believe are justified; and that out of the same faith grow various fruits of charity and innocence, which he most earnestly exhorted them to bring forth.

He taught, furthermore, that he was the fulfilling, or fulness, of the law and the prophets; and he also approved and expounded the doctrine of Moses and the prophets. He joined diverse miracles and benefits to doctrine, whereby he declared that he himself was that light of the world, and the mighty and bountiful Redeemer of the world. And with the intent that his doctrine and benefits might be known to the whole world, he chose for himself witnesses, whom he called apostles, because he purposed to send them to preach throughout the whole world. Those witnesses were simple men, innocents, just, tellers of truth, without deceit or subtleties, and holy and good in all points — whose names it is very profitable to often repeat in the congregation.


The names of the apostles are these: Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Judas his brother, whose surname was Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas Iscariot, into whose place (because he had betrayed the Lord) came St. Matthias.[170] These he had for the span of almost three years, as hearers of his heavenly doctrine, and beholders of his divine works. After his ascension into the heavens, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, he instructed them with all kinds of faculties. For just as they were surpassing skilful in the scriptures, so they were not unskilful, or lacking eloquence, in any tongue. And once being instructed in this manner, they depart out of the city of Jerusalem, and pass through the compass of the earth, preaching to all people and nations, what they had received to preach from the Saviour of the world and the Lord Jesus Christ.

And when for certain years they had preached by word of mouth, then they also set down in writing what they had preached. For some, truly, wrote a history of the words and deeds of Christ, and some of the words and deeds of the apostles. Some others sent various epistles to diverse nations. In all these, to confirm the truth, they used the scripture of the law and the prophets, even as we read that the Lord oftentimes did. Moreover, to the twelve apostles are joined two great lights of the world: John the Baptist, whom there was never anyone more holy born of women than him; Mat 11.11 and the chosen vessel Paul, Act 9.15 the great teacher of the Gentiles. [171]

Nor is it to be marvelled at, that the forerunner and apostles of Christ always had very great dignity and authority in the church. For even as they were the embassadors of the eternal King of all ages and of the whole world, so being endued with the Spirit of God, they did nothing according to the judgment of their own minds. And the Lord wrought great miracles by their ministry, to thereby garnish their ministry, and to commend their doctrine to us. And moreover, what may be thought of this: that by the word of God, they converted the whole world, gathering together and laying the foundations of notable churches throughout the compass of the world? Truly, by man's counsel and words, they would never have been able to bring this to pass.


To this is further added, that once they inclined to this doctrine, as a doctrine giving life, they did not refuse to die. Besides that, however many had their belief in the doctrine of the gospel, they were not afraid, through water, fire, and swords, to cut off this life, and to lay their hand on the life to come. The faithful saints could in no way have done these things, unless the doctrine which they believed had been of God.

Therefore, although the apostles were men, yet their doctrine, first taught by a living expressed voice, and after that set down in writing with pen and ink, is the doctrine of God and the very true word of God. For therefore the apostle left this saying in writing: "When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you did not receive it as the word of men, but, as it is indeed, the word of God, which effectually works in you who believe." 1The 2.13

But now the matter itself, and the place, require that I also gather and plainly reckon up those books in which is contained the very word of God, first of all declared by the fathers, by Christ himself, and the apostles by word of mouth; and after that, was also written into books by the prophets and apostles. In the first place, truly, are set the five books of Moses. Then follow the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, two books of Samuel, two of Kings, two of Chronicles; Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, one apiece. After these come Job, David or the book of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles. With them are numbered the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; then the twelve lesser prophets, whose names are very well known; the old Testament ended with these books. The new Testament has in the beginning the evangelical history of Christ the Lord, written by four authors, that is, by two apostles, Matthew and John; and by two disciples, Mark, and also Luke, who compiled a wonderful, goodly, and profitable book of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul published fourteen epistles to various churches and persons. The other apostles wrote seven which are called both canonical and catholic.


And the books of the new Testament are ended with the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which he opened to the disciple whom he loved, John the evangelist and apostle — showing to him, and so to the whole church, the ordinance of God touching the church, even until the day of judgment. Therefore, in these few and mean (not unmeasurable), in these plain and simple (not dark and unkempt) books, is comprehended the full doctrine of godliness, which is the very word of the true, living, and eternal God [172]

Also the books of Moses and the prophets came through so many ages, perils, and captivities, sound and uncorrupted, even until the time of Christ and his apostles. For the Lord Jesus and the apostles used those books as true and authentic copies; which undoubtedly they neither would nor could have done, if it were so that either they had been corrupted, or had altogether perished. The books also, which the apostles of Christ have added, were kept in the church safe and uncorrupted throughout all persecutions, and have come sound and uncorrupted into our hands, upon whom the ends of the world have fallen. For by the vigilant care and unspeakable goodness of God our Father, it is brought to pass that no age at any time either has or shall lack so great a treasure.

Up to here I have declared this much to you, dearly beloved: what the word of God is, what the beginning of it in the church was, and what proceeding, dignity, and certainty it had. The word of God is the speech of God, that is to say, the revealing of His good will to mankind, which from the beginning, one by his own mouth, and another by the speech of angels, He opened to those first, ancient, and most holy fathers — those who again by tradition faithfully delivered it to their posterity.


Here are to be remembered those great lights of the world, Adam, Seth, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Amram, and his son Moses, who at God's commandment, comprehended in writing the history and traditions of the holy fathers, to which he joined the written law, and exposition of the law, together with a large and enlightening history of his own lifetime. After Moses, God gave to his church most excellent men, prophets and priests, who also by word of mouth and writings, delivered to their posterity that which they had learned from the Lord. After them came the only-begotten Son of God himself, down from heaven into the world, and fulfilled all that was written of himself in the law and the prophets. He also taught a most absolute means of living well and holily. He made the apostles his witnesses. Afterwards, first of all with a living expressed voice, they preached all things which the Lord had taught them; and then, with the intent that they should not be corrupted, or taken clean out of man's remembrance, they committed it to writing. So that now we have from the fathers, the prophets, and apostles, the word of God as it was preached and written.

These things had their beginning of one and the same Spirit of God, and tend to one end: that is, to teach us how to live well and holily. He that does not believe these men, and namely, the only-begotten Son of God, whom then, I pray you, will he believe? We have here the most holy, innocent, upright-living, most praiseworthy, most just, most ancient, most wise, and most divine men in the whole world and compass of the earth, and briefly, such men as are by all means without comparison. The whole world cannot show us their like again, even if it were to be assembled in councils fully a thousand times. The holy emperor Constantine gathered a general council out of all the compass of the earth. Out of the whole world, three hundred and eighteen most excellent fathers [173] came there together. But those who are of the wisest sort would say that these are not so much as shadows, compared to those from whom we have received the word of God. Let us therefore in all things believe the word of God delivered to us by the scriptures.


Let us think that the Lord himself, who is the very living and eternal God, speaks to us by the scriptures. Let us forevermore praise the name and goodness of him, who has so faithfully, fully, and plainly granted to open to us miserable mortal men, all the means of how to live well and holily.

To him be praise, honour, and glory forevermore. Amen.


To whom, and to what end, it was revealed;
also in what manner it is to be heard; and that
it fully teaches the whole doctrine of godliness.

DEARLY beloved, in the last sermon you learned what the word of God is; where it came from; by whom it was chiefly revealed; what proceedings it had; and of what dignity and certainty it is.

Now I have come again, and by God's favour and the help of your prayers, I will declare to you, beloved, to whom, and to what end, the word of God is revealed; in what manner it is to be heard; and what the force of it is, or the effect.

Our God is the God of all men and nations, who, according to the saying of the apostle, "would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2Tim 2.4 And therefore, for the benefit, life, and salvation of all men, he has revealed his word, so that indeed there might be a rule and certain way to lead men by the path of justice into life everlasting. God truly, in olden times, showed himself to the Israelites, his holy and peculiar people, more familiarly than to other nations. As the prophet says: "To Jacob he has declared his statutes, and his judgments to Israel. He has not dealt so with any nation, nor has he shown them his judgments." Psa 147.19-20 And yet he has not altogether been careless of the Gentiles.


For just as he sent Jonah to the Ninivites, so Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the other prophets bestowed much labour in teaching and admonishing the Gentiles. And those most ancient fathers, Noah, Abraham, and the rest, not only instructed the Jewish people who descended from them, but also taught their other sons the judgments of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ truly, laying open the whole world before his disciples, said, "Teach all nations; preach the gospel to all creatures." Mar 16.15 And when St. Peter did not yet fully understand that the Gentiles also pertained to the fellowship of the church of Christ, and that the preaching of the glad tidings of salvation, purchased by Christ for the faithful, also belonged to the Gentiles, the Lord instructs him by a heavenly vision — by speaking to him out of heaven, and by the message which came from Cornelius, as you know, dearly beloved, by the history of the Acts of the Apostles.[174]

Let us therefore think, my brethren, that the word of God and the holy scriptures are revealed to all men, to all ages, kinds, degrees, and states, throughout the whole world. For the apostle Paul, also confirming it, says, "Whatever things are written, are written for our learning, that through patience, and the comfort of the scriptures, we may have hope." Rom 15.4

Therefore, let none of us say hereafter, "Why do I need to care what is written to the Jews in the old Testament, or what the apostles have written to the Romans, to the Corinthians, and to other nations? I am a Christian. The prophets both preached and wrote to the men of their time, and the apostles to those who lived in the same age with them." For if we think uprightly of the matter, we will see that the scriptures of the old and new Testaments should therefore be received by us, even because we are Christians. For Christ, our Saviour and Master, referred us to the written books of Moses and the prophets. Saint Paul, the very elect instrument of Christ, applies to us the sacraments and examples of the old fathers, that is to say, circumcision in baptism, Col 2; and the paschal lamb in the supper or sacrament, 1Cor 5. In the tenth chapter of that same epistle, he applies assorted examples of the fathers to us.


And in the fourth chap. to the Romans, where he reasons about faith which justifies without the help of works and the law, he brings in the example of Abraham. And with that he adds, "Nevertheless, it is not written for Abraham alone, that faith was reckoned to him for righteousness, but also for us, to whom it shall be reckoned if we believe," etc. Rom 4.23-24

"By that means," say some, "we will again be wrapped in the law; we shall be forced to be circumcised, to sacrifice the flesh and blood of beasts, to admit again the priesthood of Aaron, together with the temple and the other ceremonies. There will again be allowed the bill of divorce, or putting away a man's wife, together with sufferance to marry many wives." To these I answer, that in the old Testament we must consider that there are some things which are forever to be observed, and some things which are ceremonial and allowed only till the time of amendment. Heb 9.10 That time of amendment is the time of Christ, who fulfilled the law, and took away the curse of the law. The same Christ changed circumcision into baptism. With his own sacrifice he made an end to all sacrifices; so that now, instead of all sacrifices, there is left to us that solitary sacrifice of Christ, in which we also learn to offer our very own bodies and prayers, together with good deeds, as spiritual sacrifices to God.Rom 12.1 Christ exchanged the priesthood of Aaron for his own, and for the priesthood of all Christians. We are the temple of God, in whom God dwells by his Spirit. Christ made all ceremonies void. Also, in the nineteenth chap. of Matthew, he abrogated the bill of divorce, together with the marriage of many wives. But although these ceremonies and some external actions were abrogated and clean taken away by Christ, so that we should not be bound to them — yet notwithstanding, the scripture, which was published touching them, was not taken away, or else it was made void by Christ. For there must forever be in the church of Christ a certain (i.e., sure) testimonial, whereby we may learn what manner of worshippings and figures of Christ those of olden times had. We must interpret for the church today, those worshippings and figures of Christ specially. [175]


And out of them we must, no less than out of the writings of the new Testament, preach Christ, forgiveness of sins, and repentance. So then, the writings of the old Testament are given by God to all Christians, in the same way that the apostle [176] wrote to all churches, those things which bore the name or title of some particular congregations.

And to this end, the word of God is revealed to men: that it may teach them what, and what manner, one God is towards men — that he would have them saved, and that is by faith in Christ; what Christ is, and by what means salvation comes; what becomes the true worshippers of God, what they ought to flee, and what to follow.[177] Nor is it sufficient to know the will of God, unless we do it, and are saved. And for that cause Moses said, "Hear, Israel, the statutes and judgments which I teach you, that you may do them and live." Deu 5.1 And the Lord in the gospel, confirming this, cries, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it." Luk 11.28

And here is to be praised the exceeding great goodness of God, which would have nothing hidden from us which makes any whit to live rightly, well, and holily. The wise and learned of this world for the most part envy or grudge that others should attain true wisdom. But our Lord gently, and of his own accord, offers to us the whole knowledge of heavenly things, and is desirous that we go forward in this. Yes, and what is more, he furthers our labour and brings it to an end. For "whoever has," says the Lord himself in the gospel, "to him shall be given, that he may have more abundance." Mat 13.12 "And every one that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks it shall be opened." Luk 11.10 Whereupon St. James the apostle says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally," that is, willingly, not with grudging, "neither throwing it in any man's face, and it shall be given him." [178]


Here, by the way, we see our duty: which is in reading and hearing the word of God, to pray earnestly and zealously that we may come to that end for which the word of God was given and revealed to us. But we will say something more as touching that matter, when we come to declare in what manner the word of God ought to be heard.

Now, because I have said that the word of God is revealed, with the intent that it may fully instruct us in the ways of God and our salvation, I will declare to you in a few words, dearly beloved, that in the word of God, delivered to us by the prophets and apostles, is abundantly contained the whole effect of godliness, and whatever things are available for leading our lives rightly, well, and holily. For, truly, it must be that that doctrine is full, and in all points perfect, to which nothing should either be added, or else be taken away. But such a doctrine is the doctrine taught in the word of God, as Moses witnesses, Deu 4 and 12; and Solomon, Pro 30.[179] What is he, therefore, who does not confess that all points of true piety are taught to us in the sacred scriptures? Furthermore, no man can deny that it is a most absolute doctrine, by which a man is made so fully perfect, that in this world he may be taken for a just man, and in the world to come be called forever into the company of God. But he that believes the word of God uttered to the world by the prophets and apostles, and lives according to it, is indeed called a just man, and heir of life everlasting. That doctrine therefore is an absolute doctrine. For Paul also, declaring more largely and fully the same matter, says "All scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, instructed to all good works." 2Tim 3.16-17

You have, brethren, an evident testimony of the fulness of the word of God. You have a doctrine absolutely perfect in all points. You have a most perfect effect of the word of God; because by this doctrine the man of God, that is, the godly and devout worshipper of God, is perfect, being instructed, not to a certain few good works, but to all and every good work.


In what, therefore, can you find anything lacking? I do not think that anyone is such a sot, as to interpret these words of Paul to be spoken only touching the old Testament; seeing that it is more manifest than daylight, that Paul applied them to his scholar Timothy, who preached the gospel, and was a minister of the new Testament. If it is so, then, that the doctrine of the old Testament is of itself full, by how much more will it be the fuller, if the volume of the new Testament is added to it! I am not so ignorant, that I do not know that the Lord Jesus both did and spoke many things which were not written by the apostles. But it does not follow, therefore, that the doctrine of the word of God, taught by the apostles, is not absolutely perfect. For John, the apostle and evangelist, freely confesses that the Lord did many other things also, "which were not written in his book;" but immediately he adds this, and says, "But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is Christ the Son of God, and that in believing, you might have life through his name." Joh 20.30-31 He affirms by this doctrine, which he contained in writing, that faith is fully taught; and that through faith everlasting life is granted by God. But the end of absolute doctrine is to be happy and perfectly blessed. Since, then, that comes to man by the written doctrine of the gospel, undoubtedly that doctrine of the gospel is most absolutely perfect.

I know that the Lord in the gospel said, "I have many things to tell you; but at this time you cannot bear them." But with this, I know too that he immediately added this saying: "But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth." [180] I know, furthermore, that the Spirit of truth came upon his disciples; and therefore I believe that, according to the true promise of Christ, they were led into all truth, so that it is most assuredly certain that nothing was lacking in them.


But there are some who, while they cannot deny this, turn themselves and say that "the apostles indeed knew all things, yet they did not teach them except by word of mouth, not setting down in writing all those things which pertain to true godliness" [181] — as though it were likely that Christ's most faithful apostles would, for spite, have kept back anything from their posterity — as though, indeed, he had lied who said, "These things are written, that in believing, you might have life everlasting." John therefore let nothing pass which belongs to our full instructing in the faith. Luke omitted nothing. Nor did the rest of the apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ allow anything to slip by them. Paul also wrote fourteen various epistles. Yet most of them contained one and the self-same matter. By this we may very well conjecture that the absolute doctrine of godliness is wholly comprehended in them. For he would not have repeated one and the self-same thing so often, to so many various men, if there had yet been anything else necessary to be more fully taught for obtaining salvation. He would undoubtedly have taught those things, and not have repeated one and the same thing so many times.

Truly, in the third chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians he affirms that in the two first chapters of the same epistle, he declared his knowledge in the gospel of Christ. "God," he says, "by revelation showed the mystery to me, as I wrote before in a few words by which, when you read them, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." Eph 3.3-4 And he spoke this touching that one and only epistle; yes, and that too touching the two first chapters of that one epistle. When the largest and most enlightening letters or epistles of St. Paul himself, and also of the other apostles, are added together, I ask you who — unless he is altogether without sense — would once think that the apostles have left in writing to us, their posterity, a doctrine that is not absolutely perfect?


As for those who earnestly affirm that all points of godliness were taught by the apostles to the posterity by word of mouth, and not by writing, their purpose is to put their own up for sale, that is, men's ordinances, instead of the word of God.

But against this poison, my brethren, take this for a medicine to expel it. Confer the things, which these fellows put up for sale under the colour of the apostles' traditions, taught by word of mouth and not by writing, with the manifest writings of the apostles. And if in any place you perceive those traditions to disagree with the scriptures, then gather that it is the forged invention of men, and not the apostles' tradition. For they, who had one and the same Spirit of truth, did not leave to us one thing in writing, and teach us another thing by word of mouth. Furthermore, we must diligently search whether those traditions set forward the glory of God rather than of men; or the safety of the faithful rather than the private advantage of the priests. And we must take heed of men's traditions, especially since the Lord says, "In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." Mat 15.9 So that now, the surest way is to cling to the word of the Lord left to us in the scriptures, which teaches abundantly all things that belong to true godliness.

It remains now for me to tell in what manner this perfect doctrine of godliness and salvation — I mean, the very word of God —ought to be heard by the faithful, with the intent that it may be heard with some fruit to profit them abundantly. I will contain [182] it in a few words. Let the word of God be heard with great reverence, which of right is due to God himself and godly things. Let it be heard very attentively; with continual prayers between, and earnest requests. Let it be heard soberly to our profit, that we may become better by it, that God may be glorified by us, and not that we go about curiously searching out the hidden counsels of God, or desire to be considered skilful and expert in many matters. Let true faith, the glory of God, and our salvation, be appointed as the measure and certain end of our hearing and reading. For in Exodus, Moses — the holy servant of God — is commanded to sanctify the people, and to make them ready to hear the sacred sermon which God himself minded to make the next day.


Moses therefore comes and demands of the whole people, that due obedience to be shown to God, as well as to his ministers. Then he commands them to wash their garments, and to abstain from their wives. After that, he appoints certain limits, beyond which it was not lawful for them to pass upon pain of death. Exo 19.10-15

By this we plainly learn that the Lord requires of those who would be his disciples, that they hear him, and specially show obedience and reverence to him in all things. For he, being God, speaks to us. And all of us owe honour and fear to God. A man, unless he becomes lowly, humble, and obedient to God, is altogether godless. Then, it is required at the hands of those who are fit hearers of the word of God, that they lay apart worldly affairs, which are signified by the garments; to tread underfoot all filthiness and uncleanness of soul and body; to refrain for a season even from those pleasures which are lawful for us. The Holy Ghost loves minds that are purely cleansed — which notwithstanding, are not cleansed except by the Spirit of God. It is needful to have a sincere belief in God, and a ready good-will and desire to live according to what is commanded in the word of God. Moreover, we must be wise to sobriety. [183]

Overly curious [184] questions must be set aside. Let only things that are profitable to salvation be learned. Last of all, let special heed be taken in hearing and learning. For Solomon says, "If you would seek wisdom as for gold, you shall obtain it." Pro 2.4-5 Again he says, "The one who searches out God's majesty will be overwhelmed by his wonderful glory." [185] And again he says, "Do not seek things too high for you, nor go about searching out things above your strength; but what God has commanded you, always think on that. And do not be over-curious to know His infinite works; for it is not expedient for you to see his hidden secrets with your eyes." [186]


Upon which the apostle Paul says, "Let no man think arrogantly of himself, but so think that he may be modest and sober, as God has given to everyone the measure of faith." Rom 12.3 And to this belongs what the same apostle says, "Knowledge puffs up, and charity edifies." 1Cor 8.1

But chiefly we must beware of those plagues which choke the seed of the word of God, and quench it without any fruit at all in the hearts of the hearers. Those plagues and diseases the Lord has recounted, or reckoned up, in the parable of the sower. Mat 13.1-23 For first of all, wanton and vain cogitations, which always lie wide open to the inspirations of Satan and the talk of naughty [187] men, are plagues to the word of God. Also voluptuous and dainty lovers of this world, who cannot abide to suffer any affliction for Christ and his gospel, hear God's word without any fruit at all, although they seem to give ear to it very joyfully. Furthermore, "the care of this world, and the deceit of riches," (Mat 13.22) are most pestilent diseases in the hearers of the word of God. For they not only hinder the seed, so that it cannot bring forth fruit in their hearts; but they also stir up and egg men on to question the word of God, and to afflict the earnest desirers of God's word. Here, therefore, we must take heed diligently, lest being infected with these diseases, we become vain and unthankful hearers of the word of God.

We must pray continually, that the bountiful and liberal Lord will grant to bestow on us his Spirit, that by it the seed of God's word may be quickened in our hearts, and that we, as holy and right hearers of his word, may bear fruit abundantly to the glory of God, and the everlasting salvation of our own souls. For what will it avail to hear the word of God without faith, and without the Holy Spirit of God to work or stir inwardly in our hearts? The apostle Paul says, "He that waters is nothing, nor he that plants; but it is God who gives increase." 1Cor 3.7

We therefore need God's watering, that the word of God may grow to a mature age, may receive increase, yes, and may also come to produce ripe fruit within our minds.


The same apostle Paul says, "The word of God is declared to us also, even as to our fathers. But it availed them nothing to hear the word, because it was not joined with faith in those who heard it. For they died in the desert." And immediately after he says, "Let us therefore do our best to enter into that rest, so that no man dies in the same example of unbelief." [188]

Therefore, if the word of God sounds in our ears; and with that, the Spirit of God shows his power in our hearts; and in faith we truly receive the word of God; then the word of God has a mighty force and a wonderful effect in us. For it drives away the misty darkness of errors, it opens our eyes, it converts and enlightens our minds, and instructs us most fully and absolutely in truth and godliness. For the prophet David in his Psalms bears witness, and says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of God is true, and gives wisdom to the simple; the commandment of the Lord is pure, and gives light to the eyes." Psa 19.7-8 Furthermore, the word of God feeds, strengthens, confirms, and comforts our souls; it regenerates, cleanses, makes joyful, and joins us to God; yes, and it obtains all things for us at God's hands, setting us in a most happy state — insomuch that no goods or treasure of the whole world compare with the word of God.

This much we attribute to the word of God, and not without the testimony of God's word. For the Lord by the prophet Amos threatens hunger and thirst — "not to eat bread and to drink water, but to hear the word of God." Amo 8.11 For in the old and new Testaments, it is said that "man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." [189] And the apostle Paul says that, "all things in the scriptures are written for our learning, that by patience and the comfort of the scriptures we might have hope." Rom 15.4 Also Peter says, "You are born anew, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and lasts forever. And this is the word which was preached to you by the gospel." 1Pet 1.23, 25


The Lord also in the gospel bears witness to this, and says, "Now you are clean by the word which I have spoken to you." Joh 15.3 Again in the gospel he cries out saying, "If any man loves me, he will keep my saying, and my Father will love him, and we will come into him, and make our dwelling-place in him." Joh 14.23 Jeremiah says also, "Your word became my comfort." Jer 15.16 And the prophet David says, "The statutes of the Lord are right, and rejoice the heart." Psa 19.8 To this add that saying of the Lord's in the gospel, "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask what you will, and it shall be done for you." Joh 15.7 In another place also, the prophet cries out saying, "If you are willing and will hearken, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you will not hear my word, the sword shall devour you." Isa 1.19-20 Moreover, Moses very often and largely reckons up the good things that will happen to those who obey the word of God: Leviticus 26, Deut. 28. Therefore, David boldly dares to prefer the word of God above all the pleasures and treasures of this world.

"The fear of the Lord is clean, and endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, and altogether righteous— they are more to be desired than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the dripping honeycombs. For your servant is plainly taught by them, and there is a great advantage in keeping them. Therefore, the law of Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of silver and gold. Unless my delight had been in your law, I would have perished in my misery." [190]

To this now pertains that parable in the gospel, of the one who bought the precious pearl; and also of the one who sold all that he had, and bought the ground in which he knew that treasure was hidden. Mat 13.44-46 For that precious pearl, and that treasure, are the gospel, or the word of God. For the excellence of it, in the scriptures it is called a light, a fire, a sword, a maul [191] which breaks stones, a buckler,[192] and by many other names like these.


Dearly beloved, this hour you have heard our bountiful Lord and God, "who would have all men saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;" how he has revealed his word to all men throughout the whole world, with the intent that all men in all places, of whatever kind, age, or degree they are, may know the truth, and be instructed in the true salvation; and may learn a perfect way how to live rightly, well, and holily, so that the man of God may be perfect, instructed to all good works. For in the word of truth, the Lord has delivered to his church all that is requisite to true godliness and salvation. Whatever things are necessary to be known touching God, the works, judgments, will, and commandments of God, touching Christ, our faith in Christ, and the duties of a holy life — all those things, I say, are fully taught in the word of God. Neither does the church need to crave any other, nor otherwise patch up with men's supplies, that which seems to be lacking in the word of the Lord. For the Lord not only taught our fathers the whole sum of godliness and salvation by the lively expressed voice of the apostles; but he also provided that, by means of those same apostles, it would be set down in writing. And it manifestly appears that it was done for posterity's sake — that is, for us and our successors — with the intent that none of us or ours should be seduced, nor that false traditions be popped into any of our mouths instead of the truth. We must all therefore beware; we must all watch, and stick fast to the word of God, which is left to us in the scriptures by the prophets and apostles.

Finally, let our care be wholly bent, with faith and profit, to hear whatever the Lord declares to us. Let us cast out and tread underfoot, whatever by our flesh, the world, or the devil, is objected as a hindrance to godliness. We know what the diseases and plagues of the seed of God's word are, sown in the hearts of the faithful. We know how great the power of God's word is in those who hear it devoutly.


Let us therefore beseech our Lord God to pour into our minds his holy Spirit, by whose virtue the seed of God's word may be quickened in our hearts, to bring forth much fruit to the salvation of our souls, and the glory of God our Father. To whom be glory forever.


Of the sense and right exposition of the word of god,
and by what manner of means it may be expounded.

DEARLY beloved brethren, I understand that by means of my doctrine of the word of God, there have risen sundry thoughts in the hearts of many men; yes, and very ungodly statements are sown abroad by some. For there are some who suppose that the scriptures, that is, the very word of God, is so dark, that it cannot be read with any profit at all. [193] And again, some others affirm that the word plainly delivered by God to mankind, stands in need of no exposition. And therefore they say that the scriptures should indeed be read by all men, but that each man may lawfully invent and choose such a sense that he is persuaded would be most convenient for himself.[194] These fellows altogether condemn the order received by the churches, by which the minister of the church expounds the scriptures to the congregation. But dearly beloved, as you have begun to pray to the Lord, so you will go on I trust, by the hope that I have in God's goodness, that I am able to plainly declare to the godly, that the scripture is not dark at all, and that the Lord's will is altogether to have us understand it; and then, that the scriptures should always be expounded.


I will also teach you the manner of this, and some ready ways to interpret the scriptures. Handling these points will take away the impediments which drive men from reading the word of God, and will cause the reading and hearing of the word of God to be both wholesome and fruitful.

1. It may be understood by the least among us.

And first of all, we may thereby gather that God's will is to have his word understood by mankind, especially because in speaking to his servants, he used a most common kind of speech with which even veritable idiots [195] were acquainted. Nor do we read that the prophets and apostles, the servants of God and interpreters of his high and everlasting wisdom, used any strange kind of speech. So that in the whole pack of writers, none can be found to excel them in a plainer and easier phrase of writing. Their writings are full of common proverbs, similitudes, parables, comparisons, devised narrations, examples, and other like speech. There is nothing that more moves and plainly teaches the common sorts of wits among mortal men than these.

There arises, I confess, some darkness in the scriptures, because of the idiomatic nature, figurative ornaments, and unfamiliar use of the tongues. But that difficulty may easily be helped by study, diligence, faith, and the means of skilful interpreters. I know that the apostle Peter says that in the epistles of Paul "many things are hard to understand." 2Pet 3.16 But he immediately adds, "which the unlearned, and those who are imperfect or unstable, pervert, as they do the other scriptures also, to their own destruction." By this we gather that the scripture is difficult or obscure to the unlearned, unskilful, unexercised, and malicious or corrupted wills, and not to the zealous and godly readers or hearers of it. Therefore, when St. Paul says, "If as yet our gospel is hidden, it is hidden from those who perish, in whom the prince of this world has blinded the understanding of unbelievers, so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine for them." [196]



2. What is less clear is interpreted by what is more clear

He does not lay the blame for this difficulty on the word of God, but on the unprofitable hearers. Whoever we are, therefore, who desire to rightly understand the word of God, our care must be that Satan does not possess our minds, and close our eyes. For our Saviour also said in the gospel, "This is damnation, because the light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." Joh 3.19 Besides, the holy prophets of God and the apostles did not call the word of God, or the scriptures, darkness, obscureness, or mistiness, but a certain brightness and enlightenment. David says, "Your word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my paths." Psa 119.105 And what, I ask you, is more evident than this: that in making doubtful and obscure things manifest, no man refers to darkness and uncertainties? Things that are uncertain, doubtful, and obscure, are made manifest by those things that are more certain, sure, and evident. But, as often as any question or controversy happens in matters of faith, do not all men agree that it ought to be ended and determined by the scriptures? It must therefore be, that the scriptures are evident, plain, and most assuredly certain.

3. Let it be expounded by gifted teachers

But though the scripture is manifest and the word of God is evident, yet, notwithstanding, it does not refuse a godly or holy exposition. Rather, a holy exposition sets out the word of God, and produces much fruit in the godly hearer. And because many deny that the scriptures ought to have any exposition, I will show by examples (which cannot be challenged) that they ought to be altogether expounded. For God himself, often having communication with Moses during the space of forty days, and during as many years, expounded the words of the law to the church by Moses, which he spoke to the whole congregation of Israel at Mount Sinai, writing them in two tablets. Moses left these to us in Deuteronomy and certain other books, as commentaries on God's commandments. After that immediately followed the prophets who, interpreting the law of Moses, applied it to the times, places, and men of their age; and they left their sermons to us who follow, as plain expositions of God's law. In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, we read these words:


"Ezra the priest brought in the law, the book of Moses, and stood upon a turret made of wood, (that is, in the holy pulpit). And Ezra opened the book before the congregation of men and women, and whoever else had any understanding. And the Levites stood with him, so that he read out of the book, and the Levites instructed the people in the law, and the people stood in their place, and they read in the book of the law distinctly, expounding the sense, and causing them to understand the reading." Neh 8.2-8

This much is in the book of Nehemiah. By the way, mark here my brethren, that the lawful and holy ministers of the church of God not only read the word of God, but also expounded it.

This manner of reading and expounding the scriptures, or word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ neither abrogated nor contemned when, coming in the flesh as a true prophet and heavenly master,[197] he instructed the people of his church in the doctrine of the new Testament. For entering into the synagogue at Nazareth, he stood up to read, and the book of the prophet Isaiah was delivered to him. So he opened the book, and read a certain notable place out of the sixty-first chapter. Then, shutting the book, he gave it to the minister again, and expounded what he had read, declaring how that prophecy was now fulfilled in himself. Luk 4.16-21 Moreover, after he had risen from death, he joined himself in company with the two disciples who went to Emaus, and talked of sundry matters with them. But at length, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them whatever was written of himself throughout all the scriptures." Luk 24.15-27

The apostles, following this example of the Lord, also expounded the word of God themselves. For Peter, in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, expounds the sixteenth Psalm of Christ's resurrection from the dead. Act 2.25-31 And Philip also plainly expounds to the nobleman of Ethiopia the prophecy of Isaiah, whereby he brings him to the faith of Christ and fellowship of the church. Act 8.30-38 Whoever says that Paul does not everywhere interpret the holy scripture, has neither read nor seen the deeds or writings of Paul. Thus I have, I hope, both plainly and substantially shown that the word of God ought to be expounded.


4. Expound it according to the author's intent and circumstances

And for those who cry out against the exposition of the scriptures, and would not have the ministers of the word and churches declare the scriptures in open and solemn audience, nor apply them to the places, times, states, and persons — their strategy is to seek something other than the honour due to God. They lead their lives far otherwise than is fitting [198] for godly men. Their talk is wicked, unseemly, and dishonest. Their deeds are mischievous and heinous offences. And they would do this without punishment; therefore they desire to have the exposition of the scriptures taken clean away. For if a man reads the words of the scripture only, not applying it to the states, places, times, and persons, it seems that he has not greatly touched their ungodly and wicked life. Therefore, when they cry that sermons and expositions of the scriptures ought to be taken away from among men, and that the scriptures ought to be read simply without any addition, they mind nothing else but to cast behind them the law of God, to tread underfoot all discipline and rebuking of sin, and so to offend freely without punishment. The righteous Lord will, in his appointed time, punish this sort of men that much more grievously, as they more boldly rebel against their God.

In the meantime, all the ministers of the church must beware not to follow their own affections in this, any whit at all, or else they will corrupt the scriptures by their wrong interpretations. And so, by that means, they will present to the church their own inventions, and not the word of God. It seems that the teachers of the ancient people in olden times committed a similar offence, because the Lord in Ezekiel accuses them, saying, "It seems a small thing to you to have eaten up the good pasture, but must you also tread the residue of your pasture under your feet, and drink the clearer water? Must you trouble the rest with your feet? Thus my sheep must be willing to eat the thing that is trodden down with your feet, and drink what you have defiled with your feet." Eze 34.18-19 There is a sore offence in this, which the Lord punishes most sharply, according to his justice.


We therefore, the interpreters of God's holy word, and faithful ministers of the church of Christ, must have a diligent regard to keep the scriptures sound and perfect, and to teach the people of Christ the word of God sincerely — made plain, I mean, and not corrupted or darkened by foolish and wrong expositions of our own invention.

5. Don't go beyond what is written

And now, dearly beloved, the place and time require us to say something to you touching the interpretation of the holy scriptures, or the exposition of the word of God. In this I will not say anything particularly of the skilful knowledge of tongues, or the liberal sciences, which are things requisite in a good interpreter; but I will briefly touch the generalities alone. First of all, you must understand that some things in the scriptures, or word of God, are so plainly set forth, that they have no need of interpretation, nor will they allow for any exposition. If any man goes about with his own expositions to make these more manifest, he may seem to do as wittily as someone who, with fagot-light [199] and torches, would help the sun at its rising give more light to the world. As for those things which are so set down that they seem to require our help to expound them, they must not be interpreted after our own fantasies, but according to the mind and meaning of Him by whom the scriptures were revealed. For St. Peter says, "The prophecy did not come in olden times by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." [200] Therefore, the true and proper sense of God's word must be taken out of the scriptures themselves, and not be forcibly thrust upon the scriptures, as we ourselves lust. And with this, you must mark a few certain rules, which I mean to touch briefly and show to you, in those few words which I have yet to speak.

6. Expound it consistent with the received doctrines of the Faith

First, since the apostle Paul would have the exposition of the scriptures agree fitly, and in every point proportionally with our faith, as seen in the twelfth chapter to the Romans; Rom 12.6 and because again in the second epistle to the Corinthians, he says, "Seeing then that we have the same spirit of faith (as it is written, 'I believed, and therefore I have spoken'), we also believe, and therefore we speak." 2Cor 4.13


Let it therefore be taken for a point of catholic religion, not to bring in or admit anything in our expositions which others have alleged against the received articles of our faith contained in the Apostles' Creed and other confessions of the ancient fathers. For the apostle says, "In defence of the truth we can say something, but against the truth we are able to say nothing." 2Cor 13.8 When we therefore read in the gospel of St. John, this saying of the Lord, "The Father is greater than I," Joh 14.28 we must think that it is against the articles of our faith to make or admit any inequality in the Godhead between the Father and the Son; and therefore, the Lord's meaning was otherwise than the very words seem to import at first blush.

Again, when we read this saying of the apostle, "It cannot be that those who were once illuminated, if they fall away, should be renewed again into repentance," Heb 6.4-6 let us not believe that repentance is to be denied to those who fall. For the catholic faith is this: that at every place, in every season, so long as we live on this earth, a full pardon of all sins is promised to all men who turn to the Lord. In like manner, when we read that the Lord took bread and said of the bread, "This is my body," Mat 26.26 let us quickly remember that the articles of our faith attribute to our Lord the very body of a man, which ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, from where it shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And let us think that the Lord, speaking of the sacrament, would have us expound the words of the sacrament sacramentally, and not transubstantially. Also in reading that saying of the apostle, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," 1Cor 15.50 let us not then take these words as they simply seem to signify, but sticking to the article of our faith, "I believe the resurrection of the body," [201] let us understand that "flesh and blood" mean the affections and infirmities, not the nature and substance, of our bodies.


7. Expound it according to Law of Love

Furthermore, we read in the gospel that the Lord sums up the law and the prophets, saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the chief and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. In these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets," Mat 22.37-40. Upon these words of the Lord, that holy man Aurelius Augustinus, in the thirty-sixth chapter of his first book De Doctrina Christi, says,

"Whoever seems to himself to understand the holy scriptures, or any part of it, so that with that understanding he does not work these two points of charity towards God and his neighbour, he does not yet understand the scriptures perfectly. But whoever takes out of them such an opinion that is profitable to working this charity, and yet he does not say the self-same thing which it will be proved that the writer meant in that place — that man does not err to his own destruction, nor does he altogether deceive other men by lying." [202]

This much wrote Augustine. We must therefore, by all means possible, take heed that our interpretations do not tend to overthrow charity, but tend to its furtherance and commendation to all men. The Lord says, "Do not strive with the wicked." Mat 5.39 But if we affirm that he spoke this to the magistrates also, then charity towards our neighbours, the safety of those who are in jeopardy, and the defence of the oppressed, would be broken and clean taken away.[203] For thieves and unruly persons, robbers, and naughty fellows, would oppress the widows, the fatherless, and the poor, so that all iniquity would reign and have the upper hand. But in a matter so manifestly known, I suppose it is not needful to use many examples.


8. Expound each passage according to its context

Moreover, it is requisite in expounding the scriptures, and searching out the true sense of God's word, that we mark upon what occasion everything is spoken, what goes before, what follows after, at what season, in what order, and of what person anything is spoken. By the occasion, and the sentences going before and coming after, examples and parables are for the most part expounded. Also, unless a man always marks the manner of speaking throughout the whole scripture, and does that very diligently too, he cannot help in his expositions but to err very much out of the right way. St. Paul, observing the circumstance of the time, thereby concluded that Abraham was justified, neither by circumcision, nor yet by the law. The places are to be seen in the fourth chap. to the Romans and the third chap. to the Galatians. Again, when it is said to Peter, "Put away your sword into your sheath; he that takes up the sword shall perish with the sword" Mat 26.52 — we must consider that Peter bore the personage of an apostle, and not of a magistrate. For we read that the sword is given to the magistrate for revenge. Rom 13.4 But it would be overly tedious and too troublesome to repeat more examples from every particular place.

9. Compare like scriptures together

Beside these, there is also another manner of interpreting the word of God: that is, by conferring together the places which are like or unlike, and by expounding the darker by the more evident, and the fewer by the more in number. Therefore, though the Lord says, "The Father is greater than I," we must consider that the same Lord, in another place, says, "My Father and I are one." [204] And though James the apostle says that Abraham and we are justified by works, Jas 2.21, 24 there are many places in St. Paul to be set against that one. And Peter the apostle allows this manner of interpreting where he says, "We have a right sure word of prophecy, to which if you attend, as to a light that shines in a dark place, you do well, until the day dawns, and the day-star arises in your hearts." 1Pet 1.19

That ancient writer Tertullian affirms that "they are heretics, and not men of the right faith, who draw some odd things out of the scriptures for their own purpose, not having any respect to the rest. But by that means, they pick out for themselves a certain few testimonies which they would have altogether believed, the whole scripture in the meantime questioning it, because indeed the fewer places must be understood according to the meaning of those that are more numerous." [205]


10, Expound it humbly before God

And finally, the most effectual rule of all, by which to expound the word of God, is a heart that loves God and his glory — not puffed up with pride, not desirous of vainglory, not corrupted with heresies and evil affections; but which continually prays to God for his holy Spirit, that as the scripture was revealed and inspired by it, so also it may be expounded by the same Spirit to the glory of God and the safeguard of the faithful. Let the mind of the interpreter be set on fire with zeal to advance virtue, and with hatred of wickedness, even to suppressing it. Let not the heart of such an expositor call to counsel that subtle sophister the devil, lest perhaps he also corrupts the sense of God's word now, as he previously did in paradise. Let him not abide to hear man's wisdom argue directly against the word of God. If the good and faithful expositor of God's word does this, then although in some points he does not (as the proverb says) hit the very head of the nail in the darker sense of the scripture, yet notwithstanding, that error should not be condemned as a heresy in the author, nor judged hurtful to the hearer. And whoever brings the darker and more proper meaning of the scripture to light, should not later condemn the imperfect exposition of that other — no more than the author of an imperfect exposition should reject the more proper sense of the better expositor; but by acknowledging it, he will receive it with thanksgiving.

I have said this much up to here touching the sense and exposition of God's word — which, as God revealed it to men, so also he would have them in any case understand it. Therefore, there is no cause for any man, by reason of a few difficulties, to despair of attaining the true understanding of the scriptures. The scripture allows for a godly and religious interpretation. The word of God is a rule for all men and ages to lead their lives by. Therefore, by interpretation, it should be applied to all ages and men of all sorts.


For even our God himself, by Moses, in many words expounded and applied to his people the law which he gave and published in Mount Sinai. Furthermore, it was a solemn use among the ancient prophets first to read, and then to apply by expositions, God's law to the people. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself expounded the scriptures. The apostles did the same also. The word of God therefore ought to be expounded. As for those who would not have it expounded, their intent is to sin freely, without control or punishment. But though the scripture allows for an exposition, it does not yet allow for any exposition whatsoever. For it utterly rejects that which savours of man's imagination. For just as the scripture was revealed by the Spirit of God, so it is requisite to expound it by the same Spirit. There are therefore certain rules to expound the word of God religiously, by the very word of God itself — that is, to so expound it, that the exposition does not disagree with the articles of our faith,[206] nor is it contrary to charity towards God and our neighbour. But rather, that it be thoroughly surveyed, and grounded upon that which went before and follows after, by diligent weighing of all the circumstances, and laying together the places. And chiefly, it is requisite that the heart of the interpreter be of a godly bent, willing to plant virtue and pluck up vice by the roots — and finally, that it is always ready evermore to pray to the Lord, that he will grant to illuminate our minds, that God's name may be glorified in all things. For His is the glory, honour, and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.


Where it comes from; that it is an assured belief of the mind,
whose only stay is upon God and his word.

IN my last sermon I declared to you how the perfect exposition of God's word does not differ at all from the rule of true faith, and the love of God and our neighbour. For undoubtedly that sense of scripture is corrupted, which departs [207] from faith and the two points of charity. Therefore, next I have to treat true faith and charity towards God and our neighbour, with the intent that no man may lack anything in this. And therefore first, by God's help, and the good means of your prayers, I will speak of true faith.

This word "faith," or "belief," is diversely used in the common talk of men. For it is taken for any kind of religion or honour done to God, as when we say, the Christian faith, the Jewish faith, and the Turkish faith. Faith, or belief, is also taken for a conceived opinion of anything that is told to us, such as when we hear anything repeated to us out of Indian or Ethiopian history; then we say that we believe it; and yet notwithstanding, we put no confidence in it, nor do we hope to have any commodity by it at all. This is that faith with which St. James says the devil believes and trembles. Jas 2.19 Last of all, faith is commonly put for an assured and undoubted confidence in God and his word. Among the Hebrews, faith takes its name from truth, [208] certainty, and assured constancy. The Latins call it faith when what is said, is done. Thus one says, "I demand whether you believe or not?" You answer, "I believe." "Then do what you say, and it is faith." [209] Therefore, in this treatise of ours, Faith is an undoubted belief, most firmly grounded in the mind.


This faith, which is a settled and undoubted persuasion or belief leaning upon God and his word, is diversely defined by the more perfect divines. St. Paul says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Heb 11.1 The substance or hypostasis,[210] is the foundation or unmovable prop which upholds us, and on which we lean and lie without peril or danger. The things hoped for are celestial, eternal, and invisible. Therefore, Paul says Faith is an unmovable foundation, and a most assured confidence of God's promises — that is, of life everlasting and of all His good benefits. Moreover, Paul himself, making an exposition of what he said, immediately says, "Faith is the argument (evidence) for things not seen." An argument or proof is an evident demonstration, whereby we manifestly prove what otherwise would be doubtful, so that in the one whom we undertook to instruct, there may remain no doubt at all.

But now, touching the mysteries of God revealed in God's word, in themselves, or in their own nature, they cannot be seen with bodily eyes; and therefore they are called things not seen. But this faith, by giving light to the mind, perceives them in the heart, even as they are set forth in the word of God. Faith, therefore, according to the definition of Paul, is a most evident seeing [211] in the mind, and a most certain perceiving [212] in the heart, of invisible things, that is, of eternal things — of God, I say, and all those things he sets forth in His word, concerning spiritual things.

They had an eye to this definition of Paul's, who defined faith in this way:

"Faith is a grounded persuasion of heavenly things, in the meditation of which we ought to so occupy ourselves for the assured truth's sake of God's word, that we may believe — that we see those things in our mind, as well as we behold with our eyes things that are sensibly perceived, and easy to be seen." [213]


This description does not greatly differ from this definition of another godly and learned man who says, "Faith is a steadfast persuasion of the mind, by which we fully decree to ourselves that God's truth is so sure, that he can neither will nor choose but to perform that which, in his word, He has promised to fulfil." [214] Again, "Faith is a steadfast assuredness of conscience, which embraces Christ in the same way in which he is offered to us by the gospel." [215] There is another who, almost in the same manner, defines faith this way: "Faith is a gift inspired by God into the mind of man, whereby, without any doubting at all, he believes that whatever God has either taught or promised in the books of both testaments, is most true." [216]

The very same author of this definition, therefore, extends faith to three terms of time: to the time past, the time present, and the time to come. For he teaches us to believe that the world was made by God, and to believe whatever the holy scriptures declare to have been done in the old world; also that Christ dying for us is the only salvation of those who believe; and that today also, the world and church are governed or preserved by the same God; and that in Christ the faithful are saved; last of all, that whatever the holy scriptures either threaten or promise, shall most assuredly light upon the ungodly and the godly.


Out of all these definitions, therefore, being diligently considered, we may, according to the scriptures, make this description of faith:

Faith is a gift of God, poured into man from heaven, whereby he is taught with an undoubted persuasion, to wholly lean on God and his word; in this word, God freely promises life and all good things in Christ, and in this word, all truth necessary to be believed is plainly declared.

In what follows, I will unfold this description of faith into parts, by God's help. And by asserting passages out of the scriptures, I will both confirm and make it manifest to you. Just as you have done up to now, so you should still give a diligent ear, and pray earnestly to God in your hearts.

First of all, the cause or beginning of faith does not come from any man, or any strength of man, but from God himself, who by his Holy Spirit inspires faith into our hearts. For in the gospel the Lord says, "No man comes to me unless my Father draws him." Joh 6.44 And again, the Lord says to Peter, confessing Christ in true faith, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Mat 16.17 The apostle Paul alludes to this when he says, "We are not able of ourselves to think anything as from ourselves, but all our ability is from God." 2Cor 3.5 And in another place, "To you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake." Phi 1.29 Faith therefore is poured into our hearts by God, who is the well-spring and cause of all goodness.

And yet we have to consider here, that God, in giving and inspiring faith, does not use His absolute power or miracles in working, but a certain ordinary means that is agreeable to man's capacity — although God can indeed give faith to whom, when, and how it pleases him, without those means. But we read that the Lord has used this ordinary means even from the first creation of all things. To those on whom he means to bestow knowledge and faith, he sends teachers to preach true faith to them by the word of God.


It is not because it lies in man's power, will, or ministry, to give faith; nor because the outward word spoken by man's mouth is able of itself to bring faith. But the voice of man, and the preaching of God's word, do teach us what true faith is, or what God wills and commands us to believe. For God himself alone, by sending his Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of men, opens our hearts, persuades our minds, and causes us to believe with all our heart what we have learned to believe by his word and teaching. By a miracle from heaven, without any preaching at all, the Lord could have bestowed faith in Christ upon Cornelius the Centurion at Caesarea. [217] Yet, by an angel, he sends him to the preaching of Peter; and while Peter preaches, God by his Holy Spirit works in the heart of Cornelius, causing him to believe his preaching. St. Paul truly says, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach if they are not sent? So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom 10.14-17 In another place also, "Who is Paul," he says, "or what is Apollos, but ministers, by whom you have believed, according as God has given to every one? I have planted, Apollos has watered, but God has given increase. So then, he that plants is nothing, nor he that waters, but God gives the increase." 1Cor 3.5-7

What Augustine writes in the preface of his book of Christian Doctrine, agrees with this doctrine of St. Peter and St. Paul, where he says,

"That which we have to learn at man's hand, let everyone learn at man's hand without disdain. And let us not go about tempting Him in whom we believe; nor, being deceived, let us scorn to go to church, to hear or learn out of books, still looking for when we will be rapt up into the third heaven. Let us take heed of such temptations of pride; and let us rather have this in our minds: that even the apostle Paul himself, although he was cast prostrated, and instructed by the calling of God from heaven, was nevertheless sent to a man to be taught the will of God;


and although God had heard his prayers, Cornelius was committed to Peter to be instructed, by whom he would not only receive the sacraments, but also hear what he ought to believe, what to hope for, and what to love. All these things, notwithstanding, might have been done by the angel," etc. [218]

The same Augustine, in his Epistle to the Circenses, also says, "Even He works conversion and brings it to pass, who warns us outwardly by his ministers with the signs of things — but inwardly by himself, teaching us with the very things themselves." [219] Also in his 26th treatise on John, he says, "What are men doing when they preach outwardly? What am I now doing while I speak? I drive into your ears a noise of words. But unless He who is within reveals it, what do I say, or what do I speak? He that is without, husbands the tree — but he that is within, is the creator of it," etc. [220] This is what Augustine said.


But, even as the Lord's desire is to have us believe his word, (for the prophet cries out and says, "Today if you would hear his voice, do not harden your hearts," Psa 95.7-8 so in like manner he requires of all who hear his word, that we not be slack in praying. For in hearing the word of God, we must pray for the gift of faith, that the Lord may open our hearts, convert our souls, break and beat down the hardness of our minds, and increase the measure of faith bestowed on us. There are many examples in the holy scriptures of this order of prayer. When the Lord in the gospel said to one, "Can you believe? To him that believes, all things are possible," the man answered saying, "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief." Mar 9.23-24

The apostles also cry to the Lord and say, "O Lord, increase our faith." Luk 17.5 Moreover, this prayer in which we desire to have faith poured into us, is of the grace and gift of God, and not of our own righteousness, which is nothing at all before God. Therefore, this is left to us as a thing most certain and undoubtedly true: that true faith is the mere gift of God, bestowed on our minds by the Holy Ghost from heaven, declared to us in the word of truth by teachers sent by God, and obtained by earnest prayers which cannot be tired. By this we learn that we ought to hear the word of God often and attentively, and never cease to pray to God for obtaining true faith.

But this faith, inspired from heaven, and learned out of the word of truth, puts into man's mind an undoubted persuasion which is that, whatever we believe in the word of God, we may believe it most assuredly, without wavering or doubting, being altogether as sure to have that thing, as faith believes to have it. Mar 11:24 For I use this word persuasion, not as it is commonly used, but for a firm assent of mind, inspired and persuaded by the Holy Ghost. That this faith, I say, puts into man's mind this undoubted persuasion, I mean to declare by the example of Abraham's faith, which Paul describes in the fourth chapter to the Romans in these words:

"Abraham, contrary to hope, believed in hope; and he did not faint in faith, nor did he consider his own body now dead, when he was almost a hundred years old, nor the deadness of Sara's womb; he did not stagger [221] at the promise of God through unbelief, but became strong in faith, and gave the glory to God, having a sure persuasion that He who had promised, was also able to perform." Rom 4.18-21


In these words of the apostle, there are certain points to be observed, which prove to us that faith brings an assured persuasion into the mind and heart of man; and so, that faith is an undoubted confidence of things believed, to which the heart is made privy; that is, true faith does not fly to and fro from place to place in the heart of man, but being deeply rooted in Christ, it sticks in the heart which is enlightened. First, says the apostle, "Abraham, contrary to hope, believed in hope." That is to say, there he had a constant hope, where notwithstanding he had nothing to hope for, if all things had been weighed according to the manner of this world. But hope is a most firm and undoubted looking for those things which we believe. So we see that the apostle made faith manifest by hope; and by the certainty of hope, he declared the assured constancy of faith. After that, he says, "Abraham did not faint in faith, nor stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith." There are two kinds of staggering in mankind:[222] the one is that which, being overcome by evil temptations, bends to desperation, and despises God's promises. Such was the staggering of those ten spies of the holy land, of whom mention is made in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Numbers. The other staggering is rather to be called a weak infirmity of faith, which is also tempted itself. I may not repeat to you now, how in all of us, by the spot of original sin, a certain kind of unbelief is naturally grafted in; and man's mind is at no time so enlightened or confirmed, that cloudy mists of ignorance and doubt do not sometimes arise.


Yet notwithstanding, faith does not yield to temptation, nor is it drowned, nor does it stick in the mire of staggering. But laying hold upon the promised word of truth, it gets up again by struggling, and is confirmed. So we read that, at the promise of God, this came into Abraham's mind: "What, shall a son be born to you who are a hundred years old?" Gen 17.17 This was that infirmity and staggering, or weakness of faith. But here the apostle commends Abraham's faith, which overcame and did not yield, teaching us also of what sort true faith ought to be: that is, a firm and most assured persuasion. He says, "Abraham did not faint in faith, nor consider his own body dead,[223] when he was almost a hundred years old, nor the deadness of Sara's womb." Look, this thought came into Abraham's mind: "Shall a son be born to me who is a hundred years old?" But he did not faint in faith. The faith of Abraham did not begin to droop because of this temptation. For he did not consider the weakness that was in himself, nothing compared to the promise of God. What then? He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief — that is, he gave no place to unbelief, to be tempted by it. He did not fall to his own reasons and doubtful inquisitions, as unbelievers are prone to do. For God's promise, once set before the eyes of his mind, to that, I say, he stuck unmovably, casting off all doubts and reasons of his own. For faith has no regard at all for the weakness, misery, or lack, which is properly in mankind; but it sets its whole stay in the power of God. So then, I say, Abraham was strong in faith — that is, he prevailed and got the upper hand in his temptation. For this is an argument to show that he had the upper hand: "He did not faint, nor grow weak in faith." [224]

It follows in the apostle, "Abraham gave God the glory;" namely, in believing that God wishes well to mankind, and that he is a true God and almighty. For he gives God his glory, which attributes to God the properties of God, and does not question the word and promise of God.


