Thursday, August 17, 2017

John Foxe on Defeating Islam

This is what the great martyrologist John Foxe says about Islam, why we should be knowledgeable about it, and the only successful way to combat it.

“If it were not that I fear to overlay this our volume with heaps of foreign histories, who have professed chiefly to treat of Acts and Monuments here done at home, I would adjoin after these popes known above rehearsed, some discourse also of the Turks’ story; of their rising and cruel persecution of the saints of God, to the great annoyance and peril of Christendom. Yet, notwithstanding, certain causes there be, which necessarily require the knowledge of their order and doings, and of their wicked proceedings, their cruel tyranny and bloody victories, the ruin and subversion of so many christian churches, with the horrible murders and captivity of infinite Christians, to be made plain and manifest, as well to this our country of England, as also to other nations.
“First, For the better explaining of the prophecies of the New Testament, as in St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, and also in the Revelation of St. John; which scriptures otherwise, without the opening of these histories, cannot so perfectly be understood: of which scriptures, we mind hereafter (Christ granting) orderly, as the course of matter shall lead us, to make rehearsal.
“Another cause is, that we may learn thereby, either with the public church to lament, with our brethren, such a great defection and decay of christian faith, through these wicked Turks; or else may fear thereby our own danger.
“The third cause, that we may ponder more deeply with ourselves the scourge of God for our sins, and corrupt doctrine; which, in the sequel hereof, more evidently may appear to our eyes, for our better admonition.
“Fourthly: The consideration of this horrible persecution of the Turks rising chiefly by our discord and dissension among ourselves, may reduce us again from our domestical wars, in killing and burning one another, to join together in christian patience and concord.
“Fifthly: But chiefly, these great victories of the Turks, and un- prosperous speed of our men fighting against them, may admonish and teach us, following the example of the old Israelites, how to seek for greater strength to encounter with these enemies of Christ, than hitherto we have done. First, we must consider that the whole power of Satan, the prince of this world, goeth with the Turks; which to resist, no strength of man's army is sufficient, but only the name, spirit, and power of our Lord Jesus the Son of God, going with us without in our battles; as among the old Israelites the ark of God's covenant and promise went with them also fighting against the enemies of God. For so are we taught in the Scripture, that we christian men have no strength but in Christ only. Whether we war against the devil, or against the Turk, it is true that the Scripture saith, ‘Sine me nihil potestis facere,’ that is, ‘Without me you can do nothing.’ Otherwise there is no puissance to stand against the devil, or to conquer the world, ‘nisi fides nostra,’ that is, ‘our faith only,’ to which all the promises of God touching salvation be annexed; beyond which promises we must not go, for the word must be our rule. He that presumeth beyond the promises in the word expressed, goeth not, but wandereth he cannot tell whither: neither must we appoint God how to save the world, but must take that way which he hath appointed. Let us not set our God to school, nor comprehend his Holy Spirit within our skulls. He that made us without our council, did also redeem us as pleased him. If he be merciful, let us be thankful. And if his mercies surmount our capacity, let us therefore not resist but search his Word, and thereunto apply our will; which if we will do, all our contentions will be soon at a point. Let us therefore search the will of our God in his Word, and if he will his salvation to stand free to all nations, why do we make merchandise thereof? If he have graciously offered his waters to us, without money or money-worth, let us not hedge in the plenteous springs of his grace given us. And finally, if God have determined his own Son only to stand alone, let not us presume to admix with his majesty any of our trumpery. He that bringeth St. George or St. Denis, as patrons, to the field, to fight against the Turk, leaveth Christ, no doubt, at home.
“Now how we have fought these many years against the Turk, though stories keep silence, yet the success declareth. We fight against a persecutor, being no less persecutors ourselves. We wrestle against a bloody tyrant, and our hands be as full of blood as his. He killeth Christ's people with the sword, and we burn them with fire. He, observing the works of the law, seeketh his justice by the same: the like also do we. But neither doth he, nor do we, seek our justification as we should, that is, by faith only in the Son of God. And what marvel then, our doctrine being as corrupt almost as his, and our conversation worse, if Christ fight not with us, fighting against the Turk? The Turk hath prevailed so mightily, not because Christ is weak, but because Christians be wicked, and their doctrine impure. Our temples with images, our hearts with idolatry are polluted. Our priests stink before God for adultery, being restrained from lawful matrimony. The name of God is in our mouths, but his fear is not in our hearts. We war against the Turk with our works, masses, traditions, and ceremonies: but we fight not against him with Christ, and with the power of his glory; which if we did, the field were won.
“Wherefore, briefly to conclude, saying my judgment in this behalf, what I suppose. This hope I have, and do believe, that when the church of Christ, with the sacraments thereof, shall be so reformed, victory, that Christ alone shall be received to be our justifier, all other religions, merits, traditions, images, patrons, and advocates set apart, the sword of the Christians, with the strength of Christ, shall soon vanquish the Turks' pride and fury. But of this more largely in the process of this story.
“The sixth and last cause, why I think the knowledge of the Turks' cause, history requisite to be considered, is this: because that many there be, who, for that they be further from the Turks, and think therefore themselves to be out of danger, take little care and study what happeneth to their other brethren. Wherefore, to the intent to excite their zeal and prayer to Almighty God, in this so lamentable ruin of Christ's church, I thought it requisite, by order of history, to give church this our nation also something to understand, what hath been done in of Christ. Other nations by these cruel Turks, and what detriment hath been, and is like more to happen by them to the church of Christ, except we make our earnest invocation to Almighty God, in the name of his Son, to stop the course of the devil by these Turks, and to stay this defection of Christians falling daily unto them, and to reduce them again to his faith, who are fallen from him: which the Lord Jesus of his grace grant with speed! Amen.

John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, Book VI

Monday, August 14, 2017

Conclusions of the Parliament at Westminster, 1395 AD

The Book of Conclusions or Reformations, exhibited to the Parliament holden at London, and set up at Paul's door and other places, in the eighteenth year of the reign of King Richard II, and in the year of our Lord 1395. 


The first conclusion: — When the church of England began first to dote in temporalties after her stepmother the great church of Rome, and the churches were authorised by appropriations; faith, hope, and charity began in divers places to fly away from our church, forsomuch as pride, with her dolorous genealogy of mortal sins, did challenge that place by title of heritage. And this conclusion is general, and approved by experience, custom, and manner, as ye shall hereafter hear. 

The second conclusion: — That our usual priesthood, which took its original at Rome, and is feigned to be a power higher than angels, is not that priesthood which Christ ordained unto his apostles. This conclusion is thus proved, forsomuch as the Romish priesthood is executed with signs, and rites, and pontifical benedictions, of little virtue, neither having any ground in holy Scripture, forsomuch as the bishop's ordinal and the New Testament do little agree; neither do we see that the Holy Ghost doth give any good gift on account of any such signs, because He, together with all his noble gifts, cannot stand with deadly sin in any person. The corollary of this conclusion is, That it is a lament able mockery unto wise men, to see the bishops sport with the Holy Ghost in the giving of their orders; because they give crowns for their characters instead of white harts; and this is the character [or, mark] of Antichrist, introduced into holy church to give colour to idleness.
 
The third conclusion: — That the law of chastity enjoined unto priesthood, which was first ordained to the prejudice of women, induceth sodomy through out holy church; but we do excuse us [in the mention of this crime] by the Bible, whereas the suspect decree doth say that we are not to name it. Both reason and experience prove this conclusion. Reason thus, forsomuch as the delicate fare of ecclesiastical men will have either a natural purgation, or some thing worse. Experience thus, forsomuch as the secret proof of such men is, that they do delight in women; and, whensoever thou dost prove a man to be such, mark him well, for he is one of that number. The corollary of this conclusion is, That private religions, with the beginners thereof, ought most chiefly to be disannulled, as the original of that sin: but God of his might doth for privy sin in his church send open vengeance. 