For John the apostle says, "He that does not believe in God, makes God a liar." 1Joh 5.10 Abraham therefore believed in God, and in believing, he gave God the glory. The apostle Paul goes on to say, "He was thoroughly persuaded, or certified, that He who had promised, was also able to perform." Paul used the Greek word pληροφορηθεὶς (plerophoretheis), which is the same as if you were to say, being certified. For pληροφορew (plerophoreo) signifies to fully certify — thus pληροφορia (plerophoria) is an assured faith given to us, which is made by way of argument, or by the thing itself. And they call that pληροφορhma (plerophorema), which we call a certification — as when a thing is so beaten into our minds by persuasions, that after that, we never doubt any more. Therefore faith certified Abraham; and with undoubted persuasions, it brought him to the point never to doubt, but that God was able to perform what he had promised. In faith, therefore, he stuck unmovably to the promise of God, being assuredly certified that he would obtain whatever God had promised.

It is certain therefore, and plainly declared by the words of the apostle, that true faith is an undoubted persuasion in the mind of the believer — even to so have the thing as his belief is, and as he is said to have it, in the express word of God. By this we also learn that faith is not the unstable and unadvised confidence of the one who believes every great and impossible thing. For faith is ruled and bound to the word of God — to the word of God, I say, rightly and truly understood. The godly and faithful, therefore, do not then, out of the omnipotence of God, gather what they wish — as though God therefore would do everything because He can do all things. Otherwise that faith would therefore believe everything, because it is written, "All things are possible to him that believes." Mar 9.23 For his faith is therefore a great deal more, [225] because what he believes is so set down and declared in the word of God, as he believes.

Furthermore, where the Lord in the gospel says, "All things are possible for him that believes," we must not take that saying to be absolutely spoken, but to be joined to the word, will, and glory of God, and the safety of our souls.


For all things which God has promised in his word, all things which God will have, and lastly, all things which make for the glory of God and the safeguard of our souls, "are possible to him that believes." And for that reason, the apostle both openly and plainly said, "Whatever God has promised, he is also able to perform." For whatever He has not promised, and whatever does not please His divine majesty, or is contrary to the will and express word of God, that God cannot do — not because He cannot, but because He will not. God could make bread out of stones; Mat 4.3 but we must not therefore believe that stones are bread, nor are they bread therefore, just because God can do all things. You will understand this better and more fully, where a little later I will show you that true faith does not stray or waver, wandering to and fro, but clings close and sticks fast to God and to His word.

In the meantime, because we have shown out of Paul's words, by the example of Abraham, that faith is a substance and undoubted persuasion in the heart; and because many stiffly stand in [saying] that man is not surely certain of his salvation; [226] I will add a few examples out of the gospel, by which they may plainly perceive that faith is a most sure ground and settled opinion touching God and our salvation. And first, truly, the centurion, of whom mention is made in the gospel, had conceived a steadfast hope that his servant would be healed by the Lord. For he understood what great and mighty things he promised to those who believe. He gathered also by the works of Christ, that it was an easy matter for him to restore his servant to health again. Therefore he comes to the Lord, and among other things, he says: "There is no reason for you to come under my roof — indeed, but say the word, and my servant shall be made whole." These words testify that in the heart and mind of the centurion, there was a sure persuasion of most assured health, which by a certain comparison, he makes manifest and more fully express.


"For I myself am a man under the authority of another; and under me I have soldiers; and I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it." When the Lord perceived this certification of his mind by his words that were most full of faith, he cries out that "In all Israel he has not found so great a faith." Mat 8.5-10 Again, in the gospel it speaks notably about the woman's faith, who was sorely plagued with the bloody flux. And that faith was an undoubted persuasion in her heart, once illuminated. We may understand this because, being first indeed stirred up by the works and words of the Lord, she thought this within herself: "If I can but touch his garment, I will be whole." And therefore, pressing through the thickest of the throng, she comes to the Lord. Mat 9.20-22

But why should I heap together many examples? Does not the singular faith of the Canaanite or Syrophoenician woman declare more plainly than can be denied, how faith is a most assured persuasion of things believed? For being passed over and as it were, contemned by the Lord, she does not waver in faith; but following him, and hearing also that the Lord was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, she goes on to worship him. Moreover, being pushed away and tainted with the foul reproach of a dog, as it were, she yet goes humbly forward to throw herself prostrate before the Lord, requesting to obtain the thing she desired. She would not have persevered so stiffly if faith had not been a certification in her believing mind and heart. Therefore, moved with that faith of hers, the Lord cried "Woman, great is your faith; let it be done to you as you will." [227]

It is therefore manifest by all these testimonies of the holy scripture, that faith is a steadfast and undoubted persuasion in the mind and heart of the believer.


This now being brought to an end, let us see what man's faith leans upon; and also, how we may clearly perceive that faith is not a vain and unstable opinion of anything whatsoever (as we were about to say a little earlier), conceived in the mind of man; but it is tied up and contained within bounds and certain conditions as it were. In the definition of faith, we therefore said that faith bends toward God, and leans on his word. God therefore (and the word of God), is the object or foundation of true faith. The thing on which a man may lean safely, surely, and without any manner of doubting, must be steadfast and altogether unmovable — that which gives health; which preserves; and which fills up or ministers all fulness to us. It is for this that faith seeks and requests. But this is nowhere else than in God. On God alone, therefore, true faith bends and leans. God is everlasting, chiefly good, wise, just, mighty, and true of word. And He testifies of that by His works and word. This is why in the prophets, He is called a strong and unmovable rock, a castle, a wall, a tower, an invincible fortress, a treasure, and a well that will never be drawn dry. [228]

This everlasting God can do all things, know all things, is present in all places, loves mankind exceedingly, provides for all men, and also governs or disposes all things. Faith, therefore, which is confident of God's good-will and of His aid in all necessities, and of the true salvation of mankind, bends on God alone, and cannot lean on any other creature, in whom the things that faith requires, are not found.

And even as God is true of word, and cannot lie, so His word is true and deceives no man. In the word of God is expressed the will and mind of God. Therefore faith has an eye to the word of God, and lays her ground upon God's word. Touching this word, the Lord in the gospel said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away." Mar 13.31 The word of God here is compared with the most excellent elements. Air and water are feeble and unstable elements. But heaven,[229] even though it turns and moves, it keeps a wonderful and most steadfast course in moving, and all things in it are steadfast. The earth is most stable and unmovable. Therefore, if it is easier for these things to be loosed (which cannot be undone), than for the word of God to pass away, it follows that God's word in all points is most stable, unmovable, and impossible to loose.


"If", says the Lord in Jeremiah, "You can undo the league that I have taken with the day, or the covenant that I have made with the night, so that it is neither day nor night at the appointed time, then may my covenant which I have made with David be of no effect." Jer 33.20-21 But the whole world, putting together all its strength, is not able to make it day once it is night, nor cause the day to break one hour sooner than the course of heaven commands. Therefore, all this world, with all its power and pomp, will not once be able to weaken or break, to change or abolish, so much as one tittle in the word of God, and the truth of God's word. Faith therefore, which rests upon a thing that is most firm or sure, cannot help but choose to be an undoubted certification. And since God's word is the foundation of faith, faith cannot wander to and fro, and lean on every word whatsoever. For every opinion conceived outside the word of God, or against God's word, cannot be called true faith. And for that cause, St. Paul, the apostle of Christ, would not ground the true or Christian faith upon any carnal props or opinions of men, but only upon the truth and power of God. I will conclude here with his words: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom 10.17 "By the word of God," he says, and not by the word of man. Again, to the Corinthians: "My preaching was not in enticing words of man's wisdom, but in a display of the Spirit, and of power — that your faith should not be in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God." 1Cor 2.4-5 By this we also learn that there are some who, against all reason, require faith at our hands; that is, they would have us believe what they are not able to show out of God's word, or what is clean contrary to the word of God.

To better declare what I have said, that short abridgement of God's word and of faith is useful, which we closely knit together in the definition of faith. There are two chief points of faith and of the word repeated there: first of all, that God in Christ freely promises life and every good thing.


For God, who is the object or mark and foundation of faith — being of His own proper nature ever-living, ever-lasting, and good — of Himself, from before all beginning, begat the Son, who is like himself in all points. Because the Son is of the same substance with the Father, he is himself also by nature, life and all goodness. And he became man to the end that he might communicate to us, his sons and brethren, both life and all goodness; and being familiar — truly God and man, among men — he testified that God the Father, through the Son, pours himself wholly with all good things into the faithful, whom he quickens [230] and fills with all goodness; and last of all, he takes them up to himself, into the blessed place of everlasting life; and he frankly and freely bestows this benefit, to the end that the glory of his grace may be praised in all things.

True faith believes this; and to this belongs no small part of the scriptures, which testify that God in Christ communicates life and godliness to the faithful.2Pet 1.3 John the apostle cries out and says,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. And we saw the glory of God, as the glory of the only-begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of his fulness we have all received," etc. Joh 1.1,14,16

For the Lord himself said in the Gospel of St. John,

"Truly I say to you, whatever things the Father does, the Son also does the same. For even as the Father raises the dead to life and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom he will. For the Father does not judge any man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who has sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has life everlasting, and shall not come into judgment, but has escaped from death unto life." Joh 5.19, 21-24

With these words of the gospel, agrees that saying of St. Paul: "In Christ are laid up all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Because in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him you are fulfilled." Col 2.3,9-10


But Paul, that vessel of election, declares in these words that these great benefits of God are freely bestowed upon the faithful:

"Blessed be God, who has chosen us in Christ before the foundations of the world were laid, and has predestined us into the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he has made us accepted in the beloved through whom we have redemption in his blood," etc. [231]

And again: "All have sinned, and have need of God's glory, but are justified freely through his grace, by the redemption which is in Christ," Rom 3.23-24 and so on. True faith therefore believes that life and every good thing freely comes to it from God through Christ. This is the chief article of our faith, as more largely laid out in the articles of belief.

The second principal point of God's word and faith is that there is set down in the word of God, all truth necessary to be believed; and that true faith believes all that is declared in the scriptures. For it tells us that God exists; what manner of God he is; what God's works are; what his judgments, will, commandments, promises, and threatenings are. Finally, whatever is profitable or necessary to be believed, God's word wholly sets these down for us, and true faith receives them, believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets, and in the gospel and writings of the apostles. But whatever cannot be fetched or proved out of those writings, or whatever is contrary to them, the faithful do not believe that at all — for the very nature of true faith is not to believe that which departs[232] from the word of God. Whoever therefore does not believe the fables and opinions of men, he alone believes as he should: for he depends only upon the word of God, and so upon God himself, the only fountain of all truth.

The matter, the argument, and the whole sum of faith is briefly set out for us in the articles of the Christian faith, of which I will speak at another time. I have this hour declared to you, dearly beloved and reverend [233] brethren in the Lord, the definition of faith.


To the end that I may surely fasten in everyone's mind, and that all may understand what faith is, I repeat it here again; and with this, I conclude this sermon.

Faith is a gift of God, poured into man from heaven, by which he is taught with an undoubted persuasion, to wholly lean on God and his word. In this word, God in Christ freely promises life and every good thing, and all truth necessary to be believed is plainly declared in it.

Let us all pray to God our Father through his only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, that he will grant from heaven to bestow true faith upon us all, that by knowing him aright, we may at the last obtain life everlasting. Amen.


That there is only one true faith, and what the virtue of it is.

BEING cut off with the shortness of time, and detained by the excellence of the matter, I could not in my last sermon make an end of all that I had determined to speak touching faith. Now therefore, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I will add the rest of the argument which seems yet left behind. Pray to the Lord that what is brought to your ears by man's voice, may be written in your hearts by the finger of God.

True faith is ignorant of all division; for "there is," says the apostle, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." Eph 4.5-6 For there remains, from the beginning of the world even to the end of it, one and the same faith in all the elect of God. God is one and the same forever, the only Well of all goodness, that can never be drawn dry. The truth of God, from the beginning of the world, is one and the same, set forth to men in the word of God. Therefore, the object and foundation of faith — that is, God and the word of God — remain forever one and the self-same.


In one and the self-same faith with us, all the elect ever since the first creation of the world have believed that all good things are freely given to us through Christ, and that all truth necessary to be believed, is declared in the word of the Lord. Therefore, the faithful of the old world have always settled their faith on God and his word; so that now, without any doubt, there cannot be any more than one true faith.

I know very well that many sundry faiths are sown in the world, that is to say, religions. For there is the Indian faith, the Jewish faith, the faith of the Mahomedans, and the faith of the Georgians. [234] And yet, notwithstanding, there is but one true Christian faith, the abridgement of which is contained in the articles of our belief, and taught in full in the sacred scriptures of both testaments. I also know that there are sundry beliefs of men, resting upon sundry things, and believing what is contrary to true faith. Yet nevertheless, there remains but one true belief in God and his word, which is an undoubted persuasion and confidence about things most true and assuredly certain.

This confidence grows with increase in the minds of the faithful, and contrarily, it decreases again and utterly fails. For that reason, the apostles entreated the Lord, saying "Lord, increase our faith." Luk 17.5 Everywhere in his writings, Paul the apostle wishes to the faithful the increase of the spirit and of faith.[235] Before him, David also prayed, saying "God, create a clean heart within me, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me." Psa 51.10-11 For he had seen how the good Spirit of God had departed from Saul, whom David succeeded in the kingdom. And instead, the wicked spirit had entered into his mind, which tormented him very pitifully. To this belongs that saying in the gospel, "To everyone that has, shall be given, and from him that does not have, shall be taken away that which he does not have," or that he takes no account of, "and shall be given to him that has." [236]


Nor was it in vain that the Lord said to Peter, "I have prayed for you Peter, that your faith does not fail." Luk 22.32 For Paul speaks of some in his time, who "made shipwreck of their own faith, and overthrew the faith of others." [237] And to what end, I pray you, do we daily hear the word of God, and make our humble petitions to the Lord, if not because we look for an increase of godliness, and His aid to keep us, so that we do not fall from true faith? Paul says truly to the Thessalonians: "We pray earnestly day and night to see you personally, and to supply what is lacking in your faith." 1Thes 3.10 And a little before he said, "For this reason I sent Timothy, that I might be certified of your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and so our labour had been of no effect." 1Thes 3.5 The same apostle, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, also says "Christ gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the restoring of the saints, for the building of the body of Christ, until we all meet together in the unity of faith, and the acknowledging of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of age of the fulness of Christ, so that now we are no longer children." Eph 4.11-14

Therefore, so long as we live, we learn, so that our faith may be perfect; [238] and if at any time it is weakened by temptations, then it may be repaired and again confirmed. And in this diversity, I mean in this increase and weakness of faith, there is no partition or division; for the self-same root and substance of faith always remains, although it is sometimes more, and sometimes less. In like manner, faith is not therefore changed or cut asunder, because one is called general faith, and another is called particular faith.


For general faith is none other than that faith which believes that all the words of God are true, and that God has good-will toward mankind. Particular faith believes nothing contrary to this; it is only that what is common to all, the faithful applies particularly to himself, believing that God is not well-minded toward others alone, but even to him also. So then, it brings the whole into parts, and that which is general, into particularities. For though by general faith he believes that all the words of God are true, in the same way, he believes by particular faith that the soul is immortal, that our bodies rise again, that the faithful shall be saved, the unbelievers destroyed, and whatever else of this sort is taught to be believed in the word of God.

Moreover, the disputation touching faith that is poured into us, and faith that we ourselves get — touching formal faith, and faith without fashion [239] — I leave to be beaten out by those who, on their own, bring these new disputations into the church. True faith is obtained by no strength or merit of man, but is poured into him by God, as I declared in my last sermon. And though man obtains it by hearkening to the word of God, it is nevertheless wholly imputed to the grace of God. For unless this grace works inwardly in the heart of the hearer, the preacher who labours outwardly brings no profit at all. We read in the third chapter of St. Augustin's book De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, that he was once in error, because he thought that the faith with which we believe in God, is not the gift of God, but that it was in us as of ourselves, and by it we obtain the gifts of God, by which we may live rightly and holily in this world. [240] But he confutes this at large in that book, and does it substantially. So then, true faith, which bends on God alone and is directed by the word of God, is formal enough, or sufficiently in fashion.


Truly, the form of faith is engraved in the heart of the faithful by the Holy Ghost. And although it is small, and does not grow up to the highest degree, yet notwithstanding, it is true faith, having in it the force of a grain of mustard-seed as it were. The thief who was crucified with our Lord, believed in the Lord Jesus, and was saved, even though the force of faith was strong in him only a very short season, and it did not produce any great store of fruit of good works. Finally, that faith of the thief was not one whit different or contrary to the faith of St. Peter and St. Paul, but was altogether the very same as theirs, even though their faith brought forth somewhat more abundantly the fruit of good works. Peter and Paul were frankly and freely justified, even though they had many good works; the thief was freely justified, even though his good works were very few or none at all. Let us hold, therefore, that true faith is solitary, [241] which notwithstanding, it increases and is augmented, and again, it may decrease and be extinguished.[242]

There now remains for me to declare the virtue and effect of true faith. The holy apostle Paul has done this very well and excellently, yes, and most absolutely too. But although in the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews he said very much,[243] he is compelled, notwithstanding, to confess that he cannot reckon it all up. Therefore, at this time I mean to repeat a few virtues of faith, leaving the rest, dearly beloved, to be sought out and considered by yourselves.

True faith, before all things, brings with it true knowledge and it makes us wise indeed. For by faith we know God, and judge rightly about the judgments and works of God, of virtues and vices. The wisdom that it brings with it is without doubt the true wisdom. Many men hope that they can attain to true wisdom by the study of philosophy; but they are deceived, as far as heaven is broad. For philosophy falsely judges and faultily teaches many things touching God, the works of God, the chief goodness, the end of good and evil, and touching things that are to be desired and eschewed. But those same things are rightly and truly taught in the word of God, and understood and perceived by faith. Faith is therefore the true wisdom, and it makes us wise indeed.


For Jeremiah also says, "Behold, they have thrown away the word of the Lord; what wisdom therefore can be left in them?" Jer 8.9 The wisdom of Solomon is worshipfully thought of throughout the whole compass of the world; and yet we read that the Lord, in the gospel of St. Matthew, uttered this sentence against the Jews: "The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation and condemn it; because she came from the ends of the world to hear the wisdom of Solomon: and behold, there is one here greater than Solomon." Mat 12.42 Christ is preferred before Solomon, and the wisdom of Christ before the wisdom of Solomon. But it is well known that the wisdom of Christ, the Son of God, cannot be attained without faith. Faith therefore brings with it the most excellent wisdom. But this wisdom of ours deserves a singular praise here, because those who desire it are not sent to foreign nations to learn it at great cost and labour, as if sent to the priests of Egypt, the gymnosophists of India, [244] the philosophers of Greece, or to the rabbins of the Jews. God has dispersed His word throughout the world, so that now the word of faith is in the hearts of all the faithful. For Paul the apostle says,

"Thus says the justice that is of faith, Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven? that is, to fetch Christ down from above. Or, Who will descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ back from the dead. But what does he say? The word is near you, even in your heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach. For if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe with your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved." Rom 10.6-9

Faith therefore not only makes us wise, but happy also; the Lord himself bearing witness to it, and saying to his disciples, "Happy are the eyes that see the things that you see. For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and to hear the things that you hear, and did not hear them." Luk 10.23-24


We shall therefore find in faith a most certain determination of the most notable question stirred since the beginning of the world, by learned and most excellent wits. It is this: by what means may a man live, be happy, attain to the chief goodness, be joined to the chief goodness, and so be justified? There have been, indeed there still are, diverse opinions touching this matter, contrary to one another. But we briefly and truly affirm that by true faith, a man lives, is happy, attains to the chief goodness, is conjoined to the chief goodness, and is also justified: so that God dwells in us, and we in him; and by faith we are both happy and blessed. What, I ask you, could have been spoken more excellently, worthily, or divinely, touching true faith? For see that faith quickens us, makes us happy, and joins us to the chief goodness, so that He [245] in us, and we in him, may live; and faith also fully justifies us.

But now it is best to hear the testimonies out of the scriptures. Faith makes us happy. For it is said to St. Peter, upon confessing the Lord Jesus by true faith, "Happy are you, Simon, the son of Jonah. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Mat 16.17 St. Paul, for the proof of faith, brings in that statement of David: "Happy are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no sin." [246] Faith quickens or makes alive. For "the just lives by faith." [247] Paul very often in his writings alleges [248] this out of the prophets. The same Paul also says, "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2.20 Faith joins us to the eternal and chief goodness, and so it makes us enjoy the chief goodness, so that God may dwell in us and we in God. For the Lord Jesus himself says in the gospel, "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, so also I live by the Father, and he that eats me shall live by me." Joh 6.56-57


But to eat and drink the Lord is to believe in the Lord: that he has given himself to death for us. Upon which John the apostle says, "We have seen and witness, that the Father has sent the Son, the Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God." 1Joh 4.14-15 This is also why Paul said, "I live now — not I, but Christ lives in me." Gal 2.20 Moreover, faith justifies. But because a treatise about it cannot fitly and fully be made an end of in this hour, I mean to defer it till the next sermon.

At present, dearly beloved, you must remember that there is but one true faith — that is, the Christian faith. For although there are said to be many faiths (that is, religions), notwithstanding, there is only one true and undoubted faith. And that faith increases, and again decreases, in some men. As for those in whom faith is rightly and godly observed, in them it shows many varied virtues. For it brings with it true wisdom. Finally, it quickens, and makes us blessed and happy indeed. To God, the Father, the author of all goodness and of our felicity, be all praise and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord, forever and ever. Amen.


That the faithful are justified by faith,
without the law and works.

BEING ready here, dearly beloved, to speak to you of faith, which without works justifies those who believe, I call upon the Father, who is in heaven, through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, beseeching him to open my mouth and lips to set forth his praise, and to illuminate your hearts, that you, acknowledging the great benefit of God, may become thankful for it, and holy indeed.

First of all, I will say certain things that are chiefly necessary to this argument or treatise, touching this term justification. The term justifying, very usual and common among the Hebrews, and having a large signification, is not so well understood by all men today, as it ought to be.


To justify is the same as saying, to acquit from judgment and from the pronounced and uttered sentence of condemnation. It signifies to remit offences, to cleanse, to sanctify, and to give an inheritance of life everlasting. For it is a term of law belonging to courts, where judgment is exercised. Imagine therefore, that man is set before the judgment-seat of God, and that man is plead guilty there. Namely, he is accused and convicted of heinous offences, and therefore he is sued to punishment or to the sentence of condemnation. Imagine also, that the Son of God makes intercession, and comes in as a mediator, desiring that the whole fault and punishment due to us, may be laid upon him — that by his death, he may cleanse them and take these away, setting us free from death, and giving us life everlasting. Imagine too, that God, the most high and just judge, receives the offer, and translates the punishment, together with the fault, from us to the neck of his Son. Along with this, he makes a statute, that whoever believes that the Son of God suffered for the sins of the world, broke the power of death, and delivered us from damnation, should be cleansed from his sins and made an heir of life everlasting. Who, therefore, can be so dull of understanding, that he may not perceive that mankind is justified by faith?

But that there may be no cause for doubt or darkness left in the mind of any man, what I have already said generally, by the parable and similitude fetched from our common law, I will here particularly bring into certain parts, confirming and manifestly proving every one of them severally out of the holy scriptures; so that even to the slowest wits, the power of faith and the work of justification may be most evident.

And first, I will show you that this term justification is taken in this present treatise for the absolution and remission of sins, for sanctification, and adoption into the number of the sons of God. In the thirteenth chapter of the Acts, the apostle Paul says, "Be it known to you, men and brethren, that through this Lord Jesus Christ, is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by him, all who believe are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Act 13.38-39


See, in Christ the forgiveness of sins is preached to us; and he that believes that Christ preached forgives sins,[249] is also justified. It follows therefore, that justification is the remission of sins. In the fifth chapter to the Romans, the same apostle says, "Being justified by the blood of Christ, we shall be saved from wrath through him." Rom 5.9 But the blood of Christ washes away sins. Justification, therefore, is the washing away or forgiveness of sins. And again, in the same chapter he says more plainly, "Judgment entered by one offence unto condemnation, but the gift of many sins unto justification." Rom 5.16 He makes justification the contrary to condemnation: therefore, justification is the absolution and delivery from condemnation. What do you say to this, moreover, that he plainly calls justification a gift, that is, the forgiveness of sins? To this also belong these words of his: "Even as by the sin of one, condemnation came upon all men; so by the righteousness of one, good came upon all men to the justification of life." Rom 5.18

Here again, the justification of life is made the contrary of condemnation unto death, set as a pain upon our heads because of the transgression. Justification of life is therefore an absolution from sins, a delivery from death, a quickening or translating from death to life. For in the fourth chapter to the Romans, the apostle expounds justification by sanctification,[250] and sanctification by the remission of sins. For in treating faith, by which we are justified, or which God imputes to us for righteousness without works, he says, "Even as David also expounds the blessedness of that man to whom the Lord imputes righteousness without works, saying: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." Rom 4.7 What could be more plainly spoken than this?


For he evidently expounds justification by sanctification, and sanctification by remission of sins. Furthermore, what else is sanctification but the adoption by which we are received into the grace and number of the sons of God? What is he, therefore, who does not see that in this treatise of St. Paul, justification is taken for adoption? Especially since in the very same fourth chapter to the Romans, he goes about proving that an inheritance is due to faith, to which he also attributes justification. By all this, it is made manifest that the question of justification contains nothing else but the manner and reason of sanctification; that is to say, by which and how men have their sins forgiven, and are received into the grace and number of the sons of God — and being justified, are made heirs of the kingdom of God.

And now, let us test whether what we have said is taught in the scriptures: that Christ before the judgment-seat of God, when sentence of condemnation was to be pronounced against us for our offences, took our sins upon his own neck, and purged them by the sacrifice of his death upon the cross; and that God also laid upon Christ our fault and punishment, so that Christ alone is the only satisfaction and purging of the faithful. The apostle Paul teaches this most expressly, where he says, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who shall condemn? It is Christ who died; indeed, rather it is he who is raised up, and is at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us." Rom 8.33-34

And again he says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, while he was made the curse for us (for it is written, Cursed be every one who hangs on the tree); that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the gentiles through Jesus Christ," etc. Gal 3.13-14 The apostle taught this out of the writings of Moses. And Moses in his books often mentions that the sins are laid upon the heads of the beasts which were sacrificed. But those sacrifices bore the type or figure of the death and sacrifice of Christ. Isaiah also expressly says in his fifty-third chapter, "He truly has taken on himself our infirmities, and borne our pains. He was wounded for our iniquities, and struck for our sins. For the pain of our punishment was laid upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.


We all went astray like sheep, every one turned his own way; but the Lord has thrown upon him all our sins." And immediately after, "He has taken away the sins of the multitude, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isa 53.4-6, 12 I think nothing more can be brought to the matter, or is more fit for our present purpose, than these words. St. Peter alludes to this when he says, "The Lord himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, that we, being dead to sin, may live to righteousness; by the sign of whose stripes, we are made whole." 1Pet 2.24

St. John the Baptist, forerunner of the Lord, alluded to this when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." Joh 1.29 Moreover, the apostle Paul bears witness to this, saying, "Him that did not know sin, He made sin for us, that through him we might be made the righteousness of God." 2Cor 5.21 Also in his epistle to the Colossians he says, "It pleased the Father, that in Christ all fulness should dwell; and by him to reconcile all things to himself, having set peace by him through the blood of his cross, both things on earth and things in heaven." Col 1.19-20

These testimonies, I suppose, are sufficiently evident to prove that our sins are laid upon Christ, with the curse or condemnation due to our offences; and that by his blood Christ has cleansed our sins; and by his death he has vanquished death and the devil, the author of death, and taken away the punishment due to us.

Yet, because there are some (and those are not a few) who deny that by his death, Christ has taken both fault and punishment from us sinners, [251] and that he became the only satisfaction of the whole world, I will therefore now allege certain other testimonies, and repeat something of what I recited before, to thereby make it manifest that Christ, the only satisfaction of the world, has made satisfaction both for our fault and for our punishment.


Isaiah witnessed truly, that both the fault of our offence and the punishment were taken away, when he says, "He bore our infirmities, and was wounded for our iniquities." Finally, "the discipline of peace was laid on him" (that is, the discipline, or chastising, or punishment, bringing peace; or the penalty of our correction, that is, the punishment due to us for our offences). Also mark what follows: "and with the blueness of his stripes [252] we are healed." Isa 53.4-5 This evidently teaches that our punishment is taken away by the pain of Christ. For look what pain, penalty, punishment, or correction was due to us, and that was laid on the Lord himself. And for that reason, the Lord was wounded and received stripes; and with them he healed us. But he would not have healed us at all if we were yet to look for wounds, stripes, and strokes — that is to say, punishment for our sins. The death of Christ, therefore, is a full satisfaction for our sins. But I ask you, what would Christ avail us, if we were still to be punished for our offences? Therefore, when we say that he bore all our sins in his body upon the cross, what else do we mean, I ask you, if not that the Lord, by a death that was not due him, took God's vengeance from us, that it might not light on us to our punishment? Paul, as often as he mentions our redemption made by Christ, calls it ντλυτρον (antilutron) for us; [253] He does not understand this word as the common sort do, as barely and simply redemption — but as the very price and satisfaction of redemption. This is why he also writes that Christ himself gave himself to be the antilutron [254] for us — that is to say, the price with which captives are redeemed from their enemies in the war. For what we commonly call ransoms, the Greeks call lutra. So then, anti-lutron is when a man is redeemed for a man, and a life is redeemed for a life.


But no punishment is afterward laid upon those who are thus ransomed and set at liberty, because of the translation of it from one to another. Furthermore, this is the new covenant that God in his Christ has made with us: "that he will not remember our iniquities." Heb 8.12 But how could He choose not to remember our iniquities, if he did not also cease to punish them? So then, this is not to be doubted: that Christ our Lord is the full propitiation, satisfaction, oblation, and sacrifice for the sins — I say, for the punishment and the fault — of the whole world: yes, and by himself alone; for there is salvation in no other: "nor is there any other name given to men by which they must be saved." Act 4.12

I do not deny that because of discipline, chastisement, and exercise, diverse sorts of punishments are laid on men's necks, and that they are diversely afflicted and vexed because of their offences. But those afflictions, however they may be patiently suffered by the faithful, do not yet wash sins away, nor make satisfaction for misdeeds. St. Peter says, "Do not marvel that you are tried by fire, which is done for your trial, [255] as if anything new were happening to you; yes, rather rejoice in this: that you are partakers of the afflictions of Christ, so that in the revelation of his glory, you also may rejoice and be glad." 1Pet 4.12-13 This, I say, is the end and use of afflictions. And by this means, the glory of Christ endures pure and uncorrupted.

It now remains for me to prove out of the holy scriptures, that God the Father has ordained that whoever believes in the only-begotten Son of God, will be made partaker of Christ's righteousness; that is, he will be justified by him, be absolved from his sins, and be made heir of life everlasting. Isaiah therefore says, "In acknowledging him, or in his knowledge, my righteous servant shall justify the multitude, whose sins he himself shall bear." [256]


But what else is the acknowledging or knowledge of Christ, if not true faith? Moreover, the Lord Jesus himself says in the gospel of St. John, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Joh 3.14-15 There was no other remedy in the desert, against the envenomed bitings of the serpents, except the contemplation or beholding of the serpent lifted up and hung aloft. No plaster cured those who were poisoned Wis 16.12 — no oblation made to God, not prayer itself offered to God, not any work, nor any other way. Only beholding the serpent made the poison harmless that had then crept into all their limbs. In like manner, nothing at all saves us from death except faith in Christ. For by faith we behold and see Christ lifted up upon the stake of the cross, as seen in the sixth chapter of John.[257] It follows in the words of our Saviour,

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes should not perish, but have life everlasting. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned, but he that does not believe is condemned already, because he does not believe in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." Joh 3.16-18

By these words, now the third time, faith is beaten into our heads, by which we are made partakers of the Son of God, of his life, salvation, redemption, and all good things beside. In the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John, our Lord again says, "This is the will of the Father who sent me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have life everlasting, and I will raise him up at the last day." Joh 6.40 Nothing can be alleged to make more for our present argument than these words of his. For he says plainly that the will of God the Father is that we should believe in the Son, and by this belief we have our salvation. Upon this, John the evangelist and apostle, in his canonical epistle, dares to burst forth in these words:

"He that does not believe God makes him a liar, because he did not believe the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1Joh 5.10-12


Dearly beloved, note this: the eternal and unchangeable will of God is that He will give eternal life to the world. But he will give that life through Christ, who is naturally life itself, and can give life. The very same God also wills that we obtain and have life in us, and that we have it no other way than by faith. For the apostle Paul taught that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Eph 3.17 Moreover, the Lord himself also witnesses, and says, "He that eats me shall live by me." Joh 6.57 But you know, dearly beloved, that to eat Christ is to believe in him. And therefore, we knit up this place with these words of St. Peter: "All the prophets bear witness to this Christ, that whoever believes in him shall receive forgiveness of sins through his name." Act 10.43

We have in these a most ample testimony of the whole sacred scriptures. By these I have evidently enough declared what God has appointed, that whoever believes in Christ, being cleansed from his sins, shall be made heir of life everlasting.

I will make this more evident yet, by declaring how faith alone — that is, faith for itself, and not for any works of ours — justifies the faithful. For itself I say, not that it respects a quality of the mind in us, or our own work in ourselves; but in respect to that faith which is the gift of God's grace, having in it a promise of righteousness and life; and in respect that faith, naturally, of itself, it is a certain and undoubted persuasion resting upon God, and believing that God, being pacified by Christ, has bestowed life and all good things on us through Christ. Therefore, faith in Christ justifies, by the grace and promise of God. And so faith justifies — that is, that which we believe, and in which our confidence is settled (God himself, I say, by the grace of God), ,justifies us through our redemption in Christ; so that now, our own works or merits have no place left to them at all — I mean, in justification.


Otherwise, good works do have their place in the faithful, as we mean to show in a convenient place. For Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, by way of opposition, compares Christ with Adam, and shows that of Adam, and so of our own nature and strength, we have nothing but sin, the wrath of God, and death. And he shows this under the name of Adam, with the intent that no man should seek righteousness and life in the flesh. And again, on the other side, he declares that by Christ we have righteousness, the grace of God, life, and the forgiveness of all our sins. In this opposition, he earnestly urges and often repeats this word, "of one," Rom 5.12f  truly, this is to no other end, but that we should understand that faith alone justifies.

To the Galatians he very evidently uses this kind of argument. "Nobody adds to or takes anything away from the last will and testament of a man, once it is proved." Gal 3.15 Reason therefore rightly requires that no man add anything to, or take anything away from, the testament of God. But this is the testament which God confirmed: that His will is to bestow the blessing upon Abraham's seed, not in many, or by many, but through one. "For he does not say, And to the seeds, as though he spoke of many; but as speaking of one he says, And to your seed, that is, Christ." Gal 3.16 Therefore, it is a detestable thing to augment or diminish anything in this testament of God. Christ alone is the only Saviour still. Men can neither save themselves nor others.

Again, in the same epistle to the Galatians he says, "We know that man is not justified by the works or the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ; insomuch as no flesh shall be justified by the works of the law." Gal 2.16 This is now the third time that Paul says that men are not justified by the works of the law, in which clause he comprehends all manner of works of whatever sort. So then, no kind of works justify. But what is it then that justifies? Faith in Christ, and truly that alone. For what else can those words import, "We know that man is not justified but by faith in Christ?"


For the force of these two statements is the same: "Faith alone justifies;" and "It is certain that we are not justified but by faith in Jesus Christ." He adds the example of the apostles: "And we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law." In like manner also, Peter argues by an example in the Acts of the Apostles, and says, "We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they were." Acts 15.11.

Moreover, in the very same chapter to the Galatians he says, "I do not despise the grace of God; for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Gal 2.21 For, if we in ourselves had anything by which we might be saved, why did the Son of God need to take on our flesh, to suffer, and to die? But because the Son of God, being incarnate, suffered and died, and did not die in vain, there was therefore nothing in our flesh that could obtain salvation for mankind. This is why the only Son of God is our Saviour forever, and by true faith he makes us partakers of his salvation.

Paul, in the very beginning of his epistle to the Romans, proves that all men are sinners; that in men there remains no strength for them to be saved by; and that the law of God itself digs up the knowledge of offences — that is, it applies them, brings them to light, and makes them manifest, but it does not take them away, blot them out, or utterly extinguish them. And therefore God, for his own goodness' sake, to the end that the work that he has made would not altogether perish, justifies the faithful freely by faith in Jesus Christ. I will repeat a few of the apostle's own words.

"The righteousness of God is declared without the law, being witnessed by the law and the prophets notwithstanding. The righteousness of God, I say, comes by faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all those who believe. For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and need the glory of God, but are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." Rom 3.21-25


These words of the apostle, I suppose, are most manifest to those who believe. He plucks justification from our own merits and strength, and attributes it to grace, by which the Son of God is given to the world for the punishment of the cross — that all those who believe that they are redeemed by the blood of the Son of God may be justified. Again the apostle immediately after adds, "Therefore we hold that man is justified by faith without the works of the law." On the heel of this, he again argues thus: "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, even of the Gentiles also. For it is one God who justifies circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith." Rom 5.28-30 To be God, is nothing else than to be life and salvation. But God is the God of the Gentiles also, and not of the Jews alone. Therefore God is the life and salvation of the Gentiles. He communicates this life and salvation to us, not by the law or through circumcision, but by faith in Christ; therefore faith alone justifies. This may be proved by the example of Cornelius the centurion who, as soon as St. Peter had preached to him, and once he believed, he was later justified, when as yet he had not received circumcision or the law; when as yet he had not sacrificed, nor merited righteousness by any work that he did. For he was freely justified in faith through Jesus Christ. For Peter concluded his sermon to him in these words: "All the prophets give witness to this Christ, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins." Act 10.43

After all this, the apostle Paul brings forth that notable and singular example of our father Abraham, teaching by what means our father Abraham was justified. For once this was truly declared, it cannot help but be plain and manifest to everyone, by what means God's will is to justify all men. For the sons cannot be justified any other way than the father before them was justified. Abraham, therefore, was not justified by circumcision, or by receiving the sacrament; for it is said that he was justified before he was circumcised.


Afterward, the sign of circumcision was added as "the seal of the righteousness of faith" — that is, the sign or sealing that all the seed of Abraham is justified by faith. Rom 4.10-12 The same Abraham, our father, was not justified by the law. For the law was four hundred and thirty years after the promise Gal 3.17 — not to take away sin or to work justification, but to make sin apparent, and to make us altogether empty — and once we are made empty, to send and as it were, compel us to fly to Christ. Again, Abraham was not justified by his works. And yet, good works are to be found in that most excellent patriarch; yes, and those are good works of true faith too, which are both notable and many in number, such and so many as you will scarcely find in any other. Nevertheless, the apostle says, "What then shall we say Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh (who, I say, is our father according to the flesh), has merited or found?" For the Greek word heurekenai has both those significations.[258] For "if Abraham were justified by works, then he has something to boast about; but not before God." Rom 4:1-2

For God alone is just, and He alone justifies. All men are corrupt; indeed, even Abraham is a sinner, and every man stands in need of the glory of God. For this cause also, the prophet was plainly forbidden to boast in anything, but in the mercy of God. This is why Abraham did not boast against God. He acknowledged that he was a sinner, and was to be justified freely, and not for his own merits' sake. The apostle goes on to say, "For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness." Rom 4.3 Two things are affirmed here: first, that Abraham believed in God; and secondly, that this was imputed to him for righteousness. By this it follows that Abraham was justified by faith, and not by works. And the apostle proves that in this manner: "Righteousness is not imputed to him who merits righteousness by works. But righteousness is imputed to Abraham. Therefore he did not merit righteousness by works." Again, "Truly, to him who does not work but believes, his faith is counted for righteousness. Abraham believed in God, therefore his faith was reckoned for righteousness." Rom 4.1-5


In the same chapter, the same apostle brings forth other arguments, altogether as strong as these, to prove that faith justifies without works. "If those," he says, "who are of the law are heirs, then faith is but vain, and the promise is made of no effect." Rom 4.14 Those are of the law, who seek to be justified by the works of the law. But faith rests upon the mercy of God. What place then shall grace and the mercy of God have left to them, if we merit justification by works? Why should I need to believe that I will be justified by the blood of Christ, if God is one with me again by my works — the one who was angry with me for my sins? Finally, salvation and righteousness are promised by God. But then the promise ends when our own merits begin to take its place. For the apostle says to the Galatians: "If inheritance is of the law, then it is not now of the promise. But God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise." Gal 3.18, 22 Therefore, that the promise might remain stable, faith justifies, and not merits.

Again, in the fourth chapter to the Romans he says, "Therefore the inheritance is given by faith, that it might be by grace, that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham." Rom 4.16 He repeats here two causes for which he attributes justification to faith, and not to works. The first is that justification may be a free gift, and that the grace of God may be praised. The second is that the promise and salvation may remain steadfast, and that it may come upon the Gentiles also. But it would not be given to the Gentiles if it were due only to the law and circumcision, because the Gentiles lack them both. Finally, the hope of our salvation ought to be steadfastly established. But it would never be surely grounded, or safely preserved, if it were attributed to our own works or merits; for something is always lacking in them. But nothing can be lacking in God and in the merit of the Son of God. Therefore, our salvation is surely confirmed, it is not to be doubted, and it is assuredly certain, if we seek it by faith in the Son of God, who is our righteousness and salvation.


To all these I will add yet another testimony out of St. Paul, which indeed is both very evident and easily perceived. In his epistle to the Ephesians he says, "By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast in himself. For we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained before, that we should walk in them." Eph 2.8-10 I will not say more than this, nor will I expound the words of Paul at large. For these testimonies are clearer than the noon-day, and most evidently testify that we are justified by faith, and not by any works.

But, reverend [259] brethren in the Lord, good works come into no jeopardy here, so as to set little by them because this doctrine teaches that faith alone justifies. This is what the apostles of Christ taught; why then should we not teach it too? As for those who think this doctrine by which we constantly affirm that faith alone without works justifies, is contrary to religion, let them blame the apostles of Christ, and not find fault with us. Moreover, although we say that the faithful are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works, we do not say, as many think we do, that faith is posted alone, or is utterly destitute of good works. For wherever there is faith, there it also shows itself by good works; because the righteous cannot help but work righteousness. But before he works righteousness — that is to say, good works — he must of necessity be righteous. Therefore the righteous man does not attain righteousness, which goes before, by works that follow after. This is why righteousness is attributed to grace. For by grace, the faithful are freely justified in faith, according to that saying, "The just shall live by his faith;" Hab 2.4 and after they are justified, they begin to bring forth the works of righteousness.

Therefore, in this discourse I do not mean to overthrow good works, which have their due place and dignity in the church among the faithful before the face of God. But my mind is that I may by all means prove that the grace of God, and the merit [260] of the Son of God, is overthrown and trodden underfoot, when we join our merits and works to the merit of Christ, and to faith, by which we take hold on Christ.


For what can be more manifest than this saying of the blessed apostle: "If we are saved by grace, then it is not now works; for then grace is no longer grace. But if we are saved by works, then it is not now grace; for the work is no longer work." Rom 11.6. This is why these two, grace and merit (or work), cannot stand together. Therefore, lest we overthrow the grace of God, and wickedly deny the fruit of Christ's passion, we attribute justification to faith alone, because faith attributes it to the mere grace of God in the death of the Son of God.

And yet for all this, we acknowledge that we are created, according to the doctrine of Paul, for good works — for those good works, I say, which God ordained beforehand, Eph 2.10 which He has appointed in his word, and requires us to walk in. Even though we walk in and have become rich in good works, notwithstanding that, we do not attribute our justification to them. But according to the doctrine of the gospel, we humble ourselves under the hand of Him who says, "So you also, when you have done all the things that have been commanded of you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done no more than we ought to do." Luk 17.10

So then, as often as the godly read that our own works justify us, that our own works are called righteousness, that a reward and life everlasting are given for our own works — he does not by and by swell with pride, nor forget the merit of Christ. But setting a godly and apt interpretation on such places, he considers that all things are by the grace of God, and that such great things are attributed to the works of men, because they are received into grace, and have now become the sons of God for Christ's sake. So that, in the end, all things may be turned upon Christ himself, for whose sake the godly know that they and all theirs are in favour and accepted by God the Father.

In what I have said, I have declared to you, dearly beloved, the great effect of faith — that is to say, that it justifies the faithful (this is little indeed in respect to the largeness of the matter, but it is sufficiently long in respect to the one hour's space appointed me to speak in).


Here, by the way, I have briefly touched, rather than at large discoursed upon, the whole work of justification, both profitable and necessary for all men to know. Now, therefore, I pass over this, and come to the rest.

True faith is the well-spring and root of all virtues and good works. First of all, it satisfies the mind and desire of man, and it makes him quiet and joyful. For the Lord in the gospel says, "I am the bread of life. He that comes to me shall not hunger; and he that believes in me shall not thirst at any time." Joh 6.35 For what more can he desire, who already feels that by true faith he possesses the very Son of God, in whom are found all the heavenly treasures, and in whom is all fulness and grace? Our consciences are made clear and quiet as soon as we perceive that by true faith, Christ the Son of God is altogether ours; that he has appeased the Father in our behalf; that he now stands in the presence of the Father, and makes intercession to Him for us. And for that cause Paul says, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom 5.1 Through this Christ, by faith, we also have free passage to the Father. Eph 2.18

This is why we pray to the Father in His Son's name, and from his hand we obtain all things that are available to our benefit. Therefore, the apostle John said very well, "And this is the confidence that we have in him: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we also know that we have the petitions that we requested from his hands." 1Joh 5.14-15 Those who lack faith neither pray to God, nor receive from him the things that are for their welfare. Moreover, faith makes us acceptable to God, and it commands us to have an eye to using God's good gifts well. Faith causes us not to faint in tribulations. Indeed also, by faith we overcome the world, the flesh, the devil, and all adversities. As the apostle John says, "For all who are born of God overcome the world: and this is the victory that vanquishes the world, even your faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1Joh 5.4-5


Paul says, "Some were racked, not caring (by faith) to be set at liberty, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others were tried with mocks and stripes, with fetters and imprisonments; some were stoned, hewn in pieces, slain with the edge of the sword. They wandered in sheep-skins and goat-skins, comfortless, oppressed, afflicted (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains, and in the dens and caves of the earth." Heb 11.35-38 For the Lord himself said in the gospel, "This I spoke to you, that you might have peace in me. In the world you have affliction; but be of good confidence, I have overcome the world." Joh 16.33

Faith therefore shall be, and is, both the force and strength of patience. Patience is the prop,[261] uplifting, and preservation of hope. From faith springs charity. Charity "is the fulfilling of the law," Rom 13.10 which contains in it the sum of all good works. But unless we have a true faith in God, there is no charity in us. "Everyone who loves Him that begot," says John the apostle, "also loves him who is born of him." 1Joh 5.1

The hour has past a good while since; and no man is able in many hours, so substantially as it requires, to declare the whole effect of faith.

You have heard, dearly beloved, that true faith is the justification of the church, or of the faithful of God. It is, I say, the forgiveness of all sins, being received into the grace of God, being taken by adoption into the number of the sons of God, an assured and blessed sanctification, [262] and finally, the well-spring of all good works. Let us, therefore, pray to God the Father in true faith, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He will grant to fill our hearts with this true faith; that in this present world, being joined to him in faith, we may serve him as we should; and that after our departure out of this life, we may forever live with him in whom we believe. To Him be praise and glory forever. Amen.


Of the first articles of the Christian faith
contained in the Apostles' Creed.

IN my two last sermons I treated true faith and its effects; and among the rest, in one place I said that the articles of the Christian faith are a brief summary of true faith, as it were. Therefore, I think it is not beside the purpose now, and it is part of my duty, to lay before you those twelve articles of our belief. For they are the substance and matter of true faith, in which faith is exercised. Because it is the ground of things hoped for, it is plainly and briefly declared in these articles, what things are to be hoped for. But let no man at present look for the busy and full discourse of the articles of our faith from my hand. I will go through them only briefly, touching only the most necessary points. They are handled more at large in another place, by its several parts. Pray with me to the Lord, that he will grant to show to us his ways, to guide and preserve us in them, to the glory of his own name, and to the everlasting salvation of our souls.

First, I have to say something touching the common name by which the articles of our faith are usually called the Symbol or Creed of the Apostles. A symbol is the same as a conferring together, or a badge. [263] The articles are called a conferring together because, by laying together the apostles' doctrine, they were made and written to be a rule and an abridgement of the faith preached by the apostles, and received by the catholic or universal church. But what he was, who first disposed and wrote these articles, is not known, nor is it left in writing by the holy scriptures. There are some who attribute it to the apostles themselves and therefore they call it by the name of the Apostles' Creed. St. Cyprian, the martyr, in his exposition of the Apostles' Creed, says,

"Our ancestors have a saying that, after the Lord's ascension, when by the coming of the Holy Ghost the fiery tongues sat upon every one of the apostles — so that they spoke both diverse and sundry languages, whereby there was no foreign nation nor barbarous tongue to which they did not seem sufficiently prepared to pass by the way — they had a commandment from the Lord to go to all nations to preach the word of God.


When they were therefore ready to depart, they laid down among themselves a platform of preaching for them all to follow, lest perhaps, being severed from one another, they preached different things to those who were converted to the faith of Christ. Therefore, being there all together, and replenished with the Holy Ghost, they gathered everyone's several statements in one, and made that breviary (as I said) to be a pattern by which to frame all their preachings, appointing it as a rule to be given to those who would believe." [264]

This is what Cyprian says. But whether they were of the apostles' own making or not, or others made them (the apostles' disciples), it is yet very well known that the very doctrine of the apostles is purely contained and taught in them. These twelve articles are also called a badge, because by that sign, as if it were a badge, true Christians are discerned from false.

Now I will declare what order I will use in expounding them to you. This whole breviary, or abridgement of faith, may be divided into four parts; so that the three first parts make manifest the mysteries of the three Persons in one Godhead; and the fourth part lays out the fruits of faith, that is to say, what good things we look for by faith, and what good things God bestows on those who put their trust in Him.


And yet, notwithstanding, I will proceed orderly in this, so that the twelve articles are placed or set down.

The first article of Christian faith is this: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth." And this first article of the Creed contains two especial points. For first we say generally, I believe in God; and then we descend particularly to the distinction of the Persons, and add, the Father Almighty. For God is one in substance, and three in Persons. Therefore, understanding the unity of the substance, we say plainly, I believe in God. And again, keeping and not confounding the Persons, we add, In the Father Almighty, In Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost. Let us therefore believe that God is one, not many, and pure in substance; but he is three in Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For in the law it is written, "Hearken, Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." Deu 6.4 And again, in the gospel we read that the Lord says, "Baptize them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Mat 28.19

By the way, this is singularly to be marked by us: that when we pray, we say, "Our Father which is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread;" but when we confess our belief, we do not say, We believe, but "I believe." For faith is required of every one of us, for every particular man to have without dissimulation in his heart, and to profess it with his mouth without double-meaning. It was not enough for Abraham to have faith for all his seed; nor will it avail you anything for another to believe, if you yourself are without faith. For the Lord requires faith of every particular man for himself. This is why, as often as we confess our faith, every one of us by himself says, "I believe." But I have declared already in my fourth sermon, what it means to believe.

It follows in the confession, "I believe in God." God is the object and foundation of our faith, as He that is the everlasting and chief goodness, never weary, but always ready at our need. We therefore believe in God — that is to say, we put our whole hope, all our safety, and ourselves, wholly into his hands, as the One who is able to preserve and bestow on us all things that are requisite for our benefit.


Now it follows that this God, in whom we rest, and to whose tuition [265] we all commit ourselves, is "the Father Almighty." Our God is therefore called Father, because from before all beginning he begat the Son like himself. For the scripture calls God, "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The apostle says, "He is the brightness of the glory of God, and the living image of the substance of the Father: to whom he said, You are my Son, this day I have begotten you." And again, "I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son." Heb 1.3, 5

Also, God is called Father in respect to the likeness that he has with our earthly father — namely, because of our creation, the favour, love, good-will, and carefulness with which He is affected towards us. For God has created us, God loves us, God regards our affairs, and is careful for us — yes, and more exceedingly than any earthly father. For David says, "Even as the father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him: for he knows our estate, remembering that we are but dust." Psa 103.13-14

Isaiah also, in his 49th chapter, says, "Can a woman forget her own infant, and not pity and be glad over the son of her own womb? But admit it, she forgets; yet I will not forget you." In this, God's good-will is declared toward us. And we, confessing that God is our Father, also profess that God is both gentle, liberal, and merciful to us; He wishes us all things that are available for our health; and He purposes nothing toward us but that which is good and wholesome; and last of all, that from His hand we receive whatever good we have, either bodily or spiritually.

God is called Almighty, because by his might he can do all things; because he is Lord of all things, and has all things subject to his commandment. For the same cause also, He is called the Lord of hosts. Heaven, earth, and whatever is in them — stars, all elements, men, angels, devils, all living creatures, all things created — are in the power of the most high and everlasting God. Whatever he commands, they do: nothing is able to withstand his will.


What he wills, must of necessity be done; and he also uses these things even as his own will and pleasure is, and as his justice and man's salvation require. First we confessed that God wills us well; and now we acknowledge that whatever he wills, he is able to bring that to pass. For we say that God is Almighty. That is, there is nothing he cannot do, which is profitable and necessary for us, as he is Lord of all and our strong helper.

But that God is our good Father — liberal, gentle, merciful, strong, almighty, Lord of all, and our defender and deliverer — is to be seen by his wonderful works. For he is the "maker of heaven and earth." And in the making of heaven and earth, he has declared the great love that he bears toward mankind. For when as yet they were not, nor were able, with deservings and good turns, to provoke God to do them any good, then God — first, and of his own mere and natural goodness — made heaven and earth a most excellent and beautiful palace, and gave it to them to dwell in, putting under man's dominion all the creatures of this whole world. But how great the power was that he showed in making all these things, is evident by this: "He spoke the word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created." [266] If you were to break into parts, and severally examine what he made in those six days — in what order, with what beauty, to how great a commodity of mankind, and finally, how almost with no labour at all, he brought them all forth, as it is written at large by Moses in the first chapter of Genesis — you would be compelled to be amazed at the good will and power of God. And yet, by the way, we must think the Creator of all things, to be such a one that by his Son — that is, by his eternal Wisdom — he has created all things both visible and invisible; Col 1.16 yes, and that was from nothing too. And moreover, at this very time he sustains, nourishes, rules, and preserves all things by his everlasting Spirit, without which everything would presently fall to ruin, and come to nothing. Therefore, in this we also confess the providence of our eternal God, and his exceedingly wise government.


And thus in this first part, I have declared to you that which is proper to the Father. For he is a Father; indeed, he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father also, being Lord of all things, maker of heaven and earth, governor and preserver of all things, by whom all things are, and in whom all things consist; who from before all beginning begot the eternal Son, equal with the Father, being of one substance, power, and glory with the Father, by whom also he made the world. From both of them proceeds the Holy Ghost, as David witnesses, and says, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all the host of it." Psa 33.6

Now follows the second part, in which are contained all the mysteries of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God.

For the second article of the Christian faith is thus word for word: "And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord." This article also comprehends two things: the first is that we believe in the Son of God; the second, what the Son of God is. For we confess that we believe; that is, we put our whole hope and confidence of life and salvation in the Son as well as in the Father. And therefore we say plainly, "I believe in Jesus Christ," even as before we said, "I believe in God," etc. For the Lord Jesus himself, in the fourteenth chapter of John, says, "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me." Again, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." Joh 6.29 And again, "This is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Christ Jesus." Joh 17.3

Moreover, in the gospel of St, John, we read that the Lord said, speaking to the blind man whose eyes he opened, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" And the blind man, having received his sight, replied, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?" To this the Lord replied, "You have seen him, and it is he that talks with you." And then, again, the blind man said, "I believe, Lord;" and with that, he worshipped him. Joh 9.35-38

Therefore let us also believe and worship; let us believe that Jesus is the very Son of God the Father, being of one power with the Father, although in Person he differs from the Father. Testifying of this, David says, "The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand," etc. Psa 110.1


But if we declare at large, who that Son of God is, in whom we believe, then we must note three things especially. The first is that he is called the only Son. If he is the Son indeed, and the Son of God too, then his nature and substance are a divine nature and substance. For in this signification the apostle calls him, "the brightness of the glory of the Father, and the living image of His substance." The holy fathers say very well, therefore, that the Son is of the same substance and being with the Father. To which this belongs: that he is called the only Son: and in another place, the only-begotten and first-begotten Son. For we also are called sons, not by participation of nature, or likeness of substance, or naturally, but by adoption. And therefore the Jews were not offended because he called himself the Son of God, in the sense that all the faithful are called (and are) the sons of God — but because they perceived that he more extolled himself in saying that he is the natural Son of God, equal to God, and God himself. For thus we read in the fifth chapter of John, "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Jesus; not only because he had broken the sabbath, but he also said that God was his Father, and made himself equal with God." Joh 5.18 Again, where the Lord said in the tenth chapter, "I and my Father are one; then the Jews took up stones to stone him with. But Jesus answered, Many good works I have done for you; for which of them do you stone me?" To which the Jews replied, "For your good works' sake we do not stone you, but for your blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God." Joh 10.32-33 These are most evident testimonies of the natural Godhead of Christ, which whoever does not believe, he does not have the Father. 1Joh 2.23 For he that honours the Son, honours the Father; Joh 5.23 and he that is without the Son does not have the Father: and unless the Son were God by nature, he could not be the Saviour of the world.

Now the second thing to be marked is that the name of the only-begotten Son of God is revealed, and he is called "Jesus Christ." The name is expressly set down, that we may know who it is in whom we believe, lest perhaps we might be deceived in the person. It is Jesus. This name was given to him by God's appointment from heaven, even as it was prefigured in duke Joshua and in Jesus the high priest.[267]


The angel says in the gospel of St. Matthew, instructing Joseph, "Mary shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins." Mat 1.21 So then, this Son of God, Jesus, is the Saviour of the world, who forgives sins, and sets us free from all the power of our adversary the devil — which truly he could not do unless he were very God. He is also called Christ, which is the same as saying, Anointed. The Jews call him Messiah; this word is a title proper to a kingdom or priesthood. For those of old usually anointed their kings and priests. They were anointed with external or figurative ointment or oil. But very Christ was anointed with the very true ointment, that is, with the fulness of the Holy Ghost, as seen in the first and third chapters of St. John. Most properly, therefore, this name Christ is attributed to our Lord. For, first, he is both King and Priest of the people of God. Then the Holy Ghost is poured fully, by all means and abundantly, into Jesus from whom, as if he were a living fountain, it flows into all the members of Christ. For this is like Aaron, upon whose head the oil was poured, "which ran down to his beard, and the furthermost skirts of his garment;" Psa 133.2 for "of his fulness we have all received." Joh 1.16

The last thing that is to be noted now in this second article, is that we call the Son of God "our Lord." The Son of God truly is properly called our Lord for two causes: first, in respect to the mystery of our redemption. For Christ is the Lord of all the elect, whom he has delivered from the power and dominion of Satan, sin, and death, and has made them a people of his own getting, for himself. 1Pet 2.9 This similitude is taken from lords, who with their money buy slaves for their use; or who in wars reserve captives whom they might have slain; or who deliver condemned men from present death. So by this, then, lords are deliverers, redeemers, or saviours as it were. [268]


Truly, Paul alludes to this where he says, "You are bought with a price: do not become (therefore) the servants of men." 1Cor 7.23 And St. Peter says, "You are redeemed, not with gold and silver, but with the precious blood of the unspotted Lamb." 1Pet 1.18-19 Moreover, Christ is called Lord in respect to his divine power and nature, by which all things are in subjection to the Son of God. And because this word "Lord" is of a very ample signification, as that which contains both the divine nature and majesty, we see that the apostles use it very willingly in their writings. Paul says to the Corinthians, "Although there are many lords, we have but one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom all things are, and we by him." 1Cor 8.5-6

the third article of Christian faith is this: "Which was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the virgin Mary." In the second article we have confessed that we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord. In this we have confessed in a shadow as it were, that we believe assuredly that God the Father has given his Son to the world for us and our salvation, to be a Saviour and Redeemer; for those names Jesus and Lord belong to this. Now, therefore, in this third article I have to declare the manner and order of how he came into the world: namely, by incarnation. This article contains two things: the conception of Christ, and his nativity. I will speak of both these in order, after I have briefly declared to you the causes of the Lord's incarnation.

Men were in a miserable taking, and all mankind should utterly have perished for sin, which we have all drawn from the first man Adam: for the reward of sin is death. And for that cause, we who were to be cast into hell, could not enter into heaven, unless the Son of God had descended to us, and becoming "God with us," [269] had drawn us into heaven with himself. Therefore, the chief cause of his incarnation is to be a Mediator between God and men, and by intercession, to join or bring into one, those who were severed. For where there is a mediator, there must also be discord and parties. The parties are God and men; the cause of discord is sin. Now the office of the mediator is to bring the disagreeing parties to agreement.


Truly, this cannot be done unless that sin, the cause of this variance, is taken clean away. But sin is neither cleansed nor taken away, unless blood is shed and death follows. Paul testifies to this in his ninth chapter to the Hebrews. The mediator should therefore take on himself our flesh and blood, that he might both die and shed his blood. Furthermore, it is needful that this advocate or mediator, be indifferently common to both the parties whom he has to reconcile. This is why our Lord Christ ought to be very God and very man. If he had been God alone, then he would have been terrible to men, and would have stood them in little stead; if he had been mere man, then he could not have had access to God, who is a consuming fire. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ, being both God and man, was a fit Mediator for both the parties. Witnessing to this, tyhe apostle says, "One God, and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself, the price of redemption for all." 1Tim 2.5-6

The same apostle, in the second and ninth chapters to the Hebrews, says many things belonging to this place. And in the second chapter, repeating another cause of Christ's incarnation, he says, "It became him in all things to be made like his brethren, that he might be merciful and a faithful High Priest in things concerning God, to purge the people's sins. For in that he himself was tempted, he is able to succour those who are tempted." Heb 2.17-18 Another cause for which our Lord was incarnated, was that he might instruct us in all godliness and righteousness; and finally, that he might be the light of the world, and an example of holy life. For Paul says, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to us, teaching us to renounce ungodliness, and to live holily." Tit 2.11-12

To conclude: he therefore became one with us by the participation of nature — that is to say, it pleased him to be incarnate for this cause: that he might join us again to God — we who were separated from God for sin — and receive us into the fellowship of himself, and all his other goodness beside.


The next thing for us to declare is the manner of his incarnation. This article of faith stands on two members. The first is, "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost." All we men, Christ excepted, are conceived by the seed of man, which of itself is unclean; and therefore we are born sinners; and Paul says, "We are born the sons of wrath." Eph 2.3 But the body of Christ our Lord, I say, was not conceived in the virgin Mary by Joseph, nor by any seed of man, but by the Holy Ghost. It is not that the Holy Ghost was in place of the seed; for nothing is begotten of the Spirit except what is spiritual. Nor does our Lord have a phantastical body,[270] but a very true body, and of the same substance with us. So then, our Lord was conceived in the womb of the virgin by the Holy Ghost. For the Holy Ghost by his eternal power, brought to pass that the virginity of the mother being uncorrupted, she was made with child, I say, conceived of her blood; and she gave a pure and very human body to the Son of God, as declared at large by the angel Gabriel in the first chapter of St. Luke. I mean to speak of this place more largely elsewhere; for now, I pass it over untouched.

God himself, immediately after the beginning of the world, foretold that such would be the manner of that conception. For he did not say, The seed of the man will tread down the serpent's head, but "the seed of the woman." Gen 3.15 Moreover, the Lord says by the prophets, "I will raise up seed to David." [271] Moses' law for raising up seed for the departed brother is well known. For if the brother died without issue of children, his brother, remaining alive, was compelled to marry the deceased brother's wife, and to beget children by her. These were called and accounted, not by the name of the brother who was living, but by the dead brother. Deu 25.5-6

This is why, when there was not to be found a man of David's line who was sufficiently fit to beget from the virgin the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, God himself raises up seed to David, and by his Holy Spirit, He makes the virgin with child.


Even though she was not with child by a man of David's line, yet because she was a daughter of David's stock, and because God was working it so, she gave substance to the Son of God from her own substance. Thus her child Christ both is, and is called, the Son of David. That argues, moreover, for what David says in Psalm 110.3, "In the mighty power of holiness, the dew of your birth is to you of the womb of the morning;" or "The dew of your birth is to you of the womb of the morning in the mighty power of holiness." That is to say, you shall be born by a certain mighty power of holiness, and marvellous means. For your birth shall be like the engendering of the dew, which comes of the pure morning, as it were, a child born of the womb. For as in the daytime the sun draws a vapour out of the earth, which because of the smallness of the heat which draws it upward, is drawn down again by the coldness of the temperate night-evenings, and resolved into water; so God — that is the Sun of righteousness — took blood from the earth, that is, from the body of the untouched virgin Mary, and by a wonderful means, holily and purely brought to pass, that from her unspotted womb should be born and conceived the most holy Son of God.

The reasons why this conception of the Son of God in the womb of the holy virgin is most pure, are these: He that is conceived in the womb of a virgin, is God; but God is a consuming fire, which cannot take or permit any uncleanness in itself. Another cause is this: God came to cleanse our uncleanness, that is, the uncleanness of men. He truly ought to be exempt from all original spots, and be most holy in all points to the end that, being the only unspotted sacrifice offered up for the sins of the whole world, he might take all the sins of the world clean away. For that which is itself defiled cannot cleanse the defiled thing; rather, the spot or filthiness doubles its uncleanness by coming to that other unclean thing.

The second member of this third article is: He was "born of the virgin Mary." The Lord was born of Mary his mother, yet she was a virgin still. He is therefore very man, who is born of woman. Moreover his birth is pure: for he was born of the virgin, so that together, she was a mother and yet a virgin too. [272]


For Isaiah says, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son." Isa 7.14 A virgin, he says, shall both conceive and bring forth; so that she may nevertheless remain a virgin still. The birth of the Son of God, therefore, is most pure. Also his birth is a true birth, truly and indeed. For he takes flesh from the substance and womb of the virgin. In this signification also, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the Son of David. He could not be called David's son, unless he had taken true human substance from Mary, a maid or daughter of the stock of David. That the apostle John might most properly signify and express this, he says, "The Word was made flesh." Joh 1.14 And the apostle Paul says, "Nowhere does he take on himself the angels, but the seed of Abraham." [273] And in the same place again, he affirms that the Lord "was made like his brethren in all things, sin excepted." To the Philippians he says, "While he was equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, taking on himself the form of a servant, and made in the likeness of men, and found in figure as a man." Phi 2.6-8 Again the apostle John bears witness and says, "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God; and every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is not of God." 1Joh 4.2-3 Luke, in his second chapter, has set forth at large the manner of his nativity; and I mean to speak of it elsewhere in full. Let us therefore confess that Jesus Christ was "conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary."

The fourth article of Christian faith is this: "He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried: he descended into hell." In this fourth article is declared the end, use, and chief commodity of the Lord's incarnation. For he became man, that he might suffer and die; and by dying and suffering, he might redeem us from eternal death and the torments of hell, and make us (once cleansed) heirs of life everlasting. For this is the end of the Lord's death, as I will later show you, and as Paul at large declares in the ninth chapter to the Hebrews. This article also is divided into parts.


First, we confess that our Lord suffered indeed, and not phantastically in appearance only; [274] and that he truly suffered the calamities and miseries of this world; and after that, again the torments of the slaughter-men, and of death itself in most bitter pangs. He suffered therefore both in soul and body; yes, and that too in many fashions. For Isaiah says, "He is a man of sorrows, and has felt calamities. He bears our infirmities, and has carried our sorrows." Isa 53.3-4 For the Lord himself also said in the gospel, "My soul is heavy, even unto death." Mar 14.34 But truly he suffered all this for us; for in him there was neither sin, nor any other cause why he should suffer.

Secondly, the time is noted in this article, with Pontius Pilate as the judge under whom the Lord died and redeemed the world from sin, death, the devil, and hell. He therefore suffered during the monarchy of the Romans, under the emperor Tiberius, when (as now) according to the prophecy of Jacob, father of Israel, the Jewish people obeyed foreign kings, because there were no more kings or captains of the stock of Judah to rule over them. For he foretold that the Messiah would come then. Gen 49.10-11 Moreover, what may be thought of this: that the Lord himself, more often than once in the gospel, foreshowed that he would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, and be put to death by them?

In the third point of this article, we expressly declare the manner of his death. For we add, "He was crucified," and died on the cross. But the death of the cross, just as it was most reproachful, so it was also most bitter or sharp to be suffered. And yet he took that kind of death upon himself, that he might make satisfaction for the world, and fulfil that which was prefigured from the beginning — that he should be hanged on the tree. Isaac was laid on the pile of wood to be offered up in sacrifice. Moses also stuck the serpent on a stake of wood, and lifted it up to be beheld. And the Lord himself said, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to me." Joh 12.32 Finally, he died on the cross, giving up his ghost to God. For he died truly and indeed, as you will immediately perceive where I briefly declare to you what the fruit of Christ's death is.


First, we were accursed because of sin. He therefore took our curse upon himself, being lifted up on the cross, to the end that he might take our curse away, and that we might be blessed in him. Then also, the heritage bequeathed to us by will, could not come to us unless the one who bequeathed it died. Heb 9.16 But God bequeathed it: who became man that he might die, and died according to his human nature, to the end that we might receive the heritage of life. In another place, Paul again says, "Him that knew no sin, God made sin for us, that by him we might be made the righteousness of God." 2Cor 5.21 Our Lord therefore became man, by the sacrifice of himself to make satisfaction for us, when all the sins of the whole world were gathered together and laid on him, as upon a goat for a sin-offering; and by his death he took away and purged them all. So that now, the sole sacrifice of Christ has satisfied for the sins of the whole world. And this truly is the greatest commodity of Christ's death taught everywhere by the apostles of Christ. Next after that, also, the death of Christ teaches us patience and the mortification of our flesh. Yes, Christ works in us by his Spirit, by the participation of himself, so that sin may not reign in us. Touching this, the apostle Paul teaches many things in the sixth chapter to the Romans. The Lord in the gospel says, "If any man would follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Mat 16.24 These, and a few more, are the fruits of the Lord's passion, or the death of Christ, our Lord.

Fourthly in this article is added, "He was buried." For our Lord died truly and indeed upon the cross. The very truth of his death was proved by the soldier, who thrust him through the side. After that, he was taken down from the cross and laid in a sepulchre. In the gospel are expressed the names of those who buried him, Joseph and Nicodemus. There is also shown the manner of how they buried him. The Saviour himself has taught the fruit of this burial in these words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the seed of corn cast into the earth dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." Joh 12.24


Whereupon the apostle exhorts us to be buried with Christ in his death, that we may rise again in the newness of life; Rom 6.4 yes, that we may live and reign with him forevermore. If, therefore, our bodies are also buried at any time, let us not therefore be troubled in mind; for the faithful are buried, that they may rise with Christ again.

The fifth part of this fourth article some put severally by itself, for the fifth article of our faith. For my part, I see no cause why it should be plucked from that which goes before; nor why it should be made a particular article of our faith by itself. The words are these: "He descended into hell." Touching this, there are sundry opinions among the expositors of the holy scriptures. Augustine, in his book De Fide et Symbolo, [275] neither places these words in the rule of belief, nor yet expounds them. Cyprian says thus: "It is to be known truly, that in the creed of the Latin church, this is not added, He descended into hell; nor yet is this clause received in the churches of the east. Yet the sense of that clause seems to be the same as where it is said, He was buried." [276] This is what he says. So then, Cyprian's opinion seems to be that to descend into hell is nothing other than to be laid in the grave, according to that saying of Jacob: "You will bring my grey hairs with sorrow to hell, or the grave." [277]

But there are some who think this assertion is without lawful proof. For it is not likely that they would wrap a thing that is already plainly spoken once, immediately after in a darker kind of speech. Rather, as often as two sentences are joined together that both signify one thing, the latter is always an exposition of the first. [278]


But in these two statements, "He was buried," and "He descended into hell," the first is plainer, and the latter more intricate. In his ninety-ninth epistle to Evodius, Augustine toils pitifully in this matter. [279] He writes to Dardanus, de Dei Praesentia, that the Lord went into hell, but that he felt no torment. [280] We would seem to understand this article more agreeably to the truth, if we think the virtue of Christ's death flowed even to those who were dead, and profited them too. That is to say, that all the patriarchs and holy men who died before the coming of Christ, were preserved from everlasting death by the death of Christ; as St. Peter also mentions that "the Lord went in the Spirit, and preached to the spirits who were in prison." 1Pet 3.19

For truly, by the death of Christ they were made to know the sentence of condemnation justly pronounced against them, because when they lived, they did not believe with Noah and those who were with him, in the Saviour who was to come. Or otherwise, by the lower parts, or by hell, we do not understand it to mean the place of punishment appointed for the wicked, but for the faithful who are departed; just as by the higher parts, we understand those who yet remain alive. This is why the soul of Christ descended into hell; that is to say, it was carried into Abraham's bosom, in which all the faithful already departed were gathered together.


Therefore, when he said to the thief who was crucified with him, "This day you shall be with me in paradise," Luk 23.43 he promised him the fellowship of life and of the blessed souls. Touching Abraham's bosom, our Lord spoke at large in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel of St. Luke. For although the Lord is said to have descended, that is just a way of speaking. For otherwise it is evident by Luke, that Abraham's bosom is a place separated a great way from hell, and placed aloft. But to inquire or reason over-curiously about these things, is the point of a curious fool rather than a godly-minded man. We confess in this article, that the souls are immortal, and that immediately after bodily death, they pass to life, and that all the saints from the beginning of the world, being sanctified by faith through Christ, in Christ, and by Christ, they receive the inheritance of life everlasting.

I would add the fifth article to these, but the hour is now already spent. We will therefore defer it to the next sermon. And now let us all together pray to God, our Father who is in heaven, that he will grant us his Spirit to inspire us with that true and quickening faith which is in the Father and Son — in the Father, as the maker of all things; in the Son, as the Saviour of the whole world, who therefore came down from heaven, and was incarnate in the womb of the most holy virgin Mary, to the end he might be the Mediator between God and men, and reconcile or make them one again between themselves; and that he might therewith make an oblation to appease God's justice, and to purge our sins which he bore on his body, indeed, which he took away, and made all the faithful, heirs of life everlasting.

Let us now give praise to the grace of God, and thanks to the Son of God, to whom alone all honour and glory is due for ever and ever. Amen.



Of the latter articles of Christian faith
contained in the Apostles' Creed.

LET us first of all pray to our God, that he will grant us a happy, speedy, and very fruitful proceeding in the declaration of the other articles of Christian belief.

The fifth article of our belief is: "The third day he rose again from the dead." And this article of our belief, truly, is in a way the chief of all the rest. Neither are the apostles so busily occupied in declaring and confirming the others, as they are in this one. For it would not have been enough if our Lord had only died, unless he had also risen from the dead again. For if he had not risen from the dead, but had remained still in death, who would have persuaded us that sin was purged by the death of Christ, that death was vanquished, that Satan was overcome, and hell broken up for the faithful by the death of Christ? Yes, truly, we have foolish fellows who would never cease to blaspheme the true God, to mock our hope, and say, "Tosh,[281] who ever returned from the dead to tell us whether there is life in another world after this or not, and what kind of life it is? Therefore, because we cannot find any man who ever returned from the dead, it is to be doubted what these babblers tattle, touching the life of the world to come." That the Lord might therefore declare to the whole world, that after this life there is another, and that the soul does not die with the body, but remains alive, he returned the third day to his disciples, alive again. And at that instant, he showed them that sin was purged, death disarmed, the devil vanquished, and hell destroyed. For the sting of death is sin, or the reward of sin is death — the devil has the power of death, [282] and he shuts men in hell for sins.


Now therefore, in Christ rising alive again from the dead, death could have no dominion over him. And because death is broken by allowing the Lord to pass, it must follow that the devil and hell are vanquished by Christ; and lastly, that sin, the strength and power of them all, is purely purged. It is evident, therefore, that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, certifies and by seal assures us of our salvation and redemption, so that now we cannot doubt it any longer.

We therefore confess in this article, that our Lord Jesus Christ is risen again, and that he is risen again for our benefit; that is to say, that he has wiped away our sins, and for us he has conquered death, the devil, and hell, according to the saying of the apostle:

"God has saved us, and has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and favour, which was given to us through Jesus Christ before all beginning, but is declared openly now by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has truly put out death, and brought forth life, light, and immortality by the gospel." 2Tim 1.9-10

There are many more like this in the fourth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, and in the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians. For the Lord also says in the gospel of St. John, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, although he is dead, shall live; and everyone that lives and believes in me shall not die forever." Joh 11.25-26

Now also let us thoroughly consider every word of this article severally by itself. We confess the Lord's resurrection. But a resurrection means to rise again. That rises, which falls. The body of Christ fell; therefore the body of Christ rises; yes, it rises again — that is to say, the very same body of Christ which both lived and stirred before it fell, now rises again; I say, it both lives and stirs again. For Tertullian said truly about the resurrection of the flesh, that "this word resurrection is not properly spoken of anything, except what first fell. For nothing can rise again except what fell. For we say the resurrection is made by rising again, because it fell; this syllable 're' is never added except when a thing is done again."


This is why the women in the gospel, when they went to anoint the body of the Lord which hung upon the cross, heard the angel of the Lord say, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen," etc. Luk 24.5-6 This history of the Lord's resurrection is set forth in the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, and the sixteenth chapter of Mark. Peter the apostle, in the second chapter of the Acts, Act 2.25f also affirming the Lord's resurrection by the testimony of David,[283] expressly shows that the Lord is truly risen again.

According to this, we again say that he is risen out of or from the dead; this expresses the truth both of his death and resurrection. For the body or flesh dies, or is destroyed; but being dead, it is raised up again: this body, or flesh, is therefore raised up again. It is as though someone confessing his belief were to say, Our Lord died in the very same condition of nature that other mortal men die; but he did not tarry, nor stick fast among the dead. For the very same mortal flesh which he had taken to himself, and had laid aside by dying, he now takes up again, immortal — as David foretold saying: "You will not leave my soul in hell, nor permit your Holy One to see corruption." Psa 16.10 For Christ is the first-begotten of those who rise again; that in him, as the head, there should be declared what sort of resurrection all Christ's members will have in the day of judgment.

And we confess that this resurrection was made the third day; I mean the third day after his death. For upon the day of preparation Mar 15.42 he is taken down from the cross and carried into a sepulchre, where his body rests the whole sabbath-day. About the beginning of the first day of sabbaths, Joh 20.1 which, I say, is the first day of the week (called Sunday among us today), in the morning, he arose again from the dead.


In the twelfth chapter of the gospel of St. Matthew, we read that the Lord said, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." Yet notwithstanding, in the sixteenth and twentieth chapters, expounding himself as having spoken that by synecdoche,[284] he says, "I must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the scribes and elders, and be killed, and be raised up again the third day." [285]

The sixth article of our faith is: "He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty." That body, which is of the same substance as our bodies, taken out of the virgin Mary, and taken truly from the substance of the virgin, and which hung upon the cross, and died, and was buried, and rose again — the very same body, I say, ascended into the heavens, and sits at the right hand of God the Father. For after the span of forty days, our Lord had abundantly enough instructed his disciples touching the truth of his resurrection and the kingdom of God, and was taken up into heaven.

By that ascension of his, he declares to the whole compass of the earth, that He is Lord of all things, and that all things that are in heaven and on earth are subject to him; that he is our strength, the power of the faithful, and the one of whom they have to boast against the gates of hell. For, ascending into heaven, he has led captivity captive; Eph 4.8 and by destroying his enemies, he has enriched his people on whom he daily heaps his spiritual gifts. For he sits above, so that by pouring his virtue from there into us, he may quicken us with spiritual life, and deck us with sundry gifts and graces, and lastly, defend the church against all evils. For God is our Saviour, King, and Bishop. Upon this, as once the Capernaites were offended because the Lord had called himself the bread of life that came down from heaven to give life to the world, he says, "Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascend there, where he was before?" John 6.61-62


It is as though he said, Then truly you will gather by my quickening, resurrection, and glorious ascension into the heavens, that I am the bread of life, brought down from heaven, and now taken up again into the heavens, there to remain the Saviour, Life, and Lord of heaven and earth. Moreover, St. Peter the apostle in the Acts says, "Let all the house of Israel know for a surety, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, Lord and Christ." Act 2.36

Furthermore, he not only rose again from death, and came to his disciples, but he also ascended into heaven as they beheld and looked at him, to the end that we might thereby be assuredly certified of eternal salvation. For by ascending, he prepared a place for us, he made ready the way — that is, he opened the very heavens to the faithful. God has placed in heaven the very humanity that he took of us. This is indeed a living and unreproveable testimony that all mankind [286] shall at the last be translated into heaven also. For the members must be made conformable to the head. Christ, our Head, is risen again from the dead; therefore we, his members, shall also rise again. And even as a cloud took the Lord away from the sight of his disciples, so we who believe, shall be carried in the clouds to meet the Lord, and be whole in soul and body, and forever dwell in heaven with our Head and Lord, Christ Jesus. And John evidently teaches this in his fourteenth chapter, where the Lord says, "I go to prepare a place for you, and will come again to you, and take you to myself, that wherever I am, you may also be." Paul the apostle also witnesses and says, "We who live, and are remaining at the coming of the Lord, shall be carried in the clouds together with those who are raised up from the dead, to meet the Lord in the air." 1The 4.17

We confess in this article, therefore, that Jesus Christ, being taken up into heaven, is Lord of all things, the King and Bishop, the deliverer and Saviour of all the faithful in the whole world.


We confess that in Christ, and for Christ, we believe the everlasting life which we will have in this body at the end of the world, and in soul as soon as we have departed out of this world.

But, by the way, we must now weigh the specific words of this article. We say, "He ascended." I ask, "Who ascended?" He that was born of the virgin Mary, who was crucified, dead, and buried, who rose again from the dead: he (I say) ascended truly, both body and soul. But where did he ascend? Into heaven. Heaven in the scriptures is not always taken in one signification. First, it is put for the firmament, and that large compass that is over our heads, in which the birds fly to and fro, and in which the stars are placed; they are called the furniture and host of heaven. For David says, "God is clothed with light as with a garment: he spreads out the heaven as if it were a curtain." He also says, "I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, and the moon and stars which You have laid." And again, "Who covers the heaven with clouds, and prepares rain for the earth." And again, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the works of his hands." [287] Then also, heaven is taken for the throne and habitation of God. And lastly, it is taken for the place, seat, and receptacle of those who are saved, where God gives himself to be seen and enjoyed by those who are his. For David says, witnessing again, "The Lord has prepared his seat in heaven." Psa 103.19 Upon this the Lord says in the gospel, "Do not swear by heaven; for it is God's seat." Mat 5.34 And the apostle Paul says, "We know that if our earthly mansion of this tabernacle is destroyed, that we have a dwelling-place forever in heaven, built by God, not made by hands." 2Cor 5.1 And therefore, in this signification, heaven is called the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the Father, joy, happiness, and felicity, eternal life, peace and quietness. And although God is not indeed shut up in any place (for he says, "Heaven is my seat, and the earth is the footstool of my feet" Isa 66.1), yet because the glory of God shines in the heavens most of all, and because he lets himself be seen in heaven and enjoyed by those who are his (according to that saying, "We shall see him even as he is;" 1Joh 3.2 and again, "No man shall see me and live," says the Lord Exo 33.20), God is therefore said to dwell in heaven.


Moreover, Christ our Lord, touching his divinity, is not shut up in any place; but according to his humanity, once taken on, which he drew up into heaven, he is in the very local place of heaven; nor meantime is he here on earth and everywhere bodily. But being severed from us in body, he remains in heaven. For he ascends — which means, leaving what is below, he goes to what is above. Christ therefore, leaving the earth, has placed a seat for his body above all heavens. Not that he is carried up beyond all heavens; but because, ascending above all the circles into the utmost and highest heaven, he is taken, I say, into the place appointed for those who are saved. For Paul the apostle, speaking plainly enough to be understood, says, "Our conversation [288] is in heaven, from where we look for the Saviour to come," etc. Phi 3.20 In the same manner also, Luke the evangelist says, "And blessing them, he departed from them, and was carried into heaven." Luk 24.51

But why do I make so much ado about expounding what is most evidently declared in the very Creed, by that which follows? For the next statement is, "He sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty." By this we understand what kind of place heaven is, and what our Lord does in heaven. Surely it is not for our frailty, to over-narrowly seek out or discuss the secrets of heaven; and yet it is not against religion to inquire about what is taught to us in the scriptures, and to perfectly remember it as it is taught to us. Our Lord is simply said to sit; and that too, is to sit at the right hand of the Father Almighty. Let us therefore see what the right hand of the Father is, and what it means to sit at the right hand of the Father.

The right hand of the Father in the scripture has two significations. First, the right hand of God is the place appointed for those who are saved, and their everlasting felicity in heaven.


St. Augustine set this down to be marked long before us. In the twenty-sixth chapter of his book de Agone Christiano, he writes that "the right hand of the Father is the everlasting felicity given to the saints; even as the left hand is most rightly called the continual misery allotted to the ungodly — not that by this means (as to what I said) the right or left hand is to be understood in respect to God himself, but in respect to his creatures' capacity." [289] And St. Augustine spoke this according to the scriptures. For David says, "The path of life You shall make known to me: the fulness of joys is in Your sight; and at Your right hand is gladness forever." Psa 16.11 What else is this, if not to say, You will bring me into life, I say, into the very heavens, where I will be filled with joys, both by seeing and beholding You, and also by enjoying You — for at your right hand in eternal blessedness, are joys everlasting.

In the gospel also, we read that the sheep are placed by the Judge at the right hand, and the goats at the left. Mat 25.33 And when the right hand is taken in this sense, then "to sit" signifies to rest from all labours, and to live quietly and in a happy state. For that saying in the prophet is very well known, "A man shall sit under his vine;" Mic 4.4 as if he had said, All things will be at peace, in safety, and at quiet. So then, what I have said is meant by the right hand of the Father. And where we confess that the Son sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty, we acknowledge that our Lord, being delivered from all trouble and mortal infirmities, now in his humanity, both rests and rejoices in the specific local place of heaven, where we believe that both our souls and bodies shall be and live forever. For in the gospel, the Lord himself witnesses that there are many mansions in his Father's house, which he goes to prepare, so that they may have a place. And although he departed, yet he would return to them again, and take them to himself, that where he is, they also might be in the same place with him. Joh 14.2-3


This is why we believe that Christ is at rest in heaven, where he has prepared a place of rest for us also, to remain in joys everlasting. And because our bodies will not be in felicity everywhere, but only in the appointed place, St. Augustine therefore truly says that, "Christ our Lord, according to the measure of his body, is in some one place of heaven." [290] St. Cyprian says, "To sit at the right hand of the Father, is the mystery of his flesh taken up into heaven." [291]

Secondly, the right hand of God is used for the virtue, kingdom, protection, deliverance, and power of God. For David says, "The Lord's right hand is high: the Lord's right hand does mighty things." Psa 118.16 And Moses said: "Your right hand, Lord, is magnified in power: your right hand, O Lord, has broken the enemy." Exo 15.6 And when the right hand is used in this sense, then "to sit" signifies to reign, to deliver, to use power, and to do the office of a prince. For David says, "The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." Psa 110.1 And the prophet Zechariah says, "Behold the man who is called the Branch: he will bud out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord, and sit and rule upon his throne and be a priest upon his seat." Zec 6.12-13 In this sense, the right hand of God is infinite, and not contained in any measure of place. Although we confess that our Lord "sits" at the right hand of the Father, we profess that the Son is exalted above all things, having all things subject under himself, as Paul says in his first chapter to the Ephesians. And finally, the Son, being so exalted, can do all things: he reigns in the universal church, delivers those who are his, makes intercession to the Father in heaven, and in the power of his Godhead, he is present in all places. Therefore, the Creed adds almightiness to this sitting of his, where it is said, "He sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty."


And in St. Matthew the Lord says, "To me is given all might in heaven and on earth: go therefore, and bring all nations to me." Mat 28.18-19

So then, I suppose that I have thus briefly well-declared what manner of place heaven is: namely, a place of quietness, joy, and everlasting felicity, in which the Son of God sits, dwells, and is in his humanity. And we who are the members of Christ, shall also be in the very same place without any dolour and grief, in joy forevermore. And although our Lord is delivered from all grievous business, yet we do not mean that he sits idly leaning on his elbows. For he is a King, a Priest, and very God in the very temple of God: he cannot help but choose therefore, of his natural property and office, to work salvation in the elect, and do all things that lie in his hand to do as God, king, and priest. So then, now we all know what our Lord does as he sits in heaven. Nor is it any trouble at all for him to do and to work what he does; for he does not work out of compulsion, but naturally, and of his own accord.

Thus, and not otherwise, the ancient interpreters of the holy scriptures handled this article of our belief. I will allege [292] some of their testimonies here. St. Jerome,[293] in his exposition of Paul's first chapter to the Ephesians, says:

"He has declared the power of God by the similitude of a man: not because a seat is placed, and God the Father sits on it, having his Son sitting there with him; but because we cannot otherwise conceive how the Son judges and reigns, except by such words applied to our capacity. And therefore, to be next to God or to depart far from him, is not to be understood according to the distance of places, but according to men's merits, because the saints are heard by him, but the sinners (of whom the prophet says, Behold, those who go against You shall perish) Isa 41.11 are removed so far as not to come near Him at all; so likewise, to be either at the right or left hand of God is to be taken in such a way, that the saints are at his right hand, and sinners at his left. As our Saviour himself also says in the gospel, affirming this, that at the right hand are the sheep, and the goats at the left.


Moreover, this very word 'to sit' argues for the power of a kingdom, by which God is beneficial to those on whom he grants to sit; insomuch as truly he rules them, and always has them in his guidance, and turns to his own beck or government, the necks of those who previously ran out of the way at random and at liberty." [294]

St. Augustine, in his book de Fide et Symbolo, says,

"We believe that he sits at the right hand of God the Father. Yet not as though we thought that God the Father is comprehended within the limits of a man's body; so that those who think of him should imagine that he has both a right and a left side. And even though it is said that the Father sits, we must not suppose that he sits with bent hams; lest perhaps we fall into the same sacrilege for which the apostle curses those who have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the similitude of a corruptible man.[295] For it is a detestable thing to place God in such a likeness in a Christian church. And it is much more wicked to place it in the heart, where the temple of God is truly and indeed, if it is cleansed from earthly desires and error. We must therefore understand that at the right hand is the same as saying in greatest happiness, where righteousness and peace and gladness are; even as the goats are placed at the left hand; that is, where they are in misery for their iniquities, to their pain and torment. Although God is therefore said to sit, this does not mean placing his limbs, but his judicial power, which his majesty never lacks in bestowing worthy rewards on those who are worthy of them;" etc. [296]


The blessed bishop Fulgentius,[297] in his second book to king Trasimundus, says, "The Lord, to show that his humanity is local, says to his disciples, 'I ascend to my Father and to your Father, my God and your God.'" Joh 20.17 And a little after, "Declaring the incomprehensibility of his Godhead, he says to his disciples, 'Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.'" [298]

The blessed martyr and bishop of Trent, Vigilius,[299] in his first book against heresies, says,

"This was to go to the Father, and to depart from us; to take out of this world the nature which he took of us. You see therefore, that it was proper for the same nature to be taken away, and to depart from us, according to the words of the angels who said, 'This Jesus, who is taken up from you, shall come again, even as you see him go into heaven.' Act 1.11 For, see the miracle; see the mystery of both his properties: the Son of God in his humanity is departed from us; but according to his divinity, he says to us, Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. If he is with us, then how can he say,


'The time will come, when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it'? He is both with us, and not with us; because those whom he has left and departed from in his manhood,[300] he has not left or forsaken in his Godhead." [301] This is what he says.

The seventh article of our faith is this: "From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." In the former articles is set forth and confessed the divine goodness, bountifulness, and grace in Christ. Now the divine justice, severity, and vengeance that is in him is also declared. For there are two comings of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, he came basely in the flesh, to be the Redeemer and Saviour of the world. The second time, he will come gloriously in judgment, to be a judge and revenger who will not be entreated against all unrepentant sinners and wicked-doers. And he will come out of heaven, from the right hand of the Father, in his visible and very human body, to be seen by all flesh, with the incomprehensible power of his Godhead, and attended to by all the angels. For the Lord himself says in the gospel, "They shall see the Son man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory, and he shall send his angels with the great sound of a trump," etc. Mat 24.30-31


But now, to "judge" is to sit in the tribunal-seat, to hear and discuss matters, to address strifes, to determine and give sentence, and lastly, to defend and deliver — and again, to chastise and punish, and by that means, to keep under and suppress injury and malice. We therefore believe that our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, will deliver all the godly, and destroy all the wicked, according to the words of the apostle, who says, "Our Lord shall be revealed from heaven with the angels of his power, with a burning flame, and shall lay vengeance on those who have not known God." 2The 1.7-8 Again, "The same just Judge shall give a crown of righteousness to all those who love his coming." 2Tim 4.8

The writings of the evangelists and apostles tell us that the manner of this judgment will be in this way: Once the wickedness of this world comes to the full, and antichrist has deceived the world, so that there is but little faith remaining, and the wicked say, "Peace and quietness;" then a sudden destruction will come. For our Lord, the Judge, will send his archangel to blow the trump, and to gather together from the four winds, all flesh to judgment. Shortly after, the Judge himself will follow, our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the host of heaven. And he will descend out of heaven into the clouds. And sitting aloft in the clouds as in a judgment-seat, he will easily be seen by all flesh. Those who are then living at the Day of Judgment, will be changed in a very prick of time,[302] and stand before the Judge; and all the dead will rise up again in a moment. Then the Judge will divide the sheep from the goats, and according to justice, he will give judgment with the sheep and against the goats, saying, "Come, you blessed," etc., and "Go, you cursed," etc. Execution will follow shortly after. For the sheep will later be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and will joyfully ascend with him into heaven, to the right hand of God the Father, there to live forever in glory and gladness. The bottom of the earth will gape for the wicked, and will suck them all up horribly, and send them down to hell, there to be tormented forever with Satan and his angels.


All this will be done, not by any long, troublesome, or changeable process, as is used in our courts of law, but in the twinkling of an eye. For then all men's hearts will be laid open, and every man's own conscience will accuse himself. This is set out more largely in Mat 24 and 25, Wisd. 3 and 5, 1Cor 15, 2Cor 5, 1The 4 and 5, Rom 2, 2Pet 3, etc.

Now we simply confess that the quick and the dead will be judged. Some expound this from the godly and ungodly. But the Symbol or Creed was ordained for the simplest of understanding; and simple things are most fit to teach simple men. Therefore we simply say that the dead are all those who from the beginning of the world, even until the last day, have departed out of this mortal life. And the living are those who at that day will still be alive in this world. For the apostle says, "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed by the last trump, in a moment of time, and in the twinkling of an eye. For the trump will sound, and the dead will rise again incorruptible, and we will be changed." 1Cor 15.51-52 And again, the same apostle says in another place, "This I say to you in the word of the Lord, that we who will live and be remaining at the coming of the Lord, will not precede [303] those who are asleep. Because the Lord himself will come down out of heaven with a great noise, and the voice of an archangel, and the trump of God. And first the dead in Christ will rise up again; then we, who are alive and remaining, will be caught up together with them in the clouds into the air to meet the Lord. And so we will be with the Lord forevermore." 1The 4.15-17

We therefore confess in this seventh article, that we believe there will be an end of all things in this world, and that the felicity of the wicked will not endure forever. For we believe that God is a just God, who has given all judgment to his Son, to repay to everyone in that day according to his works, pains to the wicked, that will never be ended; and to the godly, joys everlasting. And so, in this article we profess that we look for a deliverance, a ceasing from troubles, and the reward of life everlasting.


For how could he destroy those who believe in him, his people and his servants? — him who in the most true gospel says, "Truly, I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man sits on the seat of his majesty, you also will sit upon twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Mat 19.28 There are most certain rewards and penalties appointed for the godly and the ungodly in the word of truth. He cannot lie who said to Isaiah:[304] "Say to the righteous, that it will go well with him; for he shall enjoy the fruit of his study. But woe to the wicked: it will be evil with him; for he shall be rewarded according to the works of his own hands." Isa 3.10-11 And this much touching the second part of the Creed.

Now we have come to the third part.

The eighth article of our belief is this: "I believe in the Holy Ghost." This third part of the Creed contains the property of the third Person in the reverend Trinity. And we rightly believe in the Holy Ghost, as well as in the Father and the Son. For the Holy Ghost is one God with the Father and the Son. And faith in the Holy Ghost is rightly joined to faith in the Father and the Son. For by him the fruit of God's salvation, fulfilled in the Son, is sealed to us, and our sanctification and cleansing is bestowed on us, and derived to us from him, by the Holy Ghost. For the apostle says, "God, who anointed us, is the one who also sealed us, and has given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." 2Cor 1.21-22 And again, "You were indeed defiled with naughtiness; but now you are cleansed, and sanctified, and lastly, justified through the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." 1Cor 6.11 The Father indeed sanctifies too, but by the blood of Jesus Christ; and He pours the same sanctification out of him into us, by the Holy Ghost. So that as it were, it is the property of the Holy Ghost to sanctify; this is why he is called Holy or the Sanctifier. Therefore, so often as we hear the Holy Ghost named, we must then think of the power in working, which the scripture attributes to him; and we must look for the benefits that flow to us from him.


For the power, operation, or action of the Spirit, is whatever the grace of God works in us through the Son; and so, of necessity, we must believe in the Holy Ghost. And in this eighth article we profess that we truly believe that all the faithful are cleansed, washed, regenerated, sanctified, enlightened, and enriched by God with diverse gifts of grace for Christ's sake; yet it is through the Holy Ghost. For without him there is no true sanctification. This is why we should not attribute these gifts of grace to any other means; this glory belongs to the Holy Ghost only, of whom I will more largely and fully discourse in my other sermons.

The hour is spent, which warns me to wrap up briefly and make an end. Therefore I exhort you all to have your faith religiously bent upon the Lord Jesus. For the heavenly Father has sent him to us, and in him He has wholly expressed and shown himself to us; and the Holy Ghost imprints him in our hearts and keeps him in our minds. And in Christ, all man's salvation and every part of it is contained; thus we must beware that we do not derive it from anything else. "It pleased the Father," says the apostle, "that all fulness should dwell in the Son," and in him to recapitulate, and as it were, to summarize all points of salvation, so that in him all the faithful may be fulfilled.[305] For if salvation is sought, then even by his very name we are taught that salvation is in his power: for he is called Jesus, that is, a Saviour. If we desire the Holy Spirit of God and his sundry gifts, we shall find them also in the anointing of Christ. For he is called Christ, the Anointed, I say, the Holy of holies, and the sanctifier, or the anointer of us with his Spirit. If any man needs strength and might, power and deliverance, well, he has to look for it in Christ's dominion; for Christ is Lord of all.

In this same Christ we find redemption: for he has redeemed us, we who were sold under Satan's yoke. In his conception we have purity; in his nativity we have sufferance;[306] for he became like us that he might suffer grief as we do.


For in his passion we have forgiveness of sins; in his condemnation we have absolution; in his offering or cleansing sacrifice we have satisfaction; [307] we have cleansing in his blood; and a universal reconciliation in his descending into hell. In his burial we have the mortification of our flesh, the newness of life, or rather the immortality of the soul; and in his glorious resurrection, we have the resurrection of our bodies. We also have the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, with the assured sealing of it, in his ascension and in his sitting at the right hand of the Father. And there he is our Mediator, Priest, and King, our safeguard and our head, our defender and most sure rest.[308]

From there he pours into us his Holy Spirit, the fulness of all good things; and he communicates himself wholly to us, joining us to himself with an indissoluble knot. From there, with confidence and joy, we look for him to be our Judge — to be our patron and deliverer, I say — who will condemn and send headlong down into hell, all our enemies with Satan. But he shall take us and all the faithful of every age, up into heaven with himself, there to sing a new song, and to rejoice in him forever. To him be glory forever. Amen.


Of the latter articles of Christian faith
contained in the Apostles' Creed.

LET us call to our Father in heaven, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that he will grant to pour his grace into us, that we may, to no small profit, dispatch and expound the last part of the articles of Christian belief.

The ninth article of faith is this: "The holy catholic church, the communion of saints." After the confession of our belief in the holy Trinity, and in the mystery of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and lastly in the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier and restorer of all — now, in the fourth part, is reckoned up the fruit and power, the effect and end of faith; and what comes to the faithful, and is bestowed on them. What comes to them is the communion of God and all saints, sanctification, remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and life everlasting. I will speak of these in the order in which they lie, so far as the bountiful Lord gives me ability.


Now then, we have to repeat here out of the eighth article, this phrase "I believe." We must say, "I believe the holy catholic church." There are some unlearned, who hold the opinion that in this point of our confession we should say, "I believe in the holy church." The reason that leads them to think so, is this: because they find written this in the Constantinopolitan Creed: "And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord that gives life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who together with the Father and the Son is to be worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets in one catholic and apostolic church." They so distinguish these words that, they repeat "I believe" from the premise, making this the sense of them: "I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord." Even so, they again repeat these words, "I believe," making this to be the sense, "I believe in one catholic and apostolic church." [309]

But this is more than is needed; indeed, they twist [310] these words of the Creed against all godliness. For this phrase, "In one catholic and apostolic church," does not refer to the verb, "I believe," but to the Holy Ghost, because he spoke by the prophets in one catholic and apostolic church. For our meaning is, and we confess, that one and the same Spirit did all things in both Testaments, contrary to the opinion of those who imagined that there were two spirits contrary to one another.

Moreover St. Cyprian says in his exposition of the Apostles' Creed:

"He did not say, In the holy church, nor In the remission of sins, nor In the resurrection of the body. For if he had added the preposition, the force of those clauses would have been the same as the force of what went before.


For in those words in which our belief touching the Godhead is set down, we say, 'In God the Father, in Jesus Christ his Son, and in the Holy Ghost.' But in the rest, where the text is not about the Godhead, but touching the creatures or mysteries, the preposition 'in' is not added such that we would say, 'In the holy church.' Rather the holy church is to be believed, not as we believe in God, but as a congregation gathered together to God; and that the forgiveness of sins is to be believed, not that we ought to believe in the forgiveness of sins; and that the resurrection of the flesh is to be believed, not that we ought to believe in the resurrection of the flesh. So then, by this preposition 'in,' the Creator is discerned from the creatures, and that which is God's is discerned from that which is man's." [311] This is what Cyprian says.

St. Augustine, in his book de Fide et Symbolo, has, "I Augustine, believe the holy church," not I believe in the holy church." [312] Also alleged are his words in his epistle ad Neophytos, touching consecration, Distinct. 4, cap. 1: "We did not say that you had to believe in the church, as in God, but understand how we said that, being conversant in the holy catholic church, you should believe in God." [313]

Much more evidently, Paschasius,[314] in the first chapter of his first book de Spiritu Sancto, says,

"We believe the church, as the mother of regeneration; we do not believe in the church, as the author of salvation.


He that believes in the church, believes in man, for man does not have his being from the church, but the church began by man. Therefore, leave this blasphemous persuasion, to think that you have to believe in any worldly creature, since you may not believe either in angel or archangel. The unskilfulness of some has drawn and taken the preposition 'in' from the sentence that goes just before, and put it into the sentence that follows, adding to it also, too shamelessly, something more than is needed." [315]

This is what Paschasius has in that book of his, which St. Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome, liked very well. [316]

What do you say, moreover, to what Thomas of Aquinas [317] says, reasoning about faith, in the second book, Part. ii. Artic, ix. Quest. 1?

"If we say, I believe in the holy church, we must understand, that our faith is referred to the Holy Ghost, which sanctifies the church; and so we make the sense to be thus: I believe in the Holy Spirit, that sanctifies the church. But it is better, and according to common use, not to add at all the syllable 'in,' but to simply say, the holy catholic church, even as pope Leo says." [318]

This is what Thomas has.


So now you have heard the opinions of the ancient doctors of the church, Cyprian, Augustine, Gregory, Paschasius, pope Leo; and also of Thomas of Aquinas, who taught in the latter times. Dearly beloved, you understand by proofs taken out of the canonical scripture, that we must acknowledge and confess the holy catholic church, but not believe in the holy catholic church.

And now we have to see what that is, that is called the church, and what is called the catholic church. Ecclesia, a word which we use for the church, is properly an assembly. It is, I say, where the people are called out, or gathered together, to hear something touching the affairs of the commonweal. In this present treatise, it is the company, communion, congregation, multitude, or fellowship of all who profess the name of Christ. Catholic is the same as saying this fellowship is universal, that it is extended through all places and ages.[319] For the church of Christ is not restrained to any corner among the Donatists in Africa.[320] It stretches itself out through the compass of the world, and to all ages, and it contains all the faithful from the first Adam even to the very last saint that remains before the end of the world. This universal church has her particular churches — I mean, the church of Adam and of the patriarchs, the church of Moses and of the prophets before the birth of Christ, the Christian church, which is so named by Christ himself, and the apostolic church gathered together by the apostles' doctrine in the name of Christ. And finally, it contains particular churches, such as the church of Jerusalem, of Antioch, of Alexandria, of Rome, of Asia, of Africa, of Europe, of the east, of the west, etc.


And yet all these churches — members of one body under their only head Christ (for Christ alone is the head of his church, not only triumphant, but also militant) — make only one catholic church, in which there are not to be found either heresies or schisms. And for that reason, it is called the true church,[321] namely, of the right and true opinion, judgment, faith, and doctrine. For only in the church is true faith [to be found]; and outside the church of God, there is neither any truth, nor yet salvation.

So then, in this article we confess that all the faithful dispersed throughout the whole compass of the earth, and also those who at this time live in heaven (as many, I say, as are already saved, or are born to be saved, even until the end of the world), are one body, having obtained fellowship and participation with God, and a mutual communion among themselves. And because no man can be made one with God unless he is also holy and pure, and as we believe God is holy and pure, we therefore believe the church is holy; that is, that it is sanctified by God the Father in the blood of the Son, and it is the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have heard testimonies enough in the former sermons. Therefore, this one from Paul will be sufficient, which he writes to the Ephesians: "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, to sanctify and cleanse it in the fountain of water through the word, to make it a glorious church for himself, not having spot or wrinkle," etc. Eph 5.25-27

By these words we understand that the church is called undefiled and altogether clean, not in respect to itself, but because of Christ. For the church of Christ is so far holy, that every day it goes forward in profiting, and is never perfect so long as it lives on the earth. And yet, notwithstanding, its holiness is most absolutely perfect in Christ. To this truly belongs that notable saying of the Lord, "He that is washed has no need but to wash his feet only, for he is wholly clean." Joh 13.10 For the faithful are purely cleansed by Christ, who washes them with his blood. Yet, because the flesh strives with the spirit so long as life remains on the earth, the godly need to wash and wipe their feet with faith, and the Holy Ghost — that is, they need to wash the relics and spots with which they are stained by their daily conversation [322] in this world.


But now, to what does this addition belong: "The communion of saints"? These words are not to be read either in Cyprian or Augustine, nor yet expounded by them.[323]

Therefore, it is likely that they were added for the better understanding of what went before. That it might appear that the catholic church is the fellowship or company of the faithful, he added, "The communion of saints," as if he had said, "which church is a communion of saints." Paul called saints, those who for their faith are sanctified by the blood and Spirit of God. Also, this word "communion" is very evident and comfortable. For first, its meaning is that there is a communion between God and us; that is, a fellowship and participation; and consequently, there is a sharing [324] between us of all good and heavenly things. And then we also understand that we are fellows and partakers with all the saints who are living either in heaven or on earth: for we are members of them under one head, Christ. For the apostle John says, "That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and that your fellowship may be with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ." [325] To this pertains that trim similitude of the body and members under one head, which the apostle Paul handles at large indeed. But who can worthily enough set forth the great goodness of God's gift and benefit, in that we are made fellow-partners of God, with whom we are most nearly conjoined, and have a part in all his good and heavenly things? What can be more delightful to our ears than to hear that all the saints, in heaven as well as on earth, are our brethren, and that we again are members, partners, and fellows with them? Blessed be God, who has so liberally bestowed his blessing on us in Christ his Son.


Here belongs the discourse on the sacraments, which (with the church) I mean to treat more fully at another time. For the present time, this is sufficient. For what I have said abundantly enough expresses and sets out the fruit of faith in the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost: namely, that we have participation with God and all the saints; and that in this fellowship, we are sanctified from all filth or uncleanness, being cleansed and holy in Christ our Lord. Now follows,

The tenth article of our belief is, "The forgiveness of sins." The second fruit or commodity of our belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is set forth here — and that is, the remission of sins. Although it is contained in sanctification, which was spoken of in the last article, it is, notwithstanding, more lively expressed in this place. There is no salvation without the church, just as there would have been none without the ark of Noah; but in the church, I mean, in the fellowship of Christ and the saints, there is full forgiveness of all offences. That this may be better understood, I will divide it into some parts.

First of all, it is needful to acknowledge and confess that we are sinners, and that by nature and our own proper merits, we are the children of wrath and damnation. For it is not in vain, nor without a cause, that St. John calls every one a liar, who says he has no sin. 1Joh 1.8 And God, who knows the hearts of men, has commanded us even till the last gasp, to pray saying, "Forgive us our debts." Moreover, in the gospel we have two excellent examples of men openly confessing their sins to God: the prodigal son, I say, and the publican in St. Luke. [326]

Let us therefore think that we are all sinners, as Paul also taught; yes, as he has evidently proved in the first chapter to the Romans. And with David in the 32nd and 51st Psalms, let us freely confess our sins to God, saying, "I have made my sin known to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I have said, I will confess my unrighteousness against myself; and You have forgiven the iniquity of my offence." "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy," etc. The Psalm is well-known.

Secondly, let us believe that all these sins of ours are pardoned and forgiven by God, not for acknowledging and confessing our sins, but for the merit and blood of the Son of God; not for our own works or merits, but for the truth and mercy, or grace, of God.


For we plainly profess, saying: "I believe the forgiveness of sins." We do not say I buy, nor I get by gifts, nor I obtain by works, the forgiveness of sins — but, "I believe the forgiveness of sins." And the word "remission" or "forgiveness" signifies a free pardoning, by a metaphor taken from creditors and debtors. For the creditor forgives the debtor when he is not able to pay. Therefore, remission is a forgiving according to this saying of our Saviour in the Gospel: "A certain lender had two debtors; and when they were not able to pay, he forgave them both." Luk 7.41-42

To this also belongs that saying in the Lord's prayer: "And forgive us our debts;" for our debts are our sins. We request them to be remitted, that is, to be forgiven us. In this sense also, St. Paul says, "To him that works, the reward reckoned is not of grace, but due as of a debt; but to him that does not work but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness: — even as David describes the blessedness of that man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, 'Blessed are those whose unrighteousnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is that man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.'" Rom 4.4-8 Therefore, in respect to us who do not have the means to repay, our sins are freely forgiven; but in respect to God's justice, they are forgiven for the merit and satisfaction of Christ.