The fourth conclusion [that most harmeth the innocent people] is this: — That the feigned miracle of the sacrament of bread induceth all men, except it be a few, into idolatry; forsomuch as they think that the body of Christ, which is never out of heaven, is by virtue of the priest's words essentially included in the little bread, the which they do show unto the people. But would to God they would believe that which the Evangelical Doctor teacheth us in his Trialogue, 'Quod panis altaris est accidentaliter corpus Christi' [that is, That the bread of the altar is the body of Christ accidentally]: forsomuch as we suppose that by that means every faithful man and woman in the law of God may make the sacrament of that bread without any such miracle. The corollary of this conclusion is, That albeit the body of Christ be endowed with eternal joy, the service of Corpus Christi, made by friar Thomas, is not true, but painted, full of false miracles; neither is it any marvel, forsomuch as friar Thomas, at that time holding with the pope, would have made a miracle of a hen's egg; and we know well, that every lie openly preached, doth turn to the opprobrium of Him, who is always true and without any defect.
 
The fifth conclusion is this: — That the exorcisms and benedictions practised over wine, bread, water, oil, salt, wax, incense, altar-stones, and church- walls, over vestments, chalices, mitres, crosses, and the staves of pilgrims, are truly the practices of necromancy rather than of sacred divinity. This conclusion may be thus proved: because that by such exorcisms the creatures are honoured to be of higher virtue than in their own proper nature they are; and we do not see any change in any creature so exorcised, except by false faith, which is the principle of the diabolic art. T-he corollary of this is, That if the book of exorcising [or, conjuring] holy water, which is read in the church, were altogether faithful and true; we think certainly that the holy water, used in the church, were the best medicine for all kind of sicknesses and sores: 'Cujus contrarium indies experimur,' that is, 'The contrary whereof we daily experience.'
 
The sixth conclusion [which maintaineth much pride] is, That the union in the same person of king and bishop, prelate and judge in temporal causes, curate and officer in worldly office, doth make every kingdom out of good order. This conclusion is manifest, because the temporalty and the spiritualty are two parts of the entire holy church; and, therefore, he who addicteth himself to the one part, let him not intermeddle with the other, 'Quia nemo potest duobus dominis servire.' It seemeth that "hermaphrodite," or "ambidexter" were good names for such men of double estates. The corollary of this conclusion is, That therefore we, as the proctors of God, do in this case sue unto the parliament, that it may be enacted that all curates (as well of the higher degrees as of the lower) may be fully excused, and occupy themselves with their own cure, and with no other.
 
The seventh conclusion [that we mightily affirm] is, That special prayers made in our church for the souls of the dead, preferring any one man by name more than another, is a false foundation of alms, whereupon all the houses of alms in England are falsely founded. This conclusion may be proved by two reasons: the one is, that a prayer to be meritorious and of any value ought to be a work proceeding from mere charity, and perfect charity excepteth no person, because 'thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Wherefore it appeareth to us, that the gift of some temporal good, bestowed on priests and houses of alms, is the principal motive of special prayer; which is not far removed from simony. The other reason is, that a special prayer, made for men condemned to eternal punishment, is very displeasing to God; and albeit it be doubtful, yet it seemeth unto faithful christian people likely, that the founders of every house of alms, for their mischievous endowing of the same, for the most part have passed by the broad way. The corollary is, That prayer of any value, proceeding of perfect charity, would comprehend generally all such whom God would have saved, and would give up that common trade in special prayers which is now carried on by mendicant other hireling priests (who, otherwise, were strong enough to work and to serve the whole realm) and houses maintaineth the same in idleness, to the great charge of the realm, because it was proved in a certain book which the king hath, that a hundred houses of for alms are sufficient for the whole realm, and thereby, peradventure, greater increase and profit might come unto the temporalty.
 
The eighth conclusion [needful to tell to the people beguiled] is, That pilgrimages, prayers, and oblations made unto blind crosses or roods, and to deaf images of wood and stone, are very near of kin unto idolatry, and far removed from alms: and, albeit these fanciful things be all forbidden and be a book of error unto the common people, notwithstanding the usual image of the Trinity is most abominable. This conclusion God himself doth openly manifest, when commanding alms to be given to the needy man; because he is the image of God, in a more perfect similitude than wood or stone; for God did not say, Let us make a block or stone after our image and likeness, but, Let us make a poor man; forsomuch as the supreme honour, which the clergy call 'Latria,' pertaineth only to the Godhead, and the inferior honour, which the clergy call 'Dulia,' pertaineth unto men and angels, and to none other inferior creature. The corollary is, That the service of the cross, celebrated twice every year in our church, is full of idolatry: for if the rood, tree, nails, and spear, ought so profoundly to be honoured, then were Judas' lips, if any man could get them, a marvellous goodly relic. But we pray thee, pilgrim, tell us, when thou dost offer to the bones of the saints which are laid up in any place, whether thou dost relieve thereby the saint who is in joy, or that alms-house for the poor which is so well endowed, on account of which they are canonized, the Lord knoweth how! And to speak more plainly, every faithful Christian supposeth that the wounds of that noble man, whom they call St. Thomas, were no matter of martyrdom.
 
The ninth conclusion [that keepeth the people low] is, That auricular confession, which is said to be so necessary for a man's salvation, and the feigned power of absolution, exalt the pride of priests, and give them opportunity of minister other secret talks, which we will not at this time talk of; forsomuch as both lords and ladies attest, that for fear of their confessors they dare not speak the truth: and in time of confession is good opportunity ministered of wooing, or to play the bawd, or to make other secret conventions to deadly sins. They themselves say, that they are God's commissaries to judge of all manner of sin, to pardon and cleanse whomsoever it shall please them. They say that they have the keys of heaven and hell, and can excommunicate and bless, bind and loose, at their will: insomuch that for a small reward, or for twelve pence, they will sell the blessing of heaven by charter and clause of warranty, sealed with their common seal. This conclusion is so commonly in use, that it needeth not any probation. The corollary hereof is, That the pope of Rome, who is feigned to be the high treasurer of the whole church, having that same worthy jewel, i.e. instead of the treasure of the passion of Christ, in his keeping, together with the merits of all the saints in heaven, whereby he giveth feigned indulgence 'a poena et culpa,' is a treasurer almost banished out of charity, since he can deliver all the prisoners who are in purgatory at his pleasure, and make that they never come thither. But thus every faithful Christian may well see, that there is much secret falsehood lurking in our church. 

The tenth conclusion is, That manslaughter, either by war or by any pretended law of justice, for any temporal cause without a spiritual revelation, is expressly is lawful, contrary unto the New Testament, which is a law full of grace and mercy. This conclusion is evidently proved by examples of the preaching of Christ here on earth, who specially taught man to love his enemies, and to have compassion upon them, and not to kill them. The reason is this, that for the most part when men do fight, after the first stroke charity is broken; and whosoever dieth without charity, goeth straightway to hell. And beside that, we well know, that none of the clergy can by Scripture or by any legitimate means deliver any from the punishment of death for one deadly sin, and not for another: but the law of mercy, which is the New Testament, forbiddeth all manner of man slaughter. For in the gospel it is said to the fathers, 'Thou shalt not kill.' The corollary is, It is a very robbing of the people, when lords purchase indulgences 'a poena et culpa' for those who do help their armies to kill christian people in foreign countries for temporal gain; as also we have seen certain soldiers running among the heathen people, to get themselves a name by the slaughter of men. Much rather do they deserve evil thanks at the hands of the King of Peace, forsomuch as it was by humility and patience that our faith was propagated; but fighters and murderers Christ Jesus doth hate and menace, saying, "He that striketh with the sword, shall perish with the sword."
 
The eleventh conclusion is [which is shame to tell], That the vow of chastity made in our church by women that are frail and imperfect in nature, is the single cause of bringing in the most horrible sins possible to human nature: for, albeit the murder of their children born before their time, and before they are christened, and the destruction of nature hy medicine, be foul sins; yet intercourse among themselves, or irrational beasts, or inanimate creatures, is such transcendent vileness, that they ought to be punished by hell torments. The corollary is, That widows, and such as take the mantle and the ring, delicately fed, we would that they were married, because we cannot excuse them from private sins.
 
The twelfth conclusion is, That the multitude of arts not necessary, used in our realm, nourisheth much sin and offence in waste, curiosity, and disguising in curious apparel. Experience and reason partly do show the same, forsomuch as nature, with a few arts, is sufficient for man's necessity. 

This is the whole tenor of our ambassade, which Christ hath commanded us to prosecute at this time, most fit and convenient for many causes. And, albeit these matters be here briefly noted, yet, notwithstanding, they are more at large declared in another book, with many other more, wholly in our own proper tongue, which we would should be common to all Christian people. Wherefore we pray God, of his great goodness, that he would wholly reform our church, now altogether out of frame, unto the perfection of her first beginning.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A 14th Century "Screwtape" Letter

Some clever 14th century fellow wrote a 'letter' entitled, “Luciferi ad malos Principes Ecclesiasticos,” which purported to be a letter from Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, to the persecuting popish clergy, congratulating them on their work in suppressing the truth of God by attacking His servants. The letter was first published in Paris in Latin in the year 1385. The author is unknown. Attempts were made to father it upon Brute, but it predates his trial by enough time to make this highly unlikely. Earlier records associate it with Ockham. Only God knows who the author was. Presumably, the author wanted to stay alive, hence he kept his identity secret.

Indeed, this was not the only such letter. Another letter is mentioned in a correspondence of the University of Prague to Oxford, written around 1370 (meaning that the said 'letter from Satan' was older). 

Several other 'letters' are mentioned and/or alluded to in medieval histories and chronicles. In the 1608 edition of Illyricus' Catalogus Testium, we find an unusual account of a synod of the the clergy held in Paris in the year 1228. At this synod, the man appointed to preach was very nervous about what to say. According to the story, the devil approached the young preacher and asked why he was so worried about what to preach to the clergy. He said, “Tell them this: 'The princes of hell salute you, O you princes of the church! and gladly give you thanks, because through your default and negligence it cometh to pass, that almost all souls go down to hell.'” The story goes on to say that the preacher claimed to be under a strict divine obligation to tell them this and produced some sort of sign or token in order to convince the synod that he was not lying.

Whether such an event occurred or not, is beside the point. I mention it only to point out that the below anonymous “Letter from Lucifer to the Persecuting Clergy” is one of many in a long line of such criticisms aimed at Rome's wicked greed for money and her hypocritical cloaking of this wickedness under the guise of Christianity.

Below is the letter as transcribed by John Foxe in Book V of his Acts and Monuments.



I Lucifer, prince of darkness, emperor of the gloomy regions of profound Acheron, commander-in-chief of Erebus, king of the infernals, and governor of hell: To all the members of our kingdom, the children of pride; and especially to the princes of the modern church, whereof our adversary Jesus Christ by his prophet said, “I hate the congregation of the wicked:” — -health, and that you may ever obey our behests, and follow (as you have begun) the laws of Satan, and diligently observe the precepts of our code.

In times past the vicars of Christ, following his steps, and eminent for miracles and virtues, converted almost the whole world by their preaching and works from the yoke of our tyranny to their own doctrine and manner of life, to the great derision and contempt of our infernal kingdom, and also to the no little prejudice and injury of our authority; they not fearing to invade our power and to offend the terrific majesty of our estate. For thenceforth we received no tribute from the world, neither did the wretched people rush in crowds to the threshold of our dungeon, as they were wont to do; but the downward and broad road which leadeth to death was undisturbed by any sound, being untrod by the feet of wretched travellers: and our court being quite deserted, hell howled and groaned and was in anguish, at being thus spoiled.

This state of things the impatient rage of our Pluto and the dire recklessness of his commander-in-chief could no longer endure. I accordingly took measures to prevent the continuance of such perils, and devised a seasonable remedy. For in the room of those adversaries of ours, the prophets and the twelve apostles, and all the rest who followed Christ's doctrine and manner of life, we procured that you, the prelates of the modern church, should succeed; of whom Christ spake, when he said (Hosea viii.), “They reigned, but not by me.” We once, indeed, promised him all the kingdoms of the world if He would fall down and worship us: but He would not, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He also fled, when the multitude would have made him a temporal king. But in you, who have fallen from a state of grace and are our ministers in the earth, that promise of ours is fulfilled; for it is through us and of us that you now hold that empire over the affairs of the world which we have conferred upon you. For He said of us (as you know), “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me;” but over all the sons of pride He appointed us to reign. Therefore our adversaries aforesaid submitted to the princes of this world in temporals, and taught men so, saying, “Submit your selves to every creature for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme,” &c.; and again, “Obey them that are over you in the Lord.” For so had their Master propounded and commanded, saying, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors: but ye shall not be so.” And, as we said before, they lived in a poor and despised condition, in continual labours and afflictions, as we told you.

But you are not so: for a poison was long since poured out on the church; and now you are inflated; now you are not only unlike those early fathers, but clean contrary to them in life and conditions; and exalt yourselves above all others; and, taking complete possession of all tillings, you neither “render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, nor to God the things which are God's.”

First, according to our decrees you exercise the jurisdiction of both swords; you intermeddle in mundane affairs; and, warring in our quarrel, you entangle yourselves with secular business. From the wretchedness of poverty you gradually climb to the highest honours and the most exalted dignities, by your cunning, policy, and wily tricks, by your hypocrisy, flattery, lies, perjury, frauds, simony, and other wickednesses, more abundant than our infernal fury could have conceived.

But to have gone even thus far, doth not suffice you: you are more greedy than before; you oppress the poor; you grasp at every thing; you turn all topsy-turvy; inflated with pride and living wantonly in carnal delights and enjoyments, you pass all your days amid good things; you assume high-sounding names in the earth, calling yourselves “gods,” and “holy,” yea “most holy.” You also either violently seize or craftily purloin and deceitfully wrest to false uses, and hold by a false title, those goods, which were anciently given for the support of Christ's poor, whom we hate; and you spend them on the uses agreeable to you. Therewith, for instance, you maintain crowds of whores and panders, with whom you go prancing about in state, like mighty princes, far otherwise than the poor priests of Christ in the primitive church. You also build delightful and gorgeous palaces. You eat dainty meats, and drink wines of exquisite delicacy and flavour. You amass untold treasures; unlike him who said, “Silver and gold have I none;” you have restored the Golden Age.

O society most agreeable to us demons, formerly promised to us by the prophet, and reprobated by the fathers of olden time, whilst Christ called you “the synagogue of Satan,” and marked you out under the designation of “The great whore, which committed fornication with the kings of the earth;” having from a mother become a step-mother; from the spouse of Christ, an adulteress; from a chaste woman, a strumpet. The breasts of your puberty are broken; you have left your first love, and have attached yourselves to us.