Moreover, it is not only the sins of a few men, of one or two ages, or only a few and certain number of sins, that are forgiven; but the sins of all men, of all ages, the whole multitude of sins, whatever is and is called sin, whether it is original or actual, or any others beside. In short, all sins are forgiven us. We hereby learn this, because the solitary sacrifice of Christ is effectual enough [327] to wash away all the offences of all sinners who by faith come to the mercy-seat of God's grace. Heb 4.16 And yet we do not teach men to sin because the Lord has long since made satisfaction for all sins. But if any man does sin, we teach him to hope well, and not to despair, but to flee to the throne of grace; for there we say that Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Joh 1.29


And truly, it is expressly said in the Creed, "I believe the forgiveness of sins," and not of sin. For when we say "of sins," we acknowledge that God forgives all sins. It will be sufficient to let pass the proofs of this out of the 3rd and 5th chapters of Paul to the Romans, and those out of St. John the apostle and evangelist. In his epistle, he testifies saying, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin." 1Joh 1.7 Look, he says from every sin. The one who says from every one, makes no exceptions, unless it is that which the Lord himself excepted — I mean, the sin against the Holy Ghost, for which the very same St. John forbids us to pray. [328]

Again, he also says, "If we acknowledge our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness." 1Joh 1.9 The apostle did not think it was enough to say barely, "To forgive us our sins;" but that he might declare the thing as it is. Indeed, to declare it so plainly that it might be easily understood, he moreover adds this saying: "And to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness." Look, here he again says, "from all unrighteousness." Some caviller [329] might perhaps make an objection, saying, "This kind of doctrine makes men sluggish and slow to amend; for men under the pretence of God's grace will not cease to sin." Therefore, in his 2nd chapter, John answers their objection and says, "Babes, I write these things to you, that you do not sin: and if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the atonement for our sins: and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1Joh 2.1-2 Therefore it is assuredly true that by the death of Christ, all sins are forgiven those who believe.

Moreover, the Lord alone forgives sins. For it is the glory of God alone to forgive sins, and from unrighteous men, to make them righteous. Therefore, although men are said to forgive sins, which is to be understood of their ministry, and not of their power, the minister pronounces to the people that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. And in so saying, he does not deceive them: for God indeed forgives the sins of those who believe, according to that saying, "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them." Joh 20.23 And this is done as often as the word of the gospel is preached — so there is no need to pretend that auricular confession [330] and private absolution at the priest's hand, are necessary for the remission of sins.


For just as auricular confession was not in use among the saints before the coming of Christ, so we do not read that the apostles heard private confession, or used private absolution in the church of Christ. It is enough for us to confess our sins to God who, because he sees our hearts, should therefore most rightly hear our confessions. It is enough if we, as St. James teaches us, confess our faults and offences to one another between ourselves; Jas 5.16 and so, after pardon is asked, we return into mutual favour again. It is enough for us to hear the gospel, promising the forgiveness of our sins through Christ, if we believe. Let us therefore believe the forgiveness of sins, and pray to the Lord that he will grant to give and increase in us this same belief. Of old, and in the primitive church, these things were effectual enough to obtain pardon and full remission of sins. And as they were sufficient then, so they are undoubtedly sufficient today too.

Furthermore, the Lord so pardons our sins, not they should not be in us anymore, nor leave their relics behind, like a sting in our flesh, but that they should not be imputed to us to our damnation. Concupiscence [331] sticks fast and shows itself in our flesh, striving still with the good Spirit of God, even in the holy ones, so long as life lasts on this earth. Here, therefore, we need long watching and much fasting, to draw from the flesh the nourishment of evil, and frequent prayers calling to God for aid, so that we will not be overcome by the evil. And if any man happens to fail out of feebleness, and is subdued by temptation, let him not yield himself by lying still, to be caught in the devil's net. Let him rise up again by repentance, and run to Christ, believing that by the death of Christ, this fall of his shall be forgiven him. And he will have recourse to Christ as often as he is vanquished by concupiscence and sin. All the exhortations of the prophets and apostles shoot for this end, calling on us still to return to the Lord.

Finally, the Lord so forgives our sins, that he will never once remember them again. For so he foretold us by Jeremiah, in his 31st chapter. Jer 31.34 The Lord therefore does not punish us. For he has not only forgiven the fault, but also the punishment due for the sin.


Now then, although the Lord sometimes whips us with his scourges, and whips us for our sins indeed (as the holy scripture plainly declares), he does not do it with the intent that with our affliction we should make satisfaction for the sins we have committed; for then the death of Christ would be of no effect. But the Lord chastises us with whipping; and by whipping us, he lets us understand that he does not like the sins which we have committed, and which he freely forgives. By whipping us, he also makes us examples to others, lest they sin too; and he cuts us off from all occasion for sinning; and by the cross he keeps our patience exercised. [332] I have thus far been touching the forgiveness of sins. I have said something about this in my sermon about faith that justifies, [333] and elsewhere.

The eleventh article is this: "The resurrection of the flesh." These two articles, this and the twelfth, enclose as briefly as possible, the most excellent fruit of faith, and sum of all perfection. They wrap up, I say, the end of faith, in confessing life everlasting, and the full and perfect salvation of the whole man. For the whole man [334] shall be saved, in soul as well as body. For as by sin, man perished both in body and soul, so he ought to be restored again both bodily and spiritually. And as he ought to be, so he was restored again by Christ. The soul of man truly is a spirit, and it does not die at all; the body is earthly, and therefore it dies and rots. For this reason, many hold the opinion that the bodies die, never to be made partakers of joy or pain in the world to come. But in this article, we profess the contrary, acknowledging that those bodies of ours, and so too that flesh of ours, shall rise again and enter into life everlasting.

I have spoken of this word "resurrection," or rising again, in the exposition of this article, "The third day he rose again from the dead." But now, this word "flesh" expresses a great deal more significantly the resurrection of this flesh, than if we were to say the resurrection of the body. Cyprian says truly, that in some churches of the east, this article was thus pronounced: "I believe the resurrection of this flesh." [335]


And Augustine also, in the tenth chapter of his book de Fide et Symbolo, says,

"We must without doubting believe that this visible thing which is properly called flesh, shall rise again. The apostle Paul seems to point at this flesh with his finger as it were, when he says, 'This corruptible must put on incorruption. When he says 'this', he puts his finger to this flesh, as it were." [336] This is what Augustine has said.

Moreover, St. Jerome compels John, bishop of Jerusalem, to openly confess the resurrection of the flesh, not of the body only.

"Flesh has one definition, and the body another. All flesh is a body; but every body is not flesh. That which is composed of blood, veins, bones, and sinews is properly flesh. A body, although it is called flesh, is yet sometimes said to be of like substance to the firmament, or to the air, which is not subject to touching or seeing; and oftentimes, it too may be both touched and seen. A wall is a body, but it is not flesh." [337] This much is taken from Jerome.

Let us therefore believe that men's bodies — which are taken from the earth, and which living men bear about, in which they live and exist, which also die and turn into dust and ashes — that those bodies, I say, are quickened and will live again.

But you ask how this flesh, once resolved into dust and ashes, and so into nothing, can rise again in the former shape and substance: as when it is torn with the teeth of beasts, or consumed to nothing with the flame of fire, and when only a tiny little quantity of dusty powder is to be found in the grave?


I refer you to the omnipotence of God, which the apostle spoke of where he says, "Christ has transformed this vile body of ours, to make it conformable to his glorious body, by the power in which he can make all things subject to himself." Phi 3.21 This is why he that was in the beginning, when there was not yet a man in the world, could bring forth man out of the dust of the earth, although the same man is again resolved into that out of which he was taken — I mean, into earth, as in the saying, "Dust you are, and into dust you shall return again." Gen 3.19 Yet notwithstanding, the same God again, at the end of the world, is able to raise man out of the earth. For the Lord in the gospel says plainly, "The hour shall come in which all those who are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth; those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment." Joh 5.28-29 And now by faith we are thoroughly persuaded, as the apostle says, that "he who has promised, is also able to perform." Rom 4.21

There are, moreover, lively examples of this matter, and most evident testimonies from the holy scripture. Jonah is swallowed up by the whale in the Syrian sea,[338] but the third day after, he is cast upon the shore again, alive, out of the beast's entrails. This is a token that the flesh will truly rise again. This is why it is not hard to believe that in the Apocalypse [339] it is said that "the sea casts up her dead." Rev 20.13


The force of fire had no force to hurt the three companions of Daniel. Indeed, the rage of wild beasts (contrary to nature) abstained from biting Daniel himself. What marvel is it, then, if today neither the force of fire, nor the rage of wild beasts, is able to resist the power of God, being disposed to raise his creatures up again? [340] Did our Lord Christ not raise up Lazarus to life again, when he had lain three days in the grave — yes, and stank too? Did he not himself, having once broken the tyranny of death, rise up again the third day from the dead? Did he not rise again in the same substance of flesh and form of body in which he hung on the cross, and being taken down from the cross, was buried? It is not without good cause that we look back to Christ, who is called the first-begotten among the dead, [341] as often as we think in what manner the resurrection of our flesh shall be. For the members shall rise again in the same order that the Head is risen up before them. Truly, we will not rise again the third day after our death; but in our manner and order, we will rise at the last day — yes, and that too will be in the very same body in which we now live.

I will add a few testimonies to prove the resurrection of our flesh. Job, confessing his faith touching the resurrection of the dead, in his great weakness, affliction, and sickness, says, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and shall be clad again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see God: whom even I myself will see, and my eyes will behold, and no other. This hope is laid up in my bosom." [342] This testimony is so evident, that it needs no larger exposition.

No less evident are those testimonies out of Isaiah, chap. 26; Ezek. 37; Psalm 16; Mat 22; John 5, 6, 11. Throughout the Acts, the resurrection of the dead is often repeated. St. Paul, in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, gives a full discourse about this resurrection. In the fourth chapter of his second epistle, he says, "We who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also might appear in our mortal flesh." 2Cor 4.11


See now, what could be spoken more plainly, than that the life of Christ shall be made to appear in this mortal flesh of ours? For a little after, he says, "We know that he who raised up the Lord Jesus, will raise us up also by the means of Jesus." 2Cor 5.14 And in the fifth chapter again: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," he says, "that every man may receive the works of his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or evil." 2Cor 5.10 Therefore, these very bodies of ours will rise again in the day of judgment.

And now, dearly beloved, I have to declare to you in what manner our bodies will rise again, and of what sort they will be in the resurrection. In the closing and end of all ages, or of this world, our Lord Jesus Christ will come to judgment with great majesty; and then, whomever is found alive that day, will be changed in a moment of time. First (I say) all those who died, from the first Adam to the last who die, shall rise up again, and stand before the tribunal-seat of Christ in their own flesh, among the living who are changed, looking for that final pronounced sentence in judgment. Paul sets this down in these words: "Look, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all truly sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment of time, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trump: for it will sound, and the dead will rise again incorruptibly, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 1Cor 15.51-53

By this evident testimony of the apostle, we may gather in what fashion our bodies will be in that resurrection. Truly, our bodies shall be none other in the resurrection than they are now; with only this exception: that they will be completely without corruption and corruptible affection. For the apostle says, "The dead will rise again;" and, "We will be changed." And again, pointing expressly and precisely to these very bodies which we bear about here, he says, "This corruptible," this mortal, yes, this body, I say, and no other, as Job also witnessed, "will rise again;" and that will rise again incorruptible, which was corruptible; that will rise again immortal, which before the resurrection was mortal.


So then, this body of ours in the resurrection will be set free from all evil affections and passions, from all corruption; but the substance of it will not be brought to nothing; it will not be changed into a spirit; it will not lose its own proper shape. And this body truly, because of that purification and cleansing from those dregs, yes, and rather because of these heavenly and divine gifts, is called both a spiritual body, and also a glorious and purified body.

For Paul, in the third chapter to the Philippians, says, "Our conversation [343] is in heaven, from where we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our vile body, that it may be made like his glorious body." Phi 3.20 See here, the apostle does not call our resurrection from the dead a transubstantiation, or a loss of the substance of our body, but a changing. Then also, showing what kind of body that changed body is, he calls it a glorious body, not without any shape and void of fashion, but augmented in glory. Indeed, he sets before us the very body of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which he shows us what fashion our bodies will have, being in glory. For in plain words he says, "He will make our vile body like his glorious body."

Let us therefore see what kind of body our Lord had after his resurrection. It was not turned into a ghost, nor brought to nothing, nor was it unable to be known by its shape and figure; for showing them his hands and feet which were easily known by the imprint of the nails with which he was crucified, he said, "See, for I am even he," Luk 24.39 — namely, clad again with the same body in which I hung upon the cross. For speaking yet more plainly, and proving that this body of his was not a spiritual substance, he said, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have." He therefore has a purified body, flesh and bones, and the very same members which he had when his body was not as yet purified. And for this reason, the same Lord offered his side to Thomas, Joh 20.27 and the scars of his five wounds, to be felt and handled — to the end that we should not doubt that his very body was raised up again. He both ate and drank with his disciples, as Peter in the Acts witnesses before Cornelius, Act 10.41 so that all men might know that the very self-same body that died, rose from death again.


Now, although this body is comprehended within a certain limited place, and not dispersed all over and everywhere — even though it has a just quantity, figure, or shape, and a just weight, with its own kind and nature — yet notwithstanding, it is free from every passion, corruption, and infirmity. For the body of the Lord, once raised up, was in the garden and not in the sepulchre when the women came to anoint it; it meets them by the way as they return from the sepulchre, and offers itself to be seen by Magdalene in the garden; it goes in company to Emmaus with the two disciples who journeyed to Emmaus. In the meantime, while he was with them in body, he was not among the other disciples. When the two returned to the eleven, the Lord himself is present with them at evening. He goes before his disciples into Galilee; shortly after, he comes back to Jerusalem, where his body was taken up from mount Olivet into heaven. All this proves the certain verity of Christ's body. But because this body (although it is a true and real body, of its own proper kind, place, and disposition, and of its own proper shape and nature) is called a glorified and glorious body, I will say something about that glory, which truly is incident to the true shape and substance of the body once raised up again.

First, glory in this sense is used for lightsomeness and shining brightness. For Paul says that the children of Israel, for the glory of Moses' countenance, could not behold with their eyes the face of Moses. 2Cor 3.7 So then, a glorious body is a bright and shining body. Our Lord showed a very good proof of this a little before his resurrection, when it pleased him to give his disciples a small taste of the glory to come. And for that reason, he took aside certain ones whom he had chosen, into the top of a certain hill, where he was transfigured before them, so that the fashion of his countenance shone like the sun, and his clothes were white and glistered as the light. Mat 17.2 The Lord still truly had the same bodily substance, and the same members of the body, but they were transfigured. Yet, it is manifest that this transfiguration was in the externals.[344] For light and brightness were added, so that, the shape and substance of the countenance and body remaining as it was, the countenance and body glistered like the sun and the light.


We do not read that the body of the Lord, during those forty days in which he showed himself alive again to his disciples, made manifest and spread abroad the brightness which it had. That was because of the dispensation by which he also ate with his disciples — notwithstanding that glorified bodies do not need food or nourishment at all. Yet nevertheless, his body now shines in heaven, as John witnesses in the first chapter of the Apocalypse. And the sacred scriptures lay an assured hope before us, that even our bodies also, shall likewise be glorified in the resurrection. For the Lord himself in the gospel, alleging the words of Daniel, says, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in his Father's kingdom." [345] For this reason, the glorious bodies are also called clarified, from the clearness of that heavenly brightness with which they glister and are adorned.

Secondly, glory and vileness are made contraries. For Paul says, "He will change our vile body, to make it like his glorious body in fashion." Phi 3.21 In these words, vileness and glory are set one against the other. Vileness comprehends the whole pack of miseries and infirmities, passions and affections, which were laid upon the body for sin. Our bodies are purged from all of this in the resurrection of life; so that the glorious bodies are drained of the dregs of corruption, passions, and infirmities, and clad with eternity, heavenly feeling, and glory. For the apostle says, "It is sown in corruption; it rises in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it rises in glory: it is sown in infirmity; it rises in power: it is sown a natural body; it rises a spiritual body." 1Cor 15.42-44

Therefore, the gifts of the glorious and clarified bodies are very great and many, such as incorruption, glory, power, and the quickening Spirit. For the apostle himself, showing what he meant by the natural and spiritual body, immediately adds this: "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body; as it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; and the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." And again, he says more plainly,

"Nevertheless, that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are those who are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are those also who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly." 1Cor 15.45-49


So then, Paul calls that natural body an earthy body which we have from our first father Adam, whose quickening is of the soul, and by that it lives. And he calls the spiritual body a heavenly body, which we have from Christ, and it is made in the likeness of the body of Christ — which although it is a real body indeed, and its flesh is real flesh indeed, yet notwithstanding, it is quickened and preserved by the Spirit of Christ, and does not need any vegetative power.

Therefore, these real bodies and members which we now bear, shall be in heaven after the resurrection. Yet nevertheless, because they are clarified and cleansed from all corruption and feeling of the natural body, there will not truly be any natural or corruptible sense or affection, nor use of the carnal body and its members. And the Lord affirms this against the Sadducees (who dreamt of marriages in heaven, or rather, mocked the resurrection by that absurdity), where he says, "The sons of this world marry wives, and give in marriage; but those who are thought worthy of that world and of the resurrection from the dead, neither marry wives, nor give in marriage; nor can they die any more. For they are equal to the angels, and are the sons of God, as soon as they are the sons of resurrection." Luk 20.34-36 To which effect Paul also says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." And lest anyone mistake his words, and think that he spoke of the substance of the flesh, he immediately adds this for interpreting it, saying, "Nor will corruption inherit incorruption." 1Cor 15.50

This is why flesh and blood, that is, the affections and lusts of the flesh, will not be in the elect who live in heaven. For the joys of heaven differ a great deal from the joys of the earth. And they are so far beyond another condition, that they cannot allow such corrupt creatures to be inheritors of them. For that cause, the corruptible bodies must first be purged from all corruption, and purely clarified by that means,. The Turks are therefore deceived, who look for earthly joys. [346]


Moreover, the bodies of the wicked will also rise again. For Paul says in the Acts: "I believe all that is written in the law and the prophets, hoping in God that the resurrection of the dead, which they themselves also look for, will be of both the just and unjust." Act 24.15 See here, the apostle says of the unjust also. But in this resurrection, the infirmity, corruption, dishonour, and misery will not be taken out of their bodies. For even then, that very body, rising again in dishonour, will be surely shut in dishonour and corruption, and so be condemned by the judgment and power of God, forever to bear endless torments; and in death and corruption, it will neither die nor corrupt. So that, even as on earth certain bodies are found that endure even in the fire, so the cursed bodies of the wicked will not be worn out, nor be broken with any torments whatsoever. For every minute they will receive new strength to suffer, and so by continual suffering, they will abide their deserved punishments for ever and ever and without any end. For the Lord says in the gospel, "Those who have done evil shall rise again to the resurrection of damnation." Joh 5.29 — that is, to an enduring and everlasting damnation. And Daniel before him said, "And the multitude of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and perpetual contempt." Dan 12.2

And in the gospel, the Lord again says, "Their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched." Isaiah used the very same words before him in his 66th chapter. [347] Therefore, we must always have that saying of the Lord in our hearts: "Fear him who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell." Mat 10.28 So much up to here, touching the resurrection of the flesh.

The last and twelfth article of our belief, which with good luck closes the rest, is this: "And life everlasting." We have heard and understood that the souls of men are immortal, and that our bodies rise again at the end of the world.


We have confessed that this is our belief. It now follows, at the end of the Creed, where it is that the immortal soul and body, raised up again, will come. Therefore we say in our confession, "And life everlasting;" that is, I believe that I will have life, and live forever, both in body and soul. And that everlastingness is truly perpetual and it has no end, as a little before it was proved out of the holy scriptures.

Moreover, the souls are made partakers of this eternal life immediately after they have departed out of the bodies, as the Lord himself witnesses, saying, "He that believes in the Son of God shall not come into judgment, but has escaped from death to life." Joh 5.24 As for the bodies, they are buried and putrefy. And yet, notwithstanding that, they will not be without life forever. But they will then be received at length into eternal life when, being raised up, they will after the time of judgment be caught into the air, there to meet Christ, so that they may forever be with the Lord. For then the souls return out of heaven, everyone to his own body, so that the whole, perfect, and full man may live forever both in soul and body. For the soul of Christ dying on the cross, out of hand departed into paradise; and on the third day, it returned to the body, which rose again and ascended into heaven. Therefore, even as eternal life came to the Head Christ, so it shall also come to each and every member of Christ.

Now, citing Isaiah, Paul says, "What the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor at any time has come into the heart of man, that the Lord has prepared for those who love him;" [348] I suppose truly, that if all were said touching eternal life, that might be spoken by all the men of all the ages who ever were or shall be, scarcely the least part of it has or would be thoroughly touched. For however the scripture most plainly shows the shadow of that life and those joys, with eloquent and figurative speech, with allusions and hard sentences,[349]— yet, notwithstanding, all of that is comparatively little or nothing to speak of, until that day comes in which, with unspeakable joy, we will behold God himself, the Creator of all things, in his glory; Christ our Saviour in his majesty; — and finally, all the blessed souls, angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, our fathers — all nations, [350] all the host of heaven — and lastly, the whole divine and heavenly glory.


Most truly therefore, Aurelius Augustine said in Lib. de Civitat. Dei, xxii. cap. 29, "When it is demanded of me, what the saints will do in that spiritual body, I do not answer with what I now see, but with what I believe. I say therefore, that they will see God in that spiritual body." And again, "If I were to say the truth, I do not know of what sort that action, quietness, and rest will be. For the peace of God surpasses all understanding." [351]

To be short, we will see God face to face, we will be filled with the company of God, and yet we will never be weary of him. And the face of God is not that countenance which appears in us; but it is a most delectable revealing and enjoying of God, which no mortal tongue can worthily declare. Go to, then, dearly beloved brethren. Let us believe and live, so that when we depart from here, we may indeed experience those unspeakable joys of the eternal life to come, which we now believe.

Up to here I have declared to you, throughout the last four articles, the fruit and end of Christian faith. Faith leans upon one God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost — who sanctifies the faithful, and purges and hallows a church for himself. This church has communion with God and all the saints; God pardons and forgives all the offences of this church; and He preserves it both soul and body. For just as the saints' souls cannot die, so God raises up their bodies again, and makes them glorious and everlasting, to the end that the whole man may forever live in heaven with the Lord — to whom be praise and glory, world without end. Amen.




Of the love of God and our neighbour.

It remains, since I have discoursed about true faith in some sermons, that I now also add one sermon touching love towards God and our neighbour. For in my fourth sermon, I promised that as soon as I was done with the exposition of faith, I would then speak of love toward God and our neighbour. This is because the exposition of the scriptures should not depart from faith and charity, which are as it were, the right and holy marks for it to draw to. Just as you have done up to now, do not yet cease to pray, that this wholesome doctrine may be taught by me as it should be, and received by you with much increase and profit.

First of all, I will not curiously [352] differentiate between charity and love. I will use them both in one and the same sense. St. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, says, "I call charity a motion of the mind to delight in God for His own sake, and to delight in himself and his neighbour for God's sake." [353] And therefore I call love a gift given to man from heaven, whereby with his heart he loves God before and above all things, and his neighbour as himself. Love therefore springs from heaven, from which it is poured into our hearts. But it is enlarged and augmented, partly by the remembrance and consideration of God's benefits, partly by frequent prayer, and also by the hearing and frequenting of the word of Christ. These things are themselves the gifts of the Spirit. For the apostle Paul says, "The love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us." Rom 5.5 For truly, the love of God with which he loves us, is the foundation and cause of our love with which we love him; and the love of our neighbour jointly consists of both these. For the apostle says, "We love him because He first loved us." 1Joh 4.19 And again, "Everyone who loves Him that begot, also loves him who is born of him." 1Joh 5.1


Hereby we gather again, that this gift of love cannot be divided or severed, even though it is double. For he that loves God truly, does not hate his neighbour. And yet, nevertheless, because of the double respect that it has to God and our neighbour, this love has two parts. And because of this double charity, the tablets of God's law are divided in two: the first of which contains four commandments touching the love of God; the second comprehends six precepts touching the love of our neighbour. I will speak of these in their own place. But at this time, because the love of God and love of our neighbour are two, I will first speak about the love of God, and then about the love of our neighbour. "In these two commandments," says the Lord, "hang the law and the prophets." Mat 22.40

With what we call the love of God, we love God entirely well; we cling to God as the only, chief, and eternal goodness; we delight ourselves in Him and are well pleased; and we frame ourselves to His will and pleasure, evermore having a regard and desire for Him that we love.[354] With love, we love God most heartily. But we heartily love the things that are dear to us, and the things that to us seem worthy to be desired. And we love them entirely indeed, not so much for our commodity,[355] as because we desire to join and to forever give and dedicate ourselves wholly to the thing that we so dearly love. So truly, we desire to be joined with God forever, and are fast-linked to Him in charity. As the apostle says, "God is charity; and he that dwells in charity dwells in God, and God in him." 1Joh 4.16

And that is the way by which we cling to God: as to the only chief and eternal goodness, in whom we are also delighted, and that is not a little. We rest on Him, thinking assuredly that without Him there is no good at all; and again, that in Him there is to be found all manner of goodness. This is why our hearty love is set on no good thing but God. And in comparison to Him whom we love, we readily loathe and tread underfoot, all other things that seem to be good in the whole world.


Yes, truly, the love of God in us overcomes all the evils which otherwise seem invincible. Let us hear Paul proclaiming this with vehement emotion, saying,

"Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (As it is written, For Your sake we are killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.) Nevertheless in all these things we overcome through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rule, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8.35-39

The love of God works in us a will to frame ourselves wholly to the will and ordinances of Him whom we heartily love. Yes, it is pleasant and sweet to him who loves God, to do the thing that he perceives is acceptable to God, if it is done. He that loves, reverences in his mind the one whom he loves. His eye is never off the one whom he loves. He always, and in all things, wishes for his dearling whom he loves. His only joy, as often as possible, is to talk with God, and to hear again the words of God speaking in the scripture. For the Lord in the gospel says, "If any man loves me, he will keep my word. He that does not love me, does not keep my words." Again, "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, even as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." And again: "If any man loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our dwelling in him." [356]

But now let us hear Moses, the servant of God, declaring and teaching us the way and manner to love God — namely, how great a love ought to be in the elect. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deu 6.5 Our Lord repeated the very same words in the gospel, in a way, saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind." Mat 22.37


By this we understand that the greatest love that may be, is required at our hands toward God — as that which claims man wholly, however big he is, and all the parts of man — as peculiar to itself. In the mind is man's understanding. In the heart is the seat of his affections and will. The strength of man contains all man's ability, such as his very words, deeds, counsel, riches, and his whole substance. Finally, the soul is the life of man. And we truly are commanded to employ all these in the love of God, when we are bid to love God with all our soul, with all our strength, with our whole mind, and our whole heart. Nothing is overlooked, but all is contained in this. We are God's wholly and altogether; let us therefore altogether and wholly love God. Let nothing in the whole world be dearer to us than God. Let us not spare, for God's sake, anything of all that we possess, however dear to us or good it may be. But let us forsake, spend, and give it for God's sake, as the Lord appoints by his word. For in so doing, we love God before and above all things.

We are also commanded to stick to God only, and to embrace him alone. For to whom we wholly owe all that we have, all of the whole is to be given to him, sincerely, simply, and fully. Here those who would at the same time love God and the world together, are condemned. The Lord requires the whole heart, the whole mind, the whole soul, and all the strength. Finally, he requires all that we are, or have in our possession. He therefore leaves nothing for you to bestow on others. By what right, then, would you give to the flesh, the devil, to other gods, or to the world, the things that properly are God's own? And truly, God alone is the chief, eternal, greatest, mightiest creator, deliverer, preserver, most gentle, most just, and best of all. He alone gives, has given, and is able to give to man all that is expedient for the safeguard of his body and soul. God alone ministers to man the ability to live well and blessedly. And therefore, God deserves to be loved alone, and that too is before and above all other things. This love of God blesses all the happenings and chances of men, and turns them to their profit, according to that saying: "To those who love God, all things work for the best." Rom 8.28


This love of God also contains this: that it does not suffer us to honour, worship, reverence, fear, or call upon any other, nor to trust in, obey, or stick to any other, but to the one and only God, to whom all glory is due.

But now, before we speak of the love of our neighbour, it is requisite that we first show who is our neighbour; touching which I see some men doubt and stick uncertainly. For there are some who take their kinsfolks to be their neighbours; there are others who think that their benefactors are their neighbours, and judge those to be strangers who do them any harm. But our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that everyone, indeed, even if he is our enemy, is nevertheless our neighbour, if he stands in need of our aid or counsel. For he imagines that a Jew, lighting among thieves, and lying on the highway half dead, and covered with wounds and swelling dry blows, was not regarded by his own countrymen — a Levite and a priest who passed him by; but at last he was taken up and healed by a Samaritan. Now there was a deadly enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans. Yet notwithstanding, this Samaritan does good to the Jew, because he saw that the case and necessity of the afflicted man required it. Now the Lord, applying this to his own purpose, demanded of the one who desired to learn who was his neighbour, "Which of these three seems to you to have been this man's neighbour?" The man answered, "He that showed mercy." Then the Lord said, "Go and do likewise." Luk 10.29-37 It is as if he had said, Just as the Samaritan judged even his enemy to be his neighbour, and dealt friendly with him when he stood in need of his friendship, so see that you take everyone who needs your help to be your neighbour, and do him good.

Aurelius Augustine therefore, according to the right sense of the scripture, said, "We take him to be our neighbour, to whom we show mercy when need requires it; or to whom we should show mercy if he should need it at any time." [357] We Switzers most properly express it, when we call our neighbour Den nachsten menschen — that is, any man, without difference, whoever happens to light into our company.


Moreover, in our country speech we call our neighbour, Der abenmensch, namlich ein yeder der so wol ein mensch ist als wir — meaning any man whatever, whether he is our friend or enemy. That saying of Lactantius belongs to this, in the eleventh chapter of his sixth book: "Why do you choose between persons? Why do you look so narrowly at the limbs? Whoever beseeches you therefore, you must take him to be a man, so that he may think you are a man. Give to the blind, to the impotent, to the lame, to the comfortless  — unless you are liberal to them, you will undoubtedly die." [358] Again he says, "If we would rightly be called by the name of men, then we must in any case keep the law of civil humanity. And what else, I pray you, does it mean to keep humanity, but to therefore love a man because he is a man, and the very same that we ourselves are?" [359]

The Lord in the gospel, truly speaking of the love of our neighbour, says, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who hurt you." Mat 5.44 And again: "Give to everyone that asks of you. And if you love those who love you, what thanks is that to you? For sinners also love those by whom they are loved." Luk 6.30,32 So then, whatever man stands in need of our aid, he both is and is to be counted as our neighbour.

And yet, all this notwithstanding, there is no reason that there should not be an order, a measure, and a decent regard, in love and well-doing. For St. Augustine rightly said, in the twenty-seventh chapter of his book de Doctrina Christiana: "No sinner, in that he is a sinner, is to be loved." [360] And in the twenty-eighth chapter: "All men are to be loved alike. But since you cannot do good to all men, you must therefore especially do good to those to whom you are more nearly joined by lot as it were — by opportunity either of time, place, or any other thing whatsoever." [361]


And Paul taught this before Augustine, where he says, "Whoever does not work, let him not eat." 2The 3.10 And again, "While we have time, let us work good to all men; but specially to those of the household of faith." Gal 6.10 And in another place he commands us not to bestow on others, and yet lack ourselves at home; rather he charges everyone to have a godly care of his own house. The place is known in the fifth chapter of the first epistle to Timothy. 1Tim 5.8

Now, since I have declared who our neighbour is, let us also see in what way this neighbour of ours ought to be loved. Our neighbour must be loved simply, without any coloured deceit, with the very self-same love with which we love ourselves, or that love with which Christ has loved us. For in all things we must stand our neighbour in stead, and do him pleasure, so far as the law of humanity is found to require. In this declaration, there are four things to be noted more fully.

First, that love of our neighbour which is looked for at our hands, ought to be so sincere that it is without any guile, deceit, and coloured craft. For there are many to be found, who have the skill to talk to their neighbours with sugared tongues, and to make a face as though they loved them, when indeed they utterly hate them, meaning nothing else than to beguile them with fawning words, so that thereby they may work the things that they desire. Paul and John, therefore, the apostles of Christ, go about earnestly severing hypocrisy from love. For Paul says, "Do not let your love be feigned." Again, "The end of the commandment is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith that is not feigned." [362] On the other side, John cries out, saying, "My babes, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in verity." 1Joh 3.18


Moreover, in this sincerity we contain a free, willing, and merry cheerfulness, so that nothing may seem to be done unwillingly or by compulsion. For Paul says, "Let every man do with a good purpose of mind, not out of trouble or necessity; for God requires a cheerful giver." 2Cor 9.7

Secondly, it is to be looked for from us, that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. For the Lord has said, "Love your neighbour as yourself;" Mat 22.39 that is, most entirely, and as dearly as you may, by any means. For there is no affection that is of more force or vehemence than self-love. Nor was it the Lord's mind, that the love of our neighbour should be any whit less than the love we bear for ourselves. Rather, by this he gave us to understand that we ought to bestow on others as ardent a love as possible — namely, the very same affection that we bear for ourselves and our own estate — and that we ought to be ready to do good to others, or to keep them from harm, with the same care, faith, and diligence, with the same zeal and good will, with which we provide for ourselves or our own safety. Upon this, the Lord says in another place: "Whatever you would have done for yourself, do for another. And whatever you would not have done to yourself, do not do that to another." Mat 7.12 And in this, the Lord requires two things at our hands: not to hurt, and to do good. For it is not enough not to hurt a man, but we must also to do him good, so much as it lies in us to do so. For we ourselves desire not only to keep ourselves from hurt, but also to do ourselves good. But if, dearly beloved, you do not yet sufficiently understand the manner in which we ought to love our neighbour, then mark this, I beseech you:

The third part of my description of this love, where I said that we ought to love our neighbour with that same love with which the Lord Christ loved us. For in the gospel of St. John, the Lord says, "This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you." Joh 15.12 So then, here you have the manner of our love: we must love our neighbours as Christ has loved us.


But in what way has Christ loved us? Here again in the gospel he says, "No man has greater love than this, that a man bestows his life for his friends." Joh 15.13 So then, this must be the manner of our love toward our neighbour, that we should not hesitate [363] to give our life for him. And if we owe the loss of our life for our neighbour's sake, then truly there is nothing that we do not owe him, considering that nothing is more dear to a man than his life. For he would sooner lose all that he has, than to even once put his life in jeopardy. Thus the apostle John cries out, and says, "Hereby we perceive love: because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1Joh 3.16 This is easy to understand because of the most evident example. Let us pray earnestly and continually to the Lord, that we may indeed fulfil the thing we manifestly understand by the word of God, lest perhaps the same apostle condemns us, who says, "Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother has a need, and shuts up his compassion from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?" 1Joh 3.17

And now let us also declare the fourth and last manner, how we should stand our neighbour in stead, and do him good in showing our dutiful love and civil humanity. The Lord has already very finely set that out in the very same parable in which he taught us who is our neighbour. For he has briefly, and yet very evidently, touched all the points of the love that we owe to our neighbour.

First, the Samaritan was moved with pity at the sight of the wounded man. Therefore, what is required of us is a merciful moving of pity, to so regard other men's calamities as though they were our own. It is looked for at our hands, that we should be as sorrowfully-minded for another man's trouble, as that man who is actually feeling such misery. This is according to that saying of the apostle, "Be mindful of those who are in bonds, as if bound with them; and of those who suffer adversity, as though you yourselves also, being in the body, suffered adversity." [364]


Secondly, the Samaritan does not pass by, but comes to him. He does not with sorrowful words wish health to the wounded, and leaving him lie there, departs to dispatch his own affairs. For James the apostle [365] says, "If a brother or sister is naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; and yet notwithstanding, does not give them those things that are needful for the body, what will it profit?" Jas 2.15-16

The Samaritan therefore comes to him, sets his hand to, and shows the skill that he has (which was not much, I am sure) [366] to heal the pitifully [367] mangled man. He does not loathe and turn his face from the ill-favoured colour, the bloody matter, corrupted filth and stench of his wounds; he binds them up himself, not leaving them for another to do. He does not make his excuse that he is no physician; but he does what he can in that necessity, using such medicine as for the present he had in a readiness, till he might more conveniently come by better. He had taken wine and oil with him when he began his journey, which he uses in that necessity; and that was consistent,[368] because wine purges wounds, and oil makes them supple. Moreover, whatever he has, he employs it to the poor man's benefit. And to ease him, he even diseases himself. For he alights from the back of the beast on which he rode, and makes himself serve the maimed man's necessity. Also, with his own hands he lifts the man up from the ground, who was too weak to stand, and sets him on the beast. And lastly, he himself becomes his guide to lead the way, not allowing any other to take charge over him. For when he could not readily bring him to his own house, he conveyed him into a common inn, where again he does not spare any cost or pains-taking. For he himself takes charge of the miserable man, because in common inns, sick folks, for the most part, are slenderly looked to. But when his earnest business calls to make haste in his journey, he takes out as much money as he thinks will be sufficient till his return, and gives it to the inn-keeper.


Not being content with that, he gives his host special charge of the sick man; and also binds himself for the man, saying: Whatever more than this that you lay out, for things necessary to his recovery, you will not lose one mite. For at my return I will pay you back all of it, to the uttermost farthing. So then he promises the man to return; and with that, he declares that he will not be quiet until he sees him thoroughly healed of all his wounds.

You have here, dearly beloved, in this parable of the Lord, a most godly and absolute example of love. For the Samaritan liberally and willingly employs his whole service upon his needy neighbour's necessity. We therefore owe ourselves entirely, and all that we have, to our neighbour's benefit. If we bestow this on him, we fulfil the duties of love and civil humanity.

To this we will yet add some testimonies of the scripture, so that we may thereby more fully understand the very innermost pith of love; if perhaps anything still seems lacking in what I have alleged up to here. Paul therefore, writing to the Corinthians, says,

"Love suffers wrong, and is courteous; love does not envy; love does not act frowardly; [369] love does not swell, does not deal dishonestly, does not seek her own, is not provoked to anger, does not think evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, suffers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1Cor 13.4-7

And again, the same apostle says in his epistle to the Romans,

"Love strives to go before in giving honour to others; love distributes necessities to the saints; is given to hospitality, speaks well of her persecutors, and does not curse those who persecute her; love rejoices with those who rejoice, and weeps with those who weep, and applies itself to the weaker sort's infirmity." Rom 12.10, 13-16

And again:

"Owe nothing to any man, but to love one another. For he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this — You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall kill; You not bear false witness, You shall not lust, and if there is any other commandment — is comprehended briefly in this saying: namely, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbour; therefore love or charity is the fulfilling of the law." Rom 13.8-10


To this also pertains works of mercy which, as they flow out of love, so they are repeated by the Lord in the gospel of Matthew, and are especially these that follow: To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to harbour the harbourless and strangers, to cover or clothe the naked, to visit the sick, and to see [i.e., visit] and comfort imprisoned captives. Mat 25.35-36

Lactantius has an eye to this, where he says,

"The greatest virtue is to keep hospitality, and to feed the poor; to redeem captives is also a great and excellent work of righteousness; and it is as great a work of justice to save and defend the fatherless and widows, the desolate and helpless, which the law of God commands everywhere. It is also a part of the greatest humanity and a great good deed, to take in hand to heal and cherish the sick, who have nobody to help them. Finally, that last and greatest duty of piety is the burial of strangers and of the poor." [370]

This much up to here, touches the duty of civil humanity, which true love shows to his neighbour in necessity.

But it is not enough, my brethren, to understand how we ought to love our neighbour (though we should often repeat it), but rather we must love him exceedingly, and above that which I am able to say. Let us hear the apostle, who with a wonderful, goodly grace of speech, with a most excellent, exquisite, and holy example of Christ, exhorts us all to show charity to our neighbour, and says:

"If therefore there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any compassion and mercy, fulfil my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in meekness, let every man esteem one another better than himself. Let every man not look at his own things, but also at the things of others.


For let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking on himself the form of a servant. And made in the likeness of men, and found in figure as a man, he humbled himself, made obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has also highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the glory of God the father." Phi 2.1-11

To him alone be honour and power for ever and ever. Amen.






Of laws, and of the law of nature, then of the laws of men.

THE sum of all laws is the love of God and our neighbour. I have already spoken in my last sermon about this and every part of it. And so next, I also make a particular discourse about laws, and every part and kind of them. Let us therefore call to God, who is the cause and beginning of laws, that through our Lord Jesus Christ, He will grant with his Spirit to always direct us in the way of truth and righteousness.

A heathen writer, no base [371] author I am sure,[372] made this definition of law: that it is a special reason, placed in nature, commanding what is to be done, and forbidding the contrary.[373] And truly the law is nothing but a declaration of God's will, appointing what you have to do, and what you ought to leave undone. The beginning and cause of laws is God himself, who is the fountain of all goodness, equity, truth, and righteousness. Therefore all good and just laws come from God himself, although they are, for the most part, published and brought to light by men. Touching the laws of men, we must have a particular consideration of them by themselves.

For some laws are of God, some of nature, and some of men. As concerning God's law, I will speak of it in my second sermon: at present I will first touch the law of nature, and then the law of men.


The law of nature is an instruction of the conscience, and as it were, a certain direction placed by God himself in the minds and hearts of men, to teach them what they have to do, and what to eschew.[374] And the conscience, truly, is the knowledge, judgment, and reason of a man, whereby every man in himself, and in his own mind, being made privy to everything that he either has committed or not committed, either condemns or else acquits himself.Rom 2.15 And this reason proceeds from God, who both prompts and writes his judgments in the hearts and minds of men. Moreover, that which we call nature is the proper disposition or inclination of every thing. But the disposition of mankind being flatly corrupted by sin, as it is blind, so also in all points it is evil and naughty. It does not know God, it does not worship God, nor does it love the neighbour; rather, it is affected with self-love, and still seeks its own advantage. For this cause the apostle said, "by nature we are the children of wrath." Eph 2.3 Thus the law of nature is not called the law of nature because there is in the nature and disposition of man, of or by itself, that reason of light exhorting it to the best things, and holy working; but it is because God has imprinted or engraved in our minds some knowledge, and certain general principles of religion, justice, and goodness, which — because they are grafted in us and born together with us  — seem therefore to be naturally in us.

Let us hear the apostle Paul, who bears witness to this, and says: "When the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, then not having the law, they are a law unto themselves; this shows that the works of the law are written in their hearts, their conscience bearing them witness, and their thoughts accusing one another, or excusing, in that same day when the Lord shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." Rom 2.14-16 By two arguments, the apostle very evidently proves here that the Gentiles are sinners. For first of all (lest they make this an excuse, and say they have no law) he shows that they do have a law; and that, because they transgress this law, they have become sinners.


For, although they did not have the written law of Moses, yet notwithstanding, they did "by nature the things contained in the law." The office of the law is to disclose the will of God, and to teach you what you have to do and what to leave undone. This have they by nature; that is, this they know by the law of nature. For that which follows makes this plainer: "When they have no law, they are to themselves a law:" that is, they have in themselves that which is written in the law. But in what way do they have it in themselves? This again is made manifest by what follows: "For they show the work of the law written in their hearts." And who is he that writes in their hearts, but God alone, who is the searcher of all hearts? And what, I pray you, does he write there? The law of nature, in truth; the law, I say, itself commanding good and forbidding evil, so that without the written law, and by the instruction of nature, that is, by the knowledge imprinted by God in nature, they may understand what is good and what is evil, what is to be desired and what is to be shunned. By these words of the apostle we understand that the law of nature is set against the written law of God; and therefore it is called the law of nature, because it seems to be placed or grafted in our nature as it were. We understand that the law of nature — not the written law but that which is grafted in man — has the same office that the written law has: I mean, to direct men and to teach them, and also to discern between good and evil, and to be able to judge about sin. We understand that the beginning of this law is not from the corrupt disposition of mankind, but from God himself, who with his finger writes in our hearts, fastens in our nature, and plants a rule in us, to know justice, equity, and goodness.

Then the apostle makes his second argument, by which he proves the Gentiles are guilty of sin; and he fetches this argument from the witness-bearing of their conscience. For the conscience, being instructed by the law of nature, accuses and condemns the evil committed; because this conscience alone is in the stead of a thousand witnesses. And again, it excuses — that is, it absolves and acquits them — if nothing is committed contrary to the law. But although in this present life we treat lightly the judgment of our conscience, yet we may not despise or lightly pass over the conscience's accusations when the Lord comes with justice and equity to judge the world.


So by all this, it then follows that all the nations are sinners; and unless the Son of God, the common and only Saviour and deliverer of the whole world, cleanses them from their offences, it cannot be but that all nations must perish in their sins.

But now we come again to the law of nature, of which there are two points especially for you to be put in mind of. The first is, Acknowledge God and worship him. The second is, Keep or maintain society and friendship among men. Touching the first, we have these words of Christ's apostle: "Whatever may be known of God is manifest among them" (namely, among the Gentiles); "for God has shown it to them. For his invisible things, being understood by his works, through the creation of the world, are seen; that is, both his eternal power and Godhead. So that they are with out excuse; because when they knew God, (notwithstanding) they did not glorify as God, nor were they thankful," etc. Rom 1.19-21

So then, the Gentiles knew God; yes, they knew whatever might be known of God. But what teacher did they have, or what master? They had God as their master. In what order did he teach them, or out of what book? Not out of the written books of Moses, nor the prophets; but out of that great and large book of nature. For the things that are not seen of God (in which sort are his everlasting eternity, his virtue, power, majesty, goodness, and Godhead), those he would have to be esteemed of according to the visible things, that is, the things which he has created. For God's eternal Godhead is known by man's creation, by the continual moving of heaven, and the perpetual course of rivers. For He must be most mighty who sustains all these things, who moves, strengthens, and keeps all things from decay, and who shakes the whole world with his beckoning. Finally, who does not see the goodness of the one who allows the sun to rise upon the good and the evil alike? But to what intent does he reveal these things to the Gentiles? With the intent, in truth, that they may acknowledge him to be God, that they may glorify and worship him as God, and be thankful to such a benefactor.


Therefore, when they do not do this, they are inexcusable, and perish deservedly for their unbelief and unthankfulness. So then, it is manifest that the law of nature expressly teaches that there is a God which is to be acknowledged and reverently worshipped.

Touching the latter of these two special points (that is, for preserving friendship and society among men) the Lord says in the Gospel: "Whatever you would have men do to you, do the same to them." Mat 7.12 Alexander Severus the Emperor, turned this sentence and expressed it thus: "Whatever you would not have done to yourself, do not do that to another." He loved this saying so much, that he commanded it to be written up in his palace and common houses of office.[375] Moreover, to that general law belong these that follow: "Live honestly: do not hurt another: give every man his due: [376] provide things necessary for life, and keep it from distress."

But now, because the law of nature is made opposite to the written law of God, it is requisite that it also correspond to the law of God. Let us therefore see what the wise men and lawgivers of the Gentiles have left in writing to countervail the Ten Commandments,[377] and how far their writings correspond to the law of God.

1. Pythagoras, in St. Cyril's first book contra Julianum, writes thus of God: "God truly is one; and he too is not, as some imagine, outside the government of the world; but being wholly in every place of it, He views all the generations in the whole compass of it, and He is himself the moderation of all ages, the light of his own virtues, the beginning of all works, the light in heaven, the father of all things, the life and quickening of all things, and lastly, the moving of all the circles." [378]


See, here Pythagoras confesses that there is but one God, who is the maker, preserver, and governor of all things, the father of all, and the light and life of all things. Zaleucus,[379] in the preface to his laws, writes as follows: "It is necessary that all men who inhabit any city or region whatsoever, be thoroughly persuaded that there are gods; which is evident to be seen by the contemplation of heaven and the whole world, and by the goodly disposition and order of what is in them: for it is not convenient to think that these are the works of fortune, or of man's ability. Then also the gods must be worshipped and honoured, as the ones that are the causes of all good things done to us by any manner of means. Everyone, therefore, must do his best to have his mind purely cleansed from all evil. For God is not honoured by a wicked man; he is not worshipped with sumptuous cost, nor is he delighted with the sight of solemn tragedies, as a wicked man is. But His delight is in virtue, and in a mind that purposes to do good works and righteousness. Therefore everyone must endeavour, as much as he may, both to do well and to will well, if he desires to have God as his friend," etc. [380] Cicero, in his second book de Natura Deorum, says: "The best worshipping of the gods, and the most holy and pure religion, is always to honour them with a pure, perfect, and uncorrupted mind and voice." [381]


Seneca also, in his fifth book ad Lucil. says:

"Our usual custom is to teach men how the gods are to be worshipped. Let us give commandment, that on holy days no man set perchers [382] or taper light before the gods; for they are as much delighted with lights, as men half-smouldered have pleasure in smoke. Let us forbid these morning greetings, and solemn kneelings at the temple-doors. This, more than needing fiddle-faddle,[383] smacks somewhat of ambition. He worships God that knows God. Let us forbid bringing napkins and rubbers to Jupiter, and to hold a looking-glass to Juno. God seeks no such service. Why so? Because he himself, in truth, serves and supplies all men's necessities. He is present everywhere, and at hand with all men. Let every man hear therefore how he ought to worship God as he should. He shall never truly be sufficiently clear from troublesome superstitions, unless in his mind he thinks of God as he should; that is, that God has all things, that he gives all things, and that he bestows benefits freely, not looking for any recompense at all. What is the cause that the gods do good? Their nature, in truth. He is deceived, who thinks that they either will or possibly can do harm. They can neither take wrong nor yet do wrong. For to do harm and to suffer harm are coupled together. The chief and most excellent nature of all is the nature of them which are themselves exempt from peril, and are not by nature hurtful to others. The first point of worship due to the gods, is to believe that there are gods; and then to give them the majesty due them, and to ascribe to them their goodness, without which their majesty is none at all; to confess that they are the ones that govern the world, that they rule all things as their own, that they generally look to the safeguards of all mankind, and sometimes too, are careful for particular men. They neither do nor have any evil at all. But they chastise some, keep them under, and punish some time by whipping, in hopes of making them good. Would you please the gods, and make them your friends? Then be good yourself. Whoever has imitated them in goodness, has sufficiently worshipped them." [384]


In these words of Seneca, although notable indeed, and agreeable to true religion, I find fault, notwithstanding, in two things. The first is because, not so seldom as once does he mention gods, when nevertheless in another place he frankly confesses that God is one in substance and no more.[385] Nor dare I undertake for him, that he spoke in the manner of the scripture, which calls God Elohim, as if you were to say "gods," because of the mystery of the most reverend Trinity. [386]


2. And yet I know very well, that learned men of our religion have gone about to prove, even by the testimonies of the Gentiles, that the Gentiles also acknowledged the mystery of the Trinity. The second is that (so far as I can see) Seneca, with the other wise men of the Gentiles, does not expressly set down and teach the sound trust and confidence that should be had in God.

Moreover, there was not among the Romans any image of God in any temple that they had for the span of one hundred and seventy years after Rome was built. For Plutarch, in the life of Numa Pompilius, says:

"As for the decrees that Numa made touching images of the immortal gods, how like they are in almost every point to the doctrine of Pythagoras! Pythagoras thought that the first beginning (he means God) is not subject to sense or any troublesome affection, but is an invisible and uncreated Spirit. And on the other side, Numa forbade the Romans to think that the shape of God has the likeness of a man, nor the figure or similitude of any living thing. Neither was there among those of the olden times any painted or fashioned image of God. But in the first hundred and seventy years, they built temples, and set up houses for service to be done in them to the gods; but they did not make bodily similitudes — as if it were a detestable thing to liken the better to the worse, and as though God could not otherwise be perceived, than by reason and knowledge only." [387]

Marcus Varro testifies the very same touching the Romans, in the thirty-first chapter of Augustine's book de Civitate Dei. For he says that "the Romans worshipped the gods a hundred and seventy years without any images at all." And going further, he adds this: "Which if it had endured till now, the gods truly would have been more purely reverenced."


Nor does he hesitate to conclude with these words: that "those who first brought in images among the people, diminished devout fear, and augmented foolish error, in the cities where they governed; wisely judging thereby that the gods may easily be despised under the fondness of imagined likenesses," etc. [388]

3. Now, concerning the name of God, how much the Gentiles regarded it, is evident by the great religion they had in taking or giving an oath. There is a notable discourse about this, extant in the eighteenth chapter of the seventh book of Gellius, where among the rest, this is found: "An oath among the Romans has been had and kept holy and uncorrupted: which is declared by many laws and customs." [389] And if among the Gentiles, any man were to speak opprobriously against God, he was reputed faulty, and punished most sharply. 1Cor 10.20

4. Furthermore, the Gentiles had their religion, their festival-days, ceremonies, and priests of their religion. Melchizedek and Jethro were notable priests of the Gentiles. And although Paul flatly says that "the things which the Gentiles offered were not offered to God, but to devils;" 1Cor 10.20 yet notwithstanding, because they revered religion and holy ceremonies, they thereby declared that God had imprinted in the minds of men a familiar knowledge of reverence and religion, which was afterward corrupted by false doctrine and wrong opinions touching God and his holy service.

5. For honouring parents and magistrates, for bringing up children, and touching the duty of children, there are excellent precepts and sentences of the wiser sort of Gentiles.


Hierocles,[390] among his other writings, says:

"If any man calls his parents certain second or earthly gods, he will not do amiss; considering that, for the near affinity between us, they ought to be (if it be lawful to say so) more to be honoured by us than the gods themselves. And it is necessary to be persuaded that we must with a continual readiness of mind, endeavour to repay the benefits received from their hands with like benefits. And although we do very much for them, yet all will be too little in comparison to that we ought to do." [391]

And so forth as follows. For the time will sooner fail me, than I can conveniently repeat this and similar ones out of heathen writers. Nor did I purpose to reckon them all up.

6. and 7. Very severe laws against murder, wrong, and injury, have been made by the Gentiles. From them also came the law of adultery, called Lex Julia, against adultery and detestable lusts.[392] They ordained excellent laws for contracting and observing matrimony. And the word of truth expressly declares that the Canaanites were wiped out because of their incest in marriage and horrible lusts (Levit. 8). Lycurgus also, Solon, and the Romans, published laws for the restraint of outrageous expenses in riotous persons. [393] And here I purposely pass over what is naturally engrafted in all men, which is the begetting (I mean) and nourishing of their issue and offspring.


8. The Gentiles have very commendable laws against theft, deceit, and usury, for lawfully getting and possessing goods, for distributing riches, and for bargaining. That saying of Ausonius [394] is notably known:

If greedy gaping after gain

To get another groat

Makes usury dispatch apace

To cut the poor man's throat.[395]

9. All the Gentiles in their writings worthily commend the truth; and by all the means they can, they cry out and condemn lying, slandering, and all such knavery. The law of the twelve tablets is, that a false witness should be cast headlong from the top of Tarpey.[396] Charondas Catanaeus, among other excellent sayings of his own, also has this: "Let every one," he says, "love honesty and truth, and hate dishonesty and lying; for they are the marks whereby virtue is known from vice. We must therefore begin with children, while they are yet little ones, and inure ourselves to chastise them if they delight to lie, and to make much of them for telling the truth; that thereby the best and most fruitful branch of virtue may be grafted in every individual mind, and so be turned as it were into their nature." [397]

10. The wiser sort of the Gentiles utterly condemn concupiscence and evil affections. The poet in his satires blames these as being the root of all mischief, where he says:

From there comes almost every cause

Of mischief; for no vice,

That reigns in man, so many times

Could frantic heads entice

To mingle poison privily

To stop another's breath,


Or else in armour openly

To work his rival's death,

As beastly raging lust has done.[398]

So then, by all this we may easily gather that even in the Gentiles' minds, a certain knowledge of God was engraved, and some precepts whereby they knew what to desire, and what to eschew. Notwithstanding, they corrupted these, and made them somewhat misty with the evil affections and corrupt judgments of the flesh. For this cause, besides the law of nature, God also ordained other means to declare his will; I mean, the living tradition of the fathers, the answers of angels, the voices of prophets,[399] wonderful miracles, and written laws which He published by wise and very devout patriarchs. God ordained all these to be a help to the law of nature. Therefore, whatever is found among the Gentiles that is agreeable to truth and honesty, it is to be referred to God, the author of all goodness. And on the other side, whatever is contrary to the truth, must be attributed to the corrupt nature and evil affections of mankind.

In all that I have said, you have to note especially that here I speak of knowledge, and not of ability. The knowledge of the law, in a way, is manifest in the Gentiles; but the consent, the will, and the ability to fulfil the law is weak, and not easily found in them. This is why, just as we affirm that the understanding of the law must be inspired from heaven, so we also say that the ability to fulfil the law must of necessity be given by God above. Nature without grace is without force and effect in this. But though some of the Gentiles bear the name and praise of righteousness (such as Melchizedek, Job, Jethro, and others), they do not have that of their own ability, but of the grace of God — just as we may evidently gather by probable arguments from the history of Job. Therefore, if any of the Gentiles are saved, then they are saved not by the works of nature, or their own deservings, but by the mercy of God in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Moreover, the law of nature is not grafted by God in man with the intent that it should work man's salvation without grace and Christ. Rather, it is to teach us what is good and what is evil, to thereby convince us that we are sinners, and without excuse before the Lord. By proving that the Gentiles are guilty of sin by the law of nature, and that the Jews are guilty by Moses' law, Paul truly shows that in Christ alone, the Son of God, is justification, life, and all other good.

Thus far touching the law of nature.

The laws of men (for my promise was that I would speak of them in my second part) are those which are ordained and published by men for the preservation of the commonweal and church of God. Touching these they are of diverse kinds. For there are political laws, ecclesiastical laws, and men's traditions. Political laws are those which the magistrate, according to the state of times, places, and persons, ordains for preserving public peace and civility. Of this sort, there is a countless company of examples in the civil law and constitutions of the emperors, especially of Justinian. All of them should come as near as possible to the laws of God and nature, and not be contrary to them, or smack at all of impiety or cruel tyranny. St. Peter wills us to obey such laws, where he says: "Submit yourselves to every manner of ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether to the king, as having pre-eminence, or to rulers, as those who are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, but for the praise of those who do well." 1Pet 2.13-14 For although the apostle, by "ordinances," [400] or men's constitutions, inclusively means the kings and magistrates themselves — as he immediately declares in the second clause of the sentence — yet notwithstanding, he bids us to obey good and just laws, because the magistrates support and rule the commonweal by them.


Moreover, just and honest political laws are a help to love and tranquility; to preserve human [401] society among men; to defend the good; bring inordinate persons into better order; and lastly, not only to promote religion a little, but also to abrogate evil customs, and utterly banish unlawful mischiefs. We have examples of this in the deeds of Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes, and other princes. But touching the magistrate's power, his laws and office, I will speak of them in another place.

Ecclesiastical laws are those which, being taken out of the Ecclesiastical word of God, and applied to the estate of men, times, and places, are received and have authority in the church among the people of God. I call these ecclesiastical laws, and not traditions of men, because, being taken out of the holy scriptures, and not invented or brought to light by the wit of man, they are used by that church which hears the voice of the Shepherd alone, and does not know a stranger's tongue. The congregation comes together to hear the word of God, and to common prayers, at morning, at evening, and at such appointed hours as are most convenient for every place and every people; and which the church holds as a law. The church has solemn prayer times,[402] holy days, and fasting days, which it keeps by certain laws. The church, at certain times, in a certain place and appointed order, celebrates the sacraments according to the laws and received custom of the church. The church baptizes infants; it does not forbid women to come to the Lord's Supper: and it holds this as a law. In causes of matrimony, the church judges by conveniently appointed judges; and it has certain laws to direct them in such cases. But it derives these, and all others like them, out of the scriptures; and for edification, it applies them to the estate of men, times, and places — so that in diverse churches, you may see some diversity indeed, but no discord or repugnancy at all.

Furthermore, ecclesiastical laws have their measure and certain marks, beyond which they may not pass; namely: that nothing should be done or received contrary or differing in any jot from the word of God, sounding against charity and beauty, either a little or much. And lastly, that this rule of the apostle may be effectually observed, "Let all things be done decently, according to order, and to the edification of the church." [403]


Therefore, if any man goes about, under a pretence of ecclesiastical laws, to introduce and impose upon the godly,[404] any superstitious, laborious, and unseemly traditions of men, which differ from the scriptures — their part shall be, first to test that deceit of theirs by the rule of God's word, and then to reject it.

There remain now the traditions of men. These have their beginning (are made and invented) by men, by their own choice, out of some foolish intent, or some fond affection of mankind, and are contrary to or outside the holy scriptures. You will find an infinite number of examples of this sort — I mean, the sects, dominion, and single life of spiritual men, the rites and sundry fashioned customs used in their church. Touching all of these, the Lord in the gospel, citing the prophet Isaiah, says: "Why do you transgress the Lord's commandment for your own tradition? You hypocrites! Isaiah rightly prophesied of you, where he says, This people comes near to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." [405] The blessed martyr Cyprian, alluding to these words of Christ, Epistolarum, Lib. i. Ep. 8, says:

"It is corrupt, wicked, and robbery to the glory of God, whatever is ordained by the giddy madness of men's heads, to the violating of God's disposition. Depart as far as possible from the infectious contagion of such fellows, and seek by flight to shun their talk, as warily as you would flee an eating canker or infectious pestilence; for the Lord forewarns and tells you that they are blind leaders of the blind." [406]

Paul also, in his epistle to Titus, says: "Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not taking heed to Jewish fables and the commandments of men who turn from the truth." Tit 1.14 I purposely here let pass the words of Paul in his second chapter to the Colossians, because the place is known by all men. Col 2.8


I will not trouble you, dearly beloved, with too large and busy an exposition of this. For I suppose that this little that I have said, touching the laws of nature and of men (I mean the political and ecclesiastical laws, and mere traditions of men) are sufficient to the attentive and faithful hearers, who at their coming home to them, more diligently think of every point by themselves, and also read the places of scripture often cited by me and devoutly expounded.[407] The Lord for his mercy grant that we never despise the admonitions of nature's law grafted in our hearts, nor yet be entangled in men's traditions; but that in walking lawfully in upright political laws and holy ecclesiastical ordinances, we may serve the Lord — to whom be all glory, honour and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.


Of God's law, and of the two first commandments of the first tablet.

THE law of God, openly published and proclaimed by the Lord our God himself, sets down ordinary rules for us to know what we have to do, and what to leave undone, requiring obedience, and threatening utter destruction to disobedient rebels. This law is divided into the moral, ceremonial, and judicial laws: all the parts of which, and every point of which, Moses has very exquisitely written, and diligently expounded. The moral law is that which teaches men manners, and lays down before us the shape of virtue; declaring with it how great are the righteousness, godliness, obedience, and perfection that God looks for at the hands of us mortal men.


Ceremonial laws are those which are given concerning the order of holy and ecclesiastical rites and ceremonies, and also touching the ministers and things assigned to the ministry, and other holy uses. Last of all, the judicial laws give rules concerning matters to be judged between man and man, for the preservation of public peace, equity, and civil honesty. Touching the latter two, I will speak of them in a convenient place. At this time, I mean to discourse upon the moral law.

First of all, therefore, let no man think that before Moses' time there was no law, and that the law was first published by Moses. For the same special points of the moral law, which Moses sets down in the Ten Commandments, were very well known to the patriarchs, even from the beginning of the world. For they worshipped the one true God alone for their God, whom they reverenced and called upon.[408] Jacob took away with him the Syrian idols of Laban out of his house,[409] and hid them in Bethel under an oak or terebinth tree, which was near Shechem. Gen 35.4 Abraham, in taking an oath, always used a reverent fear, and a spiced conscience; whereby it follows, that the name of the Lord was holy to him, and not taken lightly. All the holy fathers did both diligently and devoutly solemnize and observe holy rites and sacrifices. Ham has his father's curse, because he irreverently behaved himself toward his father. Cain is reproved for murdering his brother. Noah commands not to shed blood. Joseph is highly commended for refusing to lie with another man's wife; I mean, the wife of his master. Ruben is rebuked, because he defiled his father's bed with incest. Jacob was not angry without a cause with Laban his father-in-law, when he suspected him of theft. All the patriarchs have utterly condemned liars and false witnesses, as well as evil lusts and concupiscence. Therefore the patriarchs, from the beginning of the world even until Moses time, were never without the precepts of the Ten Commandments, although they did not have them graven in tablets or written in parchments. For the Lord wrote them with his finger in their hearts,[410] which the living tradition of the fathers exquisitely garnished and reverently taught.


The law is the same everywhere, and the will of God is always one, because God is but one and is never changed. Nevertheless, the commandments were first set down in tablets by God, who was the beginner and writer of them; and after that, were again written into books by Moses.

Likewise also the old and holy patriarchs that were before Moses, did not lack the ceremonial and judicial laws. For they had their priests, I say, their fathers of every kindred or household; they had their ceremonies, their altars and sacrifices; they had their solemn assemblies, and purifications. They had their laws for succession in heritage, for the division and possession of goods, for bargaining and contracts, and for punishing evil doers. All of which Moses gathered together into a certain number of decreed laws; setting down many things more plainly than they were before, and ordaining many things which the patriarchs were either altogether without, or else had used in another order. Of this sort were the tabernacle, the holy vessels, the ark of the covenant, the table, the candlestick, the altar for burnt-offerings and for incense, the Levitical priesthood, the holy vestments, with the feasts and holy-days, and whatever else is like this — all of which truly are abrogated by Christ, as I mean to declare in a convenient place. But because manners cannot consist, if the Ten Commandments are broken, the moral law therefore, notwithstanding that it properly has the name of a law, is never to be abrogated or broken.[411] For the Ten Commandments are the very absolute and everlasting rule of true righteousness and all virtues, set down for all places, men, and ages, to frame themselves by. For the sum of the Ten Commandments is this: to show our love to God, and to love one another. And the Lord requires this at all times, and everywhere, of all kinds of men.[412]


Moreover, this is to be noted touching the dignity of the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments: that all the ceremonial and judicial laws were revealed by God to Moses, by the angels; and then by Moses to the people; and again by Moses, they were inserted into written books, at God's commandment — and yet, notwithstanding all this, the moral law of the Ten Commandments was not revealed by man, nor by any means of man, but by God himself at Mount Sinai. There, among other mighty and marvellous wonders, God openly, in a public and innumerable assembly of men and angels, repeated them word for word, as they are now to be seen. Furthermore, they were not written by the hand of Moses, but with the finger of God, in tablets, not made of matter easily dissolved,[413] but made of stone to endure forever. Those tablets were also kept as most precious treasure, in that ark which was named the Ark of the Covenant because of the tablets, containing the chief articles of the eternal league.[414] This ark in turn was laid up in the holy of holiest. All of these circumstances tend toward nothing else, than to commend to us the excellence of the Ten Commandments, and to warn us to reverence that God who published this moral law, as the Lord of heaven and earth, and who at his own will and pleasure, orders the disposition of all the elements against disobedient rebels. These circumstances also admonish us, that even now, in our time also, we have to esteem the Ten Commandments as among the dearest jewels to be found in the whole world. For the holy relics that remain in the church of Christ, are the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's prayer, and lastly, the whole contents of the sacred bible.[415] Touching the proclamation or first edition of the Ten Commandments, we have a wonderfully large discourse of Moses in Exodus 19, and Deuteronomy 4th and 5th chapters.

Now the tablets into which the Ten Commandments of God's law are disposed, are two in number; of which the first contains four commandments, and the latter six. For the last commandment, which some divide in two, is indeed but one alone and undivided.[416]


For first, the Lord generally commands and says, "You shall not covet:" and then he descends particularly, and by enumeration he reckons up the things that we must not covet; namely, our neighbour's wife, his house, his lands, his cattle, and his substance. Beside that, this argues that it is so, because according to the Hebrew disposition, this commandment is altogether one whole verse, not divided in two. Exo 20.17 With this division of ours agree Joseph. Antiq. Lib. iii. cap. 5;[417] Origen in Exod. Hom. 8,[418] Ambros. in vi. cap. Epist. ad Ephes.[419] But the Master of Sentences, having divided this last commandment in two, therefore places in the first tablet three commandments and no more.[420]


He perhaps followed Augustine in this, who in Quaest. in Exo 71, and Epistola ad Januarium 119,[421] also reckons up but three commandments in the first tablet alone, which he did in respect to the mystical Trinity. And yet, notwithstanding this, he does not slip over the commandment for abandoning and not worshipping of images; for undoubtedly, he always had in his mind those words of the Lord in the gospel, where he says: "Truly I say to you, though heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away, till all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Augustine again, in Quaestionibus Veteris et Novi Testamenti, Lib. i. cap. 7, makes four commandments of the first tablet, and six of the second.[422] And again, he does not differ much from the same order in his third book ad Bonifacium, etc. [423]

Now touching these commandments, the Lord has divided them into two separate orders or tablets because of the several differences of the matters handled in either of them. For the first of the two tablets pertains to God, and the second to man.


The first tablet teaches us what we are to think concerning God, and the worship due him; that is, it teaches us the perfect way to live uprightly and holily in the sight of God. The second tablet is the rule by which we learn our duty toward our neighbour; which also teaches us humanity, directing us in the way to live peaceably and civilly with one another. And in these two tablets are so nearly contained all and every duty looked for at men's hands, that not so much as one jot more may be added by all the wise men of the world, concerning a godly life and civil behaviour, which is not already contained in these Ten Commandments.

The first commandment of the ten, the Lord himself has expressly spoken in these very words that follow:

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: you shall have no other gods before me."

This commandment has two branches.

The first branch contains diverse matters. For first of all, God simply offers himself to us, and precisely sets down what he will be toward us, thereby declaring what he is to all men.[424] Whereupon, secondly, we gather what he, on the other side, looks for at our hands, and what our duty is to him. Thirdly and last of all, he adds an evident proof of that, where he said that he is our God.

In the beginning he cries out and says: "I am the Lord your God." In this he declares what he is, and what he will be to all men. These words are like the words of the covenant which God made with Abraham, and in Abraham with all faithful believers: "I am," says the Lord, "a strong God, and I am Shaddai;" as if he were to say, Saturnus a saturando,[425] which is, "to fill." For God is the abundant fulness [426] that satisfies all men and all things: he is the everlasting well of all good things, which is never drawn dry.


And Jeremiah declares that at large in the second chapter of his prophecy. All of which truly God in effect comprehends in these few words: "I am the Lord your God." I say, I which speak to you from within the fire  — I and none other. Here is expressly meant the unity of God. We are here taught to acknowledge one God, and no more; to stick to one, and not allow our hearts to fantastically dream of many. "I am your Lord, I am your God." He is a Lord, because he alone has the rule over all creatures; all things are subject to him as to their Lord; all things bend and obey him, if he but once beckons. As Lord alone, He governs and upholds all things that exist.[427] So then in this one word is contained the wisdom of God, his virtue, his power, and infinite majesty. Deus, which word we use for "God," is, perhaps, derived from the Hebrew word Daii, which signifies sufficiency or full ability.[428] For God alone, of himself, is unto himself most perfect blessedness and absolute felicity. He is also sufficiently able to minister all things most abundantly to all those who seek after him in truth sincerely, being of himself most liberally wealthy to all that call upon his name. Therefore, in this branch are to be noted the sufficient and full ability, the liberality, the goodness, and the mercy of God. But most especially this: "I am your God; your God, I say." For God is not good to himself alone, but even to us also.


He desires to pour and bestow himself wholly, with all his goodness and gifts of grace, upon the faithful and sincere believers. He is no niggard, he is not envious, he rejoices and is glad to bestow and divide himself among us abundantly, and to our comfort; to fill us with the enjoying of himself at all times and seasons, but especially in time of our necessity. And God truly says expressly "thy God," [personal singular] and not your God [collective plural], so that thereby every one of us may understand, that the eternal, most mighty, and holy God both is and will be the God and Lord of every particular man; that is, that he is and will be the keeper, deliverer, redeemer, the unmeasurable mountain and bottomless sea of all good gifts of body and soul, to all those who either are or ever shall be.

By this now, in the second place, we have to gather what the good and gracious Lord requires again at our hands, and what our duty to him both is and ought to be. For this, where he says, "thy God," betokens an evident relation. For if He will be mine, then I again, of duty, must be His. He will be my Lord and my God; therefore I must again, of duty, take account of and worship him as my Lord and my God. Therefore, in this commandment there is required at our hands, that we not only acknowledge the true God to be the true God, and so stop there; but also, that we take and account him for our God, our Lord, our King, our Creator, our Preserver, and our Father; and that we attribute this property to Him: namely, that he is one alone, the only fountain and giver of all good things, that He lives, and is eternal, righteous, true, holy, happy, merciful, mighty, most excellent and chief of all. Let us therefore stick to him alone; let us obey him in all things; let us put our trust in him; let us call on him alone; let us repute him to be the giver of all good things, and crave all good gifts of him; let us thank him for all benefits whatsoever that we receive; let us reverence him; and lastly, honour him in fear sincerely, in love most ardently, and in hope as constantly as possible. For to this belong those sentences in the books of Moses and the holy gospel: "You shall honour the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve." [429]


And again: "Follow the Lord your God, fear him, keep his commandments, hearken to his voice, serve him, and stick to him." Deu 13.4 The Lord himself also in the Psalm cries out and says: "Offer to the Lord the sacrifice of praise, and pay your vows to the Highest. And call upon me in the day of trouble," etc. Psa 50.14-15

And now, touching the demonstration, whereby he declares that he has been, is, and will be the God and Lord of us all, of our fathers, and of our children that come after us; the proof of it is most evident by our delivery out of Egypt. In that are contained all the virtues of God: his wisdom, his goodness, his righteousness, his truth, his power, and whatnot. He declares that he is the Lord in heaven and on earth, in all elements and all creatures. His people the Israelites, He graciously delivers, defends, adorns with sundry gifts, and mightily preserves, even in spite of all the heads of the whole Egyptian kingdom. And on the other side, by sundry means He very terribly, yet notwithstanding, justly, punishes the Egyptians. And last of all, together with their king, he overwhelms them in the Red Sea. By this one miracle of the Lord's, the Israelites might have gathered that, as God is almighty and the mightiest of all, so also he would be their God, as up till then he had been the God of their fathers. For by this wonder, He declared what he was then, and how great His power and goodness are even today among us, and also what He will be in all ages, even to the end. To us that live in these days, the deliverance which we have obtained by Jesus Christ our Lord, is far fresher in memory; who has not delivered us from the bondage of any Egyptian kingdom, nor from the tyrannous hands of any earthly Pharaoh, but has set us free from the power of darkness, of sin, death, and the devil. By this we gather that, just as the eternal, true, excellent, high, and holy God is most mighty, so also he is our God; that he wishes well to us, and that he cares for and loves us, according to that saying of the apostle: "Who did not spare his own Son, but gave him for us all, how can it be but that he will give us all things?" Rom 8.32


Truly, the mystery of our redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ is manifestly contained in the first precept of the Ten Commandments. For it is evident, that the Israelites' free departure out of Egypt was a type or figure of the delivery of the whole compass of the earth, and of all the kingdoms of the world, which would be wrought by Christ our Lord, who has now already set the whole world free from the bondage of sin and hell. But if any man doubts this, let him diligently consider with himself the meaning of the ceremony and sacrament of that bodily deliverance, I mean, the Passover. For who does not know that the paschal lamb represented Christ our Redeemer in a figure? Are Paul's words unknown, who says, "Christ our Passover is offered up?" 1Cor 5.7 Have not all the apostles and John the Baptist called our Lord "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?" [430] The words of the prophet Isaiah also, in his fifty-second chapter, are obviously known, where he compares the delivery of Israel out of Egypt with the redemption of the whole world wrought by Christ from the slavery of sin. Therefore, in this first precept of the Ten Commandments is contained the mystery of Christ our Lord, and our salvation. So that, as often as those words of God are recited in our ears, we should not so much set our eyes and minds upon the ancient delivery of Israel out of Egypt, as upon the new and latter redemption which we have by Christ Jesus — thereby quickening our hope, and not despairing that the most excellent and mighty God both is and will be our God, as up till then he had been theirs.

The second branch of this first commandment flatly forbids us, and every one of us, to have any strange gods; that is, it takes from us all extraordinary means to seek the safeguard of our lives, where the working finger of God is not present, and whatever else may be either devilishly devised or unadvisedly chosen beside the very word of God. And therefore the Lord uses a most vehement or earnest kind of speaking. For he says, "You shall not have any other gods before me." See, he says you shall not have, and you shall not have before me, or before my face, or with me, or by me.


We Germans say, Zu mir; oder nabend mir; oder lass michs nit sahen vor meinen augen. For so fathers speak in their anger, when they earnestly forbid a wicked and heinous thing. "See," they say, "that you do not do it before my eyes for me to see it." But, now, God is present everywhere. God sees all things; indeed, he beholds our hearts, and the hidden secrets of our hearts. We must not in any case, therefore, either openly or privily, have any strange gods. That is, none of us must take account of any creature, either in heaven or earth, as of our God; none of us must attribute God's properties to his creatures, nor yet the things which we of duty owe to God himself. The properties of God are these: to be all over and every where, to see all, to know all, to be able to do all, to give life, to deliver and cleanse from sins, to save, preserve, to justify, to sanctify, and whatever else is like these. On the other side, our duty to him is to reverence God, to call on God, to fear God, to worship God, to hope in God, to stick to God, to hear God, to believe God, and to obey God.

The strange god, therefore, is that which is not God properly and by nature; yes, it is whatever we make to be our God beside the very living and eternal God, in whom we trust, in whom we hope, on whom we call, whom we love and fear, on whom we settle and fasten our minds, on whom we depend, of whom we take account as our treasure, our help, and our safeguard, both in prosperity and in our adversity. When Rachel asks children of Jacob, she has this answer from him: "Am I God, who has made you barren?" Gen 30.2 And again, when Joram king of Israel had received letters by Naaman from Benhadad, king of Syria, requesting to cleanse the leprosy, he rent his clothes for anger, and cried out, saying: "Am I God, that I can kill, and restore to life again?" 2Kng 5.7 Let God alone, therefore, be our God — that is, our life and safeguard, our help and refuge, our protection and deliverance, our hope and love, our fear, our dread, our trembling, and all. These if we attribute these to others, and not to God alone, then we make other gods for ourselves.


Moreover, whatever is not ordained by God himself, is many times in the scriptures called strange, or other. In that sense, it is said that strange fire was carried into the tabernacle; Lev 10.1 namely, not that fire which God had commanded to kindle. In Proverbs she is called a strange woman,[431] one whose company the Lord does not allow you to keep. Those are strange gods, therefore, whom we have made for ourselves, to hang on and seek aid from, when God, notwithstanding, has not appointed them to have charge over us. Therefore the saints themselves, now triumphant in heaven with Christ our King, are reputed to be strange gods; the saints themselves, I say — not in respect to themselves — but strange gods in respect to those of us who judge very fondly of them, and bestow on them the honour due to God, in worshipping and calling upon them as we might worship and call upon our tutors and defenders.[432] The very devils and devilish men will be strange gods if, for fear, we stand more in awe of them than of God, to whom indeed our fear is due. The stars, the planets, and signs in the firmament will be strange gods if we, being deceived with the mathematical,[433] wholly hang on them, and in all our doings evermore regard the impressions of the sky, aligning every minute of our lives to the course of the stars. Likewise, if we honour and love money or men with the honour or love due to God, then this money and these men of ours, will be imputed to us as strange gods. King Asa is blamed (2Paral. 16.) for putting too much confidence in physic [434] and physicians. 2Chr 16.12 Physic and physicians may therefore be abused, and made strange gods. The Jews are rebuked by the Lord in Isaiah chap. 30, for trusting too much in the Egyptians, their confederates.


Confederates may therefore be abused, and made strange gods. But most of all are condemned here the leagues and covenants made with the devil by witchcraft, to have him at our commandment. Those blessings also, which of right should rather be called cursings — I mean, superstitious exorcisms or conjurings — are to be utterly rejected. Also blameworthy in this, is that the name of the most high God is horribly abused and taken in vain. But who can exactly reckon up every particular thing in which this first commandment is transgressed, considering that in it is taught the perfect rule of godliness, which is the inward worship done to God — namely, to acknowledge God, to believe him, to think rightly about him, to call upon him, to cling to him, and to obey him in all things?

The second precept of the Ten Commandments is:

"You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any likeness of those things which are in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them, nor worship them. I am the Lord your God, strong, and jealous, visiting the fathers' sins in the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of those that love me, and keep my commandments."

In the first commandment, the Lord taught and drew out before our eyes the pattern of his inward worship and religion. Now here, in the second, he amends what might be amiss in the outward rites and ceremonies. If we could have rightly judged about God, and kept (as devoutly as we should) the first commandment, then there would have been no need for the second. But because God knew our disposition and nature, he therefore expressly forbids the thing that otherwise we would have done. For there are many who think that God ought to be portrayed in some similitude or likeness, and be worshipped with some bodily or visible reverence, by offering gold, silver, pearls, ivory, and precious things of great price. Therefore, the general end of this commandment is to draw them away from those gross imaginations and carnal worshippings of God. For, having an incomprehensible power and an eternal spirit, He cannot be resembled to any corruptible similitude. He will be worshipped in spirit and in holiness.


Under the name of the idol, or any imagined likeness, is contained all the outward reverence done to it. Therefore, when idols are forbidden, also forbidden are all outward honour irreligiously exhibited — honor that is due to the true and very God. For wherever there is an idol, there the idolaters must set up a pillar [435] for him, place him in a seat, erect him an altar, and build him a temple. And all these again require keepers and overseers, ministers or priests, sacrifices and offerings, ceremonies, furnishings, holy-days, cost and labour that will never be ended. In this sense the prophets said that idolatrous images were endless labours and infinite miseries: [436] for once images are received, there is no end or measure of expenses and toil. Experience teaches this to be true.

Now to proceed: this commandment is comprised of three separate parts.

For first of all, God flatly forbids us to make a graven image or other kind of idol; that is, God utterly forbids us to set up or hallow to him any image, of whatever shape or substance it is. For as God will not, so indeed he cannot, be expressly represented in any manner of likeness. Now, in this commandment are reckoned up, in a way, all the similitudes of those things to which we usually liken our pictures, in portraying. You shall not fashion like God, he says, any shape or figure of those things which are in heaven — which are, I say, above us. Above us are the celestial bodies — the sun, moon, planets, stars — and diverse birds of sundry fashions. In all of these figures and shapes, no small number of Gentiles solemnly honoured and reverently worshipped the name of God. You shall not liken to God, he says, any shape or fashion of those things that are in the earth. In the earth are men, beasts, herbs, shrubs, trees, and other such things. Now it is manifest that the Gentiles worshipped God under the likeness of men and beasts.


Cornelius Tacitus, writing of the Germans, says: "But by the greatness of the visible celestial bodies, they conjecture and truly think that the gods are neither enclosed in walls, nor yet in favour resembling men's visages; and therefore they hallow woods and groves, calling that hidden mystery by the name of the gods, which with outward eyes they do not see, but with inward reverence alone." [437] Look, here, our ancestors worshipped God in the likeness of trees and woods. Nevertheless, men are forbidden here to do this, even as also we are prohibited to worship our God in the likeness of anything that is in or under the water. The Philistines worshipped God in the image of a fish; for Dagon their God bore the shape of a fish.[438] Egypt honoured God in the similitude of serpents.[439] All of these, and many others, Paul knits up together in the first chap. to the Romans, where he argues against the Gentiles, and says: "Their foolish heart was blinded. When they counted themselves wise, they became fools, and turned the glory of the incorruptible God to the likeness, not only of a mortal man, but also of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping beasts." Rom 1.21-23 The first part of the law is directly given against this madness.

But now, the cause why God will not be represented in any visible or sensible image is this: God is a spirit; God is unmeasurable, incomprehensible, unspeakable, all over and everywhere, filling heaven and earth, eternal, living, giving life to and preserving all things; and lastly, he is of a glorious majesty exalted above the heavens. But what is the one that can portray a spirit in any image or substance? God is an incomprehensible power, quickening and preserving all and every thing.


But describing images, David says: "The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the works of men's hands. They have ears, and do not hear; they have noses, and do not smell. They have hands, and do not handle; they have feet, and do not walk; nor is there any voice in their throat." Psa 115.4-7 Therefore, if these are compared to God, how, I beseech you, are they like him? To go about, therefore, expressing God in any visible likeness, is the nearest way to dishonour God, and to bring him into contempt. God's eye beholds all things; idols see nothing. God's ears hear all things; idols hear nothing. By God all things live, move, and are preserved; the idols themselves neither live, nor move, and, unless they are upheld by the men that make them, they fall and are dashed in pieces. An idol does not breathe; God gives a breathing spirit to others. How then, and in what, are these two alike? In substance, or in shape? If you say, in substance; I answer, Is God then of gold, of silver, or of wood? If in shape; my answer is, has the invisible power of God then put on visible and mortal members?

How greatly therefore did the Anthropomorphites [440] offend in this? If, then, there are no similitudes of God, how does it come to pass, I beseech you, that images and idols are called the likeness and pictures of God? Among us, someone who calls another an idol or an image, seems to have spoken it in great reproach of the other. For we know that idols are counterfeits of men, and not men indeed; and therefore we call him an image — that is, a sot, a fool, a dolt, an idiot, and someone that has no wit, nor knows any more than he hears from others. Why then should we any longer call images the likeness of God? God is living: images are monuments of dead men; as Solomon,[441] the author of the book of Wisdom, says: "God is glorious, and heaven and earth are full of the glory of his majesty; but idols are without any glory, and subject to the scoffs and mocks of men." Wis 14.15


Images are tokens of absent friends: but God is present, always and everywhere. And the signs or tokens which God of old ordained and gave to his people, were not the signs and images of God, but tokens of God's presence, signifying that God — who by nature is a spirit, and invisible, incomprehensible, and unmeasurable — is still present among them. Such tokens were the cloud, the smoke, the fire, and finally, the very ark of the covenant, which also the cherubim covered with their wings. This signified that no mortal man could look God in the face; and that therefore the soul, and the mind, and the spirit, should be lifted up into heaven by contemplation, there to behold him. For to Moses, who notwithstanding is said to have seen God face to face, it was said, "No man shall see me and live." Exo 33.20 Once we are deceased, then we shall see him as he is, according to the sayings of the blessed evangelist John. 1John 3.2 So then, I say, these are the causes why the Lord will not have himself represented or portrayed in any matter or likeness.

To this now pertain the places of scripture, and testimonies of the men who are the chief pillars of true religion and godliness: of Moses, Isaiah, and Paul. Moses says in Deuteronomy:

"The Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire: and you heard a voice of words, but you saw no likeness, but heard only the voice. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, as pertaining to your souls (for you saw no manner of image in that day), lest you mar yourselves by making a graven image, the likeness of any manner of figure, whether it be the picture of man or woman; the likeness of any manner of beast that is on the earth; or the likeness of any manner of feathered fowl that flies in the air; or the likeness of any manner of worm that creeps on the earth; or the likeness of any manner of fish that is in the waters beneath the earth. Yes, and lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, with all the host of heaven, you begin to worship them and reverence them, and worship and serve the things which the Lord your God has made to serve all nations under the whole heaven.


Take heed, therefore, that you do not forget the appointment of the Lord your God, which he has made with you, and that you make no graven image, nor the likeness of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you." [442]

Isaiah also, in his fortieth chapter, says:

"Behold, all people, in comparison to him, are like a drop of a bucketful, and are counted as a little dust sticking on the balance, weighing nothing at all. Yes, the isles are to him as a very little thing. Lebanon is not sufficient to minister fire to his offering, and all the beasts of it are not enough for one sacrifice. All people in comparison to God are reckoned as nothing; in respect to him they are less than nothing, and as that which is not. To whom then will you liken God? Or what similitude will you set up to him? Shall the carver make him an image? And shall the goldsmith cover it with gold, or cast it into a form of silver plates? Moreover, shall [443] the poor man, that he may have something to set up, choose a tree that is not rotten, and seek out a skilled workman to carve an image out of it, that does not move? Do you not know this? Have you never heard of it?"

And again:

"It is he that sits upon the circle of the world, whose inhabitants in comparison to him are but as grasshoppers. It is he that spreads out the heavens like a curtain; he stretches them out as a tent to dwell in. It is he that brings princes to nothing, and makes the judges of the earth as though they were not. To whom now will you liken me, and to whom shall I be like? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and consider who has made those things, which come out by such great heaps, and he calls them all by their names." [444] And so forth.

This much out of Isaiah.


Moreover, Paul, the apostle of Christ, disputing at Athens of true religion, says:

"God that made the world and all that is in it, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is he worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything; since he himself gives life and breath to all and everywhere, and has made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and also the limits of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might have felt, and found him; though he is not far from any one of us. For by him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Because, then, we are the offspring of God, we should not think that the Godhead is like gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art or man's device." Acts 17.24-29

These testimonies are so evident, and so plainly declare what I purposed, that I need not say any more for the further exposition of them. Great causes therefore moved St. Augustine to precisely pronounce it a horrible sacrilege for any man to place in the church the image of God the Father, sitting in a throne with bended hams;[445] because it is detestable for a man to so much as conceive such a likeness in his mind. I have repeated his very words in the eighth Sermon of my first Decade,[446] where I had occasion to speak of the right hand of the Father, and to teach you what it means to sit at the Father's right hand.

Now, touching other images, also, which men erect to creatures or to the heathen gods, they are no less forbidden than pictures of God himself. For if we may not hallow an image to the true and very God, then much less would it be lawful for us to erect or consecrate an idol to a strange or foreign god. Man in his mind chooses himself as a god, and of his own invention he devises a shape or figure for it, which lastly he frames with the workmanship of his hands — so that it may truly be said that the mind conceives an idol, and the hand brings it forth. But the Lord, in the first commandment, forbade us to have any strange gods. Now, he that neither has, nor chooses for himself, any strange or foreign gods, does not devise in his imagination any shape for them; and so consequently he erects no images. For he thinks it is a detestable thing to make an image to the true and very God.


He is persuaded that it is a wicked thing to choose for himself a foreign god; and therefore he judges it to be most abominable to place the picture of a foreign god in the church or temple of the true and very God. And that is the reason that in the church before Christ's time, we do not read that any images were erected to any saints — though at that time there were a great number (we may suppose) of patriarchs, judges, kings, priests, prophets, and whole troops of martyrs, matrons, and modest widows. The primitive church of Christ's apostles also had no images, either of Christ himself, or of other saints, set up in their places of public prayer, nor in their churches. The deed of Epiphanius is very well known, which he committed at Anabantha in Syria. It is written in Greek in an epistle to John Bishop of Jerusalem, and translated into Latin by St. Jerome. He rent the vail that hung in the temple, bearing in it the image of Christ or some other saint; testifying with this, that it is against Christian religion for the picture of a man to hang in the church of God.[447] St. Augustine in Catalogo Haeresewn mentions one Marcella, a follower of Carpocrates' sect, which worshipped the images of Jesus, Paul, Homer, and Pythagoras, by falling down prostrate before them, and offering incense to them.[448] Very well and wisely, therefore, Erasmus of Rotterdam, being deeply seen in the works of ecclesiastical writers, when he had wittily spoken many things touching the use of images in churches, at last he also adds and says this:

"There is no decree, no not so much as of men, which commands that images should be in churches. For as it is easier, so it is less perilous, to take all the images clean out of the churches, than to be able to bring to pass that, in keeping them, the measure should not be exceeded, nor superstition covertly cloaked.


For (as some say) admit that the mind is clean from all superstition, and yet notwithstanding it is not without a show of superstition for one who prays, to fall down prostrate before a wooden idol, to have his eyes steadfastly bent upon that alone, to speak to it, kiss it, and not to pray at all except before an idol. And I add this: that whoever imagines God to be any other than he is indeed, contrary to this precept, worships graven images." [449]

And again, in the same catechism, he says:

"Even until the time of Jerome there were men of sound religion who did not allow in the church any image to stand, whether painted, graven, or woven; no, not so much as of Christ, because (I suppose) of the Anthropomorphites. But afterward the use of images little by little crept up and came into the churches." [450] This is what Erasmus has.

Furthermore, though Christ — who is our Lord and very God  — has taken on himself the nature of men, notwithstanding that, no image should be erected. For he did not become man with that intent; but he drew his humanity up into heaven; and by doing that, he gave us a charge that so often as we pray, we should lift up the eyes of our minds and bodies into heaven above. Moreover, once ascended, he sent his Spirit instead of himself to the church, in which he has a spiritual kingdom, and does not need any bodily or corruptible things. For he commanded that if we would bestow anything on him or for his sake, we should bestow it on the poor,Mat 19.21 and not on his picture or image. And now, without any controversy, since our Christ is the very true God, and the very true God forbids us to make holy any likeness of man to him — that is, to represent God in the shape of a man — it consequently follows that no image is to be dedicated to Christ, because he is the true and very God, and life everlasting.


In the second part of this commandment we are taught how far it is unlawful for us to make any image of God, or else of feigned gods. And if anyone makes or causes them to be made, how and in what way we should behave toward them. Images should not, in any case, be made for men to worship, nor to otherwise use as means or instruments to worship God. But if it happens that any man makes them, intending to have them worshipped, then the zealous, and those disposed to be godly, must despise and neglect them — not worship or honour them, nor by any means be brought to serve them.

For in this precept, two things especially to be noted are set down.

The first is, "You shall not bow down to them." To bow down is to cap and to knee: to duck with the head and bend the body, to fall down, honour, worship, and reverence. The saints of old used to bow down (that is, to bend the knee, uncover the head, and fall down) to the magistrates, the prophets, the princes, and teachers of the people, and to all sorts of reverend men. And they did that partly because God had so commanded, who uses their ministry for the benefit of common men; and partly again, because men are the living image of God himself. But deaf, dumb, and blind idols are wood and stone, to which we are forbidden to bend or bow down, however we are made to believe that they bear the likeness of God.

The second is, "You shall not worship them," or else, you shall not do any service to them. In this clause is forbidden all the outward and unlawful honour done to God, or to the gods, in the way of religion — no, rather in the way of superstition, and devilish hallowing of churches, relics, holy-days, and such-like trash and trumpery.[451] For to serve is to worship, to reverence, to attribute some majesty and divine authority to that which we worship, to have affiance in,[452] to burn incense, to offer gifts, and to show ourselves dutifully serviceable to that which we worship. There is no man who does not know what it means to serve, and what is meant by service, in matters of religion.


We are forbidden, therefore, to run in pilgrimage to idols — yes, even though they are the images of God himself. We are forbidden to do them any service, in offering gifts, or attributing to them one jot of God's pre-eminence, thereby binding ourselves to maintain and uphold their unlawful honour, in mingling such superstitions with better points of true religion. This therefore considered (since we may not attribute to images any serviceable honour), I do not see how we can ascribe to them the office of teaching, admonishing, and exhorting, which are the offices and benefits of God's Holy Spirit and word. For Habakkuk the prophet of whose writings Paul made no small account, has left in writing words worth remembering.

"What profit does an image have," (he asks) "for its maker to make it an image and a teacher of lies, though he that made it trusts in it when he makes dumb idols? Woe to him that says to the wood, Awake! and to the senseless stone, Arise! Should that teach you? Behold, it is covered with gold and silver, and there is no breath in it. But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him." Hab.2.18-20

What could be said more plainly and agreeable to the truth? Images (he says) are mere lies. But how can that which of itself is nothing but a lie, teach the truth? There is no moving, there is no life, there is no breath in a picture or image. But the Lord sits in his holy temple, where he reigns, and teaches, by inspiration and the preaching of his word, the sum of godliness, and where he lives forever in the hearts of all his saints and servants. Therefore, let all the tongues in the whole world be stopped, of those who go about maintaining and upholding superstitious idolatry against the true and living God.

Now, again, in the third part of this commandment the Lord briefly knits up the pithy handling of sundry things. For first he shows that men have no just or lawful cause in turning from God, either to make strange gods for themselves, or else to worship God other than they ought to. "I am" (He says) "the Lord your God," a strong God. If I am the Lord, then of duty you should serve me, honour me, obey me, and worship me, in the way you understand that I desire to be worshipped and honoured.


If I am God, then I am of sufficient ability to minister to all men whatever they lack. What can you lack, therefore, that you may not find in me? Why then should you turn to strange gods? You have no cause at all, undoubtedly, to turn from me. I am, moreover, a strong God, a mighty, indeed, an almighty God and Lord. You have no cause to seek a mightier or wealthier prince than me, to be delivered by him out of my hands, and to be further enriched by his liberality than you will be by my good gifts and blessings. For I am that true and eternal God, the invincible and almighty Prince of the world, the true and only helper and deliverer, the liberal and bountiful giver of all good gifts or benefits. I am also your Lord and your God. Those goods of mine are yours. For I am yours: indeed, I am your helper and deliverer out of all adversities and afflictions. You are mine: I have created you: I live in you, I preserve you. Why then should you turn away from me, and seek after any strange god whatsoever? What need do you have to hunt after senseless idols any more hereafter? You are the church and temple of God. Do you not feel and perceive within yourself, that I dwell in you, and possess your heart? And what, I pray you, does the temple of God have to do with godless images?

Then he also descends, and very severely (yet notwithstanding, justly) threatens extreme and terrible revenge. "I am" (he says) "a jealous God." This may very well be taken two ways, and not amiss. For, first, the sense may be thus: I will not have you seek any other gods but me, nor will I have you admit or receive any foreign or unlawful worshipping of me. The cause is that I am a jealous God, envious against my rivals, not suffering any equal, nor by any means abiding a mate. I alone will be loved, I alone will be worshipped; and that too, is not after any other fashion than I myself have appointed to be observed. For no man is so ignorant that he does not know how God in the scripture, by the parable of wedlock, figuratively sets down the assurance and bond in which we are bound to God by faith. God is our husband and bridegroom: we are his wife and chosen spouse.


A chaste and faithful wife gives ear alone to her husband's voice; she loves him alone, she obeys him alone, and him excepted, she loves no man at all. Again, on the other side, a shameless, faithless adulteress and whorish strumpet, not worthy to be called a wife, seems outwardly to stick and cling to her husband; but privily she makes her body common to many men, and loves others more than her husband, and for the most part burns for them, being cold enough toward him. But God is a jealous God, and will be loved and worshipped alone, without any partner to rob him of it. That is spiritual adultery and whore-hunting: when men partly love and worship God, and yet, notwithstanding, they also reverence strange and other gods. Against this faithlessness and double-dealing, all the prophets cry out most vehemently, with words that represent a tyrannous and cruel revenge. For of all other sins, this one is most detestable. I would to God, that so many in our day were not persuaded that this kind of [faithless] honour is the worship that God takes most account of!

Or the sense of those words may also be taken thus: I will not have you seek any other gods but me; I will not have you worship me according to your own inventions. The cause is that I am a jealous God; that is, I am easily provoked, and will not suffer myself and my honour to be rejected without due punishment for the contempt. And he seems to draw to this sense, where he goes forward, and at large expounds how he is jealous: for "I visit," he says, "the fathers' iniquity in the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." God therefore is a sharp revenger and a just judge against those who follow after strange gods, or serve God unlawfully or irreligiously, and also against all those who swerve from the law of God. For he thunders out this bitter punishment, especially against idolaters; but inclusively with this, he threatens it to those who break the rest of his commandments. For that which the Lord utters here, is generally spoken, and it is of force and effect against all impiety and unrighteousness of all mankind.


But because God's case is far more excellent than man's, those who break the first tablet more heinously offend, than those who sin against the second tablet — and thereby they deserve a far more grievous pain and heavy punishment.

Now, though we see that the Lord says that he will visit, and by inquisition punish, the sins of the fathers in the children to the third and fourth generation; we must not later think that God is unjust, and punishes another man's fault in afflicting the innocent, that is, in whipping the one that did not offend: as the Jews in Ezekiel wickedly taunted and caviled [453] with God, saying, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." But it is not so. "For every man shall bear his own offences; neither shall the son bear or abide the father's sin, nor the father the son's iniquity." [454] The most true God very often and earnestly beats this into our heads throughout Ezekiel, and the whole scripture beside. Therefore, if the children, or children's children, abide in the crooked steps of their fathers, and serve idols as their fathers did, and yet think they will be safe and remain unpunished because they learned it from their fathers, even as their fathers also were idolaters, and yet flourished in wealth and prosperity — then, God says, I will punish the sin of the fathers in the children. That is, I will sharply revenge the sin that the children have learned from the fathers, and in which they stiffly stand and abide, being encouraged to it by their fathers' example and good fortune  — even though, for the very same sin, I did not once touch their fathers before them. And for that cause, this is expressly added: "of those who hate me." We have very many and very evident examples of this in the books of Kings. The house of Jeroboam is utterly destroyed, because Jeroboam erected idolatry and superstition in Israel. Immediately after, the whole stock of king Baasha is clean cut off: and Ahab's house is pulled up by the roots. At length, the Israelites are made slaves to serve the Assyrians. Solomon, the mightiest, wealthiest, wisest, and most happy king of Judah, because of his idolatry and strange superstition, is suddenly made most wretched of all.[455]


There is none, unless he never read the holy scriptures, who does not know what happened to his son Rehoboam, to Joram the son of Jehoshaphat, to Ahaz, Manasseh, Jehoiachim and Zedekiah, because of idolatry and foreign worshipping of God.

Let us therefore firmly hold and believe, that the threatenings of God are true in effect, and that God is both a severe and just revenger and punisher of idolaters and wicked superstitious men, and finally, of all and every wicked act done by every man. Although God sundry times seems to wicked men to slumber, and not to see them, yet notwithstanding he awakes when he thinks it good, and pays back the wicked for all their offences, done and past. Although he is long-suffering, yet the righteous Lord does not always neglect the godly and oppressed, nor does he always wink at ungodliness, and let the wicked go unpunished forever: but he gives them time to repent, which whoever neglects to do so, at length will feel the greater pains and sharper punishment, according to the saying of the apostle: "What, do you despise the riches of God's goodness, tolerance, and gentleness, not knowing that God's goodness calls you to repentance? But, according to your hardness and heart that cannot repent, you heap up for yourself wrath against the day of wrath, in which the just judgment of God shall be made manifest, who shall repay to every one according to his deeds," etc. [456]

Again, the bountiful Lord promises great and large rewards to those who worship him, and steadfastly perseveres in true godliness and perfect religion. "I am God," he says, "showing mercy, or giving bountifully, to thousands." Here, note that his mercy is greater than his vengeance. For where he is angry, he punishes to the third and fourth generation; but where he is mercifully liberal, he is bountiful to many thousands. For there is no measure or end of his goodness and benefits; and the mercy of God is far above all his works. Yet here he again adds two more things: "To those," he says, "who love me, and keep my commandments." Here, I say, he requires two things at the hands of those who are his.


The first is, that they love God, and take account of him, and take him to be their God. If they do this, then there will be no room left in the godly for strange or foreign gods. The second is, that they obey God, and walk in his commandments. If they do this, then all idols and strange worshippings are utterly at an end. Then the Lord reigns by his word in the heart of every godly man, whom the bountiful Lord liberally blesses with all kinds of blessings and good gifts. And this clause truly and especially belongs to this commandment. But it also inclusively refers to all the rest, as we may easily gather by the very words of God. Let us hold and truly think, therefore, that the infinite and unspeakable benefits of God are prepared for whose who walk in the law of the Lord.

I had this much to say about these two commandments of the first tablet, which I cannot recapitulate now, because an hour and a half is already spent. And for that, I hope that I have proceeded so orderly in every point, and taught everything so evidently and plainly, that there is nothing which you do not very well perceive and understand. Let us now praise the Lord, and thank him for his goodness, for showing us his ways; and let us pray that we, walking rightly in them, may come to his eternal joys at the last. Amen.


Of the third precept of the Ten Commandments, and of swearing.

THE third commandment of the first tablet is thus word for word: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; because the Lord will not let him go unpunished that takes the name of the Lord his God in vain." In the second commandment, the Lord set down the worship that he would not have, that he disapproved, and flatly forbid: namely, a worldly, earthly, and carnal kind of honour, a base and vile kind of worship, a service that is directly contrary to the spirit, nature, and majesty of God.


That is, to think that in shape God will resemble a man, or any other creature made of earth or corruptible stuff or matter; and then again, to worship him under those shapes and figures with corruptible things that were first ordained and created for the use and benefit of men, and not of God. For God is an eternal Spirit, which goes all over [457] and preserves everything; whom all the most excellent creatures of the whole world, if they were joined together in one, are not able to resemble, nor yet represent the least jot of excellence in the living God. God is so far from lacking any corruptible things, that he himself supplies whatever lacks in all our necessities. It is a mere folly, therefore, to set up a percher,[458] a taper, or a smoky torch before the maker and giver of light. It is a veritable toy to offer the flesh of beasts to that eternal Spirit who in the Psalms says: "All the beasts of the wood are mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all birds upon the mountains, and in my power are all the beasts of the field. If I am hungry, I need not to tell you, since the world is mine, and all that is in it." Psa 1.10-12

Now, therefore, in this third commandment the Lord very exquisitely, although very briefly, declare the manner how he will be worshipped, that is, in the holy reverencing of his holy name. The names by which God is called are God, God's majesty, God's truth, God's power, and God's justice. Now the charge of this commandment is not to abuse the name of God, and not to use it in light and trifling matters; but to speak, think, and judge honourably, reverently, holily, and purely of God and godly things. But the pith and effect almost of the whole lies in this: that he says, "the name of the Lord your God" — namely, that which is your chief goodness and felicity, your Creator, your Redeemer, and your tender Father. Now, note that the Lord does not barely forbid us to use his name; but he charges us not to use it lightly or in vain, that is, beyond necessary use or our benefit, and beside the honour and glory of God. Let us therefore see first, how we should sanctify the Lord's name; secondly, how we may devoutly use the name of God; and last of all, worship him as he himself has appointed us to do.


First of all, we have to think of God as the chief felicity and infinite treasure of all good things, who loves us exceedingly with a fatherly affection, always wishing and by all means desiring to have us saved, and to come to the perfect knowledge of the very truth; whose judgments are true and just, whose works for their excellence are wonderful, and whose words are most true, and truth itself. Then this holy name of God must continually be called upon in prayers, need, and requests. By that alone we must look to obtain whatever is needful for our bodies or souls. We must never cease to give thanks to that name for all the good benefits that we do or shall receive; for whatever good men have and enjoy, they do not have that from anywhere but from God, the fountain and giver of all. This glory must ever be given to God. If we are nipped with any adversity, let us not later murmur against God's good pleasure and his secret judgments. Rather, suffering and submitting ourselves under his mighty and fatherly hand, let us say with the prophet David: "It is good for me, Lord, that you have chastened me." [459] Let not us appoint what God shall do, but wholly and always submit ourselves to his good will and holy pleasure. Let us in all things give God the glory, in praising openly and plainly professing his name and doctrine before kings and princes — yes, and in the sight of the whole world, so often as occasion shall be given, and the glory of God shall seem to require. Let us not be ashamed of God our Father, of his truth and true religion. Let us not be ashamed of Christ our Redeemer, nor yet of his cross. But let us be ashamed of errors, idolatry, of the world and vanity, of lies and iniquity. Let us holily, reverently, and devoutly, both speak and think of God, his works, and his word. Let the law of God be holy to us, let his gospel be reverend in our eyes; and let the doctrine of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles be esteemed by us as that which came from God himself. Let us not take the name of the Lord our God into our mouths, unless it is in a matter of weight. Let us not blaspheme, curse, or lie in the name of the Lord. Let us not use, or rather abuse, the name or word of God in conjuring, juggling, or sorcery. For the name of God is most of all abused in these things.


Let us precisely and holily keep the oath which we have made by the name of the living and eternal God. Let us tell the truth in all things, and not lie; that when this world, that will not see, is forced to see so great a reverence and devotion in us to the name of our God, it may be compelled thereby to glorify our Father which is in heaven. And this truly is the godly use of the Lord's name, and the religion in which our God is very well pleased.

Now note, by the way, that there are sundry ways by which we abuse the name of God; and first of all, we abuse it as often as our hearts are without any reverence toward God himself; when we irreverently, filthily, wickedly, and blasphemously speak of God, of his judgments, of his word, and of his laws; when with scoffing allusions, we apply God's words to light matters and trifles, and by that means turn and draw the scriptures into a profane and dishonest meaning. Moreover, we disgrace the name of the Lord our God, when we do not call upon his name, but rather turn ourselves to I know not what sort of gods, to man's skill and succour, to forbidden things, to idols, and conjurors.[460] We fall into doing these things especially when, being wrapped in misery and calamities — either for our sins, or because God would test us — we quickly begin to murmur against God, and accuse his judgments, hardly abstaining from open blasphemy in grudging to bear the things that we worthily suffer for our deserts.[461] To this belongs the abuse of those beastly knaves who do not hesitate to use the holy name of God in obtaining their filthy lusts, which they call "love;" and also the naughtiness of those who seek by God's name, to find and recover the things that are lost, or stolen from them. We unhallow the name of the Lord our God, when we do not give him all honour and glory. Perhaps we do some good deed; or perhaps there is something in us worthy to be praised. If we therefore claim the praise of it for ourselves, or at least pare out a piece of that glory for our own share, and give the rest to God — not referring it all and wholly to God, the author of all — then in doing this, we defile the name of God, which alone should be praised for ever and ever.


Furthermore, if we deny the Lord, or blush at and are ashamed of his holy gospel, because of this wicked world and the naughty men in it; if also we spot ourselves with a filthy and unclean life, which is to the slander of God's name and the offence of our neighbour; then we take the Lord's name in vain; yes, we abuse it to his dishonour and reproach. We abuse the name of the Lord if we take a solemn oath in a trifle or matter of no effect, or if we do not keep and perform the oath that we have sworn. In our daily talk very often, about almost godless matters, we are prone to call and take the dreadful name of God to witness, having learned this from an ill habit and custom, or else being stirred up by some evil motion of our naughty mind. We have countless sorts of deep and terrible oaths, such as wounds, blood, cross, and passion of the Lord, heaven, earth, sacraments, every saint in heaven, and all the devils of hell.[462] Beside all this, we also abuse the name of God in sundry and diverse ways, in telling lies. The preacher or teacher of the church lies when he cries, "Thus says the Lord;" though the Lord indeed says no such thing. He makes the name of God a cloak and a colour to hide his deceit, and beguiles poor simple souls. The magistrate cries out, "All power is from God;" Rom 13.1 and so, under the pretence of God's name, he injures his subjects in playing the tyrant and not the magistrate. The common people deceive one another, under the name of the Lord, in contracts and bargaining. And the sturdy rogue, unworthy of alms, will not hesitate to stand and make God's name an idle occupation to get a penny. But who can reckon up all the things, in which God's name is foully abused? We must all therefore have an eye, that we not defile the name of God, but rather bless it, and holily worship it.

For it follows in the words of the Lord, what punishment abides for those who so disgrace his name: "Because," he says, "the Lord will not let him go unpunished, who takes his name in vain." Exo 20.7 And although this commination [463] of the Lord is very horrible indeed, and of itself effectual enough to make the godly sort afraid to pollute the name of God, yet I will add one or two examples of those whom the Lord has punished for defiling his name.


David cries out, and says: "The unrighteous shall not stand in your sight, O Lord: you hate those who work iniquity: you shall destroy all those who speak lies." Psa 5.5-6 But how much more likely is it, that the Lord will destroy all those who speak blasphemy, and abuse his holy name! Saul, truly, because he did not call upon the Lord in his extreme necessity, but asked counsel of the pythonisse,[464] was compelled to kill himself with his own hand after he had seen his people downright slain by the Philistines, his enemies, and seen his sons lie dead in the midst of the people. Ananias lies to the Holy Ghost, and defiles the name of the Lord; and suddenly falls dead to the ground, he goes down with shame enough to the devil of hell.Act 5.4-5 Sennacherib blasphemes the name of the eternal God before the walls of Jerusalem; but shortly after, for his labour, he is bereft of his powerful [465] army; and in his own god's temple, he is shot through by his own sons.[466] Jehoiachim and Zedekiah, both kings of Judah and blasphemers of God's name, are taken captives and slain by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.[467] Ahab, Jezebel, and the priests of Baal are utterly wiped out by king Jehu because, under the colour of God and godliness, they blasphemed the name of God, and persecuted the true religion.[468] In the twenty-fourth chapter of Leviticus, anyone that blasphemed the name of God was stoned to death.