O our beloved Babylon; O our dear citizens, who have migrated hither from Jerusalem: we deservedly love you, we applaud you, because you neglect the laws of Simon Peter, and wholly cleave to those of our friend Simon Magus: these you have at your fingers' ends, and publicly practise them, buying and selling spiritual things in the temple of God, contrary to Christ's commands. You distribute benefices and ecclesiastical dignities for petition or price; for service or for favour; rejecting the worthy, and promoting the unworthy. You call to the heritage of Christ your ignorant nephews, yea, your own sons, although they be, yea, because they be, roisters and bawds; and deal with the sanctuary of God as if it were a worldly inheritance; and on a single child ye confer many prebends, the smallest whereof you deny to a poor good man. You accept the person; and have infinite care about money, not souls. The house of God you have made a den of thieves. All abuses, all extortions, are practised in your order a thousand fold more than among secular tyrants. You make laws, and do not keep them: you annul them by your dispensations at pleasure: 'You justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him;' and perpetrate every kind of wickedness, just as we would have you do.

You labour hard in our service, though you mean your own gratification; and as far as you can are compassing the destruction of the Christian faith. For now the laity are in doubt what to believe; and if ever you preach to them (though that is but rarely), they do not believe you; because they see plainly that you all act contrary, and so prove that it is otherwise than you say. Wherefore, they who follow you as their examples, now pretty well adopt our rules, and have rushed headlong into a sea of vices: and a very great multitude of them are constantly resorting to the strong seats of our dungeon. Yea, you transmit to us daily so many of every class of mankind, that we could not receive them, were it not that our insatiable chaos gulped in the countless souls by a thousand jaws added for the purpose.

Thus even by your means the sovereignty of our empire hath been reestablished, and our intolerable loss made good to us again. Wherefore, we specially commend you, and return you our hearty thanks. Albeit, we exhort you still to persevere in what you are now doing, and to go forward: because we intend through you to bring back again all the world under our dominion.

And now being ourselves strangely busied here in our recesses with the multitude which you daily send us, we in the meantime commit to you our authority, and wish you to be our vicars and ministers; the more so, for that we are beginning to think of the approaching mission of Antichrist, for whom you are admirably preparing the way. Notwithstanding, we send and depute to you the chief men and satraps of hell, for your counsel and help; whose suggestions to acquiesce in and crafty inventions to add to, you are sufficiently cunning and prudent. Moreover, you who occupy the highest places we counsel to be careful to preserve peace among the princes of the world in pretence, but in reality to nourish discord for the church's sake; and thus you will slyly destroy the Roman empire. Accordingly, do not allow any kingdoms to grow too large, lest becoming too strong and tranquil, they should take a fancy to depress your estate, and take from you those treasures which we have caused to be deposited with you and reserved for Antichrist.

We commend unto you our most dear daughters, Pride, Deceit, Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Lechery, and all the rest; and especially the lady Simony, who hath been the making of you, and enriched you, and suckled you at her own breasts, and nourished you. And this Simony you are not to call a sin. Neither is it pride in you, for the worshipful eminence of your station requireth such magnificence. Nor are you to be charged with avarice, for whatever you can gather in your pouches is for St. Peter, and for the peace of the church, the patrimony of the Crucified. For though you promote your cardinals to the very summit of dignity, on very slight grounds, you may excuse yourselves by saying, that our adversary Jesus promoted his relations to the apostleship. That, however, was in a poor and humble state of life. Not so do you; but in holiness, arrogance, pride, and vile lewdness, you call to a state of riches and pride. The disciples of Christ also renounced rewards and preferments; but not so you, for you hold your goods avowedly for your defence of the church: and this is but a specimen of the rest.

Go forward then (and ye know best how) to perpetrate vices cloaked under the appearance of virtues; allege [Scriptures] in your behalf; gloss, however perversely; and adduce them, however inappositely to your purpose. And if any one preach or teach contrary to you, violently crush him by excommunications, and let him be condemned by you as a heretic; and let him be kept in most strait prison, and there tormented till he die, for a terrible example to all such as confess Christ. And, setting all favour apart, cast him out of your temple, lest peradventure, the ingrafted word may save your souls, which word I do abhor, as I do the souls of other faithful men.

And all this do, in order that you may earn the place which we are preparing for you in our own mansion, in the most secret depths, which we are preparing for you in particular; and which no one yet was ever known to enter, except the chief satraps of our kingdom. For you neither hope for future rewards, nor fear eternal punishment: and therefore shall not have the life which you do not believe in, but shall obtain together with us that death, which while living you do not fear.

Farewell, and may you enjoy that felicity wherewith we desire and intend finally to reward you.

Given at the centre of the earth, in our dark palace; present, crowds of devils, specially for the purpose called unto our most dolorous consistory; under the character of our terrible seal, for the confirmation of the premises.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Atonement: Christ as the Second Adam

Christ acting as the second Adam, or according to a covenant with the Father, in the whole of His atoning work.

This idea must be carried with us, whether we consider the fundamental presuppositions of the atonement, as stated in some of the first sections, or discuss the special reference and extent of the atonement, as exhibited in section xli. (p. 312). The doctrine of the atonement cannot be understood without the idea of a conjunction between Christ and His people, whether or not it is called a covenant (pactum salutis), and whether or not we use the terms of the federal theology. The whole scheme of thought relating to the covenant occupied at one time an important. place in the Reformed Church, and in some portions of the Lutheran Church, though it never became general in the latter.

Of various elements which may be said to have concurred, if not to originate, at least to turn attention to this scheme of thought, the two following may be particularly named: the cavils of Socinus, and the subsequent rise of the Arminian controversy. As to the first of these concurring forces, I may mention that one of the objections against the satisfaction on which Socinus laid stress, was, that there ought to be at least some conjunction between the guilty and him that is punished; and he would not admit that there was any such conjunction or bond between Christ and us. This drove the defenders of the truth to assert the affirmative, and to define it. They main tained that Christ was united to us, not only as a partaker of our humanity by becoming one of us, our brother and friend, but also as He entered into a still closer conjunction as the Bridegroom, Head, Shepherd, Lord, King, and Surety of His people. Grotius, in his treatise, De Satisfactione, chap, iv., is particularly emphatic in asserting this close conjunction, on which the possibility of an atonement depends. Thus, in op position to Socinus, Grotius says, "It might be said here that man is not without relation to man, that there is a natural kindred and consanguinity between men, and between our flesh assumed by Christ. But another much greater conjunction between Christ and us was decreed by God, for He was ap pointed by God to be the Head of the body of which we are members. And here it must be observed, that Socinus erroneously confined to the flesh alone that conjunction which is sufficient for laying punishment upon one for another's sins, since here the mystical conjunction has no less power. This appears principally in the example of a king and a people. We cited above the history of the Israelites punished for the sin of David." A little afterwards, Grotius adds that this con junction lays the foundation for vicarious punishment: "There fore the sacred writings do not at all favour Socinus, declaring, as they do, that God did the very thing which he undeservedly accuses of injustice; but neither has he any greater defence from right reason, which it is wonderful that he so often boasts of, but nowhere shows. But that all this error may be re moved, it must be observed that it is essential to punishment that it be inflicted for sin, but that it is not likewise essential to it that it be inflicted on him who sinned; and that is manifest from the similitude of reward, favour, and revenge, — for reward is often wont to be conferred upon the children or relations of a well-deserving person, and favour on the kinsman of him who conferred the benefit, and revenge upon the friends of him that offended. Neither do they, on that account, cease to be what they are — reward, favour, and revenge. Add to this, that if it were against the nature of punishment, then this very thing would not be called unjust, but impossible. But God forbids a son to be punished by men for the father's fault; but impossible things are not forbidden. Moreover, injustice does not properly happen to a relation (such as punishment is), but to the action itself, such as the matter of punishment is. And here the true distinction must be inquired into, why it is not equally free to all to punish one for another's sin, and to bestow a favour or reward for another's merit or benefit; for an act which contains in it a reward or favour is a benevolent act, which, in its own nature, is permitted to all; but an act which has in it punishment, is a hurtful act, which is neither allowed to all, nor against all. Wherefore, that a punishment may be just, it is requisite that the penal act itself should be in the power of the punisher, which happens in a threefold way: either by the antecedent right of the punisher himself, or by the legitimate and valid consent of him about whose punishment the question is; or by the crime of the same person. When the act has become lawful by these modes, nothing prevents its being appointed for the punishment of another's sin, provided there be some conjunction between him that sinned and the party to be punished. And this conjunction is either natural, as between a father and a son; or mystical, as between king and people; or voluntary, as between the guilty person and the surety. Socinus appeals to the judgment of all nations; but as to God, the philosophers doubted not that the sins of parents were punished by Him in the children." I shall not quote further from this memorable chapter of Grotius, in which he overwhelms his opponent by the testimony of all classical antiquity. I have adduced this discussion, only to show how men came during the course of it to adopt and maintain a certain necessary conjunction between the Redeemer and the redeemed, which involved something more than a mere community of the same nature, and, in a word, the elements of a covenant.

But another cause concurred with the former. When the Arminian debates arose, and the five points were debated, many were led, during the course of this discussion, more and more to the conclusion that there was a given party in whose behalf all the provisions of redemption were contrived and carried into effect. Thus, Amesius, Coronis, p. 112, expresses himself: "Addam etiam insuper, si nullo modo versabatur ecclesia in mente divina, quum unctus et sanctificatus fuit Christus ad officium suum, turn caput constitutus fuit sine corpore, ac rex sine subditis ullis in praesentia notis, vel omniscio ipsi Deo: quod quam indignum sit thesauris illis divinae sapientiae qui in hoc mysterio absconditi fuerunt, non opus est ut ego dicam. Hoc unum perpendat cordatus Lector satisfactionem illam Christi pro nobis nocentibus susceptam valere non potuisse, nisi aliqua antecedente inter nos et Christum, conjunctione; tali scilicet qua designatus est a Deo ut caput esset corporis, cujus nos sumus membra; ut Vir cl. Hugo Grotius, relictis remonstrantibus, quos alibi defendit ingenue concedit. — Defensionis fidei Catholicae, pagina 66."

Hence the doctrine of the covenant was the concentrated essence of Calvinism, and appeared especially in a formed and jointed system, after the Synod of Dort. Cloppenburg maintained it just after that Synod. Thus these two elements above named led many of the greatest divines of the Reformed Church to bring out, and" to lay stress upon, a pactum salutis, or foedus, as necessary to a full understanding of the atonement. This doctrine has fallen out of the prominence it at one time occupied in theology. But whatever view may be held as to that scheme of thought, there is no room for two opinions as to the scriptural character of the doctrine, that there must be a certain conjunction between Christ and the redeemed.

It is due to the federal theology to state, that it was only meant to ground and to establish the undoubtedly scriptural doctrine of the two Adams (Rom. v. 12-20; 1 Cor. xv. 47). These are by no means to be regarded as two different lines of thought, or as two mutually exclusive modes of representing truth. They proceed on the same principle, and they come to precisely the same result, — the one from the view-point of humanity, the other from the counsels of the Trinity. No one can doubt, who examines the federal theology, that the design of those who brought that scheme of thought into general reception in the Reformed Church for two centuries, was principally to ground, and to put on a sure basis, the idea of the two Adams; that is, to show that there were, in reality, only two men in history, and only two great facts on which the fortunes of the race hinged. The leading federalists were Cloppenburg, Dick son the Scottish divine (who developed it so early as 1625 — see Life of Robert Blair, in the Wodrow publications — several years before the work of Cocceius, De Foedere, appeared in 1648), Cocceius, Burmann, Witsius, Strong, Owen, etc. etc. It became a magnificent scheme of theological thought in the hands of these men, and of others who took it up with ardour. That foreign thoughts afterwards came to be introduced into it, and that it became complicated by many additional elements, brought in to give it completeness, but which only lent it an air of human ingenuity and artificial construction, cannot be denied. But as to the point already referred to, there is no doubt that they intended to establish, by this mode of representation, that Christ and His people were to be regarded as one person in the eye of law; and that, properly speaking, there were only two heads of families, and only two great facts in history — the fall and the atonement.

Against this whole scheme of thought, a reaction set in a century ago. Nor can this be wondered at, when we remember that it was overdone at that time, and that a reaction was only the effort of the human mind to regain its equilibrium — as is always the case when anything is carried too far. It was over done, and now it is neglected.

But it is by no means to be repudiated, or put among the mere antiquities of Christian effort. This, or something like it, whether we adopt the federal nomenclature or not, must occur to every one who will follow out the revealed thoughts uttered by Christ Himself to their legitimate consequences. The only objection of any plausibility is, that the notion of a covenant presupposes a twofold will in God. To meet this objection, springing from an exclusive regard to the unity of the Godhead, it may be remarked, that the supposition of a council or covenant, having man's redemption for its object, has no more difficulty than the doctrine of a Trinity. Each person wills, knows, loves, and exercises acts to one another and to us; and as they are personally distinct in the numerical- unity of the divine essence, so, according to the order of subsistence, they each will, though not apart and isolated. Accordingly, Dr. Owen remarks against Biddle, in his Vindiciae: "Because of the distinct acting of the will of the Father, and of the will of the Son, with regard to each other, it is more than a decree, and hath the proper nature of a covenant or compact."

Whatever view may be taken, however, of that scheme of thought, the one important matter on which no doubt can be entertained by any scriptural divine, is, that as Adam was a public person, the representative of all his family, according to the constitution given to the human race, as contradistinguished from that of other orders of being, so Christ, the Restorer, stands in the same position to His family or seed. The world could be redeemed on no other principle than that on which it was at first constituted. Augustin's formula, ilk unus homo nos omnes fuimus, as applied to the first man, is perhaps the very best that has ever been given; and the same formula may be applied with equal warrant to the second man, the Lord from heaven. As applied to the atonement, this principle of a covenant, or of a conjunction between Christ and His seed, is simple and easily apprehended. The conditions being fulfilled by the second man, His people enter into the reward.

Thus Christ was commissioned to do a work for a people who were to reap the reward. The Father laid on Him the conditions given to Adam, with the additional one derived from guilt, and claimed satisfaction from the Son undertaking to act for a seed given to Him. Man could be redeemed only on the principle or constitution on which God placed him at first, and not on one altogether different; and the one aim of the federal theology was meant to base and to ground this biblical truth.

George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself, Appendix on Sec. X.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sermon of Nicholas Orem (Part 2)

The third sign and token of tribulation approaching near to the church, may well be taken of the too much unequal proportion seen this day in the church; where one is hungry and starveth, another is drunk. By reason of which so great inequality, it cannot be that the state of the church, as it is now, can long endure; like as in good harmony, to make the music perfect, is required a moderate and proportionate inequality of voices, which if it do much exceed, it taketh away all the sweet melody; so, according to the sentence of the philosopher, by too much immoderate inequality or disparity of citizens, the commonwealth falleth to ruin. On the contrary, where mediocrity, that is, where a mean inequality with some proportion is kept, that policy standeth firm and more sure to continue. Now, among all the politic regiments of the Gentiles, I think none more is to be found in histories, wherein is to be seen so great and exceeding odds, as in the policy of priests; of whom some be so high, that they exceed all princes of the earth; some again be so base, that they are under all rascals, so that such a policy or commonwealth may well be called Oligarchia.