And therefore the emperor Justinian says, In Novellis constitu, 77, writing to the citizens of Constantinople:

"Moreover, besides unspeakable lusts, some men lash out with cursings and oaths of God, thereby provoking Him to anger. Because of this, we therefore exhort them to abstain from cursings and oaths by his hair and head, and other words such as these.


For if reproaches done to men are not left unrevenged, then much more is someone worthy to be punished, who stirs God to anger with his villainy. For such offences as these, so many droughts, earthquakes, and plagues come to men. We therefore admonish them to abstain from those crimes. For after this admonition of ours, those who are found faulty in this, will first show themselves unworthy to be beloved by men; and after that, too, they will suffer such punishment as the law appoints. For we have charged the right honourable lieutenant of our royal city, to apprehend the guilty, and to punish them extremely — lest at length, for such sinners' contempt, and such heinous offences, perhaps not only this city, but also the whole commonweal, is justly destroyed by God's just vengeance." [469]

This much [Justinian] writes. Now we may gather by this, that not the least part of our calamities these days happen to us because of our detestable cursings and horrible blasphemies, which very few magistrates (almost none at all) redress or punish as they should. The name of the living God is blasphemed with surpassing deep and horrible oaths, of all sorts, of all kinds, and by all ages; so that I think truly, that from the beginning of the world there was never such a blasphemous people as are found in this cursed age of ours. And therefore we are vexed with unspeakable and endless calamities.


For God is true, and cannot lie, who says that they shall not scape scot free who take his name in vain. The men of our time not only take it in vain, but out of malice also blasphemously defile it. I would to God that the magistrates would more sincerely set forth the worship of God among the people: or else, if this may not be obtained from their hands, yet then at least they would be no worse nor godless than Caiaphas who, when he heard (as he thought) blasphemy against the name of God, rent his clothes, Mat 26.65-66 and cried that the blasphemer was worthy to die. For surely, unless our Christian magistrates become sharper and more severe against blaspheming villainies, I can see only that they must be a great deal worse than the wicked knave Caiaphas. Undoubtedly the Lord is true (as every one of you must think severally within yourselves): he truly will punish in all men the defiling of his name, but much more for maliciously blaspheming it.

This very matter and place now require that I also say something here about taking an oath, or swearing, which is done by calling and taking God's name to witness. Now, in handling this matter, many things are to be thought of and considered.

First of all, I see that there are some who doubt whether it is lawful to take an oath or not, because in Matthew the Lord has said: "You have heard what was said of old, you shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord; but I say to you, Swear not at all," etc. Mat 5.33-34 But the Lord's mind in Matthew was not to take clean away the true and ancient law, but to interpret it, and to bring it to a sounder sense, because before, it was corrupted and marred by diverse forged and counterfeit glosses of the Pharisees. For the people, being taught by them, evermore had an eye to keep their mouths from perjury; but touching superfluous, unprofitable, and needless oaths, they had no care at all, not thinking that it was amiss to swear by heaven and by earth. Therefore the Lord, expounding his Father's law, says that all oaths generally are forbidden: namely, those in which the name of the Lord is taken in vain, and by which we swear when there is no need at all. Meanwhile, he neither condemned, nor took clean away, the solemn and lawful oath.

ii. 245

Now there is great difference between a solemn oath and our daily oaths, which are nothing but deep swearings — not only needless, but also hurtful. But a solemn oath is both profitable and needful. The law of God and words of Christ do not forbid profitable and needful things; and therefore they do not condemn a solemn and lawful oath. Indeed, in the law too, a solemn oath is permitted; what alone is forbidden is the unprofitable using of the Lord's name. And Chris, our Lord did not come to break the law, but to fulfil the law. And therefore, in St. Matthew, he did not condemn an oath — not unless a man were to go about proving that the Son taught a doctrine clean contrary to the doctrine of his heavenly Father. This is a blasphemy against the Father and the Son, and not to be suffered. Moreover, God himself also swears — which undoubtedly he would not do, if an oath could not be taken without any sin. For after a long exposition of the law, God says, "Be holy, for I am holy; be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." [470] We also read that the holiest men of both Testaments, by calling and taking the name of God to witness in matters of weight, they swore — and they swore without any sin. An oath therefore in the law of Christ is not forbidden; and it is lawful for a Christian man both to exact and also to take an oath. I rather, truly, do not see how that man is worthy to be called a Christian, who being lawfully required to swear, seems to refuse it. But I have more fully disputed about this in another place, against the Anabaptists.[471]

Secondly, we have to consider for what causes we ought to swear. In many commonweals it is a usual and received custom to take an oath on every light occasion; and for that cause we see that an oath is lightly regarded and very little esteemed. For what is this but to take the name of God in vain? Let magistrates therefore learn and know, that an oath ought not to be required except in earnest affairs: as when it stands for the glory of God, for the safety of our neighbour, and for the public welfare.


We must mark, therefore, when and why the people of God have sworn in the scriptures. Abraham swore when he made the league and confederacy with Abimelech. Gen 21.24 The people of God very often swear under their kings, in making a covenant with God for keeping true religion.[472] From olden times, they cleared themselves of heinous suspicions by taking an oath. In Exodus we read: "If any man gives his neighbour a beast to keep, and it dies or is stolen, with no man seeing it, an oath by the Lord shall then go between the two, that he has not laid his hand on his neighbour's thing. The owner shall accept this oath, and the other shall not restore it." Exo 22.10-11 For Paul, in the sixth chap. to the Hebrews, says: "Men truly swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is an end of all strife for them." To this end, therefore, let magistrates apply the use of an oath; and let them have a special regard, in giving an oath, to do it reverently. Let the peers [473] of the people keep inviolably that which they swear; and let them take heed that they do not rashly require an oath from light-headed [474] fellows: let them not compare anything to an oath, or think anything to be equal to it; but let them reverently, and last of all, have their recourse to that oath, as the utmost remedy to find out the truth; and with that, let them use sharp punishment against perjured persons.[475] But woe to the people's princes, if through their wicked negligence, an oath is not esteemed! For without doubt, God will punish the person sharply, saying: "I will not allow someone to go unpunished who takes the Lord's name in vain."

Thirdly, I will tell you what an oath is, and what it means to swear. An oath is calling or taking God's name to witness, to confirm the truth of that we say. There is a difference between an oath, and that deep kind of swearing, by which God is blasphemed and torn in pieces.


There is a difference, too, between an oath and those bitter statements we use to curse and ban our neighbours: doubtless, they are not worthy to be called oaths. But because this word juramentum is overly used for any kind of oath, in the worse as well as better part; therefore godly and lawful oaths are wisely called by the name of jusjurandum.[476] For by adding jus, which signifies the law, we are admonished that this kind of oath is lawful and righteous. Now, taking God's name to witness, has joined to it a calling on and avowing of ourselves to God's curse and vengeance. For this is the manner of an oath, and an order of swearing: "I will say or do it truly indeed, and without deceit, may God so help me." Therefore, we put ourselves in danger of God's wrath and vengeance, unless we truly and indeed both speak and do the thing that we promised to do or speak. This is a very deep and solemn promise-making — and truly, there is not a greater one to be found in the world. Here also must be considered the circumstances and ceremonies in swearing. For our ancestors of old usually lifted their hand to heaven, and swore by the name of the Lord. The Lord our God dwells in heaven. We therefore manifestly declare that, as in the judges' eyes we lift our hand to heaven, even so in our mind's eye we ascend and swear in the presence and sight of God. Indeed, we give our hand and we pledge our faith to God there, in taking an oath by the name of God. Abraham, the singular friend of God, and father of the faithful,[477] tended to use this ceremony when he swore.

I need not proceed any further, therefore, to declare whether we should swear by the name of God alone, or by the names of saints, or by laying our hand on the holy Gospel. For it is manifest that the faithful must swear by the only eternal and most high God. Touching this thing, we have most evident precepts commanding us to swear by the name of the Lord; and again, forbidding us to swear by the names of strange gods. Of the first sort are these: "You shall fear the Lord your God, you shall serve him, and swear by his name." Deuteronomy sixth and tenth chapters.


Also the Lord himself in Isaiah says: "Every knee shall bend to me, and every tongue shall swear by me." Isa 45.23 And again, in the sixty-fifth chapter, the same prophet says: "He that would bless himself shall bless in the Lord, and he that would swear shall swear by the true and very God." Of the latter sort, too, are these testimonies of the holy scriptures: Exo 23.13, "All that I have said keep, and do not so much as once think of the names of strange gods, nor let them be heard out of your mouth." And Joshua 23.7 says: "When you come in among these nations, see that you do not swear by the name of their gods, and see that you neither worship nor bow down to them." In Jeremiah 5.7 the Lord says: "your sons have forsaken me, and sworn by other gods, which are no gods indeed: I have filled them, and they have gone a-whoring," etc. Moreover, the prophet Zephaniah brings in the Lord speaking and saying: "I will cut off those that worship and swear by the Lord, and swear by Milcom," [478] that is, by their king and defender. And this is no marvel, though he threatens destruction to those who swear by the names of creatures. For an oath is the chief and especial honour done to God, which therefore cannot be shared with others. For we swear by the highest, the one whom we believe to be the chief goodness, the giver of all good things, and the punishing revenger of every evil deed. But if we swear by the names of other gods, then truly we make them equal to God himself, and attribute to them the honour due to him. And for this cause, the blessed martyr of Christ, Polycarp, chose the flames of fire rather than swear by the power and estate of Caesar. The story is to be seen in the fourth book and fifteenth chapter of Eusebius.[479]


Fourthly, we have to consider how we ought to swear, and what are the conditions of a just, lawful, and honest oath. Jeremiah therefore says: "You shall swear, 'The Lord lives, in truth, in judgment, and righteousness: and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him they shall glory.'" Jer 4.2 There are therefore four conditions of a just and a lawful oath.

The first is, you shall swear, "The Lord lives." Here now again is repeated what has so many times been beaten into our heads, that we ought to swear by the name of the living God. The pattern of our ancestors' oath was this, "The Lord lives;" as it is evident by the writings of the prophets. Let us not swear therefore by any other but God.

The second condition is: "You shall swear in truth." So then, it is required that not only the tongue, but also the mind, should swear; lest we happen to say, The tongue indeed swore, but the mind did not swear at all.[480] Let us be true and faithful therefore, without deceit or guile; let us not lie, nor with subtlety try to shift off the oath once we have made it. We Germans express this well, when we say, On alle gfard, or On gfard; that is, I will not use any double dealing, but will simply and in good faith perform what I promise. There is an excellent pattern of a false and a deceitful oath in Auli Gellii Noct. Att. Lib. vii. cap. 18.[481]

The third condition is: "You shall swear in," or with, "judgment;" that is, advisedly and with great discretion, not rashly or lightly, but with consideration of every thing and circumstance, in great necessity, and in cases of public commodity.

The fourth condition is: "You shall swear in justice," or righteousness, so that our oath does not directly tend against the love of God and our neighbour — lest perhaps our oath be against right and equity; that is, lest we sin against righteousness or justice; which attributes what is theirs to both God and man.


Here, dearly beloved, you have heard me express in few words (which God himself has also taught us), how we must swear — of what sort and fashion our lawful and allowable oaths ought to be, and under what conditions they are contained. But now, if we swear against these conditions appointed by God, then our oaths and swearings will be altogether unlawful. And furthermore, if we go about performing those unlawful and unallowable oaths, then we will purchase and incur with that, the heavy wrath of the revenging Lord.

Now, in these days it is customarily demanded whether we should keep or perform wicked or ungodly, unjust or evil, vows or oaths — for example, if your oath or vow tended directly against God, against true religion, against the word of God, or against the health of your neighbour.

I will here allege and repeat the customary answer which, notwithstanding, is very true and grounded upon examples of holy scriptures, such as that which does not depart from the truth the narrow breadth of one small hair. The answer therefore is this: If any man swears against the faith and charity, so that keeping his oath may tend to the worse, then it is better for him to change his oath than to fulfil it. Upon this, Saint Ambrose says: "It is sometimes contrary to a man's duty to perform the oath that he has promised, as Herod did." [482] Isidore also says: "In evil promises break your oath; in a naughty vow change your purpose. The thing you have unadvisedly vowed, do not perform. The promise is wicked that is finished with mischief." [483] And again, "That oath must not be kept, by which any evil is unwarily promised. As if, for example, one were to give his faith to an adulteress to abide in naughtiness with her forever. Undoubtedly, it is more tolerable not to keep that promise, than to remain in whoredom still." [484]


Bede [485] moreover says:

"If it happens that, unawares, we promise anything with an oath, and keeping that oath would be the cause of further evil, then let us think it best upon better advice to change our oath without hurt to our conscience; and that it is better, upon such a necessity, for us to be forsworn than, to avoid perjury, to fall into another sin ten times worse than that. David swore by God, that he would kill the foolish fellow Nabal; but at the first intercession that his wife Abigail made, who was wiser than Nabal, David ceased to threaten him. He sheathed his sword again, and did not find himself any whit grieved for breaking his hasty oath." [486]

Augustine also says: "Though David did not perform his promise, bound with an oath, by shedding blood, his godliness was greater in this." [487] "David swore rashly, but upon better and godly advice, he did not perform the thing he had sworn." [488] By this and the like it is declared that many oaths are not to be observed. Now he that so swears sins: but in changing his oath, he does very well. He that does not change such an oath, commits a double sin; first, for swearing as he should not, and then for doing what he should not.


Up to here I have repeated this much from other men's words, which all men acknowledge to be true indeed. Now by this you easily understand, dearly beloved, what you have to think of those monastic vows and priests' oaths, which promise chastity (no farther, I guess, by their leave, than man's frail weakness will allow them). "For it is better," says the apostle, "to marry than to burn." 1Cor 7.9 God knows it is more commendable not to perform those foolish, hurtful, and impure promises — that would forcibly drive them to filthy uncleanness — than to lie and live unchastely under the colour of truly keeping an oath.

Fifthly and lastly, I have briefly to put you in mind, that you endeavour yourselves, by all the means you may, to devoutly keep that which you swear; and to briefly let you understand with this, what reward is prepared for those who religiously and holily keep and observe the holy oath once it is solemnly taken. If we love God, if we desire to sanctify his name, if we take the true God for the very true God, and for our God; if we would have Him be gentle and merciful toward us, and to be our present deliverer and aider at all assays; then we will have a most diligent care to swear with fear devoutly, and to holily keep and perform the oath that we devoutly make. But unless we do this, then terrible threatenings and the sharp revenge of God's just judgment are thundered from heaven against us transgressors. The very heathens shall rise up and condemn us in the day of judgment. For the Saguntines, the Numantines, and those of Petilia, chose to die with fire and famine, rather than break or violate their promise once bound with an oath.[489] Moreover, the laws of all wise and civil princes and people, adjudge perjured persons to die the death. What great offences, great corruptions, great and many mischiefs, I pray you, rise through perjuries! They entangle, trouble, disgrace, mar, and overthrow the estates, both civil and ecclesiastical. Whoever, therefore, does love the commonweal and safeguard of his country; whoever loves the church and its good estate; he will, above all things, have an especial regard to keep religiously the promise of his oath.


Now, the Lord promises a large reward to those who holily keep their oaths. For Jeremiah says: "And the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him they shall glory." Jer 4.2 It is as if he had said: If the people of Judah swear holily and keep their oaths, then the Lord will pour out on them such great felicity and abundant plenty of all good things that, just as hereafter one would bless or wish well to another, He will say, "The Lord show you his blessing, as he did of old to the Jews." And whoever praises another, he will say that "he is like the Israelites." It is therefore assuredly certain that whoever inviolably keeps their oaths and promises, shall be enriched with all good things, and worthy of all manner praise.

Let us endeavour ourselves, my brethren, I beseech you, to sanctify the Lord's name, and to add to this third commandment your earnest and continual prayers, saying, as our Lord Jesus has taught us, heavenly Father, hallowed be your name — or, let your name be holily worshipped. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Of the fourth precept of the first tablet,
that is, of the order and keeping of the sabbath-day.

THE fourth commandment of the first tablet is word for word as follows: "Remember to keep the sabbath-day holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your works; but on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God, in which you shall not do any manner of work, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger which is within your gates. Because in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in it; and rested the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it."


The order which the Lord uses in giving these commandments, is natural and very excellent. In the first precept, the Lord taught us faith and love toward God. In the second, he removed from us idols and all foreign kinds of worship. In the third he began to instruct us in the true and lawful worship of God. This worship stands in sanctifying his holy name, for us to call on it, and holily and freely praise it, and to think and speak of it as religiously as he gives us grace.[490] The fourth commandment teaches us also the worship due to God, and the hallowing of his holy name; yet it bends somewhat to the outward honour, although, nevertheless, it frames to the inward religion. For the sabbath belongs both to the inward and outward service of God. Let us see, therefore, what we have to think that the sabbath is, how far the use of it extends, and in what way we have to worship our God in observing the sabbath.

Sabbath signifies rest and ceasing from servile work.[491] And I think this is worthy to be noted here, that the Lord does not simply say, "Sanctify the sabbath;" but, "Remember to keep the sabbath-day holy;" meaning by this, that the sabbath was ordained of old, and given first of all to the ancient fathers, and then again renewed by the Lord, and beaten into the memory of the people of Israel. But the sum of the whole commandment is, Keep the sabbath-day holy. Later, the Lord more largely amplifies this sum by reckoning up the very days, and particularly recounting the whole household to whom keeping the sabbath is given in charge.[492]

The sabbath itself has sundry significations. For first of all, the scripture mentions a certain spiritual and continual sabbath. In this sabbath, we rest from servile work, in abstaining from sin, and doing our best not to have our own will found in ourselves, nor to work our own works. But ceasing from these, is to allow God to work in us, and to wholly submit our bodies to the government of his good Spirit.


After this sabbath follows that eternal sabbath and everlasting rest, of which Isaiah, in his 58th and 66th chapters, says very much; and Paul also, in the fourth chap. to the Hebrews. But God is truly worshipped when, ceasing from evil and obeying God's holy Spirit, we exercise ourselves in the study of good works. At this time, I have no leisure, nor do I think that it is greatly profitable for me, to reason as largely or exquisitely as I could, about the allegorical sabbath, or spiritual rest.[493] Let us rather, my brethren, in our mortal bodies, endeavour with an unwearied good-will of holiness, to sanctify the sabbath, which pleases the Lord so well.

Secondly, the sabbath is the outward institution of our religion. For it pleased the Lord, in this commandment, to teach us an outward religion and kind of worship, in which he would have us all be exercised. Now, because worshipping God cannot be without a time, the Lord has therefore appointed a certain time in which we should abstain from outward or bodily works; and yet should have leisure to attend to our spiritual business. For that reason, outward rest is commanded, so that spiritual work will not be hindered by bodily business. Moreover, that spiritual labour among our fathers was chiefly spent about four things: namely, about public reading and expounding of the scriptures, and consequently about hearing it; about public prayers and common petitions; about sacrifices or the administration of the sacraments; and lastly, about gathering every man's benevolence. The outward religion of the sabbath consisted in these things. For the people kept holy day, and met together in holy assemblies where the prophets read to them the word of the Lord, expounding it, and instructing the hearers in the true religion. Then the faithful jointly made their common prayers and supplications for all things necessary for their benefit. They praised the name of the Lord, and gave him thanks for all his good benefits bestowed on them. Furthermore, they offered sacrifices as the Lord commanded them, celebrating the mysteries and sacraments of Christ their Redeemer, and keeping their faith exercised and in use. They were joined in one with these sacraments, and also warned of their duty, which is to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord their God.


Lastly, in the congregation they liberally bestowed the gifts of their good-will for the use of the church. They gathered every man's benevolence, to supply the church's necessity with it, to maintain the ministers, and to relieve the poor and needy. These were the holy works of God, which they fulfilled. While having their hearts instructed in faith and love, they rightly sanctified the sabbath and the name of the Lord in this — that is, on the sabbath they did those kinds of works which sanctify the name of God, and befit his worshippers, and which are also the works that are indeed holy and pleasing in the sight of God. If any man requires a substantial and evident example of the sabbath or holy day thus holily celebrated, he will find it in the eighth chapter of the book of Nehemiah. For there the priests read and expound the word of God, they praise the name of the Lord, they pray with the people, they offer sacrifice, they show their liberality, and in all points they behave themselves holily and devoutly, as they should.

Now, lest anyone make this objection and say, "Ease breeds vice;" or, "I must labour with my hands to get my living, lest I die with hunger and my family perish;" He answers, The Lord allows you sufficient time for your labour, in which to get a living for yourself and your household. For six days you may work, but the Lord claims the seventh day, and requires it to be consecrated to him and his holy rest. Every week has seven days: and of those seven the Lord requires but one for himself. Who then can rightly complain, I beseech you, or say that injury has been done to him? More time is allowed to work in, than to keep the sabbath holy: and the one who requires to have this sabbath kept is God: the maker, the father, and the Lord of all mankind.

Furthermore, the Lord precisely commands and charges us to plant and bring this holy rest, this discipline and outward worship, into the whole family of every individual house.


We gather from this, what the duty of a good house-holder is: namely, to have a care to see that all his family keep the sabbath-day holy; that is, to do on the sabbath-day those good works which I have previously recounted. The Lord knows that wherever man has the mastery, his natural disposition, for the most part, is to rule and reign there over-haughtily and too princelike. Therefore, lest the fathers or masters perhaps deal too hardly or rigorously with their households, or hinder them in observing the sabbath, he commands them in express words and exquisitely enumerated steps, to allow their family, and everyone in their family, a resting time to accomplish His holy service. He does not exempt or except so much as the stranger. He will not suffer nor allow among them the example of those dull-heads who say: "Let faith and religion be free to all; let no man be compelled to any religion." For he commands us to bind the stranger within the gates of God's people — that is, the stranger who dwells in their jurisdiction — to the holy observing of the sabbath-day.

Now, this ease or rest is not commanded in respect to itself (for fault has always been found with idleness); but it is ordained for the aforesaid especial causes. God's pleasure is that there should be a place and time reserved for religion. This time and place are not open to those who are busy about bodily and outward works. The one that takes a journey at his master's command, or sells his wares in the market, or thrashes or winnows his corn in the barn, or hedges or ditches in the field, or stands at home beating the anvil, or sits still sewing shoes or hose — is not familiar in the congregation; he does not hear the word of God; he does not pray with the church; nor is he a partaker of the sacraments. Faith and religion, therefore, bid you to give rest to your servants and family; yes, they command you to egg and compel them, if they are slow, to the holy and profitable work of the Lord. Moreover, the Lord's mind is that those who labour, should also refresh and recreate themselves:

For things that lack a resting time

Can never long endure.[494]


This is why the bountiful Lord, whose mind is to preserve his creatures, teaches a way to keep them, and diligently provides that his creatures not be too afflicted by the hard handling or covetousness of their owners. Moses in Deuteronomy adds the pitiful affection of mercy, saying: "Remember, that once you yourself were a servant in the land of Egypt." [495] Charity, therefore, and civil humanity crave a measure be kept, so that we do not overload and weary our household servants with endless labours. Moreover, it is manifest that the good man of the house,[496] by planting godliness in his family, in no small way advances and sets forward his private profit and own commodity. For wicked servants are for the most part pickers [497] and deceitful; whereas the godly are faithful, whom he may trust to govern his house in his absence. In reckoning up the household, mention is also made of beasts and cattle. This is done, not so much because their owner is a man and therefore ought to use them remissly and moderately, but because beasts cannot be laboured without the working hand of man to guide them: so then, men are drawn from solemnizing the sabbath-day by helping their cattle. This is why, with the intent that they should not be drawn aside, we are here precisely commanded to allow our cattle that resting time.

Last of all, the Lord adds his own example, by which he teaches us to keep the sabbath-day holy. "Because," he says, "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it." The Lord our God worked six days in creating heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; and the seventh day he rested, and ordained that day to be an appointed time for us to rest. On the seventh day we must think of the works that God did in six days: the children of God must call to remembrance what and how great are the benefits they have received the whole week — for which they must thank God, for which they must praise God, and by which they must learn God.


We must then dedicate to Him our whole body and soul; we must consecrate to Him all our words and our deeds. As the Lord rested that day from creating, but did not cease to preserve, so we must rest on that day from handy [498] and bodily works; but we must not cease from works of well-doing and worshipping God. Furthermore, the heavenly rest was no prejudice at all to the things created: neither shall the holy day, or sabbath, spent in God's service, be any obstacle or hindrance to our affairs or business. For the Lord blessed the sabbath-day; and therefore he shall bless you and your house, all your affairs and business, if he sees you have a care to sanctify his sabbath; that is, to do those works which he has commanded to be done on the sabbath-day. Therefore, they err from the truth as far as heaven is wide, who despise the religion and the holy rest of the sabbath-day, calling it an idle ease; and who labour on the sabbath-day as they do on working days, under the pretence of caring for their family and of necessity's sake.

For we must apply all these things to ourselves and our churches. It is most sure that, to Christians, the spiritual sabbath is charged especially and above all things. Neither is it to be doubted that the good Lord's will is that even in our churches today, as well as the Jews of old, there should be kept an appointed order in all things, but especially in exercising outward religion. We know that the sabbath is ceremonial, so far as it is joined to sacrifices and other Jewish ceremonies, and so far as it is tied to a certain time. But considering that on the sabbath-day, religion and true godliness are exercised and published, and that a just and seemly order is kept in the church, and that the love of our neighbour is thereby preserved in it, I say that it is perpetual, and not ceremonial. Even today, truly, we must ease and bear with our family; and even today we must instruct our family in the true religion and fear of God. Christ our Lord nowhere scattered abroad the holy congregations, but as much as he could, he gathered them together. Now, as there ought to be an appointed place, so likewise must there be a prescribed time, for the outward exercise of religion, and consequently, for a holy rest.


Those of the primitive church, therefore, changed the sabbath-day, lest they might seem to have imitated the Jews, and to have still retained their order and ceremonies.[499] They made their assemblies and holy restings on the first day of sabbaths,[500] which John calls Sunday, or the Lord's day, Rev. 1.10 because of the Lord's glorious resurrection on that day. And although we do not find in any part of the apostles' writings, any mention made that this Sunday was commanded to be kept holy, yet because in this fourth precept of the first tablet, we are commanded to have a care for religion, and for exercising outward godliness, it would be against all godliness and Christian charity if we were not to sanctify Sunday: especially since the outward worship of God cannot consist without an appointed time and space of holy rest.

I suppose also, that we should think the same of those few feasts and holy days which we keep holy to Christ our Lord, in memory of his nativity or incarnation, of his circumcision, of his passion, of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord into heaven, and of his sending of the Holy Ghost upon his disciples.[501] For Christian liberty is not a licentious power and a dissolving of godly ecclesiastical ordinances, which advance and promote the glory of God and the love of our neighbour. But because the Lord would have holy days be solemnized and kept to himself alone, I do not therefore liken the festival days that are held in honour of any creatures. This glory and worship is due to God alone. Paul says: "I would not that any man should judge you in part about a holy day, or the sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come." [502] And again: "You observe days, and months, and years, and times; I fear lest I have laboured in you in vain." Gal. 4.10-11


And therefore, today, we in the church of Christ have nothing to do with the Jewish observation [of the sabbath]; we only wish and endeavour that its Christian observation, and the exercise of Christian religion, be freely kept and observed.

And yet, as with the hallowing of the Jewish sabbath, so also the sanctifying or exercise of our Sunday must be spent and occupied about four things. These ought to be found in the holy congregation of Christians if their Sunday is truly sanctified and kept holy as it should be.

First, let all the godly saints assemble themselves together in the congregation. Let the word of God be preached there in the assembly; let the Gospel be read there, that the hearers may learn thereby what they have to think of God, what the duty and office is of those who worship God, and how they ought to sanctify the name of the Lord.

Secondly, let there be prayers and supplications in that congregation for all the necessities of all people. Let the Lord be praised for his goodness, and thanked for his inestimable benefits which he daily bestows.

Thirdly, if time, occasion, and the custom of the church so require, let the sacraments of the church be religiously ministered. For nothing is more required in this fourth commandment than that we holily observe, and devoutly exercise, the sacraments, and the holy, lawful, profitable, and necessary rites and ceremonies of the church.

Last of all, let entire humanity and liberality have a place in the saints' assembly: let all learn to give alms privately, and to relieve the poor daily, and to do it frankly and openly, so often as the opportunity of time and the causes of need shall so require.

These are the duties in which the Lord's sabbath is kept holy even in the church of Christians. And it is kept holy so much the greater, if an earnest good will to do no evil all the day long is added to these.

This discipline now must be brought in and established by every householder in all our several houses, with as great a diligence as it was with the Jews. Touching this, I have nothing to say here, since I have so plainly handled this point before, that you may perceive it agrees even to the church of us that are Christians. I add this one thing more: that it is the duty of a Christian magistrate, or leastwise of a good householder, to compel the breakers and contemners of God's sabbath and worship, to amend themselves.


The peers [503] of Israel, and all the people of God, stoned to death (as the Lord commanded them) the man that disobediently gathered sticks on the sabbath-day. Num 15. 32-36 Why then should it not be lawful for a Christian magistrate to punish by bodily imprisonment, by loss of goods, or by death, the despisers of religion, of the true and lawful worship done to God, and of the sabbath-day? [504] Truly, though the foolish and indiscreet magistrate in this corrupted age slackly looks to his office and duty, yet notwithstanding, let every householder endeavour to keep his individual family from that ungodly naughtiness; let him punish those of his household by such means as he lawfully may. For if any householder dwells among idolaters, who neither have, nor yet desire to have or frequent, the Christian or lawful congregations; then he may gather in his own house a particular assembly to praise the Lord, as it is manifest that Lot did among the Sodomites; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did so in the land of Canaan and in Egypt. But it is a heinous sin and a detestable schism, if there is a congregation assembled in either cities or villages, for you to seek byways to hide yourself, and not to come there, but to contemn the church of God and the assembly of saints, as the Anabaptists have taken to doing.

Here, therefore, I have to reckon up the abuses of the sabbath-day, or the sins committed against this commandment. It is transgressed by those who do not cease from evil works, but abuse the sabbath's rest to provoke fleshly pleasures. For they keep the sabbath to God, but they work to the devil, in gambling,[505] drinking, dancing, and feeding their inclinations [506] with the vanities of this world, whereby we are not only drawn from the company of the holy congregation, but we also defile our bodies, which we should rather sanctify and keep holy. Those sin against this precept, who either exercise any handy occupation on the sabbath-day, or else lie wrapped in bed and fast asleep till the day is almost spent, not once thinking to make one of God's congregation.


Those offend in this precept, who awe [507] their servants to work; and who draw them away from the worship of God by appointing them to other business, preferring other stinking things before the honour due to God. And above all others, those offend in this, who not only fail to keep the sabbath-day holy themselves, but also, with their ungodly scoffs and evil examples, cause others to despise and set light by religion — when they disdain and mock the holy rites and ceremonies, along with the ministry, ministers, sacred churches, and godly exercises. And in this, too, both the good-men and good-wives offend, if they are slack in their own houses, to call upon and see their families keep the sabbath-day holy. Whoever contemns the holiness of the sabbath-day, gives a flat and evident testimony of their ungodliness, and their light regard of God's mighty power.

Furthermore, keeping or despising the sabbath always carries with it either ample rewards or terrible threats. For the proof of this, I will recount to you, dearly beloved, the words of Jeremiah, in his seventeenth chapter.

"Thus has the Lord said to me," he says; "Go and stand under the gate of the sons of the people, through which the kings of Judah go in and out, and under all the gates of Jerusalem, and say to them: Take heed for your lives, that you carry no burden upon you on the sabbath-day, to bring it through the gates of Jerusalem, and that you bear no burden out of your houses on the sabbath-day: see that you do no labour on it; but keep the sabbath-day holy, as I commanded your fathers. Yet, they did not obey me, nor listen to me, but were obstinate and stubborn, and would not receive any correction. Nevertheless, if you will hear me, says the Lord, and bear no burden through this gate upon the sabbath, but hallow the sabbath, so that you do no work on it; then there shall go through the gates of this city, kings and princes that shall sit upon the throne of David; they shall be carried upon chariots, and ride upon horses, both they and their princes. Men from the cities of Judah and the land of Benjamin shall come, who will bring sacrifices, and offer incense and thanksgiving in the house of the Lord. But if you will not be obedient to me to hallow the sabbath, so that you bear your burdens through the gates on the sabbath-day; then I will set fire to the gates of Jerusalem, which shall burn up its great houses, and it shall not be quenched." Jer 17.19-27


Very justly, therefore, the devout princes, Leo and Anthemius, writing to Arsemius, their lieutenant, charged him with these words:

"That the holy days ordained in honour of the high God's majesty, should not be spent in any voluptuous pleasures, nor be unhallowed with troublesome exactions. We therefore decree and ordain that the Lord's day, or Sunday, as it has always been accounted well, so it shall still be esteemed; so that upon that day no office of the law shall be executed, no man shall be summoned, no man arrested for suretyship, no man attached, no pleading shall be heard, nor any judgment pronounced," etc.

And again later:

"Neither do we, in giving this rest on the holy day, allow any man to wallow in any kind of wanton pleasures at all. For on that day, stage-plays are not allowed, nor fencers' prizes, nor bear-baitings; yes, and if it happens that the solemnizing of our birthday falls on Sunday, then it shall be deferred till the day after. And we have determined that whoever on the sabbath-day is present at any spectacle [508] or play, or whatever summoner of any judge whatever, under the pretence of any business, either public or private, does anything to infringe the statutes enacted in this law, shall sustain the loss of his dignity, and have his patrimony confiscated." [509]


And yet, nevertheless, those who are Christians do not forget the words of Christ in the gospel, where he says: "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath; and that the Son of man too is Lord of the sabbath." Mark 2.27-28 The godly very well know that God ordained the sabbath for the preservation, and not for the destruction, of mankind; and that therefore he dispenses with us for the sabbath, as often as any urgent necessity or saving of a man seems to require it. Touching this matter, our Saviour Christ himself has fully satisfied the faithful in the 12th chapter of Matthew, and the 6th and 13th chapters of St. Luke. Truly, Christians may use their liberty to occupy themselves in such things on the sabbath-day. The priests and Levites in the temple are excused, who openly kill, slay, burn, and boil beasts, in making their sacrifices. They are not thought to break the sabbath-day, because they may without offence to God, even on the sabbaths, dress and make ready the things which serve the outward worship of the Lord. So likewise, on the sabbath we may dress and make ready, food and other necessaries which our bodies cannot lack. We may also minister medicine to the sick, visit the weak, and help the needy, so that we may preserve the creature of God. Our Saviour gives us an example to follow in this, who on the sabbath worked deeds of charity and mercy. We have more than one example of his to be seen in the gospel, but especially in Luke 6 and 13, and in John, the fifth chapter. If then, on the sabbath-day, it is lawful to draw out of a pit a sheep or an ox in danger of drowning, why should it not likewise be lawful on the sabbath to underset with props a ruinous house that is ready to fall? Why should it not be lawful on the sabbath-day to gather in, and keep from spoiling, the hay or corn, which by reason of unseasonable weather, has lain too long abroad, and is likely to be worse if it stays any longer? The holy emperor Constantino, writing to Elpidius, says: "Let all judges in courts of law, and citizens of all occupations, rest on Sunday, and keep it holy with reverence and devotion. But those who inhabit the country may freely and at liberty attend to their tillage on the sabbath-day. For it often falls out, that they cannot on another day so commodiously sow their seed, or plant their vines. And so, by letting pass the opportunity of a little time, they may happen to lose the profit given by God for our provision." [510]


Thus says the emperor. Now we must consider, that he does not license husbandmen to continually defile the sabbath-day by all kinds of toil. For countrymen, as well as townsmen, are looked to for due honour done to God, and keeping the fourth commandment. This must be remembered: that liberty is granted only in causes of necessity. But a godly mind and charity shall be excellent dispensers and mistresses to lead us in such cases as these, lest, under the coloured pretence of liberty and necessity, we do deeds that are not to be borne with on the sabbath-day, and exercise the works of greedy covetousness, and not of sincere holiness. And I had this much to say touching the second use of the sabbath-day.

Thirdly, the sabbath has a very ample or large signification. For it is a perpetual sign that God alone is the one who sanctifies those that worship his name. For thus says the Lord to Moses: "You shall keep my sabbaths, because it is a sign between me and you to those who come after you, to know that I am the Lord which sanctifies you;" and so forth, as seen in the 31st chapter of Exodus, and is repeated again in the 20th chapter of Ezekiel.[511] And to this end, the Lord mutually applies himself, as said before in the declaration of the sabbath's second use and signification. For by his Holy Spirit, God sanctifies his faithful folk and constant believers.  He declares this to the church by the preaching of the gospel, bearing witness to it and sealing it with his sacraments; so that he commands us with continual prayers, to incessantly crave from him that glorious sanctification. All these things, truly, are practised and put into use on the sabbath-days especially, with the intent that we may be sanctified by God, who is the only sanctifier of us all.


Up to here I have declared to you, dearly beloved, as briefly as I could, the first tablet of God's commandments, in which we have very exquisitely laid down before us, the worship due to the name of God. But because it is not those who know his mind that are the children of God, but those who do it, let us beseech our heavenly Father to so illuminate our minds, that we may faithfully, and in deed, worship our Lord and God, who is to be praised world without end. Amen.


Of the first precept of the second tablet, which is the fifth in order of the Ten Commandments, touching the honour due to parents.

Now follows the second tablet of God's law, which (by the help of God's Holy Spirit) I will declare as briefly to you as I have already done through the first. And just as the first contained the love of God, so the second teaches us the charity due to our neighbour — instructing all men what they owe to their neighbour, and how we may live honestly, civilly, and in quiet peace among ourselves in this world. For our good God would have us live well and quietly. But we who would not know how to live well, nor yet obey his good commandments, never cease to heap upon our own pates [512] with our sins and iniquities, an infinite multitude of miserable calamities.

This tablet contains six commandments; the first of which is, "Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God shall give you." Very well and rightly, the Lord begins the second tablet with honouring our parents. For after our duty to God, the next is the reverent love that we owe to our parents, of whom, next after God, we have our life, and by whom from our infancy we are brought up with incredible care and exceeding great labour. Now the very order of nature requires that the most excellent and dearest things should always have the first and chief place.


And that this commandment may be understood more easily, I mean to divide my treatise about it into three parts: In the first, I will declare what degrees and kinds of men are comprehended under the name "parents;" second, I will search out what kind of honour that is, and how far it extends, which the Lord commands to give to our parents: and third, I will touch the promise made to godly children, conjecturing on it, and gathering from it the punishment appointed for the ungodly and disobedient offspring.

First, there is none so ignorant as not to know what parents are. The Lord our God has given them to us to take from them our beginning of life, that they might nourish and bring us up, and that they might make us true men from rude and almost brutish things. Greater are the good turns that parents do for their children, greater is the cost and labour that they bestow on them, and greater is the care, grief, and trouble which they take for them, than any man is able to express, however eloquent he may be.

In the first place, not only the name of the father, but also the name of the mother is set down in express words in the law, lest she seem to be contemptible – not for any offence to God, but because of the weakness of her frail sex. Godly and virtuous mothers feel and abide more pain and grief in the bearing, bringing up, and nourishing of their children, than the fathers do. It is for no small cause, therefore, that we have the name of the mother precisely expressed in this commandment. We also comprehend in this, the grandfather and grandmother, the great grandsire and great granddame, and all others like these.

In the second place, we include every man's country in which he was born — which fed, fostered, adorned, and defended him.

Thirdly, we take princes and magistrates into the name and title: for senators and princes in the holy scriptures are called the fathers and pastors of the people.[513] Xenophon was persuaded that a good prince differed nothing from a good father.[514]

Fourthly, there are to be reckoned under the name of parents, those guardians who are usually called overseers of fatherless children or orphans. For they supply the place of departed parents, taking upon themselves the charge and defence of their children whom they must bring up, defend, and advance (for that sort of affection ought to be in them), even as they would for their own, and for those that they themselves once begat.


Among them we must also take account of those masters and workmen who teach an art or occupation: for young men and striplings learn from them some honest science, for each one to get his living honestly. And they are taught good manners by them; in a way, out of rude unpolished stuff, they are thereby made into perfect seemly men.

Fifthly, the ministers, doctors, and pastors of the churches, are taken for parents. Paul himself called them by the name of fathers — not so much for the care and love with which they are affected toward the disciples and sheep of Christ's flock, as because we are begotten by them in Christ, through the gospel. 1Cor 4.15

In the sixth place, we must think of our cousins and kinsfolks, brother and sister, nephews and nieces, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, father-in-law and son-in-law, who are knit together by alliance, just as the members of the body are fastened with sinews.

Finally, in the seventh place, old folks and widows, fatherless children and impotent weak persons, must be reputed among our parents — those whose cause and tuition the Lord has commended to us in more places than one.

So then, my brethren, here you have heard who we have to take for our parents, in this first precept of the second tablet; and who and how many are comprehended and commended to us under that name. And now you will hear what honour we owe them, and what the honour is that we should attribute to them.

Second, honour is variously taken in the scriptures. But in this treatise it signifies to magnify, worship, esteem well, and to reverence as a thing ordained by God; and also to acknowledge, love, and give praise, as for a benefit received at God's hand, and as a thing given from heaven, that is both holy, profitable, and necessary. To honour is to be dutiful and to obey; and to obey as if it were to God himself, by whom we know that our obedience is commanded, and to whom we are sure that our service is acceptable. But otherwise, we have no reason to obey either our parents or magistrates, if they themselves do, or command us to do, things that are wicked and unjust.


For the latter commandments still have a relation to those that went before. In the second commandment we learned that God would visit the sins of the fathers in the children; and therefore children ought not to obey their parents, if they command anything contrary to God, or prejudicial to his law. Jonathan did not obey his father Saul's commandment, who charged him to persecute David: and therefore he is worthily commended in the holy scriptures. The three companions of Daniel obeyed Nebuchadnezzar in all that he said. They loved him, and reverenced him as a mighty, powerful, and most bountiful king. But once he charged them to fall to idolatry, they did not set a button by his commandment.[515] And St. Peter, who taught us the honour and obedience that we owe to our parents and magistrates, when he was commanded by the princes and fathers of the people not to preach Christ crucified to the people any more, answered them that "we ought to obey God more than men." Acts 5.29 But what need do I have to thus reckon this up, when the Lord himself, in one short sentence, has knit this up, with all others like it? "If any man," he says, "comes to me, and does not hate his father and mother, his wife, his children, his brethren and sisters, yes, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Luk 14.26 Furthermore, you honour your parents when you do not contemptuously despise them, unthankfully neglect them, or shamefully think scornfully of them, if they happen to fall into adversity. You honour your parents when, with your help and counsel, you aid them in their old age and unwieldy crookedness; when you ease them in their time of need, or otherwise succour them in any case. For indeed, that is the true and proper honour due to our parents. The Lord himself bears witness to this in the 15th chapter of Matthew, and concludes that we ought to provide and care for our parents, to save and defend them, and to wholly give ourselves and risk our lives in their behalf.


And now, so that what I have said may be more easily and evidently understood, I will confer and apply this honour to those seven kinds of men which we comprehend under the name of parents. Thereby everyone may see what honour, and how much of it, he ought to bestow on his parents, his country, the magistrates in it, and those sorts of people that were named before.

Though of duty we ought to honour our parents, that duty is paid if we so worshipfully esteem them, as to think that they are given to us by God to the end that we should reverence, love, and always have an eye toward them — although, this is for nothing else than the Lord's sake. He is and thinks that He is despised, so long as we go on to contemn our parents and to think vilely of them. Nor does it matter to us whether those whom the Lord commands us to honour, are worthy or unworthy. For however they may be, notwithstanding, they did not chance to be our parents, without the providence of God. In respect to this parentage, the lawgiver himself would have them honoured. Therefore, whatever occasion children have to speak to their parents, let it always savour of humble reverence and childly affection; and let them obey their parents with such affection and reverence. If they seem to us to be somewhat bitter and ungentle, yet let us wisely wink at, and not seem to notice it — little by little declining from the evil which they seem to compel us to by force. And let us so discreetly handle the matter, that we may give them as small occasion as possible to be offended at us.

We have Jonathan, the son of Saul, as an example to us of a godly and obedient child. With great grief and trouble of mind, he beheld his father's madness upon David and wrongful dealing against himself. Yet for the present, he discreetly sustained and wisely dissembled it, finding occasion at another time, and in a convenient place, to tell David of it. He never aided his father in any conceived mischief; he clung always to the just man and righteous causes. He bewailed his father's stubbornness, and sought not to over-boldly resist him and strive against him. When his father offered to deal with him by violent extremes, he saved himself by flying away. And yet, for all this, he never loved his father the worse, but still prayed to God for his father's health and welfare, showing himself in all things to be an obedient son to his crabbed [516] father. This truly is the duty of a godly son. Every one of us should most diligently follow this in doing our duty and humble obeisance to our parents, however froward or crooked they may be.


Let none give them a rough answer, stubbornly; yes, let none so much as mumble an answer or mutter against his parents. Let none curse or speak evil of his father or mother, unless perforce [517] he seeks the way and means to make the curse of the high and mighty God hang over and alight upon his pate. If our parents happen to be poor, if they are misshapen in limb, or otherwise diseased with any infirmity, let none of us therefore in mockery flout at [518] or disdainfully despise them. Let us not show ourselves unthankful to those to whom we are duty-bound forever, for their good deeds toward us. Let us nourish, cherish, and aid them in all their necessities: yes, let us wholly bestow ourselves and all that we have, to do them good. For all that we possess undoubtedly is theirs; and all that we have, we enjoy by them — for if they were not, then we would not be.

Let us here call to remembrance the charge that the Lord gives us in Matthew, touching this commandment. Let us consider what is meant by the Gentiles' antipelargein,[519] which is, to requite one good turn with another; and especially, to nourish and cherish those by whom you were brought up and tendered in your youth.[520] Among the Gentiles, a law was extant worthy to be called the Mistress Of Piety, whereby it was enacted that children either nourish their parents, or else lie fast-fettered in prison.[521] Many men carelessly neglect this law, which the stork alone, among all living creatures, keeps most precisely. For other creatures hardly know or scarcely look at their parents, to see if perhaps the parents need their aid to nourish them. Whereas the stork mutually nourishes those which are stricken in age, and bears them on her shoulder when they cannot fly because of feebleness.


There are to be seen among the Gentiles very religious and excellent sentences touching the honour due to parents. Isocrates says: "Show yourself to be such a one to your parents, as you wish to have your children show themselves to you." [522] Anaximenes said: "He loves his father exceedingly well, who endeavours to make him joyful without any trouble at all." [523] Plato also, in his Laws, thinks that "whoever nourishes his father or mother, or any of their parents, at home in his house, in their impotent old age, has a great treasure in his house;" and he supposes that he needs "no other picture of any of the gods to reverence in his house, because he should turn all his care and diligence to honour his parents." [524] And again, in another place he says:

"Let us pay to our parents, while they are alive, the oldest, first, and greatest debts that we owe them for our being and bringing up. For everyone must think that all which he has is theirs, who begat and brought him up. So that, according to his ability, he must supply and minister to them all that he possesses: first of all, the external goods of fortune; then of the body; and lastly, those that belong to the mind — thereby restoring all that he borrowed, and recompensing them in their old age for all their old cares and grief sustained for him. It is also seemly and requisite that even in words, so long as we live, we should show reverence to our parents. For after light and foolish words are used toward them, a terrible plague commonly comes. For before every man stands Nemesis (the executrix of judgment),[525] who thoroughly thinks upon all their offences.


We must therefore give way to our parents when they are angry without cause, or do what they are inclined to do, whether by word or deed; knowing always that the father is rightfully angry with his son, though he is angry for nothing else than because he thinks his son has done to him what he should not do. Let us therefore erect to our parents, even when they are dead, monuments seemly for their estate while they were alive. If we do this, then undoubtedly we will be worthily rewarded at the hands of the gods." [526]

This much from Plato. St. Jerome says:

"Pay to mothers the reverence that you owe those who, serving you with the pain of their own wombs, bear the weight of your bodies; and carrying about the infant yet unknown, they become, as it were, servants to those that will be born. At that time, the mother does not hunger to fill her own belly, nor does she alone digest and feed upon the food that she eats. The babe that lies within her is nourished with the mother's food; his members are fed with another body's eating, so that the man that will be, is filled with the morsels that the mother swallows. What, should I recount the nourishment that they give to their children, and the sweet injuries of wayward infancy that they take, and put up with, from their little ones?


Why should I speak of the food digested by the mother, which, coming from the other parts of her body into her paps, is turned into milk and moisture there, to fill the weak and tender jaws with thin liquid food for nourishment? By nature the infants are compelled to take from their mothers that which they drink; and when their toothless gums are not yet able to bite, then with the labouring of their lips, they draw from their mother's breasts what they need not chew. The mother's teat serves the child, and still attends the swathed babe; her hands to hold, and her back to bend, are ready still to dandle the suckling's limbs, that she loves full well, God knows. The mother desires often and earnestly to have her youngling grow, and wishes many a time to see him a man. For so many and great good deeds as these, the child, once it has come of age, should apply himself to do her service with a good and ready mind and heart. Let nature's debt be paid; let those that follow have their due. Pay what you owe, child, and show your bound duty by all manner of service, whatever it may be; because no man is able to pay his parents so much as he owes them." [527]


Now, touching the country in which someone is born and brought up, every man well esteems it, loves it, and wishes to advance it; every man decks it with his virtue and prowess; every one helps it with all sorts of benefits, stoutly defending it, and valiantly fighting for it if need be, to save it from violent robbers. What, I ask you, is more to be delighted in than the good platform of a well ordered city, in which there is (as one said) the well-grounded church; in which God is rightly worshipped; and in which the word of God is duly obeyed in faith and charity, so far as it pleases God to give the gift of grace; in which also the magistrate defends good discipline and upright laws; in which the citizens are obedient and at unity among themselves, having their assemblies for true religion and matters of justice; in which they are used to having honest meetings in the church, in the court, and places of common exercise; in which they apply themselves to virtue and the study of learning, seeking an honest living by such sciences as man's life has need of, by tillage, by merchandise, and other handy occupations; in which children are honestly trained up, parents recompensed for their pains, the poor maintained by alms, and strangers are harboured in their distress? There are in this commonweal, therefore, virgins, married women, children, old men, matrons, widows, and fatherless children. If any (by the naughty disposition of nature) transgress the laws, they are worthily punished; the guiltless are defended; peace, justice, and civility flourish and are upheld. Now, what is someone who can abide to behold such a commonweal — the country where he is born and bred — to be troubled, vexed, torn, and pulled in pieces, either by seditious citizens or by foreign enemies? In civil seditions and foreign wars, all virtue and honesty is utterly overthrown, virgins are defiled, matrons are uncivilly dealt with, old men are derided, and religion is destroyed. This is why the valiant captain Joab, being ready to fight against the Syrians in defence of his country, speaks to his brother Abishai, saying: "If the Syrians are stronger than I, then you will help me; but if the sons of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and aid you. Be courageous therefore, and let us fight lustily for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do the thing that is good in his own eyes." 2Sam 10.11-12


Moreover Judas Maccabeus, a man among the Israelites worthily esteemed, and a famous warrior, and singularly affected toward his country, encouraging his soldiers and countrymen against their enemies, said: "They come upon us wrongfully in hope of their force, to spoil and make havoc of us, with our wives and children; but we fight for our lives and liberty of our laws, and the Lord will destroy them before our faces." The people also among themselves, exhorting one another, do cry out and say: "Let us take this affliction from our people, and let us fight for our nation and our religion." [528]

Let no man make an objection here, and say: "Tosh, these are works pertaining to the law, which we, who are of the church of Christ, have nothing to do with." For the apostle Paul, speaking to the Hebrews concerning Christian faith, says: "These through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, were valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of aliens." [529] Now, since our faith is all one, and the very same with theirs, it is lawful for us as well as for them, in a rightful quarrel by war, to defend our country and religion, our virgins and old men, our wives and children, our liberty and possessions. Whoever (under the pretence of religion) forsakes their country afflicted with war, not endeavouring to deliver it from barbarous soldiers and foreign nations, even by offering their lives to the push and prick of present death for the safeguard of it, are flatly unnatural to their country and countrymen, and transgress this fifth commandment. St. John says: "By this we know his love, because he gave his life for us; and we ought to give our lives for the brethren." The hired soldiers,[530] who fight unlawful battles for wages, and sell their bodies for greed of money, shall judge the men who leave their country in peril and danger. For the one has put loss of life and limbs at risk for the gain of a few odd crowns; while the other dainty fools and effeminate hearts will not hazard the loss of a limb for their religion, magistrates, wives, children, and all their possessions.


I beseech you, what will those traitors to their country say in that day in which the Lord rewards the lovers and the unnatural traitors of their country and countrymen — when before their eyes they see the Gentiles excel them in virtue and love toward their country-people? [531] Publius Decius, the father and the son, gave their lives freely for the safeguard of the commonweal, and died willingly for the love of their country.[532] Codrus, the natural and loving king of the Athenians, understood by the oracle of Apollo that Athens could not be saved except by the king's death; and therefore the enemies had commanded that no man should wound the king. Codrus laid aside his king-like garb, and clothing himself in base apparel, rushed into the thickest of his enemies; by egging them on, he provoked one of them perforce to kill him.[533] The two brethren, called Phileni, chose to lengthen their country with a mile of ground rather than prolong their lives with many days; and therefore they allowed themselves to be buried alive.[534] But what do we suffer for the health and safeguard of our country? Hierocles says:

"Our country is, as it were, a certain other god, and our first and chief parent. This is why the one who first called our country by the name patria, did not unadvisedly give it that name. Rather, he called it so in respect to the thing which it was indeed. For patria, 'our country,' is derived from pater, a father. And he ends or terminates it in the feminine gender, thereby declaring that it takes the name of both parents. And this reason covertly leads us to think that our country, which is but one, ought to be reverenced and loved as well as both our parents — jointly knitting them together, to make them equal in honour." [535]


Furthermore, we must make our earnest prayer for the safeguard of our country. Babylon was not the country of the Jews; yet, because of their sins, the Jews were banished by God to Babylon for the span of seventy years, Babylon was allotted to them instead of their country. And therefore the prophet Jeremiah says: "Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit; marry wives and beget sons and daughters, and give them in marriage, that they may get children. Seek the peace of that city to which I carry you, and pray to the Lord for it; because your peace and safeguard is joined to its peace." (Jer 29.5-7) Traitors to their country therefore sin exceedingly, whom the laws of the realm command to be hanged and quartered for their foul offence.[536]

I mean to speak of the magistrate and his office in another place.  St. Peter utters what is requisite for this present time, where he says, "Fear God, honour the king." 1Pet 2.17 Let us therefore acknowledge and confess that the magistrate's office is ordained by God for men's commodity, and that by the magistrate, God frankly bestows on us very many and great commodities. The peers watch out for the common people, if they rightly discharge their office — not showing themselves to be detestable tyrants. They judge the people, they consider controversies, they keep justice in punishing the guilty and defending innocents, and lastly, they fight for the people. And for the excellence of their office, which is both the chief and the most necessary, God attributes to the magistrate the use of His own name, and calls the princes and senators of the people, gods.[537] This is with the intent that, by that name, they should be put in mind of their duty, and that the subjects might thereby learn to hold them in reverence. God is just, good, righteous, and does not show partiality.Act 10.34 The good judge or magistrate ought to be such a one.


Monks and hermits praise their profession or solitary life, extolling it above the skies. But I think truly, that there is more true virtue in one political man, who governs the commonweal and does his duty truly, than in many thousands of monks and hermits, who do not have so much as one word expressed in the holy scriptures for the defence of their vocation and vowed order of living. Yes, I am ashamed that I have compared the holy office of magistrates with that kind of people, in whom there is nothing found worthy to be compared with them, insomuch as they flee from the labour and ordinance that God has made profitable for their people and countrymen. Truly, if the prince faithfully discharges his office in the commonweal, he heaps up for himself a number of very good works and praise that shall never be ended. Therefore the magistrate must be obeyed, and all his good and upright laws. No sedition or conspiracies should in any case be moved against him. "We must not curse or speak evil of the magistrate. For God himself in his law charges us, saying: 'You shall not speak evil of the gods, nor curse the prince of the people.'" Exo 22.28 If he chances to sin at any time, let us behave toward him as to our father; of whom I have spoken a little earlier.