This may we plainly see and learn in the body of man, to the which Plutarch, writing to Thracinius, doth semblably compare the commonwealth. In the the which body, if the sustenance received should all run to one member, so that that member should be too much exceedingly pampered, and all the other parts rest be too much pined, that body could not long continue; so in the body of the wealth ecclesiastical, if some who be the heads be so enormously overgrown in riches and dignity, that the weaker members of the body be scantly able to bear them up, there is a great token of dissolution and ruin shortly. Whereupon cometh well in place the saying of the prophet Isaiah: "Every head is sick, every heart is full of sorrow;" of the which heads it is also spoken in the prophet Amos [chap, vi.], "Woe be to the secure, proud, and wealthy in Sion, and to such as think themselves so sure upon the mount of Samaria, taking themselves as heads and rulers over others,” &c. And, moreover, in the said prophet Isaiah it followeth, "From the top of the head to the sole of the foot there is no whole part in all the body," to wit, in the inferiors, because they are not able to live for poverty; in the superiors, because for their excessive riches they are let from doing good. And it followeth in the same place, "But all are wounds, and botches, and stripes." Behold here the danger coming, the wounds of discord and division, the botch or sore of rancour and envy, the swelling stripe of rebellion and mischief.

The fourth sign is the pride of prelates. Some there have been who fondly have disputed of the poverty of Christ, and have inveighed against the prelates, because they live not in the poverty of the saints. But this fantasy cometh of the ignorance of moral philosophy and divinity, and of the defect of natural prudence; for that in all nations, and by common laws, priests have had, and ought to have, wherewith to sustain themselves more honestly than the vulgar sort, and prelates more honestly than the subjects. But yet hereby is not permitted to them their great horses, their troops of horsemen, the superfluous pomp of their waiting-men and great families, which scarcely can be maintained without pride, neither can be sustained with safe justice, and, many, not without fighting and injuries inconvenient; not much unlike to that which Justin the historian writeth of the Carthaginians, "The family," saith he, ''of so great emperors, was intolerable to such a free city." In semblable wise, this great pride in the church of God, especially in these days, doth move not so few to due reverence, as many to indignation; and yet more, to those things aforesaid: who think no less but to do sacrifice to God, if they may rob and spoil certain fat priests and persons, namely, such as neither have nobility or blood, and less learning to bear themselves upon, but are liars, servile and fraudulent, to whom the Lord speaketh by his prophet Amos [chap, iv.], "Hear you fat-fed kine of Samaria, ye that do poor men wrong, and oppress the needy, the day shall come upon you," &c.

The fifth sign is, the tyranny of the prelates and presidents, which as it is a violent thing, so it cannot be long lasting. For as Solomon saith [chap, xvi.], "For it was requisite that, without any excuse, destruction should come upon those which exercised tyranny." The property of a tyrant is not to seek the commodity of his subjects, but only his will and profit. Such were the pastors late fed not the Lord's flock, but fed themselves; of whom and to whom noted. speaketh the prophet Ezekiel [chap, xxxiv.], "Woe be unto those pastors of Israel that feed themselves. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" with many other threatenings against them in the same chapter. "Woe be unto them who rejoice at the transgressions of those whom it lieth in their power to condemn, neither do they seek what he is able to pay;" to whom crieth Micah the prophet [chap, iii.], "Ye hate the good and love the evil; ye pluck off men's skins, and the flesh from the bones; ye eat the flesh of my people, and flay off their skin; ye break their bones; ye chop them in pieces, as it were into a cauldron, and as flesh into the pot, ' &c. And, therefore, the aforesaid Ezekjel [chap, xxxiv.] pronounceth, "Behold, I will myself come upon the shepherds and require my sheep from their hands, and make them cease from feeding my sheep, yea the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver my sheep out of their mouths, so that they shall not devour them anymore."

The sixth sign is the promoting of the unworthy, and neglecting them that be worthy. This, as Aristotle saith, is a great cause many times of the dissolution of commonweals. And oftentimes it so happeneth in the wars of princes, that unworthy the contempt and small regarding of the valiant, and the exalting of others that be less worthy, engender divers kinds and kindlings of sedition. For partly by reason of the same, partly of the other causes above recited, we have read not only in books, but have seen with our eyes, divers flourishing cities well nigh subverted; whereas good men be not made of, but are vexed with sorrow and grief by the evil: the contention at length bursteth out upon the prince, as Haymo reciteth out of Origen. This always hath been the perverse incredulity of man's hard heart, and that not only in hearing, but also in seeing: yet will they not believe that others have perished, unless they also perish themselves.

The seventh sign is, the tribulation of outward policy and commotions of the people, which in a great part has now happened already. And therefore, forasmuch as Seneca saith, "Men do complain commonly that evils only come so fast;" it is to be feared lest also the ecclesiastical policy be afflicted not only outwardly, but also in itself; and so that be fulfilled in us, which in Jeremy is prophesied [chap, iv.], "Murder is cried upon murder, and the whole land shall perish, and suddenly my tabernacles were destroyed, and my tents very quickly." And Ezekiel [chap, vii.], "Wherefore I will bring cruel tyrants from among the heathen, to take their houses in possession; I will make the pomp of the proud to cease, and their sanctuaries shall be taken. One mischief and sorrow shall follow another, and one rumour shall come after another: then shall they seek visions in vain at their prophets; the law shall be gone from their priests, and wisdom from their elders," &c.

The eighth is, the refusing of correction, neither will they hear their faults told them, so that it happened to the princes and rulers of the church, as it is written in the prophet Zechariah, [chap, vii.] "They stopped their ears that they would not hear, yea they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and words which the Lord of hosts sent in his Holy Spirit by the prophets aforetime." Also Isaiah, witnessing after the same effect [chap. xxx.], saith, "For it is an obstinate people, lying children, and unfaithful children, that will not hear the law of the Lord, which say to the prophets, Meddle with nothing, and tell us nothing, that is true and right, but speak friendly words to us," &c. All this shall be verified when the prelates begin to hate them that tell them truth, and have knowledge; like unto such of whom Amos speaketh [chap, v.], "They bear him evil will, that reproveth them openly, and whoso telleth them the plain truth, they abhor him.' And therefore saith the Lord, by Hosea, to the church of Jerusalem [chap, iv.], "Seeing thou hast refused understanding, I have refused thee also, that thou shalt no more be my priest. And forasmuch as thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children, and change their honour into shame. And so shall it be, like priest, like people," &c.; and many other sayings there be in the prophets, speaking of the dejecting and casting down of the priestly honour.

Besides these aforesaid signs and tokens hitherto recited, there be also divers others; as the backsliding from righteousness, the lack of discreet and learned priests, promoting of children into the church, with others such. But these being already well noted and marked, you may easily judge and understand whether these times now present of ours be safe and clear from tribulation to be looked for, and whether the word of the Lord be true according to my theme, "My righteousness is near at hand to be revealed," &c. And thus much of the second part.

Now to the third part or member of my subdivision, which is concerning the false and perilous opinions of some, upon this word of my theme, "Ut veniat," &c.; which opinions principally be four, all repugning against the truth of the canonical scripture.

The first opinion is of such men, who, having too much confidence in themselves, do think and persuade with themselves, that the prelates be the church which the Lord will always keep and never forsake, as he hath promised in the persons of the apostles, saying, in Matthew [chap, xxviii.], "And I will be with you to the end of the world," &c. But this is to be understood of faith, whereof Christ speaketh in Luke [chap, xxi.], "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith shall not fail." Whereof we read in Ecclesiastes [chap, xl.], "Faith shall stand forever," &c. And albeit charity wax never so cold, yet faith, notwithstanding, shall remain in a few, and in all distresses of the world; of the which distresses, our Saviour doth prophesy, in many places, to come. And lest, peradventure, some should think themselves to be safe from tribulation, because they be of the church; this opinion the Lord himself doth contradict in Jeremiah [chap, vii.], "Trust not," saith he, "in false lying words, saying, The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord." And a little after, "But you trust in words and lying counsels which deceive you, and do you no good."

The second opinion is of them who defer time; for this they will grant, that the church shall abide trouble, but not so shortly; thinking thus with themselves, that all these causes and tokens afore recited, have been before, at other times as well, in the church. For both by Gregory and Bernard, holy doctors, in time past, the prelates have been in like sort reprehended, both for their bribings, for their pomp and pride, for the promoting of children, and persons unfit unto ecclesiastical functions, and other vices more, which have reigned before this in the church of God more than now, and yet by God's grace the church hath prospered and stands. Do ye not see, that if a house have stood and continued ruinous a long season, it is never the more near the fall thereby, but rather to be trusted the better? Moreover, many times it cometh so to pass, in realms and kingdoms, that the posterity is punished for the sins of their predecessors. Whereof speaketh the book of Lamentations [chap, v.], "Our fathers have sinned and are now gone, and we must bear their wickedness," &c. Against this cogitation or opinion, well doth the Lord answer by the prophet Ezekiel [chap, xii.], saying, "Behold, thou Son of Man, the house of Israel saith in this manner, Tush, as for the vision that he hath seen, it will be many a day ere it come to pass; it is far off yet, the thing that he prophesieth; Therefore say unto them, thus saith the Lord God, The words that I have spoken shall be deferred no longer, look, what I have said shall come to pass, saith the Lord," &c. We have seen in our days things to happen, which seemed before incredible. And the like hath been seen in other times also, as we read written in the book of Lamentations [chap, iv.], "The kings of the earth, nor all the inhabitants of the world would not have believed, that the enemy and adversary should have come in at the gates of the city, for the sins of her priests and for the wickedness of her elders, that have shed innocent blood within her," &c. By Jerusalem, as is said, is meant the church.

The third opinion or error is very perilous and perverse, of all such as say "veniat," let come that will come; let us conform ourselves to this world, and take our time with those temporizers who say in the book of Wisdom [chap, ii.], "Come, let us enjoy our goods and pleasures that be present, and let us use the creature as in youth quickly," &c. Such as these be, are in a dangerous case, and be greatly prejudicial to good men in the church. And, if the heads and rulers of the church were so vile to have any such detestable cogitation in them, there were no place in hell too deep for them. This church, founded by the apostles in Christ, consecrated with the blood of so many martyrs, enlarged and increased with the virtues and merits of so many saints, and endued so richly with the devotion of so many secular princes, and so long prospered hitherto; if it now should come into the hands of such persons, it should fall in great danger of ruin, and they, for their negligence and wickedness, would well deserve of God to be cursed; yea here, also, in this present world, to incur temporal tribulation and destruction, which they fear more; by the sentence of the Lord, saying to them in the book of Proverbs [chap, i.], "All my counsels ye have despised, and set my correction at nought; therefore shall I also laugh in your destruction, when tribulation and anguish shall fall upon you."

Fourthly, another opinion or error is, of such as being unfaithful, believe not that any such thing will come. And this error seemeth to have no remedy, but that as other things and other kingdoms have their ends and limits set unto them, which they cannot overpass; so it must needs be, that such a domination and government of the church have an end, by reason of the demerits and obstinacies of the governors provoking and requiring the same; like as we read in the prophet Jeremy [chap, viii.], "There is no man that taketh repentance for his sin, that will so much as say, Wherefore have I done this? But every man runneth forth still like a wild horse in battle." And the same prophet, in chapter xiii. of his prophecy, "Like as the man of Inde may change his skin, and the cat-of-mountain her spots, so may ye, that be exercised in evil, do good." Whereunto also accordeth that which is written of the same prophet [chap, xvii.], speaking of Judah, signifying the church, "The sin of Judah," saith ne, "is written in the table of your hearts, and graven so upon the edges of your altars with a pen of iron, and with an adamant claw;" which is as much to say, it is indelible, or which cannot be rased out; as also Ezekiel, speaking of the punishment [chap, xxi.], saith, "I the Lord have drawn my sword out of the sheath, and it cannot he revoked." Notwithstanding, all these signify no impossibility, but difficulty, because that wicked men are hardly converted; for, otherwise, the Scripture importeth no such inflexibility with God, but if conversion come, he will forgive. So we read in the prophet Jonas [chap, iii.], "Who can tell? God may turn and repent, and cease from his fierce wrath that we perish not." And to the like effect saith the same Lord in Jeremy [chap, xxvi.], "Look thou keep not one word back, if peradventure they will hearken and turn every man from his wicked way, that I also may repent of the plague which I have determined to bring upon them, because of their wicked inventions," &c. For the further proof whereof, Nineveh we see was converted, and remained undestroyed, &c. Likewise the Lord also had revealed destruction unto Constantinople by sundry signs and tokens, as Augustine in a certain sermon doth declare. And thus for the third part or member of my division.

Fourthly and lastly, remaineth to declare, some wholesome concluding, now upon the causes preceding: that is, if by these causes and signs, heretofore declared, tribulation be prepared to fall upon the church, then let us humble our minds mildly and wisely. And if we so return with heart and in deed unto God, verily he will rescue and help after an inestimable wise, and will surcease from scourging us, as he promiseth by his prophet Jeremiah [chap, xviii.], "If that people against whom I have thus devised, convert from their wickedness, immediately I will repent of the plague that I devised to bring upon them:" speaking here after the manner of men, &c. Now therefore, forasmuch as tribulation and affliction is so near coming toward us, yea lieth upon us already, let us be the more diligent to call upon God for mercy. For I think, verily, these many years, there have not been so many and so despiteful haters evil-willers, stout, and of such a rebellious heart against the church of God, as be now-a-days; neither be they lacking, that would work all that they can against it, and lovers of new- fangleness; whose hearts the Lord haply will turn, that they shall not hate his people, and work deceit against his servants, I mean against priests, whom they have now in little or no reputation at all, albeit many yet there be, through God's grace, good and godly; but yet the fury of the Lord is not turned away, but still his hand is stretched out. And unless ye be converted, he shaketh his sword; he hath bent his bow, and prepared it ready. Yet the Lord standeth waiting, that he may have mercy upon you [Isaiah xxx.] And therefore, as the greatness of fear ought to incite us, so hope of salvation may allure us to pray and call upon the Lord, especially now, toward this holy and sacred time and solemnity of Christ's nativity: for that holy and continual prayer without intermission is profitable, and the instant devotion and vigilant deprecation of the just man is of great force. And if terrene kings, in the day of celebration of their nativity, be wont to show themselves more liberal and bounteous, how much more ought we to hope well, that the heavenly King, of nature most benign, now at his natal and birth-day, will not deny pardon and remission to such as rightly call unto him.

And now, therefore, as it is written in Joshua [chap, vii.], "Be ye sanctified against to-morrow," &c. And say unto him, as it is written in the first book of Samuel [chap, xxv], "Now let thy servants I pray thee find favour in thy sight, for we come to thee in a good season." Moreover, ye may find what ye ask, if ye ask that which he brought, in the day of his nativity, that is, the peace of the church, not spiritual only, but also temporal; which the angelical noise did sound, and experience the same time did prove, testified by Livy, Pliny, and other heathen story-writers, who all marvelled thereat, saying that such an universal peace as that could not come on earth, but by the gift of God. For so God did forepromise in the prophet Isaiah [chap, lxvi.], "Behold, I will let peace into Jerusalem like a waterflood," &c.; and in Psalm lxxi., "In his time righteousness shall flourish, yea, and abundance of peace," &c.