It often happens that magistrates have a good mind to promote religion, to advance common justice, to defend the laws, and to favour honesty. And yet, notwithstanding, they are troubled with their infirmities — yes, sometimes with grievous offences. Nevertheless, the people should not therefore despise them, and set aside their dignity. David had his infirmities, though otherwise a very good prince. By his adultery he greatly damaged his people and kingdom. And, to make his trouble worse, Absalom sinned grievously, trying to separate him from his crown and kingdom. So likewise in other princes there are no small number of vices, which nevertheless neither moved nor ought to move godly people to rebellious sedition, so long as justice is maintained and good laws and public peace are defended.


We ought to pray earnestly and continually for the magistrate's welfare. We must aid him with our help and counsel, so often as need serves and occasion is given. We must not deny him our riches or bodies to assist him with. The saints gathered their substance in common to help the magistrate, so often as public safeguard required. The Israelites of all ages always fought for their judges, for their kings and other magistrates; and so did all other people upon taking good advice. Likewise, on the other side, the princes fought for the people. I would therefore that those offices of godly naturalness were of force and flourished, even today, in all kingdoms, cities, and commonweals. Let every nation give to its magistrate what it owes him by law, or by custom, or by necessity. For Paul the apostle says: "Give to every one that which you owe: tribute to whom tribute belongs, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, and honour to whom honour is due," Rom 13.7.

Now, because the guardians or overseers of orphans supply the place of parents, and execute the offices of deceased parents to the children that remain, they worthily deserve to have the reward that is due to parents, whether it be love, reverence, thanks, or obedience. I judge the same also touching workmen and masters of sciences, those who, for the fatherly affection, love, good-will, faith, and diligence showed to their scholar or apprentice, should mutually be regarded by their scholars as a master — to be reverenced, feared, and hearkened to, as a loving father. But in these unhappy days of ours it is abominable to see the negligence of masters in teaching their scholars, and it is intolerable to behold the peevish rudeness of untoward scholars.[538] Let masters therefore learn here to show themselves to be fathers, not being otherwise affected toward their scholars than toward their own children. Let them teach their apprentices their science or occupation, and train them up in manners and all points of civility, with the very same care and diligence that they use in bringing up their own. On the other side, let youths learn to break their natural ingrafted rudeness, and to bridle their youthful lusts; let them learn to be humble and subject, to keep silence, to reverence, to fear, to love, and obey their masters. Let them always remember that their masters are given to them by God, and therefore that God is despised when they contemn their masters.


Let them be diligent, earnest, and trusty in their work. Let them give their masters cause to perceive their earnest desire and ready good-will that they bear to him, to their occupation, and to the principles of their science. Let every one think upon, and diligently practise indeed, the things that their master teaches by word of mouth. Let them not grudge to watch and take pains. Let the masters not be grieved, so often as they are asked how to do a thing, to readily show it in every point as it should be done.[539] Unthankfulness and lack of diligence in the scholar, many times makes the master unwilling and negligent to teach him. Observe this, and in the rest, fear God, and have an eye to sound religion. When you are abroad, do not come into the company of blasphemous and riotous toss-pots;[540] behave yourself honestly, provoke no man to anger, despise no man, speak ill of no man, desire peace and quietness, honour all men, and strive to do good to everyone. When you are at home, help forward your master's commodity; do not damage him or his affairs. If any man either hurts or goes about hindering him, quickly warn him of it; seek to appease and hide (as much as you can) all occasions of falling out and chidings. Whatever you hear at home, do not blab it abroad; and make no tales at home of what you hear abroad. Be silent, quiet, chaste, continent, temperate, trusty in deeds, true in words, and willing to do any honest and household business. Beware of those by whom evil suspicions and offences may chance to arise. Do not over-boldly dally with your master's wife or daughters, nor yet with his maidens; do not stand talking with them familiarly in sight or secretly. Imagine (as it is indeed) that your master's wife is your mother, his daughters your sisters — to defile them is a filthy and villainous offence. Let every young man be neat, not nasty; gentle, just, content with a simple diet, not licorice-lipped or dainty-toothed.[541]


But why do I stay here for so long? Let every young man be persuaded and keep in memory, that his duty is to keep himself chaste from filthy defilings, to obey and not to rule, to serve all men, to learn always, to speak very little, not to brag of any thing over arrogantly, not to answer tip for tap,[542] but to suffer much and wink at it.

For the honouring of ministers of the churches, which are the pastors, teachers, and fathers of Christian people, many things are usually alleged by those who covet to reign as lords, rather than serve as ministers, in the church of Christ. But we, who are not of that aspiring mind, acknowledge that they are given to us by the Lord, and that the Lord speaks to us by them. I speak here of those ministers who do not tell us a headless tale of their own dreams, but preach to us the word of truth. For the Lord says about them in the gospel, "He that hears you hears me, and he that despises you despises me." Luk 10.16 Therefore, the ministry is of the Lord, and he works our salvation through it. And we must therefore obey the ministers who rightly execute their office and ministry; we must think well of them; we must love them and continually pray for them. And since they sow to us their heavenly things, we must not deny them the reaping of our bodily and temporal things. "For the labourer is worthy of his reward." 1Tim 5.18 And since the Roman president among the Jews did not deny it, but aided the apostle Paul against the conceived [543] murder and open wrong by the Jewish nation,[544] a Christian magistrate, truly, ought not to deny his assistance and defence to the godly ministers of Christ and the churches. To this, the testimonies of St. Paul may be alleged. In the last chapter of his first epistle to the Thessalonians he says: "We beseech you, brethren, to know those who labour among you, and oversee you in the Lord, and admonish you; that you may esteem them through love for their work, and be at peace with them." [545]


Again, to the Hebrews he says: "Obey those who rule over you, and give way to them; for they watch for your souls, as those who shall give account for them, that they may do it in joy, and not in trembling; for that is unprofitable for you." Heb 13.17 For how many and great calamities have fallen upon kingdoms and peoples for the contempt of God's word and his ministers, many examples can teach us — but especially that one in the last chapter of the second book of Chronicles. It is set down in these words:

"The Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending them; for he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place. But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and jested at his prophets, until the wrath of God arose against his people, and till there was no remedy." 2Chr 36.15-16

The words of the Lord in the gospel are like this, where he says:

"I send you prophets and wise men, some of whom you scourge and kill, that all the righteous blood may light upon you, which has been shed upon the earth; from the blood of the righteous Abel, to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah whom you slew between the temple and the altar;" and so forth. Mat 23.35

For the place is known to you all, dearly beloved, and is to be seen in the twenty-third chapter of St. Matthew. We must beware therefore, in any case, that we do not despise God, who speaks to us in his word by his servants the prophets.

We owe, by the force of this commandment, all love, reverence, help, comfort, and humanity to our kinsfolks and alliance. In this commandment are condemned any who show themselves to be astorgoi (astorgoi), Rom 1.31 that is to say, men without any natural affection and friendly love toward their own blood and kinsfolks. There is a certain natural affection, good-will, love, and pitiful mercy (which the scripture calls the "bowels of mercy") [546] in the father and mother toward their children, in brother toward brother, and in cousins toward kinsfolks and friends of their alliance.


We have notable examples of this set down in the scriptures: of Abraham's love toward his son Isaac, and of Joseph's affection toward his father Jacob and his brethren, but especially toward Benjamin his brother by one mother. Mothers and daughters-in-law have a notable example to follow in Naomi and Ruth. Mothers and daughters-in-law (for the most part) bear a deadly hatred for one another, which is the cause of much mischief in the houses where they are. Let them learn therefore by this pretty example, how to behave themselves on both parts. Let the mother-in-law think the daughter-in-law to be her own daughter; and let the daughter-in-law honour and reverence her mother-in-law, as if she were her own mother. Many things must be winked at on both sides, many things must be taken in good part, and many things put up, with a quiet mind. Many things must be forgiven; and they must both have their ears stopped against tattling tale-bearers and wrongful suspicions. Concord in every house is the greatest treasure that may exist; and discord at home is the most perilous and endless mischief that can be invented. Paul's words, touching good turns and honour to be given to our kinsfolk, are very well known, and may be seen in the fifth chapter of his first epistle to Timothy.

Last of all, there is also to be found in the word of God a particular law for honouring old men, which bids us to rise before the hoary and grey-haired head. Lev 19.32 Old men therefore are to be honoured, whom we must worthily magnify, and in whom we must acknowledge the singular grace of God in giving them long life. By long and continual experience of all things, they have attained to much wit or wisdom, whereby they are able to help us with their counsel. Therefore, they ought to be praised, so that all men may understand that grey hairs are a crown of glory. Pro 16.31 Moreover, if aged weak persons are driven into need, then our abundance must supply their necessity.


In short, we must not deny to old men any duty of humanity with which we may please them. In the same way, here there are also commended to us widows, orphans, wards, poor men, strangers, sick and miserable people. And for that cause, the devout and good men of old bestowed their goods liberally to refreshing old men, widows, fatherless children, and poor silly [547] creatures. Those goods today are called church goods, or ecclesiastical contributions, which undoubtedly are very well bestowed if they are laid out on those for whom they were given. In the emperor's constitutions, we may see that there were common houses and substance built and appointed for all sorts of needy people: for there is mention made of houses for fatherless children, of hospitals for old men, of spittles [548] for beggars, of places for sick men, and nurseries for children.[549] Among us today, there are hospitals and monasteries, very many of which have several places appointed for orphans, old men, poor people, impotent creatures, sick persons, and infants. Therefore, they commit an unappeasable offence, who put to other uses the substance and places ordained for old and poor people, and throw away (they care not how prodigally) [550] in riot and lustiness, the alms bestowed on poor silly souls.

And now, up to here I have declared how our parents ought to be honoured, and those who are included under the name of parents.

There now remains the third and last part of our present treatise, in which we have to see what God promises to those who honour their parents religiously; whereby we have to gather what peril hangs over the heads of those who wickedly neglect and irreligiously despise their parents. The Lord therefore says in the law: "That your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God shall give you." The meaning of which is this: Honour your father and your mother, that you may for many days enjoy the possession of the land which you will have in testimony of my favour toward you.


These words properly belong to the Jews. But a godly minister of Christ, writing upon this place, very well and truly says: "Because the whole earth is blessed to the faithful, we do nothing amiss, when we reckon this present life among the blessings of God. This is why this promise pertains as well to us as to the Jews, because the prolonging of this present life is a testimony of God's especial favour." [551] To those who religiously honour their parents, in whatever land they dwell, He assuredly promises all kinds of blessings, felicity, and stores of temporal things, with a sweet prolonging of this present life. For Paul, interpreting this in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians, says: "That it may go well with you, and that you may live long upon the earth:" meaning any land whatsoever, and promising a temporal blessing of the Lord.

We therefore gather from this, that the contrary is threatened and set as a penalty upon the heads of those who disobediently despise their parents. By examples in other places of scripture, this will be made more manifest. Ham is cursed by his father Noah for behaving himself irreverently toward him, even in his drunkenness. Gen 9.25 Joseph is exalted to the highest dignity in Egypt, because from his childhood he honoured God and reverenced his father Jacob. Solomon says in the seventeenth chapter of his Proverbs: "Whoever rewards evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house." (17.13) Again: "He that despitefully taunts his father, and despises the old age of his mother, shall be confounded and left in reproach." (19.26) "The son that will not heed the discipline of his father, will think of talk of wickedness." (13.1) "Whoever curses his father or mother, his light shall be put out, and the balls of his eyes shall see nothing but darkness." (20.20) For they are monsters and not men, who are unnatural toward their parents; and especially those who not only neglect and despise them, but also beat and discourteously handle them.


The Lord commands that such fellows be slain, as people unworthy to see the light, because they forget and will not acknowledge that they came into the world by means of their parents. "He that curses father or mother," says the Lord, "let him die the death." And again: "He that strikes his father or mother, let him die the death." Exo 21.15,17 There is none of you which does not know the law, called Lex Pompeia,[552] against those who kill their parents. It is not amiss here to hear what the gentile writers say touching this matter. Homer says:

He did not nourish as he should

His aged parents dear;

Therefore the gods did from his youth

Cut off the jolliest year.[553]

And the ancient poet Orpheus says:

God sits above, and sees the sons

That do themselves apply

To do their fathers hests, and those

That shamelessly deny

Them to obey; and as he doth

Bless the one with sundry gifts,

So, for to vex the other, he doth

Devise a thousand drifts:

For though despised parents die,

Yet do their ghosts remain,

And are of force upon the earth,

To put their sons to pain. [554]


Moreover, the tragical poet, Euripides, has:

To him, that while he lives does love

His parents to obey,

Whether he lives, or else dies,

God is a friend alway.[555]

And Meander, the comical poet, says:

The wretch is worse than mad, that with

His parents falls at odds: [556]

For wise men greatly reverence them,

And honour them as gods.[557]

Virgil also, among other horrible vices which are punished in hell with eternal and unspeakable pains, says this:

Here they that did their brethren hate,

While life on earth did last,

Or beat their parents, etc.

And immediately after:

He did his country sell for gold,

And made a tyrant king;

For bribes he made and marr'd his coun-

try's laws and every thing.[558]

And Horace in his Odes says:

It is a sweet and seemly thing,

In country's cause to die.[559]

And Silius Italicus has:

Doubt not of this: forget it not,

But keep it in thy mind:

It is a detestable thing

To show thyself unkind


Unto your native country soil;

For no such sin remains

In hell to be tormented there

With utter endless pains,

As that: so does experience teach. [560]

I have cited these testimonies to this end and purpose: that by these, dearly beloved, you may gather the heinousness of this offence, which even the Gentiles so grievously cry out against and utterly condemn. Cain slew his brother Abel, but thereby he got his reward — to be marked with a perpetual blot of ignominy and reproach. Shimei intolerably railed upon David, his ordinary magistrate;[561] and therefore was he punished according to his deserts.[562] Absalom rebelled unnaturally against his father David; but being wrapped by the hair to a tree, and hanging between heaven and earth, he is horribly thrust through with a javelin.[563] The Lord called those who slew the prophets, by the name of adders' brood [564] and sons of the devil.[565] As for those that have reproachfully dealt with old men, or troubled widows, they have not gone unpunished. For the Lord says in the law: "You shall not afflict the widows nor fatherless children: but if you go on to afflict them, they shall undoubtedly cry to me, and I will hear them; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will slay you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children be fatherless." Exo 22.23-24 Thus much up to here.

St. Paul, alleging this law in his epistle to the Ephesians, very aptly applies it to our learning and comfort. For he says: "Children, obey your parents, for this is right; honour your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that you may prosper and live long on earth. Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in instruction and information of the Lord." Eph 6.1-4


In these words he tells the parents their duty, as well as the children. Three things he requires at the hand of the parents; that is, to bring up their children, to instruct them, and to correct them. For it is the parents' office to nourish, to feed, and bring them up, till they are grown to age, so that once dispatched from hanging onto their parents any longer, they may get their livings with their own labour and travail. It is the parents' office to teach and instruct their children. That teaching or instructing consists in three things: in religion, in manners, and in the skill of an occupation.

Now touching religion, it has certain principles, rudiments, I say, and catechisms to teach by. Secondly, it has the scriptures setting out the word of God, with a full exposition of all things belonging to God. It also has mysteries, holy signs, and sacraments, to teach and to learn by. If the householder is familiar among a people who honour the true religion, and has received the lawful worship of God with true, faithful, and godly ministers and teachers of Christ's church, let him charge and see that his children go to the holy congregation to be instructed in religion there, by the public preacher. Yet nevertheless, let the father examine his children at home, and know what they have learned by hearing the sermon. Let both the father and mother also at home privately endeavour to teach their children the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's prayer; and let them teach them a brief and ready rule out of the scriptures for understanding the sacraments. Let them often and many times cause them to repeat the catechism, and beat into their heads such sentences as are most necessary to put them in memory of their faith and duty of life. But if it happens that the householder has his dwelling with a people who persecute the Christian faith and doctrine, who hate the true and lawful worship of God's name, and cannot abide the congregation and ministers of Christ (as it happens in the Turkish captivities and troublesome persecutions of our days), then he shall take heed and keep himself from idolatry.


Neither shall he go in his own person to those ungodly assemblies, nor allow his family to go there, but shall rather instruct them in true religion in his own house at home, first in the catechism, and then in deeper divinity. Moreover, so often as the case and necessity require, he must freely and openly profess Christ and his gospel. For it is apparently evident by the epistles of Paul and other histories, that such churches were in private houses of great cities in the time of the apostles, and in the thickest of those hot and ancient persecutions.[566] Neither is it likely that the Jews in their captivity at Babylon, although they lacked the outward use of sacrifices, were altogether without any worship of God. Although Daniel did not sacrifice, yet at certain hours of the day, he worshipped God in his own house. Dan. 6.10 The house of Cornelius at Caesarea was the church in which Peter preached in a very good and ecclesiastical assembly or congregation; and because Joppa had no church for him to pray in, he went up to the upper part of the house to make his prayers there. Acts 10.9 Neither is it to be doubted that the eunuch of queen Candace's nobility, of whom mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles, ordained a church in Ethiopia.[567] And let them be persuaded, who are without the public and lawful use of the sacraments, that it will not be imputed to their fault — for it is committed, not by them, but by another's offence. For even in such a case, the Lord can well work by his Spirit in the minds of his people. But where, by the grace of God, liberty is given for the congregation to assemble, and to hear the free, sincere, and true preaching of the gospel, and lastly, to celebrate the sacraments, those private and domestic churches must be broken up there, and come to an end — not because the house of a godly householder is not, nor still remains, a church; but because the hearing of God's word, prayer, and the celebrating of the sacraments, ought to be public and common to all the saints. For those assemblies which the Anabaptists and all other sectaries use by stealth, are both worthily and utterly condemned.


And now let us hear the testimonies of scripture, which command all householders to holily instruct their family in the true religion, and to declare to their children the meaning of the sacraments. Moses in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy says: "Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is Lord only: therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart. And you shall show them to your children, and shall talk of them when you are at home in your house, and as you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." [568] And again: "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, What do these testimonies, ordinances, and laws mean, which the Lord our God has commanded us? Then you shall say to your son: We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out with a mighty hand, and showed signs and mighty wonders before our eyes; and brought us out from there, and gave us all these precepts and statutes to do, and to fear the Lord our God." Deu 6.20-24 To this belongs a great part of the seventy-eighth Psalm. And in the thirteenth chapter of Exodus the Lord again says: "Sanctify to me all the first-born." Exo 13.2 "And when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What is this? You shall say to him, The Lord slew all the first-born of Egypt, and therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that open the womb." Exo 13.14-15 Also in the twelfth chapter, God (or Moses in God's name), expounding the mystery or sacrament of the Passover, said: "When your children ask you, saying, What manner of service is this that you do? You shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, which passed over the houses of the children of Israel," etc. Exo 12.26-27


These testimonies are sufficiently evident, and need no further exposition. I will now, therefore, add to these the other things which parents have to teach their children.

Let the father instruct his children in manners. From our birth, we are all clownish and rude; and all children have unseemly and uncivil manners. This evil is doubled by evil custom and clownish company. Let the parents, therefore, teach their children manners early, which may adorn them at home, and become them abroad. Let him instruct the child how to behave himself decently in his going and in the posture of his body: how in the church, how in the market, how at the table, how in men's companies, and in all other places of company. There are excellent books [569] set out for that purpose; thus I do not need to discuss their particulars.

Lastly, let the father place his children with expert and cunning [570] workmen, to teach them some handicraft by which to earn their living another day. But first, he must test their wits, to see which each child is most apt for, and in which the child most delights. For "cunning will never be attained, where good will is lacking in the one that must learn it." If you have any children fit for learning, you will do a good and godly deed, to train them up to the ministry of the church, or some other office that stands by learning. But of all others, fault is to be found with those parents who bring up their children in lazy idleness. For, even if huge heaps of treasure were left to them, yet in three or four odd hours all may be wasted and come to nothing. To what, then, will your dainty idle gentleman trust — what will he do — when there is nothing left but his bare carcass, which is a lump of clay and not good for anything? The inhabiters of Massilia would not admit anyone to citizenship, except those who had learned an occupation to live by.[571] For there is no greater plague to a city than an unprofitable citizen.


But who, I pray you, may be thought to be a worse citizen than the one accustomed to ease and delicateness, who all of a sudden — by some mishap or by prodigal riotousness — is deprived of them both, driven to extreme poverty, and compelled to seek out unlawful means by which to get more wealth again? Furthermore, those of old had a proverb worthy to be remembered by us at this time: "Every land maintains art." [572] "By this phrase they meant that learning and science are the surest preparation for every journey. For they cannot be taken away by thieves; but wherever you go, they keep you company, and are no burden for you to bear." [573] If mishap therefore spoils your children of the wealth that you leave them, if you have taught them an occupation, it is enough for them to live by. Kings are deprived of their prince-like dignity, and separated from their exceeding riches; so that it is no marvel that kings' inferiors are spoiled of their wealth, and banished from their countries. Dionysius of Syracuse, for his tyranny, is reported to have been throne out of his seat. But having lost his kingdom, he departed to Corinth, where he set up a school and taught children their grammar and music, whereby in that necessity he got his living.[574] He would have been hard-bested truly, and in a miserable state, if he had never learned anything, but had settled his hope upon dignity and riches. Vain hope would have been his destruction; for he would have died in extreme beggary. Thus much touching the bringing up of children in learning or knowledge of some occupation.

I have to say something, in what is left, touching the correction of those that are included under the name of children. This correction consists partly in words, and partly in stripes. In both there must be a middle-mean and measure, do that nothing is done outrageously. Do not let the admonition that is given in words be more bitter than the fault deserves. Let it nip [575] for the time present; but being past, let it be spoken of no more.


Continual chiding breeds contempt. You will find some children also, with whom gentle dealing will prevail somewhat. And unless you sometimes praise them, and speak well of what they do, although perhaps not so well done as you would require, you will perceive that utter desperation will clean take away from them hope and courage. I think it is not good to overawe with too heavy a burden, those children who are willing to bear it. Stripes must not be bestowed except for some great offence, and that too, should not be done in the father's anger, but moderately; not to mar, but to amend them. Let the parents always remember that golden saying of St. Paul, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger." Eph. 6.4 For the best wits are hurt by too much rigorousness. Solomon, where he speaks of moderate correction, says: "The rod and correction give wisdom; but the child that runs at random brings his mother to shame." Again: "Chastise your son, and you shall have quiet, and he will bring pleasure to your soul." Pro 29.15,17 These words of his utterly condemn the father's indulgence,[576] and the mother's pampering, which is the marring of very many children. For the parents offend God as much in over-indulging their children, as they do in over-punishing them. Eli in the scriptures is ill-reported for doting over his children — he himself dies miserably, and brings the shameless wicked knaves, his sons, to a shameful ending.[577] What is to be thought of that, moreover, in the twenty-first chapter of Deuteronomy, where the parents are commanded to bring their disobedient children before the judge, and there, by complaint, to sue them to death? This example may otherwise seem too sharp; yet it pleased God to use it to put other men in remembrance that they are to keep their children in awe and obedience. For God is a God of salvation, and not of destruction — so that, when disobedient rebels and godless people perish through their own default, he turns that destruction of theirs to the safeguard of his obedient servants. Therefore, let parents always remember this saying in the gospel: "It is not the will of your heavenly Father, that one of these little ones should perish. Whoever offends such a one, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." [578]


Now, touching the duty of children, I have spoken of it before in the place where I taught how and in what way parents ought to be honoured. Paul, in one word, knits up much of the matter, and says: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." He tells the reason why: "For that," he says, "is righteous." And again he adds the cause, saying: "For God has commanded it." Eph 6.1-2 Let children therefore consider and think upon the nightly watchings and continual labour that their parents took in bringing them up, and let them learn to be thankful for it, and content with their present estate. When their parents instruct them, let them learn attentively, and show themselves like godly Jacob, rather than godless Esau. Let them learn to accustom themselves to good and honest manners. Let them willingly learn the art or occupation to which they are set. Let them yield and submit themselves to their parents' correction. Let them not stir up or provoke their parents to anger. Let them choose to learn wit, and obey their parents, of their own mind and accord, rather than to be driven to it by beating and brawling. If parents, at their departure, leave little behind them for their children to inherit, let the good children not therefore speak ill of the dead. If your father has taught you any art or occupation, he leaves for you a sufficient inheritance. Thriftiness, also, and moderate spending, is a very great revenue.[579] If your father has well and honestly taught you good manners, and trained you up in the true wisdom and perfect religion, then has he bequeathed to you a patrimony sufficient to maintain you. For what else are exceeding great riches, left to a fool or to an irreligious fellow, but a sword in a madman's hand? You are left wealthy enough by your father's legacy, if you are godly, painstaking, heedful, and honest. For goods gotten by the sweat of our own brows, for the most part continue longer, and prosper us better, than those which others leave to us.


We have again, dearly beloved, spent a hour and a half in handling this matter touching the honour due to parents. I have kept you longer than of right I should have done; but you shall impute it to the love and good will I bear to the matter. I am not ignorant how necessary this argument is, almost to all men: and therefore I stick longer on it. For I endeavour not only to teach you things that are profitable and necessary, but also to beat them into your memories so much as I may, to the end that you never forget them. God grant you all a fruitful increase of his holy word, which is the seed that is sown in your hearts. Let us pray, etc.


Of the second precept of the second tablet,
which in order is the sixth of the Ten Commandments,
you shall not kill: and of the magistrate.

JUSTICE and innocence are very well joined to the higher power and the magistrate's authority; and in this sixth precept both public and private peace and tranquility are hedged in and enclosed against open tumults and secret discords. The life of man is the most excellent thing in the world, on which all other things, of however great a price they may be, wait and attend. And the body of man is more worth than all other gifts whatsoever. Therefore, the natural order itself seems to require that the sixth commandment be placed next, which God himself has plainly expressed in these few words: "You shall not kill." Exo 20.13 For in this precept, justice and innocence are commanded and commended to us, in which it is also provided that no man hurt another's life or body. And so, in this precept charge is given to everyone to maintain peace and quietness.


Now here are to be observed the steps that lead to murder, in which we must consider the kinds and causes of hurting and annoying. For the Lord does not simply forbid murder, but all other things in which murder consists. All egging on, therefore, and provoking to anger is utterly forbidden; slanderous taunts and brawling statements are flatly prohibited; strife, wrath, and envy, are plainly commanded to be suppressed. And in this sense, we have Christ our Lord himself interpreting this law, where in the Gospel according to Matthew he says: "You have heard it said of old, you shall not kill; whoever kills shall be in danger of judgment. But I say to you, that whoever is angry with his brother unadvisedly shall be in danger of judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of a council. But whoever says, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Therefore, you see here that anger, slander, brawling, and all other tokens of a mind moved to utter ill words, are flatly forbidden. What then must you do? You must, in truth, come into charity again with the one whom you have offended; you must lay aside all wrath and envy, unless you would rather have all the honour that you do to God, be imputed to you as sin, and perhaps that you would rather choose to be utterly condemned. For our Lord goes on in the gospel, and says: "If therefore you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar" (he speaks to those who then had their temple standing, their altar remaining, and burnt-offerings in use; but we today have another manner of worshipping God) "and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." And again: "Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest at any point the adversary delivers you to the judge, and the judge delivers you to the minister, and you are cast into prison. Truly, I say to you, you shall not depart from there until you have paid the utmost farthing." [580]


But because so few of us obey this sound and wholesome doctrine of the Lord's, it thereby comes to pass that so many great and troublesome tumults happen among men. For small is the substance of those who obey the word of God, but great is the rest and quietness of their consciences. And what pleasure, I pray you, do infinite riches bring to man, since with them a man cannot likely be without troublesome cares of mind, great turmoils, and lack of a quiet life? This law, therefore, which tends to no other end than to teach man the way to lead a sweet and pleasant life, wholly takes from the mind of man such immoderate affections as anger and envy, two of the most pestilent evils that reign among men.

I do not mean to speak too busily at present concerning anger, just as I have also determined to be brief touching envy. Of anger, many men have uttered many profitable sentences. And yet there is a holy kind of anger, which the scripture does not disallow; so that, unless a man is angry in that way, he will never be a good and godly man. For a good man has a zeal for God, and in that godly zeal he is angry at the iniquity and naughtiness of mankind. There are many examples of this to be seen in the scriptures: and this anger dislikes [581] the sin committed, rather than the person who commits the sin. For the good servant of God hates nothing in the wicked man's person, but his actual sin — so that, once the wicked ceases to sin, he will stop hating or being angry with it any longer. This anger, then, is utterly condemned when it springs from evil and corrupt affections — when no just cause is given for it other than the one who is offended either fulfils his affection in his anger, or else hurts or determines to hurt the one with whom he is angry. It is a great evil, and a fruit which, when it is sown, yields and produces one mischief upon another. And therefore the apostle of Christ counsels all men not to give any place to anger; and if it happens to enter into our minds, and sticks there awhile, yet we do not allow it to catch fast hold, or take deep root in them. "Be angry," he says, "and sin not. Do not let the sun set on your anger, and give no place to the devil." Eph. 4.26-27 For this is the apostle's meaning: if so it happens that you are angry, yet do not sin; that is, bridle your anger.


Neither does the apostle bid us to be angry, but he wills us not to let our anger continue long, nor break out to work injury. And parorgismov parorgismos (the word Paul uses) signifies anger indeed; yet, more rightly, it signifies stirring or provoking to anger. Thereby we must understand that the one who is provoked to anger by injury, even though he is somewhat grieved and deeply touched, that grief ought to be of short continuance. Nor must we in any case allow our adversary,[582] the devil, to fasten his foot in our hearts. Through anger, he creeps little by little into our minds, and by continual wrath, he works envy. By these he captivates and perverts the whole man, with all his senses, words, and works.

For envy is anger grown into habit by long continuance. For the most part, it vexes, burns, and [mangles the one who] [583] envies, more than the party that is envied; even though the envious one never ceases to devise mischief against the man he envies. It is an endless evil which does not allow any remedy to take it away. Therefore the Gentiles baited and canvassed it to and fro with wonderful appealing quips and pithy sentences; I am not ashamed to repeat some of them here, with the intent that counterfeit Christians, addicted to envy, may be ashamed of it, and perhaps learn to blush when they find themselves affected by heathens and paynims.[584] Virgil says:

In heart, where envy's seed takes root,

There grows a poisoned grain,

Which dries and drinks from every limb

The blood of every vein;

And sucks and soaks the marrow bones,

Until they feeble wax;

(Such is th' envenom'd poison's force),

And yet no bone it cracks.[585]


And therefore Horace says:

The Sicil tyrants never found

A more tormenting hell,

Than envy was, etc. [586]

Silius Italicus cries out:

Ill-favour'd envy, ugly hag,

And dogged end

Of mortal men, that never could

Abide to lend

One word to praise praise-worthy deeds,

But swell to see

Small things increase, and low things grow

To high degree.[587]

Ovid, speaking of envy, describes it thus:

Within did devilish envy sit,

And eat the flesh of snakes,

To feed the humour of her vice

With such kind loathly cates:

With face of tallow-caked hue,

And body lean like death,

With squint eyes turn'd nine sundry ways,

With rusty stinking teeth.

Her bitter breast was overspread

With gaid [588] as green as grass;

Her tongue, that ceas'd not to say ill,

With venom poison'd was.

She never laugh'd, unless it were

When grief made others weep;

And fretting care within her heart

Did keep her eyes from sleep.

She sees, and pines away to see,

The good success and state

Of men that prosper on the earth:

And so her deadly hate

Is to herself a deadly plague.


Where as she goes, she mars the corn

That grows upon the ground;

She makes on trees that blossoms bear

There can no fruit be found;

And with her breath she does infect

Whole houses, realms, and towns.[589]

Since, therefore, envy is so great an evil, and the Lord commands us to keep ourselves from it, in this appears the Lord's goodness toward us; and thereby we may gather how good and profitable his law is, which tends, and is given, to no other end, than to set us at liberty from so great a mischief. And here, by the way, we perceive that our fault, and not the waywardness of God, is the reason why many in this world are never at peace and quiet, but exceedingly vexed with continual torments. For as they do not cease to envy the estate of others, so with their anger they disquiet more than themselves, and at last duly and worthily suffer the deserved punishment for their wicked deeds.

And this law not only forbids and restrains the motions and evil affections of the mind by wrath, anger, and envy, but it also commands against all manner of hurt that rises by them. Harm and hurt is done by sundry means: by beating, by violent thrusting, by overthrowing, by pulling and troubling, even though in doing so, you do not wound your neighbour.


But your sin is greater if you give him a wound of whatever sort, either with weapon, or by any other means. And again, you sin still more grievously if you cut off or otherwise break any limb of his body; if you put out his eyes, or dash a tooth out of his head. So then, the better the limb is that you cut off, or put out of joint, the greater is the sin, and the more grievous your offence. From this, without doubt, the law called lex talionis [590] took its beginning, which commands us to cut off the hand of the one that cut off another's hand; and to pluck out the eye of the one who put out another man's eye.

Now also, the manner of killing must not be passed over. The Lord says, "You shall not kill." We kill diverse ways: either we ourselves do the deed, or else we use the help of others to strike the blow; it is done either secretly or openly. And in this way, again there are very many fashions. For sometimes we commit murder by holding our peace, sometimes by dissembling, by giving ill counsel, by consenting, by aiding, or by egging someone on to evil. Another perhaps would not do the thing that he does, except that he sees you hasten him on; except that he knows he will please you by it, and because he perceives that your help upholds him. Therefore, even though you do not strike the blow with your own hand, yet the murder that another commits by your setting him on, shall be imputed to you as well as if you yourself had killed the man. And this is no marvel, since John, the apostle and evangelist, calls hatred manslaughter. 1John 3.15

Moreover, here are to be touched the causes of murder, or doing of mischief. For upon this stands, and from this comes, the mischievous deed and foul offence. Murder is committed, and the neighbour is damaged, either unwittingly, or else upon pretended [591] malice. It is done unwittingly, as when a man purposes another thing, but by accident, or as I should rather say, by the providence of God, murder ensues.


As for example; when my mind is to discharge a gun against a buck, meaning to kill the beast, by happenstance I strike a man, who unawares to me was in the same wood, cutting timber. Or else in ignorance I give my friend a draught of poison, where my intent was to give him a medicine to recover his health. For such chances as these, the Lord has provided in the law,[592] as among all nations, prepared sanctuaries for men to flee to, as places of refuge. Murders proceed from pretended malice — when being blinded with private greediness, I go about taking from another man what is his; and if he does not yield it to me, I kill him for resisting. Of that sort, many wars and battles are fought now-a-days; and of that sort, robberies and murders are committed by the side of the highway. That also is pretended murder, when for some injury that another man does me, I revenge myself by killing him; or else, when I am mad with anger, or overcome with wine, I murder the man, whom otherwise, if I were not in that ill-favoured condition, I would make much of and very heartily love.

But now, I think it expedient for me to declare to you, how foul and detestable an offence murder is that proceeds from malice, and for you to mark this that follows. For the consideration of it, being thoroughly scanned, must undoubtedly so work in the hearts of men, that fewer murders will be committed; and that everyone will endeavour more, by suppressing anger, to preserve mankind, which is the holy similitude of God himself. The very deed of murder, fights directly and disobediently against the eternal God, who is the life and salvation of the world. For murder destroys the very image of God, because man is created in the similitude and likeness of God. If a man were to purposely deface the image of the king or prince, set up by their commandment, he would be accused of committing treason. How great a danger is he in, then, who destroys a man — who is the reasonable, living, and very picture of God himself! We read that Theodosius the emperor determined to destroy a great number of the citizens of Antioch, for no other cause than overturning the image that was set up to honour Placilla Augusta. But to this is added, that one Macedonius, a hermit, came to the emperor's messengers, and said:


"O my friends, go say to the emperor, you are not only an emperor, but also a man. Do not cruelly destroy the image of God. You anger your Maker, when you kill His image. Consider with your self, that you are sorry for an image of brass. Now it is evident to all men what a difference there is between a thing that is dead, and that which has life and a reasonable soul. Moreover, it is an easy matter in place of one brazen image, to set up more. But it is impossible to restore one hair to those once slain." [593]

Finally, murder is clean contrary to the nature of man. For man cherishes himself, and flesh does not destroy itself, but preserves and nourishes itself so much as it may. But all we men, as many as live, are of one lump, and of the same substantial flesh. And to kill a man, therefore, is against man's nature. Furthermore, all men are the children of one father, of one stock, and of the same progeny. Murder is therefore directly against civil humanity, and it is a plague that reigns among men. Does not the Lord our Redeemer also require charity of all men, which must so abound that we may not hesitate to die for our neighbour? To kill our neighbour, therefore, is flatly repugnant to Christian religion. And take this by the way too: that the blood of man, shed by murder, cries out of the earth to heaven for revenge: for it was said to Cain, when he had slain his brother, "The voice of your brother's blood cries out of the earth, and has come up to me."


For bloodshed truly pollutes and makes the ground accursed on which it is shed. And it is not cleansed again, nor easily appeased, until it also drinks the guilty blood of those who have spilled the guiltless blood of innocents. Lastly, murders procure and mark the committers of it with endless spots of reproachful infamy; and what is worst of all, it brings them everlasting damnation. This is why Solomon says in his proverbs: "My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent to join them. If they say, Come with us, we will lie in wait for blood, and lurk secretly for the innocent without cause. We will swallow them up like the grave, quick and whole as those that go down into the pit. We will find all manner of costly riches, and fill our houses with the prey. Cast your lot in with us; we will all have one purse — My son, do not walk with them, but rather pull back your foot from their ways. For their feet run to evil, and are hasty to shed blood." Pro 1.10-16 Now, David says that "the blood-thirsty man, and the hypocrite, are abominable to the Lord." Psa 5.6

From this law is exempted the magistrate ordained by God, whom God commands to use authority, and to kill, threatening to punish him most sharply if he neglects to kill the men whom God commands to be killed. This sixth commandment of the law, therefore, flatly forbids us to kill any man on private authority. But the magistrate kills at God's command, when he puts to death those which are condemned by law for their offences, or when in defence of his people he justly and necessarily arms himself for the battle. And yet, the magistrates may offend in those two points two different ways. For either by law, that is, under the coloured pretence of law, they slay the guiltless to satisfy their own lust, hatred, or covetousness — as we read that Jezebel slew the just man Naboth, with the Lord's prophets.[594] Or else by peevish pity and foolish clemency, they let them escape scot-free, whom the Lord commanded them to kill — as Saul and Ahab are reported to have sinned in letting go the bloody kings whom God commanded to be slain.[595]


And Solomon, in the seventeenth chapter of his Proverbs, testifies that the Lord as greatly hates the magistrate that acquits a wicked person, as the one that condemns an innocent man. Pro 17.15 The magistrates also, in making or repelling war, offend in two ways of this sort: for either they unjustly make war on other men, and entangle their people in it; or else they allow foreign enemies to rob and spoil the people committed to their charge. They do not protect and defend [596] that open wrong and manifest injury, with as much force as they might. Both these offences are of various sorts; and thus they are so great that they can hardly be purged. You read, therefore, that the holy kings of Israel never made war on anybody unless the Lord commanded them. And they again fought for their people, and did not allow them to be led away captive, as miserable bond-slaves. For so the blessed patriarch Abraham followed upon and pursued those four kings —  rather, those cutthroat robbers of the east — and recovered by force of arms both Lot, Lot's substance, and the people of Sodom that were carried away. Gen 14.14-16 And such wars as these are taken in hand, either for the recovery, or else for the confirmation, of peace. So that, the magistrates that make war in such a cause are rightly and indeed the children of God, because they are peace-makers; for all peace-makers are the children of God.Mat 5.9

And now this place and argument require that I say something touching the office or authority of the magistrate. By God's help, I assay [597] to do this — not that I mean or can allege all that may be said about it, but only what seems to most properly declare the meaning of it, and what is most necessary for this present treatise.[598]


Magistratus (which is the word we use for the room in which the magistrate is) takes the name a magistris populi designandis, "of assigning the masters, guiders, and captains of the people." That room and place is called by the name of "power" or "authority," because of the power that is given to it by God. It is called "domination," for the dominion that the Lord grants to it on earth. Those who have that dominion are called princes, for they have pre-eminence above the people. They are called consuls, from counselling; and kings, from commanding, ruling, and governing the people. So then, the magistracy (I will use this word hereafter to refer to the magistrate's power and place) is an office, and it is an action in executing that office. Aristotle defines a magistrate as a keeper of laws.[599] Plutarch says, in that book in which he shows that learning is required in a king, among other things: "Princes are the ministers of God for the oversight and safeguard of mortal men, to the end that they may partly distribute, and partly keep, the good things that he liberally gives, and frankly bestows upon them." [600] By the scriptures, magistracy may be defined as a divine ordinance or action by which the good is defended by the prince's aid, and evil is suppressed by that same authority, such that godliness, justice, honesty, peace, and tranquility, both public and private, are safely preserved. We gather from this, that to govern a commonweal and execute the office of a magistrate, is a worship and service to God himself. God, truly, is delighted in this. For the office of a magistrate is a most excellent thing, and abounding with all good works, as I declared in my former sermon.

Now there are three kinds of magistracies or governments of commonweals: the monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.[601]


We may call monarchy a kingdom in which one alone, by just and upright laws, rules all things and causes in the commonweal. Once that justice and equity are neglected, and against all right and reason, this one rules all the roost, then he is a tyrant, and his power is tyranny — that is to say, wrong and injury. This is a disease of that troubled kingdom. It is a vice that is, as it were, set opposite to that commonweal, so as to be its destruction.

Aristocracy is the superior power of a few peers, where a certain number of holy and upright men are chosen to be the guides and rulers of the people. And this first began by the fall of tyranny. For when men perceived how dangerous it was to commit the rule of their whole state into one man's hand, they altered the order, and gave charge of it to an appointed number of chosen men, who excelled the common sort in power and authority. But if these chief or head men use evil means to come to authority, and neglect the commonweal by hunting after their own advantage, then their government is not to be called an aristocracy, but an oligarchy — that is, the violent lust of a few, and not the good and upright government of chosen peers. So then, these few violent rulers are contrary to the estate where upright headmen have pre-eminence.

Democracy may be called a commonweal in which all the people together bear the whole sway [602] and absolute authority. And this democracy first began by the fall of the oligarchy. For when the people saw that their headmen abused their power, and grew into violent rulers, they displaced them, and kept the authority to themselves — meaning that every man freely gave his voice in matters touching the commonweal. This kind of government commonly breaks out into outrageous tumults — I mean, into seditions and conspiracies. For no man will allow himself to be corrected, since every man claims for himself full and absolute authority to do what he lusts. For, in truth, he is a member of the people, in whose hands the whole authority consists.[603]


Now, touching the excellence of these forms or kinds of government, it is not greatly to my purpose to dispute which ought to be preferred before another. Many have preferred the monarchy before the rest: but with this they added, "If he which holds the monarchy is a good and upright prince." Which, nevertheless, is rare to be found. Those which were also of that opinion, themselves lived under princes in monarchies. "But it is dangerous to speak against Jupiter." [604] Among many kings of Judah and Israel you shall find a very few good, or at least tolerable and indifferent, princes. By this we may perceive what the Lord did not in vain — by the mouth of Samuel — persuade his people to keep their aristocracy, and to be ruled by their priests and elders, as God had ordained long before, by Moses and Jethro, the wisest in the world. And yet none can deny that great perils and infinite discommodities are in the aristocracy — but there are far many more in a democracy. But such is the condition of mortal men in this corruptible flesh, that nothing among them is absolutely and on every side happy.[605] And therefore, what seemed to them to be most excellent, though it is not without inconveniences and some kind of vices, yet in comparison to others, it nevertheless brings fewer perils and lesser annoyance. But however that case stands, the apostles of Christ command us to obey the magistrate, whether a king, or senate of chosen men. For Paul in his epistle to Titus says: "Warn them to be subject to rule and power, and to obey magistrates." Tit 3.1 For to the Romans he says: "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers: for there is no power except from God, and those powers that are ordained by God." Rom 13.1 Again, to Timothy he says: "I exhort you that prayers be made for kings, and for all that are in authority." 1Tim 2.1 If therefore any man lives in a monarchy, let him obey the king; if in a commonweal of whatever title, let him be ruled by the consuls, tribunes, headmen, and elders of the people. For we should obey the ordinance of God, rather than over-curiously dispute about which kind of government is better or worse than another.


And in all cases truly, the magistrate is very necessary, and cannot be missing among men. Indeed, he is so necessary, that without the magistrate's help, the state of men can hardly prosper, or easily stand. Nor do you read that the state and commonweal of the Israelites was ever in greater danger and peril of undoing, than it was in the time between Sampson and Eli, when they were governed by no magistrates, but every man did what he thought good himself. Jdg 17.6 For all men, even from their birth, are blindly led with self-love, and therefore they seek their own advantage; nothing pleases them except what they do themselves; they utterly dislike the deeds and words of other men. Yes, such is our fond affection and opinionated sense, that however evil our causes are, yet we will not hesitate to face them out with a card of ten,[606] and to colour them with law and equity. He that would stand in denial of this, never considered man's disposition. The people of Israel, at their delivery out of Egypt, saw wonderful signs; they were marvellously fed from heaven in the desert, and every day they beheld new miracles. Yet, hearken my brethren, and consider what Moses says — the meekest and gentlest man that ever was — touching this holy people, this people of God, whom God had chosen to be a special people for himself: "How shall I alone," he says to the people, "bear your trouble, your burden, and the strifes that are among you?" Deu 1.12


Moreover, what may be thought of that? That the wrangling disposition of the flesh showed itself in the most sure fellowship of the ancient and apostolic church, indeed, in those very vessels which were regenerate? For the Greeks murmured against the Hebrews, because their widows were little regarded in the daily ministry. Act 6.1 The Corinthians also go to law before heathen judges; and Paul therefore very sharply rebukes them, and charges them to appoint honest judges among themselves to take up matters between those who were at variance. 1Cor 6.14 Let no man therefore make this objection, and say that the ancient people of Israel were a carnal people and not regenerate. For we see that, even in the regenerate, the relics of the flesh remain. Whenever an occasion is presented, they shortly evidence themselves, and trouble the quiet state of everything. I will not say now, that most men follow the flesh rather than the spirit, and for that cause God, who loves man — who keeps and preserves civility, peace, and human society — has prepared and applied a medicine against those grievous diseases of men. He has appointed the magistrate, I say, to step between those who strive with the authority of law and equity, to judge and discuss matters between those who are at variance, to bridle and suppress wrong and affections, and lastly, to save the guiltless and the innocents. [607] Till such time as men leave their wayward disposition, whoever subverts this ordinance of God, brings utter confusion to every state, and aids wrongful dealers and violent robbers to oppress and root out the best sort of people. Truly, by what we have alleged up to now, it is manifestly apparent that the magistrate is ordained by God for the safeguard of the good, and punishment of the evil — I mean, for the good and quiet state of mortal men. This is why we read that, from the beginning, there have been magistrates in the world.

To this pertain these testimonies of the holy scripture. Moses in the law calls the judges gods, and this "judgment," he says, "is God's." [608] From this also, Jehoshaphat borrowed that saying which he spoke to the judges, where he says: "See what you do: for you do not judge as to man, but to the Lord, who is with you in the causes which you judge: let the fear of God therefore be in your hearts." 2Chr 19. 6-7


St. Peter says that we must "obey the magistrate for the Lord's sake, by whom he is ordained to the praise of the good, and the terrifying of the evil." 1Pet 2.14 And Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, says: "There is no power except from God, and the powers that are ordained by God: and whoever resists the power, resists the ordinance of God; and he that resists shall receive damnation for himself. For rulers are not fearful to those who do well, but to the evil. For he is the minister of God, revenger of wrath on him that does evil." Rom 13.1-4 The magistrate therefore is of God; his office is good, holy, pleasing to God, just, profitable, and necessary for men. And the rulers who rightly execute their office, are the friends and worshippers of God; they are his elect instruments, by whom he works man's health and safeguard. We have examples of this in Adam, in all the patriarchs, in our father Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Daniel, and many others after the time of Christ, who rightly executed the office of magistrates.

Now there are many who would have the magistrate be of two sorts: namely, either good or bad. The good magistrate is the one who, being lawfully ordained, lawfully executes his office and duty. The evil magistrate is the one who, when he has gotten the authority by evil means, turns and disposes it as he himself lusts. And upon this, the question is usually demanded whether an evil magistrate, that is, a tyrannical one, is from God or not? To this I answer that God is the author of good, and not of evil. For God is good by nature, and all his purposes are good, being directed to our health and preservation, not to our destruction. Therefore, the good and healthful ordaining of the magistrate, without any doubt, is from God himself, who is the author of all goodness.

But here it is requisite that we make a distinction between the office which is the good ordinance of God, and the evil person who does not rightly execute that good office. If evil is therefore found in the magistrate, and not the good for which he was ordained, then that comes from other causes. The fault is in the men and persons who neglect God and corrupt the ordinance of God, and not in God, nor in his ordinance.


For the evil prince, seduced by the devil, corrupts the ways of God, and by his own fault and naughtiness he transgresses God's ordinance. He does this so far, that he worthily deserves the name of devilish power, and not divine authority. We have an example of this in the magistrate of Jerusalem. For although he was able to refer the beginning of his power by degrees to Moses, and so to God himself who ordained it — yet, because he arrests the Saviour in the garden and binds him, it is said to his servants, "You have come out as though for a thief, with swords and staves. When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not stretch out your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." Luk 22.52-53 Look, here he calls the ordinary magistrate the power of the devil, when he abuses his power. What could be more evidently spoken? But here you must mark that the reproach was in the person, and not in the office.

Likewise, also, the Roman empire was ordained by God, as it is clearly evident by the visions of Daniel.[609] And yet when Nero, not without God's ordinance, bore sway in the empire, whatever he did as king and emperor, contrary to the office of a good king, he did not do it from God, but from the devil. For though he hung up and beheaded the apostles of Christ,[610] moving a bloody persecution against the church, that did not spring from elsewhere than from the devil, the father of murder. So then, truly, we should at no time defend tyrannical power, and say that it is from God. For tyranny is not a divine, but a devilish kind of government; and tyrants themselves are properly the servants of the devil, and not of God. And yet, for their wicked deeds, some people do not deserve to have a king, but a tyrant. So then, the people's sin is another cause that evil magistrates are found in commonweals. Meanwhile, the king is of the Lord, and sometimes the Lord makes a hypocrite reign. This is why the evil magistrate is of God, even as seditions, wars, plagues, hail, frost, and other miseries of mankind come from the Lord: as punishment for sin and wickedness, which the Lord has appointed to be executed.


As he himself says: "I will give them children to be their kings, and infants shall rule them; because their tongue and heart has been against the Lord." [611] Likewise the Lord stirred up the cruel kings of Assyria and Babylon against His city and His own special people, whose living was not agreeable to their profession.

But now, how and after what sort his subjects ought to be affected toward such hard, cruel, and tyrannical princes, we learn partly by the example of David, and partly by the doctrine of Jeremiah and the apostles. David was not ignorant of what kind of man Saul was — a wicked and merciless fellow. Yet, notwithstanding, he fled to escape Saul's hands; and when he had occasion given to him once or twice to kill him, he did not slay Saul, but spared the tyrant and reverenced him as though he had been his father.[612] Jeremiah prayed for Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, wicked kings both, and obeyed them until they came to matters flatly contrary to God's religion.[613] For where I spoke touching the honour due to parents, I proved by the scriptures, that we should not obey the wicked commandments of godless magistrates because it is not permitted to magistrates to ordain or appoint anything contrary to God's law, or the law of nature.

Now, the Acts of the Apostles teach us in what way the apostles behaved in dealing with tyrannical magistrates. Let those, therefore, who are vexed with tyrants, and oppressed with wicked magistrates, follow this advice in that perplexity. First, let them call to remembrance and consider what and how great their own sins of idolatry and uncleanness are, which have already deserved the revenging anger of their jealous God. And then let them think that God will not withdraw his scourge, unless he sees that they redress their corrupt manners and evil religion. So then, first they must go about and bring to pass a full reformation of matters in religion, and perfect amendment of manners that are amiss. Then they must pray continually that God will grant to pull and draw his oppressed people out of the mire of mischief in which they stick fast.


For the Lord himself, in the eighteenth chapter of Luke, gave that counsel to those who are oppressed, promising with it assured aid and present delivery. But there are examples of what and how the oppressed must pray, in the ninth chapter of Daniel, and in the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Let those whose minds are vexed, also call to remembrance the sayings of Peter and Paul, the chief of the apostles. "The Lord," says Peter, "knows how to deliver his from temptation, as he delivered Lot." 2Pet 2.7 Paul says: "God is faithful, and will not allow His to be tempted above their strength; yes, he will turn their temptations to their best." 1Cor 10.13 Let them call to mind the captivity of Israel, in which God's people were detained at Babylon for the span of seventy years. And with that, let them think upon the good comfort of the captives, which Isaiah expressed from his fortieth to his forty-ninth chapters. Let us persuade ourselves that God is good, merciful, and omnipotent, so that he can, when he wishes, deliver us at ease. He has many ways and means to set us at liberty. Let us have a regard only that our impenitent, filthy, and wicked life does not provoke the Lord to augment and prolong the tyrant's cruelty. The Lord is able to suddenly change the hearts of princes (for "the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord, as the rivers of water, to turn them which way he will" Pro 21.1), and to make those who up to now have been most cruelly set against us, to be our friends and favourable to us; and to make those who up to now have most bloodily persecuted the true religion, embrace it most ardently, and promote it with a burning zeal, so far as they may. We have evident examples of this in the books of the Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and in the volume of Daniel's prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar, whose purpose was to toast with fire and utterly destroy the martyrs of God for true religion, was immediately after compelled to praise God, because he saw the martyrs preserved. And by edicts, Nebuchadnezzar publicly proclaimed and set forth the only true God and his true religion.[614]


Darius, the son of Ahasuerus,[615] allows Daniel to be cast into the lion's den. But immediately he draws him out again, and shuts up Daniel's enemies in the same den, to be torn in pieces by the famishing beasts. Cyrus, the powerful king of Persia, advances true religion. Darius, son of Hystaspes, whose surname was Artaxerxes,[616] by all means possible aided and promoted the godly intent of God's people in rebuilding their city and temple. Let us not doubt, therefore, God's aid and helping hand. For God sometimes utterly destroys, and sometimes he chastens, untoward tyrants with some horrible and sudden disease. It is evident that it happened to Antiochus,[617] Herod the Great,[618] and to his nephew, Herod Agrippa,[619] also to Maxentius [620] and other enemies of God and tyrants over men.[621] Sometimes he stirs up noble captains and valiant men to displace tyrants, and set God's people at liberty; we see many examples of this in the books of Judges and Kings. But lest any man fall into abusing those examples, let him consider their calling by God. If a man did not have this calling, or else prevented it, he is so far from doing good in killing the tyrant, that it is to be feared he may make the evil double what it was before. Thus much up to here.

Now I return to what, by my digression, remains yet unspoken. Here I have to say something touching the election of magistrates. And first, to whom the choice and ordering of the magistrate belongs; secondly, whom and what kind of men it is best to choose to be magistrates; and lastly, the manner and order of consecrating those once chosen.

No one and certain rule can be prescribed touching the election of those magistrates to whom that office should belong.


For in some places, the whole commonalty chooses their peers; in other places, the peers choose the magistrates; and in other places, princes come to it by succession and birth. In discussing which of these orders is best, it would be folly to make much ado about it. For to every kingdom and every city is worthily left their country fashion,[622] unless it is altogether too corrupt, and not to be borne with. But where princes come to it by birth, their earnest prayer must be made to the Lord, that He will grant them to be good.

Now for the good election of magistrates, the Lord himself declares whom and what kind of men he would have chosen, in these very words: "Look over all the people, consider them diligently, and choose from among them men of courage, such as fear God, speakers of truth, and haters of covetousness, and make them rulers over thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, to judge the people at all seasons." Exo 18.21 Four things the Lord requires in a good governour.

First, that he be a man of courage, of strength or force, that is, who has the ability to do the thing to which he is appointed. That ability consists in mind rather than in body. For it is required that he not be a fool, but wise and skilful in that which he has to do: because the office of a captain is to know how to set his army in order of battle, rather than to fight himself; as also the duty of a surveyor of works is to know how buildings must be erected, rather than to work himself; or as a chariot-man ought to know how to guide his cart in driving, rather than to draw it himself. And with this too, a boldness of stomach is demanded, to dare to do the thing that he already knows; for constancy and sufferance are very needful in every captain.

In the second place that is set down, which indeed is the first: let him fear God, let him be religious, and not superstitious. No idolater preserves the commonweal, but rather he destroys it; and a wicked man does not defend truth and true religion, but persecutes and drives them out of his jurisdiction. Let this magistrate of ours therefore be of the right religion, sound in faith, believing the word of God, and knowing that God is present among men and repays to whom he wishes according to their deserts.


And for that cause, Justinian the emperor, in Novellis Constitutionib. 109, freely confesses that all his help is from God; and that it is therefore convenient that the making of all laws should depend upon him alone. Immediately after he says:

"It is known very well to all men, that those in whose hands the empire was held before it came to us — especially that Leo of worthy memory, and the most sacred prince Justin our father — flatly forbade in their constitutions any heretics to be admitted as soldiers in any warfare, or as dealers in matters concerning the commonwealth. Thus less occasion was given for any to think they might corrupt the members of God's holy catholic and apostolic Church, by receiving them into the fellowship of war, or the handling of public affairs. And this decree we establish." [623]

Thus says the emperor. And the godly man truly prays to God, and receives wisdom at the Lord's hand. And where the princes are God's friends, and often conference with God, there is hope that those commonweals shall prosper and flourish. But on the other side, there must be feared an unhappy end of that commonweal where the enemies of God have pre-eminence.

Thirdly, there is required of the one who must be chosen and called to be magistrate, that he be true in word and deed, so that he is not found to be a hypocrite, liar, deceiver, turncoat, or one whose mouth blows both hot and cold; rather, that he be faithful, simple, a plain dealer, and blameless. He must not be more liberal in promising than in performing. He must not be one that sets light by an oath, not a false swearer, nor a perjured man.

Fourthly, because many who are in office desire riches, and seek to increase their wealth by bribes, the Lord removes them from the magistracy, and forbids good magistrates to be covetous.


Indeed, he expressly charges them to hate and abhor it; as in another place also, he not only forbids them to take bribes, but also commands them to shake off and rid their hands of all rewards. Isa 33.15 Covetousness and greedy desire for bribes are the very plagues that choke good magistrates. By covetous men and takers of bribes, the law, judgment, liberty, justice, and the country itself, are placed for sale and sold to the devil for money. And now, though in this place the Lord has named only the most pestilent mischief of all others, there is no doubt that He inclusively debars all other vices and evils of that sort, commanding them to be strange and far off from the good magistrate and godly governor. Those vices are pride, envy, anger, dicing, surfeiting,[624] drunkenness, whoredom, adultery, and whatever else is like these.

This place is made more manifest by conferring it with other places in the law of God. Moses, in Deuteronomy, says to the people: "Bring men of wisdom, of understanding, and of an honest life, according to your tribes." Deu 1.13 Here again, the wise man Moses requires three things in those who are to be appointed magistrates in his commonweal. First, he says, let them be wise. But the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Therefore, let those be ordained magistrates, who are friends to God and true religion; let them be wise, and not foolish idiots. Secondly, they must be men of understanding; that is, men of experience, who by long and continual exercise in handling matters, are able at the first brunt [625] to deal in all cases according to the law. Lastly, they must be men of honest report, whose life and sound conversation are by their deeds perfectly tried and sufficiently witnessed to the people. And finally, they must be those who bear authority well, and are not despised as rascals and vile knaves.

In the book of Numbers also, Moses says: "Let the God of the spirits of all flesh set a man over the congregation, who may go in and out before them, and lead them in and out, so that the congregation of the Lord are not like sheep without a shepherd." Num 27.16-17 By these words of the holy prophet, we learn who are to be chosen, and how they are to be chosen, into the office of magistrates. Moses prayed to the Lord for a fit and convenient man.


And therefore we must pray to God, who searches all men's hearts, that he will grant to send men to be our magistrates, who are fit for that place and calling. The outward show many times deceives us, and we judge someone to be a good and godly man who is indeed a notable hypocrite. God alone knows the mind. We must beseech him, therefore, that he not allow us in our choice to err or choose amiss. Let him be thought the best and fittest for the purpose, who is instructed with the Holy Spirit of God. Furthermore, the one who is appointed to that office must still be from first to last, always at one end in all matters of weight and public affairs.[626] There are some unprofitable and idle drones, who drive others forward, and after the first onset, take their ease. And there are some wicked fellows who appoint others to do something, but will do nothing themselves of that which belongs to their office by right. The guide of the people must be a man of choice elected to be magistrate, whose care is day and night to have an eye that the flock of the Lord is not scattered, endangered, nor utterly destroyed. And thus, up to here I have told you what kind of men ought to be given charge over the Lord's people.

Last of all, touching the manner of consecrating magistrates, various cities and countries have various customs. Let every country freely retain their own usual order. For my part, I think that manner of consecrating is best, in which there is little or no sumptuous pomp except what reason and decency seem to allow. The best and most profitable way, in consecrating those who are chosen, is to use a certain moderate ceremony. And that too should be done in the face of all the people, so that everyone may know who the fathers of the people are, to whom they owe honour, whom they ought to obey, and for whose health and welfare they ought to pray. The people of God had a certain prescribed ceremony, which we read that they used in consecrating their kings and magistrates. It is certain that it was first invented for profitable and good causes, and then commanded by God himself.[627]

The rest that is yet behind to be spoken touching the magistrate, I mean to defer until tomorrow. And now to end with thanksgiving, let us praise the Lord, etc.


Of the office of the Magistrate, whether the care of religion pertains to him or not, and whether he may make laws and ordinances in cases of religion.

THE first and greatest thing that ought to be in a magistrate, is easily perceived by the declaration of his office and duty. In yesterday's sermon I showed you what the magistrate is, how many kinds of magistrates there are, from whom the magistrate had his beginning, for what causes he was ordained, the manner and order to choose peers, and what kind of men should be called to be magistrates. To this let us now add what the office and duty of a magistrate properly is.

The whole office of a magistrate seems to consist in these three points: to order, to judge, and to punish. I mean to speak of every one of these, severally and in order, as they lie. The ordinance of the magistrate is a decree made by him for maintaining religion, honesty, justice, and public peace. And it consists of two points: in rightly ordering matters of religion, and in making good laws for the preservation of honesty, justice, and common peace. But before I come to the determining and ordering of religion, I will briefly, and in few words, handle their question who demand whether the care of religion pertains to the magistrate as part of his office or not? For I see many who are of the opinion that the care and ordering of religion belongs to bishops alone,[628] and that kings, princes, and senators should not meddle with it.

But the catholic verity teaches that the care of religion especially belongs to the magistrate; and that it is not in his power only, but in his office and duty also, to dispose and advance religion.


For among those of old, their kings were priests; I mean, they were masters and overseers of religion. Melchizedek, that holy and wise prince of the Canaanite people, who bore the type or figure of Christ our Lord, is wonderfully commended in the holy scriptures. Now, he was both king and priest together. Moreover, in the book of Numbers, the laws belonging to religion are given up and delivered to Joshua, newly ordained and recently consecrated. The kings of Judah also, and the elect people of God, have obtained very great praise for the well ordering of religion (as I will shortly declare to you by examples). And again, those who were slack in seeing to religion, are noted with the mark of perpetual reproach. Who is ignorant that the magistrate's especial care ought to be to keep the commonweal in safe guard and prosperity? Undoubtedly, he cannot do this unless he provides for the word of God to be preached to his people, and causes them to be taught the true worship of God — by that means making himself the minister of true religion as it were.

In Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the Lord largely sets down the good prepared for men who are religious and zealous indeed; and He reckons up, on the other side, the evil appointed for the contemners of true religion. But the good magistrate is commanded to retain and keep prosperity among his people, and to repel all kinds of adversity. Let us hear also what the wise man, Solomon, says in his Proverbs: "Godliness and truth preserve the king, and in godliness his seat is held up." "When the just are multiplied, the people rejoice; and when the wicked rules, the people lament. The king by judgment establishes his dominion, but a tyrant overthrows it. When the wicked increase, iniquity is multiplied, and the just shall see their decay. Where the word of God is not preached, the people decay; but happy is he that keeps the law." [629] By this we gather that those who would not have the care of religion pertain to princes, seek and usher in the confusion of all things, the dissolution of princes and their people, and lastly, the neglecting and oppression of the poor.

Furthermore, the Lord commands the magistrate to make trial by doctrines, and to kill those who stubbornly teach against the scriptures, and draw the people away from the true God. This is to be seen in the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy. Deu 13.1-5


God also forbade the magistrate to plant groves, or erect images, as seen in the sixteenth [630] chapter of Deuteronomy.Deu 16.21 And, he insinuated general things by those particulars; forbidding the magistrate to ordain, nourish, and set forth superstition or idolatry — thus, he commanded him to advance true religion. And so it consequently follows that the care of religion belongs to the magistrate. What may be thought of this moreover: that the most excellent princes and friends of God among God's people, claimed for themselves the care of religion, insofar as they exercised and took charge of it, as if they had been ministers of the holy things? Joshua caused an altar to be built in mount Ebal, and fulfilled all the worship of God, as commanded of God by the mouth of Moses.[631] David, in bringing in and bestowing the ark of God in his place, and in ordering the worship of God, was so diligent that it is a wonder to tell. So likewise was Solomon, David's son. Nor do I think that any man knows how much Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, laboured in the reformation of religion, which in their times was corrupted and utterly defaced. The very heathen kings and princes are praised because, when they knew the truth, they gave out edicts for the confirmation of true religion against blasphemous mouths. Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean, the mightiest monarch of the whole world — I doubt any greater and mightier monarch reigned in the world — publishes a decree that whoever spoke reproachfully against the true God that made heaven and earth, should be torn in pieces, and his house made a jakes,[632]. The place is in the third chapter of Daniel's prophecy. Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, king Cyrus' uncle, says: "I have decreed that all men in the whole dominion of my kingdom fear the God of Daniel," as seen in the sixth chapter of Daniel. Cyrus, king of Persia, looses the Jews from bondage, and charges them to repair the temple, and restore their holy rites again.[633]


Darius Persa,[634] the son of Hystaspes, says: "I have decreed for every man who changes anything of my determination touching the reparation of the temple, and the restoring of the worship of God, that a beam be taken out of his house, and set up, and he be hanged on it, and his house be made a jakes." Ezr 6.11 The very same Darius [635] again, who was also called Artaxerxes, says: "Whoever will not do the law of your God (Ezra), and the law of the king, let judgment immediately pass upon him, either to death, or to utter rooting out, or to confiscation of his goods, or imprisonment." Ezr 7.26 All this we find in the book of Ezra.

The men who are persuaded that the care and ordering of religion belongs to bishops alone, make an objection and say that these examples, which I have alleged, do not pertain to us who are Christians, because they are examples of the Jewish people. My answer to them is this: the men of this opinion should prove that the Lord Jesus and his apostles translated the care of religion from the magistrate to bishops alone. They shall never be able to do this. But we, on the other side, will briefly show that those ancient princes of God's people — Joshua, David, and the rest — were Christians truly and indeed. And therefore, that the examples which are derived from them and applied to Christian princes, both are and ought to be of force and effect among us today. I will in the end also add the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah, whereby it may appear that even now also, kings have the same office in the church today, that those ancient kings had in that congregation which they call the Jewish church. There is no doubt that they ought to be accounted true Christians who, being anointed with the Spirit of Christ, believe in Christ, and are made partakers of Christ in the sacraments. For Christ (if you interpret the word) is the same as saying "anointed." Christians therefore, according to the etymology of their name, are anointed. That anointing, according to the apostle's interpretation, 1John 2.20,27 is the Spirit of God, or the gift of the Holy Ghost. But St. Peter testifies that the Spirit of Christ was in the kings and prophets. 1Pet 5.11


And Paul affirms flatly, that we have the very same Spirit of faith 2Cor 4.13 that those of old had; and moreover, we share our sacraments with them, where he says that they were baptized under the cloud, and they all drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, which rock was Christ. 1Cor 10.24

Since the case is so, truly then, the examples which are derived from the words and works of those ancient kings, for the confirmation of faith and charity, both are and ought to be of force with us. And yet I know that everything does not consequently follow upon the gathering of examples. But for making good our argument, here we have an evident prophecy of Isaiah, who foretells that kings and princes, after the times of Christ and the revealing of the gospel, should have a diligent care of the church, and should by that means become the feeders and nurses of the faithful. Now, it is evident what it means to feed and to nourish; for it is as if he had said that they should be the fathers and mothers of the church. But he could not have said that rightly, if the care of religion did not belong to princes, but to bishops alone. The words of Isaiah are these:

"Behold, I will stretch out my hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard for the people; [636]  and they shall bring your sons in their laps, and your daughters on their shoulders. And kings shall be your nursing fathers, and queens your nursing mothers; they shall fall before you with their faces flat upon the earth, and lick up the dust of your feet," etc. Isa 49.22-23

Shall not we say that all this is fully performed in some Christian princes? Among the first was the holy emperor Constantine who, by calling a general council, determined to establish true and sincere doctrine in the church of Christ, with a settled purpose to utterly root out all false and heretical fantasies and opinions. And when the bishops did not rightly go to work by the true rule and touchstone of the gospel and of charity, he blamed them, upbraiding them with tyrannical cruelty, and declaring with it what peace the Lord had granted by His means to the churches. He added, moreover, that it was a detestable thing if the bishops, forgetting to thank God for his gifts of peace, go on to bait one another with mutual reproaches and taunting libels. Thereby they give wicked idolaters occasion for delight and laughter, when as of duty they should differently handle and treat matters of religion.


For (he says) the books of the evangelists, apostles, and the oracles of the ancient prophets, are those which must instruct us in the understanding of God's holy law. Let us expel, therefore, this quarrelling strife, and think upon the questions proposed, to resolve them by the words of scripture inspired from above.[637] After him again, the holy emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, make a decree and give an edict in these very words: "We will and command all people who are subject to our gracious empire, to be of that religion, the very religion taught and conveyed from Peter till now, which declares what the holy apostle Peter taught to the Romans." [638] And so on.

By this, dearly beloved, you perceive how kings and princes among the people of the new Testament, have been the foster-fathers and nourishers of the church — being persuaded that the care of religion first of all and especially belonged to themselves.

The second objection that they make is the leprosy of Uzziah, king of Judah, which he got by claiming for himself the office of the priest, while presuming to burn incense on the incense-altar. 2Chr 26.18-19 They object citing the Lord's commandment, who had Joshua stand before Eleazar the priest, and charged the king to receive the book of the law from the Levites hands.[639]


But our disputation does not tend to confound the offices and duties of the magistrate and ministers of the church, as if we would have the king preach, baptize, and minister the Lord's Supper; or the priest, on the other side, sit in the judgment-seat, and give judgment against a murderer, or pronounce sentence in matters in strife. The church of Christ has, and it retains, several and distinguished offices; and God is the God of order, and not of confusion. Our discourse tends to prove to all men, by demonstration, that the magistrate should by duty have a care for religion, either to restore it in ruin, or to preserve it in soundness; and to see that it proceeds according to the rule of the word of God. For the law of God was given into the king's hands by the priests to this end: that he should not be ignorant of God's will touching political and ecclesiastical matters; by this law he must govern the whole estate of his entire realm.

Joshua, the captain of God's people, is set before Eleazar indeed; yet he has authority to command the priests; and being a political governor, he is joined as it were in one body with the ecclesiastical ministers. The political magistrate is commanded to give ear to the ecclesiastical ruler; and the ecclesiastical minister must obey the political governor in all things which the law commands. So then, the magistrate is not made subject by God to the priests as to lords, but as to the ministers of the Lord. The subjection and duty which they owe is to the Lord himself, and His law, to which the priests as well as the princes should be obedient. If the lips of the priest err from the truth, and do not speak the word of God, there is no cause why any of the common sort, much less the prince, should either hearken to, or in one tittle reverence the priest. "The lips of the priest," says Malachi, "keep knowledge, and they seek the law from his mouth; because he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." Mal. 2.7 To refuse to hear such priests is to repel God himself. The godly princes of Israel always aided and assisted such priests as these; they degraded false priests; they sharply rebuked those who neglected their offices; and they made decrees for executing and rightly administering every office.


We read about Solomon, that he removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the Lord 1Kng 2.27 (that he might fulfil the word of the Lord, which he spoke to Eli in Shiloh), and made Zadok priest in Abiathar's stead. In the second book of Chronicles it is said: "And Solomon set the sorts of priests to their offices, as David his father had ordered them, and the Levites in their watches, to praise and minister before the priests day by day, as their course required." 2Chr 8.14 In the same book again, Jehoiada the priest does indeed anoint Joash king; but nevertheless, the king calls the priest and commands him to gather money to repair the temple. 2Chr 24.1-6 Moreover, that religious and excellent prince, Hezekiah, called the priests and Levites and said to them: "Be sanctified, and sanctify the house of the Lord our God, and allow no uncleanness to remain in the sanctuary. My sons, do not be slack now, because the Lord has chosen you to minister to himself." 2Chr 29.5,11 He also appointed singers in the house of the Lord, and those who should play on musical instruments in the Lord's temple.[640] Furthermore, king Hezekiah ordained sundry companies of priests and Levites, according to their sundry offices, each one according to his own ministry. What may be said about this too: that he allocated to the priests their portions and stipends throughout the priesthood? The same king gave charge to all the people to keep the feast of Passover holy, writing to them all those letters which priests are prone to write, to put them in mind of religion and hearty repentance. And after all this there is added: "And the king wrought that which was good, right, and just before the Lord his God." 2Chr 31.20 When princes therefore order religion according to the word of God, they do what pleases the Lord. This and the like is spoken again by [641] the godly prince Josiah. Who therefore will say after this, that the care of religion belongs to bishops alone?

ii. 331

The Christian emperors, following the example of the ancient kings as of their fathers, with great care provided for the state of true religion in the church of Christ. Arcadius and Honorius determined that, so often as matters of religion were called into question, the bishops should be summoned to assemble a council.[642] And before them again, the emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, established a law in which they declared to the world what faith and religion they would have all men receive and retain: namely, the faith and doctrine of St. Peter. They also proclaimed in this edit, that all whose who thought or taught the contrary, were heretics — allowing those alone to be called catholics, who persevered in St. Peter's faith.[643] By this we gather that the proper office of the priests is to determine in religion by proofs from the word of God; and the prince's duty is to aid the priests in the advancement and defence of true religion. But if at any time, it happens that the priests are slack in doing their duty, then it is the prince's office, by compulsion, to enforce the priests to live orderly according to their profession, and to determine in religion according to the word of God.

The emperor Justinian says, in Novellis Constitut. 3, writing to Epiphanius, archbishop of Constantinople: "We have, most reverend patriarch, assigned to your holiness the disposition of all things that are honest, seemly, and agreeable to the rule of holy scriptures, touching the appointing and ordering of sacred bishops and reverend clerics." [644] And in the seventeenth constitution he says: "We charge and command that no bishop has licence to sell or take away any immovables, whether houses or lands, belonging to the churches." [645]


Again, in the fifty-seventh constitution, he forbids celebrating the holy mysteries in private houses.[646] He adds the penalty, and says: "The houses in which it is done, shall be confiscated and sold for money, which shall be brought into the emperor's exchequer." [647] In the sixty-seventh constitution, he charges all bishops not to be absent from their churches: but if they are absent, he wills that they should receive no commodity or stipend of the provincial stewards, but that their revenue should be employed on the church's necessities.[648] In the hundred and twenty-third constitution, the lieutenants of every province are commanded to assemble a council for the use and defence of ecclesiastical laws, if the bishops are slack in looking after it. [649] And immediately after he says: "We utterly forbid all bishops, prelates, and clerics, of whatever degree, to play at tables, to keep company with dice-players, to be onlookers of gamesters, or to run to gaze at may-games or pageants." [650] I do not allege all this as canonical scriptures, but as proofs to declare that princes in the primitive church had power, official authority, and a usual custom, granted by God (as Isaiah prophesied) and derived from the examples of ancient kings, to command bishops, and to determine about religion in the church of Christ.


As for those who object that it is the church's privilege, let them know that it is not permitted to any prince, nor any mortal man, to grant privileges contrary to the express commandments and very truth of God's word. St. Paul affirmed that he had power given to him to edify, but not to destroy. 2Cor 13.10 I can be briefer here, because I will not stop to prove that those who do not properly act as [651] priests and Christ's ministers, are unworthy of indifferent [652] privileges; rather, they are soldiers and wicked knaves, full of all kinds of mischief. Among other things in the canon law, Distinct. 40, we find this written:

"See to yourselves, brethren, how you sit upon the seat: for the seat does not make the priest, but the priest makes the seat: the place does not sanctify the man, but the man sanctifies the place. Every priest is not a holy man, but every holy man is a priest. He that sits well upon the seat, receives the honour of the seat: but he that sits ill upon the seat, does injury to the seat. Therefore, an evil priest gets blame by his priesthood, and not any dignity." [653]

Thus much touching this matter.

Since I have now declared to you, dearly beloved, that the care of religion belongs to the magistrate too, and not to the bishops alone, and that the magistrate may also make laws in cases of religion, it is requisite that I inquire what kind of laws those are that the magistrates may make in matters of religion. There is no reason why the king or magistrate should suppose that power is given to him to make new laws touching God, the worship of God, or his holy mysteries; nor to appoint a new kind of true justice and goodness.


For just as every magistrate is ordained by God, and is God's minister, so he must be ruled by God, and be obedient to God's holy word and commandment, having ever more an eye to that, and still depending on that alone. The scripture, which is the word of God, abundantly enough sets down all that is proper to true religion — indeed, the Lord flatly forbids adding to or taking anything from his holy word. The magistrate therefore makes no new laws touching God, and the honour to be given to God; rather, he religiously receives and keeps, puts in use and publishes, those ancient laws in that kingdom which God has allotted to him. For giving the book of God's law to the kings of Israel [654] pertains to this: that they might thereby learn the way to do the things which of duty they ought to see done. The Lord says to Joshua:

"See that you observe and do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. You shall not turn from it either to the right hand or to the left. Neither shall the book of this law depart out of your mouth, but occupy your mind in it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall do wisely." Jos 1.7-8

Devout and holy princes therefore endeavoured faithfully and diligently to cause the word of God to be preached to the people, and to retain and preserve among the people the laws, ceremonies, and statutes of God. Indeed, they did their best to spread it to all men as far as they could, and as time and place required, to apply it holily to states and persons. On the other side, they were not slack to banish and drive away false doctrine, and the profane worshipping of God, and blasphemies of His name; but they settled themselves to utterly overthrow and root it out forever. In this way (I say), godly magistrates made and ordained devout laws for the maintenance of religion. In this way, they bore a godly and devout care for matters of religion.

The cities which the Levites possessed, from of old were the schools of Israel. Now Joshua appointed those cities for studies' sake, and for the cause of godliness.[655] King Hezekiah was no less careful for the revenue and sure payment of the ministers' stipends, than he was for restoring and renewing every office.[656]


For honour and advancement makes learning flourish, while need and necessity drive men to seek various shifts.[657] Beggary puts religion up for sale, and much more the invented lies of men's own mouths. Jehoshaphat sends senators and other officers with the priests and teachers throughout his kingdom. 2Chr 17.79 For his desire was, by all means possible, to have God's word preached with authority and certain majesty; and being preached, to have it defended and put in use to produce good works. King Josiah destroys the false priests that were to be found, together with idolatry and profane worship of God, putting in their place the true teachers of God's word, and restoring again sincere religion [658] — even as king Joash also, having rebuked the Levites, repaired the decayed buildings of the holy temple.[659] I am not able to run through all the scriptures, and repeat all the examples expressed in them. Let the godly prince or magistrate learn by these few, what and how he ought to determine touching laws for religion.

On the other side, Ahijah the Shilonite 1Kng 11.29-33 says to Jeroboam:

"Thus says the Lord: you shall reign according to all that your soul desires, and shall be king over Israel. And if you hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my sight, if you keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; then I will be with you, and build you a sure house." 1Kng 11.38

But the wretch despised those large promises, and rejected God's word, his temple at Jerusalem, and his lawful worship. He also refused the Levites. Instead, he made priests of the dregs and rascal sort of people; he built himself new temples, which he decked — no, rather which he disgraced — with images and idols, ordaining and offering sacrifices not taught in God's word. And by that means, he invented a certain new kind of worshipping God and a new manner of religion. Although his desire was to seem to be willing to worship God, yet he is condemned by God as a wicked man. Hearken, I pray, to the sentence of the Lord, which he denounces against him:


"You have done evil," says Ahijah, as the Lord taught him, "above all that were before you. For you have gone and made yourself other gods and molten images to provoke me, and you have cast me behind your back. Therefore I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will root out from Jeroboam even the one that pisses against the wall, and the one who is in prison and forsaken in Israel; and I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one carries away dung, till all is gone." 1Kng 14.9-10

And all these things were fulfilled according to the saying of the Lord, as the scripture witnesses in these words: "When Baasha was king, he struck all the house of Jeroboam, and left nothing that breathed of that which was Jeroboam's." 1Kng 15.29 But the very same king, being no better or wiser by another's mishap, nor by the miserable example of his predecessor, does not hesitate to continue to teach the people what Jeroboam had begun: to publish and defend the strange and foreign religion, contrary to the word of God,. But what followed from this? In truth, the Lord says to him by the preaching of Hanani the prophet:

"Because I exalted you out of the dust, and made you prince over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made my people Israel to sin, to anger me with their sins; behold, I will root out the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house, and will make your house like the house of Jeroboam." 1Kng 16.2

This was performed (as the scripture says) by Simri, captain of the host of Israel. For he destroyed king Elah, the son of Baasha, when he was drunk, and all his posterity.[660] Amri succeeded in the kingdom, who was the father if Ahab, that mischievous cut-throat whom the Syrians slew in fighting a battle. 1Kng 22.34 After him reigned his sons Ahaziah and Joram. But when they left the religion taught in the word of God, to follow the new tradition of king Jeroboam, and added to this the worship of the shameful idol Baal, they were utterly (at last) destroyed by means of Jehu, a very just, though rigorous prince.[661] The offspring of Amri reigned about forty years, and not without shedding much innocent blood. But their reign was destroyed at last when the measure of iniquity was fulfilled — utterly torn out by the roots by the just judgment of Almighty God.[662]

ii. 337

Let all princes and magistrates therefore learn by these wonderful and terrible examples, to take heed to themselves how they devise any new religion, or alter the lawful and ancient manner of worshipping, which God himself has ordained already. Our faithful Lord is our good God, who has fully, simply, and absolutely set down in his word his true religion and lawful kind of worship, which he has taught all men to keep alone and forevermore. Let all men therefore cling fast to it, and let them die in defence of it, who mean to live eternally. Whoever adds to, or takes away anything from, the religion and kind of worship first ordained and appointed by God, are punished from above. Mark this, you great men and princes of authority. For keeping or not keeping true religion is the root from which abundant fruit of felicity, or else utter unhappiness, springs and buds out. Therefore, he that has ears to hear, let him hear. Let no man allow himself to be seduced and carried away with any coloured intent, however good it is to the eye, which is indeed a mere vanity and detestable iniquity. To God, obedience is much more acceptable than sacrifices. Nor do the decrees of the Highest need any bit of our fond additions.[663]

Now follows the second part of the magistrates' ordinance, which consists in making good laws for the preservation of honesty, justice, and public peace; this is likewise accomplished in good and upright laws. But there are some who think it is mere tyranny to lay laws on free men's backs, as if it were a yoke upon necks that were not used to labour — supposing that everyone would rather be left to his own will and discretion. The apostle indeed said, "The law is not given for the just, but for the unjust." 1Tim 1.9 But the reason why the law is not given to the just, is because he is just. For the just man works justice, and of his own accord he does the thing which the law exacts from every mortal man. This is why the law is not troublesome to the just man, because it is agreeable to the mind and thoughts of those who live upright, who embrace it with all their hearts. But the unjust desires nothing more than to live as he lusts. He is not conformable in any point to the law, and therefore he must be suppressed by the law, and bridled from marring himself and hurting others.


So then, since the laws are not a troublesome burden but an acceptable pleasure to good men, and also necessary for the unjust, as ordained for bridling lawless and unruly people — it consequently follows that laws are good and profitable for all men, and not to be rejected by any man. What may be said moreover about this? That God himself foresaw our disposition, what we would become, and yet He still favoured the true liberty which he desired to always preserve among his people. He ever meant them good, and never ordained the thing that would lead to their hindrance or discommodity. God himself (I say) was their lawgiver. He has not allowed any age, at any time, to live as lawless people. Indeed too, those commonweals have always been happy, which have admitted laws, and submitted themselves to be governed by those laws. Contrarily, those kingdoms have been most miserable of all others, and been torn in pieces by civil dissensions and foreign enemies, which have banished upright laws. They strived to maintain their own kind of freedom, their uncontrolled dealing and licentious liberty — that is, their beastly lust and uncivil rudeness. Good laws, therefore, are for the health and preservation of the people, and they are necessary for the peace and safeguard of commonweals and kingdoms.

This is why it is a wonder to see the folly of some Christians, since the heathens have given so honest a report about laws and lawgivers. They took their lawgivers for gods, confessing thereby that good laws are the gift of God.[664] But the gift of God cannot be superfluous and unprofitable. Plutarch called laws the life of cities.[665] Demosthenes expressly confessed that laws are the gifts of God.[666] Cicero named laws the bonds of the city (because without laws, it is loosed and dispersed), the foundation of liberty, and the well-spring of justice and perfect honesty.[667]


For laws undoubtedly are the strongest sinews of the commonweal, and the life of the magistrates. So that, the magistrates cannot conveniently live and rule the public welfare without the laws; nor can the laws display their strength and living force without the magistrates. The magistrate therefore is the living law, and the law is the silent magistrate.[668] By executing and applying the law, the law is made to live and speak. Those princes do not consider this, who are prone to say, Wir sind das recht, "We are the right, we are the law." For they suppose that, at their pleasure, they may command whatever they wish, and all men must accept it by and by as the law. But that kind of ruling, without any doubt, is extreme tyranny. This saying of the poet is very well known, which represents the very words of a tyrant:

I say, and it shall be so;

My lust shall be the law.[669]

The prince, indeed, is the living law, if his mind obeys the written laws, and does not depart from the law of nature. Power and authority, therefore, is subject to laws. For unless the prince in his heart agrees with the law, in his breast writes the law, and in his words and deeds expresses the law, he is not worthy to be called a good man, much less a prince. Again, good princes and magistrates have power over the law, and are masters of the laws — not that they may turn, put out, undo, make and unmake, laws as they wish, at their pleasure; but because they may put them into practice among the people, apply them to the necessity of the state, and temper their interpretation to the meaning of the Maker.

Therefore, they are deceived as far as heaven is wide, who think that for a few privileges, granted by emperors and kings to the magistrate, to add, diminish, or change some point of law, that they may therefore utterly abolish good laws, and live against all law and seemliness.


For, just as no emperors or kings are permitted to grant any privileges contrary to justice, goodness, and honesty, so if they grant any such privilege, it should not be received or taken by good subjects, as a good turn or benefit. Rather, it is to be considered (as it is indeed) their utter destruction and clean overthrow. Among all men, at all times and in all ages, the meaning and substance of the laws touching honesty, justice, and public peace, is kept inviolable. If change is made, it is according to circumstances, and the law is interpreted as the case requires, according to justice and a good end. The law says, "Let no man kill another: let him that kills another be killed himself." That law remains forever unchangeable; nor is it lawful for any man at any time to put it aside or wipe it away. And yet the rigour of the law may be diminished, and the law itself may be favourably interpreted. Take, for example, a man who kills someone he loves entirely well, and he kills him by chance, and not from a set purpose or pretended malice. Thus, when he has done this, he is sorry for it at the very heart, and he would (if it were possible) buy his life back with whatever he has to give for it. In such a case the killer should not be killed, and in this the magistrate may dispense with the rigour of the law. Say another bears a deadly and continual grudge [670] towards someone, whom he kills, and goes about colouring the matter under the pretence of a mishap or misfortune — for he sought an occasion to provide himself with a show of chance-medley.[671] In such a case as this, the magistrate cannot change any jot of the law, but must kill the one whom the meaning of the law commands to kill. I could allege more examples like these; but my care, on purpose, is to say only so much as I may, and not be too tedious to you with too long a discourse. By what I have spoken, it is evident that laws are good and not to be broken, and how far they should allow the prince's epiekeian (epiekeian),[672] that is, the prince's moderation, interpretation, limitation, or dispensation, lest perhaps that old and customary proverb be rightly applied to them: "Law with extremity is extreme injury." [673]


Up to here I have declared that laws are good, profitable, necessary, and not to be broken. It remains now to tell which and what kind of laws the magistrate should chiefly use for ordering and maintaining honesty, justice, and public peace, according to his office. There are some whose opinion is that the magistrate should not use any written laws, but that he should rather give sentence as he thinks best according to natural equity, as the circumstances of place, time, persons, and cases seem to require. There are some others who endeavour to thrust the judicial laws of Moses into all kingdoms and commonweals. And there are some who, having rejected the law of Moses, would have no judgment given in law, except what is derived out of the laws of heathen princes. But those who have pre-eminence and the magistrate's authority are either good men or bad; and even in the best men, covetousness, anger, hatred, favour, grief, fear, and other affections, are rife. Therefore, having rejected all written statutes and certain laws, and having a magistrate give judgment as he thinks best, to whom I pray you, have they committed the commonweal? Have they not committed it to the rule of a beast? But what shall I say then of evil men who are in authority, since things are so amiss in the best men? A kingdom subject to the furies of hell, would be as good as one bound to the judgments of naughty men. But we will (they say) have them give judgment according to the equity of nature's law, and not according to the lust of their corrupt affections. My answer is that, without control, they will give judgment as affection leads them, and claim that they judged by natural equity. They will say that they cannot judge otherwise, nor otherwise understand the pith of the matter. They think that what they have determined is best, and that nothing is done contrary to conscience. And for your labour, you shall be called Coram nobis [674] for daring to find fault with their sentence in judgment.


And so the just man will perish, barbarous affections will have the upper hand, and naughty men will rule the roost. Yes, and even if we grant that all men who are called to be magistrates are good, yet the diversity of opinions that will rise in giving judgment, will stir endless brawls and continual troubles among them. If all things, therefore, are well considered, the best way by far is to put written laws into use.

Let us learn this by the example of our eternal, wise, excellent, and mighty God, who gave to the Jews, his peculiar people, such laws as at his commandment were set down in writing. The magistrate has otherwise business enough to judge, that is, to apply and confer the causes with the laws; to see how far and wherein they agree or disagree; and to judge who has offended against the law, and who have not transgressed the law.

Now it is to be marked, that in Moses' judicial law there are many things proper and peculiar to the Jewish nation, and so ordained according to the state of the place, time, and persons, that if we were to apply and thrust them all upon other nations, we would seem to show ourselves more than half mad. And to what end should we bring back and set up again among the people of God the offscourings of the heathen that were cast out a great while ago? The apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ bound or burdened no man with the laws of Moses; they never condemned good laws of the heathens, nor commended naughty laws of the Gentiles to any man. But they left the laws, with the use and free choice of them, for the saints to use as they thought good. But with this, they did not cease most diligently to beat into all men's heads the fear of God, faith, charity, justice, and temperance; because they knew that those in whose hearts those virtues were settled, can either easily make good laws themselves, or pick and choose the best of those which other men make. For it makes no matter whether the magistrate picks for him and his countrymen Jewish laws out of Moses, or sufficient laws out of the allowable laws of the heathen, or else keeps the old and accustomed laws which have been used before in his country — so long as he has an eye to cut off those wicked, unjust, and lawless laws, which are found among the better sort.

ii. 343

For I suppose that upright magistrates should remove curiosity and newly invented novelties. "Seldom," says the proverb, "is the crow's eye picked out without troublesome stirs." [675] And curious men's new laws are for the most part worse than the old that are broken by them and utterly abolished.

Furthermore, all laws are given for ordering religion or the outward worship of God, or else for the outward conversation of life and civil behaviour. Touching the laws of religion, I have spoken of them before. For civil and political laws I add this much, and say that those seem to be the best laws which, according to the circumstance of every place, person, state, and time, come nearest to the precepts of the Ten Commandments and the rule of charity — not having in them any spot of iniquity, licentious liberty, or shameless dishonesty. Let them, moreover, be brief and short, not stretched out beyond measure, and wrapped in with many expositions. Let them have a full respect to the matter to which they are directed, and not be frivolous and of no effect.

Now, mark that political laws for the most part consist in three especial and principal points: honesty, justice, and peace. Let laws therefore tend to this end, that discipline and honesty may be planted and maintained in the commonweal, and that no unseemly, licentious, and filthy act be committed there. Let the law forbid all uncleanness, wantonness, frivolity, sensuality, and riotousness, in apparel, in building, in bibbing [676] and banqueting. Let wedlock be commanded by law to be kept holy. Let stews [677] and brothel-houses be banished from the realm. Let adulteries, whoredoms, rapes, and incests, be exiled. Let moderate feastings be allowed and admitted. Let thriftiness be used, which is the greatest revenue that a man can enjoy.[678] Briefly, whatever is contrary to honesty and seemliness, let it be driven out and rejected by law.

Let justice be strongly fortified by laws. Let it be provided by laws, that neither citizen nor foreigner be hurt or hindered in fame, goods, body, or life.[679]


Let upright laws be made for obtaining legacies and inheritances, for performing contracts and bargains, for covenants and agreements, for suretyships, for buying and selling, for weights and measures, for leases and things let for hire, for lending and borrowing, for pawns in mortgage, for use, commodity, and usury of money. Let order be taken for maintaining peace between the father and his children, between man and wife, between the master and the servant — and, to be short, that every man may have his own. For my meaning here is not to reckon up particularly every separate point and tittle of the law.

Lastly, means must be made by giving laws, that peace may be established, whereby every man may enjoy his own. All violent robberies and injuries must be expelled; private grudges and close conspiracies must not be thought of. And war must be quieted by wisdom, or else undertaken and finished with manly fortitude.

But that we may have such a magistrate and such a life, the apostle commanded us earnestly to pray, where he says: "I exhort you that, first of all, prayers, supplications, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." 1Tim 2.1-2

I am now again compelled to end my Sermon before the matter is finished. That which remains I will add tomorrow. Make your earnest prayers, with your minds lift up into heaven, etc.


Of judgment, and the office of the judge; that Christians are not forbidden to judge:
of revenge and punishment: whether it is lawful for a magistrate to kill the guilty: Therefore, when, how, and what the magistrate must punish:
whether he may punish offenders in religion or not.

I SPOKE yesterday, dearly beloved, of the magistrate's ordinance: there are yet remaining two other parts of his office and duty: that is, judgment and punishment. Both of these, by the help of God, I mean to speak as briefly as possible. Give attentive ear, and pray to the Lord to give me grace to speak the truth.

Judgment is taken in diverse significations; but in this present treatise it imports the sentence of judges brought in between men at variance. This sentence is derived out of the laws, according to right and equity, as the case put forth of the parties required, and it is pronounced with the intent to remove the strife between those at variance, and to give to every man his own. For at sessions or assizes,[680] parties appear and sue one another for some inheritance or possession, which either party affirms to be his by law, laying out for themselves whatever they can to prove and show what right and title they have to the thing. The judges diligently hear and perfectly note all of this; then they confer with one another, and lay down the law; lastly, they pronounce sentence, whereby they give the possession to the one party, and take it from the other. There is like reason in other cases and matters. And this is judgment; indeed, I say this is the execution of justice. But this kind of quieting, and setting parties at one, is very mild in comparison to revenge and punishment, which is not executed with words and sentences, but with swords and bitter stripes.


And there is good cause why it should be so, since there are diverse causes, some of which cannot be ended except with the sword, and some more gently with judgment in words. But the health and safeguard of the kingdom or commonweal consists in this.

Judgment and punishment therefore are the most excellent offices in the magistrate, even though perhaps they seem to be somewhat hard and cruel. But unless this, which seems to be cruelty, is put in use, all ages, states, and sexes will feel the smart of crueller things, and that which is most cruel in deed. For it is not cruelty, but rather just severity, which (as the Lord commands) is put into use to safeguard the guiltless and preserve peace within the realm and commonweal. Say there was a commonweal well-furnished with the most absolute laws for political manners and matters of religion. Suppose, also, that in this same commonweal there was no magistrate to execute, and as it were to father [681] those laws — by his authority, to bring and reduce all the deeds and sayings of men to a trial of those laws. And therefore, every man is unleashed [682] to whatever kind of life he wishes, and does what he wills. Tell me, I pray you, what good are those written laws to the men of that country? Believe me, in truth, not one half-penny's worth of good. Therefore, the best part of the magistrate's duty consists in upright judgment and a punishing revenge. And those two points require a man of courage and princely stomach; one whom the Lord living describes in his law, and tells us what kind of man he would have him be, and what the office is to which he is called. I will recount and expound this description, because the judge's person is chiefly touched in this.

Moses, at the Lord's commandment, says to the judges:

"Hear the cause of your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. You shall have no respect to any person in judgment, but you shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not fear the face of any man, for the judgment is the Lord's." Deu 1.16-17

The holy prophet in these words touches two things chiefly: he declares what the judge's office is; and what vices or diseases infect the judge, such that he cannot fulfil his office as he should.


Now, touching the office of a good judge, the first point of it is that he repels no man, but hears every one: the small, the great, the citizen, the stranger, the known and unknown. And he must hear the parties willingly, diligently, and attentively. In this, no sluggishness is allowed from the judge, nor a mind busied about other matters. Judgment before the matter is decided is utterly excluded, because it carries away the mind of the judge before the matter is known. The thing itself cries out that the matter must first be heard and well understood, before the magistrate proceeds to judgment. And the common proverb says, "Let the other party be heard too." Very wisely said the judge to the one that made a complaint, "With the one ear he heard him, and he kept the other ear for the one upon whom the complaint was made." [683] In this we contain the perfect knowledge of the judge, and say that he must not make too much haste in unknown cases, since he must judge them by the thing itself, and not by the parties, secret tales, and private accusations.

Secondly, Moses says let him judge uprightly. To judge is to determine and pronounce truly and justly, according to the laws, what is good, what is evil, what is right, and what is wrong. We Switzers say, Urteilen, oder erteilen, oder richten; as if to say, distinguish a thing thoroughly considered; plane and make straight a crooked thing. Parties blinded with affections make straight things crooked, which the judge straightens again by applying the rule of equity and law; so that to judge is to straighten and to make plain. Moreover, to judge is to keep in liberty, by defending and punishing. The magistrate judges, therefore, when he defends the innocent, and bridles the hurtful person. But he must judge justly, that is, according to justice, and agreeably to the laws which give to every man that which is his. The judge judges unjustly when, from a corrupt mind, he pronounces sentence contrary to all law and equity.


Now, therefore, we have to consider the vices which usually are prone to reign in judges. The vices in judges are many, and the diseases of their minds are sundry: but there are two especial diseases, and chief of all the rest. One of these two vices, which so infects the minds of judges that they cannot execute their office as they should, is accepting faces, or respect to persons.[684] That is, when the judge, in giving judgment, does not have his eye set on the things themselves, nor on the causes or circumstances of the causes as they are indeed; but he regards either [a person's] dignity, excellence, humility, poverty, relation, honours, letters,[685] or similar things. The Lord excludes this evil, and says: "You shall judge justly; you shall have no respect to any person in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great."

The other disease of these two is fear; a very vehement affection of the mind, which disturbs the very best and most excellent counsels, and chokes virtue before it come to light. Under fear we also include hope; I mean, hope of commodity;[686] and thus, by "fear" we understand the corruption of bribes. The judge who stands in fear of losing his life or goods, or who is afraid to displease a nobleman, or is loath to lose the common people's good will — also one who takes bribes, or hopes to be rewarded by one of the parties — perverts equity and advances iniquity. The Lord therefore says, you shall not fear any mortal man; you shall not look for any reward at any man's hand. He adds the reason why: because the matter is not yours, nor were you called in to do your own business; but the judgment is the Lord's. The will and law of God therefore must be respected. For God is able to defend just judges from the unjust hatred of anyone, whatever they may be, and against all wrong and open violence. Moreover, where it is said that the judgment is the Lord's, the judges are thereby warned that they ought to imitate the example of the most high God. Moses, in the tenth chapter of Deuteronomy, expresses and says what an example that is, and of what sort: "God accepts neither person nor gift; he does justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves to give the stranger food and clothing; and therefore you shall love the stranger." Deu 10.17-19 So must godly judges do in the judgment which is God's.


Jehoshaphat, without any doubt a very godly prince, speaking to those whom he had made judges, said:

"Take heed what you do; for you execute not the judgments of man, but of God, who is with you in judgment. Therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you, and take heed, and be diligent. For there is no unrighteousness with the Lord our God, that he should have any respect to persons, or take any reward." 2Chr 19.6-7

To these I will add a few more places of the holy scripture, which will partly make manifest those that went before, and partly expound and more plainly express the office of the judge. In Deuteronomy we read:

"The judges shall judge the people with equity and justice. You shall not pervert judgment, nor have respect to persons, nor take a reward: for a reward blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous. You shall judge with justice, so that you may live and possess the land." Deu 16.18-20

Again, in Exodus we find:

"You shall not follow a multitude to do evil, nor shall you speak in a matter of justice according to the greater number, so as to pervert judgment. Nor shall you esteem a poor man in his cause. Keep far from false matters, and see that you do not slay the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked. You shall take no rewards, for rewards blind the seeing, and pervert the words of the righteous." Exo 23.2

In Leviticus also we have this:

"You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; you shall not favour the person of the poor, nor honour the mighty, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour." Lev 19.15 Again: "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meter, in weight, or in measure. You shall have true balances, true weights, a true epha, and a true hin. I am the Lord your God," etc. Lev 19.35

I suppose truly, and am thus persuaded, that in these few words of the Lord our God, are comprehended all that profound philosophers and lawyers of great learning scarcely absolve in infinite books and volumes of many leaves. Beside all this, the most holy prophet Jeremiah cries to the king, and says: "Keep equity and righteousness, deliver the oppressed from the power of the violent; do not grieve nor oppress the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, and shed no innocent blood." Jer 22.3 This much touching the office of judges.


But in the eyes of some men, our discourse may seem vain and fruitless unless we also refute their objections by which they endeavour to prove that pleadings and matters of law are at an end, because the Lord in the gospel says: "To him that sues you at the law and takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also." And again: "While you are yet with your adversary on the way, agree with him quickly, lest he deliver you to the tormenter." [687] They add, moreover, the strifes in the law, which St. Paul the apostle, in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Corinthians, flatly condemns. To all of these objections my answer is this: just as the doctrine of the evangelists and apostles does not abrogate the private ordering of particular houses, so it does not condemn or disannul the public government of commonweals. The Lord, in the gospel of St. Luke, chides and repels the young man who desired him to speak to his brother for an equal division of the inheritance between them. He blamed him, not because he thinks ill of the one that claims an equal division or that part of the inheritance that is his by right; but because he thought that it was not his duty, but the judge's office, to deal in such cases. The words of our Saviour in that place are these: "Who has appointed me a judge between you, and a divider of land and inheritance?" Luke 12.14 And again, just as we read in the gospel, "If any man sues you at law, and takes away your coat, give him your cloak also;" so on the other side, against doing this injury, there is nothing more busily handled and required in all the evangelical doctrine than charity and well-doing. But a good deed is done in nothing, more than it is in judgment and justice. Since, therefore, that judgment was invented for practising and preserving justice and upright dealing, it is manifest that to judge in matters of controversy is not forbidden in the gospel. The notable prophets of the Lord, Isaiah and Zechariah, cry out and say; "Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek after judgment, help the oppressed, and plead the cause of the fatherless and widow."


"Execute true judgment, show mercy and loving-kindness every man to his brother. Do no wrong to the widow, the fatherless, the stranger, and poor." Therefore, those sin who hinder judgment, and thrust judges from their seats; for as they pull away from the true God no small part of his worship, so they open a wide gate to wrong, robbery, and oppression of the poor.

The Lord, I grant, commanded what our adversaries have alleged, thereby meaning to settle quietness among his people. But because the malice of men is invincible, and the long-suffering of seely [688] souls makes wicked knaves more mischievous, the Lord has therefore not forbidden nor condemned the moderate use of judgments in law. Moreover, we read in the Acts of the Apostles that Paul more than once used the benefit of judgment, not for money or goods, but for his life, which he endeavoured to save and defend from those who lay in wait to kill him. Neither did he consent to the unjust judgment of Festus, the president, but appealed to Caesar. Acts 25.11 And yet we know that Paul did not offend in this against the doctrine of the gospel of Christ. The same Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, did not absolutely condemn the Corinthians for going to law about things belonging to their living, but because they sued and troubled one another before heathen judges. It is good and seemly, without doubt, to suffer wrong with a patient mind. But because it pleases the Lord to ordain judgment as a means of help and succour for those who are oppressed with injury, it is not sin at all for someone to seek to keep himself from wrong —  not by private revenge, but by the upright sentence of judges in law. Therefore the apostle commanded the Corinthians to choose from among themselves, such faithful judges as might take up temporal matters in controversy between those who fell at variance. Thus have I declared to you the second part of the magistrate's office, which consists in judgment.

Therefore I will now descend to the exposition of the third and last part, which comprehends revenge and punishment. For the magistrate, by his office, bears the sword; and therefore he is commanded by God to take revenge for the wrong done to the good, and to punish the evil.


For the sword is God's vengeance, or instrument, with which he strikes the blow to revenge himself upon his enemies for the injury done to him; and is generally taken in the scripture for vengeance and punishment. The Lord in Jeremiah cries out and says: "I call a sword upon all the dwellers upon earth." Jer 25.29 Again, in Ezekiel: "The sword is sharp and ready-trimmed to kill the sacrifice." And again: "I will give my sword into the hands of the king of Babel." [689] The kings of Egypt were called Pharaohs by their people, as if to say, Revengers.[690] But the sword in the magistrate's hand is to be put to two uses: either he punishes offenders with it for doing other men injury and for other ill deeds; or else in war he repels with it the violence of foreign enemies abroad, or represses the rebellions of seditious and contentious citizens at home.

But here again, another objection is cast in our way by those who say that, according to the doctrine of the gospel, no man should either kill or be killed, because the Lord has said, "Do not resist the evil;" Mat 5.39 and again to Peter: "Put your sword into your sheath. Every one that takes the sword perishes by the sword." Mat 26.52 My answer to this is: throughout the scripture, private revenge is utterly forbidden; but what is done openly by authority of the public magistrate is never found fault with. What the apostle Peter was about to take was private and extraordinary vengeance; but considering that he was called to be a preacher of the word of God, he was not to be a judge, a captain, or a man of war. And that sentence is rightly pronounced against private and extraordinary revenge: "Every one that takes the sword shall perish by the sword."

But I prove by this testimony of the holy apostle, that public vengeance and the ordinary use of the sword is not prohibited by God in the church of Christ.[691] Paul in the twelfth chapter to the Romans has taught what and how much the perfection of the gospel requires of us; and among the rest he says this: "Dearly beloved, do not revenge yourselves, but rather give way to [God's] wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay." Rom 12.19


But this might be argued against, and this objection might be cast in his way: Then by this means, the long-suffering of Christians will provide matter enough [to warrant] murder and manslaughter. Paul therefore in the next chapter immediately adds this: "The magistrate is the minister of God for your wealth,[692] to terrify the evil doers. For he does not bear the sword in vain: for he is God's minister, a revenger of wrath to the one who does evil." Rom 13.4 We gather therefore by this doctrine of the apostle, that every one of us must leave it to God alone to take vengeance, and that no man is allowed to revenge himself by his own private authority. But public revenge, wrought by the ordinary magistrate, is nowhere forbidden. For God who said to us, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," grants to the magistrate, the authority to exercise and put that vengeance to use, which He claims for Himself; so that the magistrate's duty is to punish with the sword the wrongful dealings of wicked men, in the name and at the commandment of God himself. Therefore, when the magistrate punishes, then God himself, to whom all vengeance belongs, punishes by the magistrate, who for that reason is called by the name of God.[693] Moreover, it is written: "You shall not allow a witch to live." Exo 22.18 Again: "A wise king will scatter the wicked, and turn the wheel upon them." Pro 20.26 And again: "He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, they are both abominable in the sight of the Lord." Pro 17.15

Nor do we lack examples to prove that some have incurred the heavy wrath and displeasure of the Lord for their foolish pity in sparing those whom the Lord commanded to strike with the sword. I speak of Saul and Ahab.[694] Again, on the other side, there are innumerable examples of most excellent princes, which testify and bear witness of the praise that they deserved for punishing lewd and wicked offenders. For the prince does not sin, nor is he blameworthy at all, who kills or otherwise punishes the guilty and ungracious man. And for that reason we find it so often repeated in the law, "His blood be upon himself."


But if the blood of the guilty is not shed, then that is imputed as a fault, and laid to the magistrate's charge because, neglecting his office, he has pardoned those who were not worthy to be forgiven; and by letting them go, he has left the innocent unrevenged. For he is made a partaker of the injury done, and the shedding of the innocent's blood. He leaves it unrevenged by letting the murderer go untouched, on whose neck the Lord charged to let the sword fall. The just severity of the upright magistrate in punishing naughty men is not (as it is falsely judged) "extreme cruelty." On the contrary, it is peevish pity that spares offenders who are not worthy to live among men, and it is utter and mere cruelty indeed. For when the magistrate lets those who have deserved death by their naughty deeds, go unpunished and at ease, he thereby, first of all, gives occasion and courage to like offenders to go on and increase in their mischievous wickedness: for they see that their own faults are borne with in other men. Secondly, the men who are not yet altogether drowned in the mire of wickedness, but are tempted and provoked to naughtiness every hour, will abandon the scruple of conscience in the end, and consent to yield to mischief; for they see that mischievous merchants [695] are gently dealt with. Lastly, offenders set free without any punishment, for the most part become little better. Indeed, they become twice worse than they were before; and the increase of his sin will at length compel you to kill him for many murders, whom you would not kill for the murder of one — whereby you might have saved many guiltless men whom that cut-throat, since his first pardon, has villainously slain. Therefore they send wolves and bears among the common people, who let such rakehells [696] escape unpunished.

Since I have now declared the right use of the sword, and proved that the magistrate has power to revenge men's injuries, and to kill heinous offenders, let us go on to consider what the causes are for which God commands us to punish transgressors. Let us see also, when they ought to be punished; and lastly, what kinds of punishment or penalties the magistrate must use.

ii. 355

The especial causes for which the Lord openly commands us to punish offenders, are for the most part these that follow. The Lord resists force with force, and works the safeguard and salvation of men. He revenges those who suffer wrong, and restores again whatever may be restored. He declares His justice also, and rewards every one according to his deeds; and therefore he wipes out reproachful deeds with a reproachful death. He puts offenders in mind of their crime, and with this, for the most part, he gives them a sense of repentance unto salvation. For if the wicked one acknowledges his fault, and repents of his ill deed, and believes in Christ with all his heart, then his sin is forgiven him and he is saved. We have an evident example of this in Luke 23, in the thief that was crucified: his punishment was the occasion of his salvation. But for the other, this salvation was far off, because he did not believe in Christ, and would not be warned by the pain that he felt for his offence, to repent for his sins, and to call out to God for mercy. Furthermore, by public judgment and open execution, all other men may take an example, to learn to beware of like offences or else suffer a similar horror of torments.

But let the magistrate not execute any man until he first knows perfectly, whether the one to be punished has deserved that punishment that the