Therefore now, O reverend fathers in the Lord! and you, here in this present assembly! behold, I say, the day of life and salvation; now is the opportune time to pray unto God, that the same thing, which he brought into the world at his birth, he will now grant in these days to his church, that is, his peace. And, like as Nineveh was subverted, and overturned, not in members but in manners, so the same words of my theme, "Juxta est justitia mea ut reveletur," may be verified in us, not of the primitive justice, but of our sanctification by grace; so that, as to-morrow is celebrated the nativity of our Saviour, our righteousness may rise together with him, and his blessing may be upon us, which God hath promised, saying, "My saving health is near at hand to come," &c.; whereof speaketh Isaiah the prophet [chap.li.], "My saving health shall endure forever," &c. This health grant unto us, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sermon of Nicholas Orem (Part 1)

The Lord has never left Himself without witnesses. Although we typicl think of the Middle Ages as an era of spiritual darkness, the Lord, in fact, raised up many witnesses to His truth. Nicholas Ore was one such witness. The sermon posted below was preached by Nicholas Orem, on the 4th Sunday of Advent in the year 1363 - before Pope Urban V. The courage involved in such an act is astounding.

A Copy of a Sermon made before Pope Urban V., the fourth Sunday in Advent, a.d. 1363, by Nicholas Orem. (From Book V of John Foxe's Acts and Monuments.)

"Juxta est salus mea, ut veniat, ct justitia," &c. That is, "My saving is near at hand to come, and my righteousness to be revealed," [Isa. lvi.] After the sentence cf St. Paul, Rom. ii. and in divers other places, before the nativity of Christ the whole world was divided into two sorts of men, sorts of the Jews and Gentiles — the Jews, who waited for the opening of the door paradise by the blood of the Saviour to come: the Gentiles, who yet sitting in darkness were to be called to light, and to be justified by faith, as it is written in Romans, chap. 5

This salvation, pertaining both to the Jew and Gentile, God promised before time to the fathers by the prophets, to stir up the desire thereof in their hearts the more, and to increase their firm hope and faith in the same. As first, in Micah vi., the voice of the Lord crieth, "Health and salvation shall be to all men which fear my name." And Isaiah xlvi., "I will give in Sion salvation, and in Jerusalem my glory," &c, with divers other such places. And forasmuch as hope which is deferred many times, doth afflict the soul, and conceiveth weariness of long deferring; he, therefore, prophesying of the nearness of the coming thereof, saith moreover [Isa. xiv.], "His time is near at hand to come." Also [Hab. ii.], " He will come, and will not tarry." With many such other places more. So then the holy fathers being in Limbo, looked and hoped that he should bring out them that sat bound, and which in the house of prison sat in darkness, as we read in Isaiah xli. Then the time drew on, in which came the fulness of the Gentiles, and in which the Lord would declare the riches of this mystery hidden from the world, and from generations. [Col. i.] Wherefore the Lord, in this text, doth both certify our fathers of the coming of our Saviour, and doth comfort them touching the nearness thereof, and also teacheth the justification of the Gentiles by faith, approaching now near at hand, according to the words of my text, "my salvation is near." Which words were fulfilled then, what time the Lord did manifest his salvation, and did reveal his righteousness in the sight of all the Gentiles. And it is divided into three parts; of which the first speaketh of the nearness of his coming, where it is said, " my salvation is near." The second concerneth the mystery of the advent of Christ and his incarnation, where he saith, " ut veniat," &c. Thirdly, is considered the severity of God, his terrible revenging judgment to be revealed, where he saith, "ut reveletur," &c, which is to be expounded of his primitive justice, whereof speaketh Amos [chap, v.], saying, " And judgment shall be revealed like a flood, and righteousness like a strong stream." Wherefore, for our contemplation of tlie solemnity of the most holy vigil, let us receive with joy the word of God the Father, "My Salvation is nigh," that is, Christ To whom he saith [Isa. xlix.], " I have given thee to be a light to the Gentiles, and to be my salvation throughout the ends of the world:" and again [Isa. xlvi.], " My salvation shall not slack," &c.

As touching the nearness thereof, it is in these days opened to us by the gospel, where we read in St. Matthew, When the virgin Mary was espoused unto Joseph, before they did come together, she was found with child by the Holy Ghost. By this it was evident to understand, that our Saviour ought shortly to proceed out of the chaste womb of the virgin, according as the prophet did foretel, saying, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son," &c. For as the grape, when it waxeth great and full, is near to the making of wine; and as the flower, when it shooteth abroad, hasteth to the fruit; so the salvation of the world, in the swelling and growing of the virgin's womb, began to draw nigh to mankind. For then appeared the grace and benignity of our Saviour, whom his mother was found to have in her womb by the Holy Ghost, as is declared in that which followeth by the angel, saying, " For that which is born of her is of the Holy Ghost."

Touching the second part of that which is said, "ut veniat:" this may be applied to the contemplation of the mystery of Christ coming in the flesh; whereof speaketh Haggai the prophet [chap, ii.], "He shall come who is desired and looked for of all nations," &c. Albeit the same also may be applied to the second advent, spoken of in Isaiah [chap, in.], " The Lord shall come to judgment," &c.; in memorial whereof the fourth Sunday was dedicated in the old time, of the fathers. And of this day of judgment it is written in the prophet Zeph. [chap, ii.], "The day of the Lord is near, great and mighty, it is approaching at hand, and wondrous short," &c. And albeit not in itself, yet it may be expounded in tribulations that go before, as preambles unto the same; as Gregory saith, "The last tribulation is prevented with many and sundry tribulations going before, although the end of all be not yet."

Wherefore now coming to the third part of my sermon or theme, let us see, of those tribulations that go before the last coming of Christ, if there be any such tribulation approaching nigh at hand, whereof this last part of my theme may be verified, where he said, "Ut reveletur," that my righteousness shall be revealed; to wit, the righteousness primitive, that righteousness may be brought, and the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled [Dan. ix.], concerning which matter four things here come in order to be declared.
First, Concerning the revealing of tribulation, according to that part of my theme, "Ut reveletur," &c.
Secondly, Concerning the nearness of the tribulation coming, according to '— that part of my theme, " Quia juxta est," &c. £°"4r.5ub"
Thirdly, Of the false opinions of some upon this part of my theme, " Ut veniat," &c.
Fourthly, What means and consultation we ought to take, "
Ut juxta est" As for the first, it is so notorious and so common in the Scriptures that the church should suffer and abide tribulation, that I need not here to stand in alleging anything touching either the causes to be weighed, or the term to be conjectured thereof. As concerning which causes I will give two rules to be noted before, for the better opening of that which is to follow: The first rule is, that by the two kingdoms of the nation of the Hebrews which were in the old time, to wit, by the kingdom of Israel, whose head was Samaria, is signified in the prophets the erroneous synagogue; and by the second kingdom of Judah, of whose stock came Christ, whose head metropolitan was Jerusalem, is signified the true church. And this rule is not mine, but is the gloss of St. Jerome, and also is the rule of Origen in the last homily upon the Old Testament, and is approved by the church.

The second rule is, that by the brothel-house and fornication mentioned in Judah the prophets, are signified simony, and abused dispensations, and promotions of persons unworthy, for lucre's sake, or else for any other partial favour, who, by unlawful ways, by all laws of the world, come to office and honour. "Merx dicitur namque a merendo;" that is, because gain or price is derived of gaining; for the which gain or price, that is sold, which by nature ought not to be sold. Therefore, to give anything for respect of gain or lure, which ought to be given freely for virtue's sake, is a kind of spiritual corruption, and as a man would say, a whorish thing; whereof the prophet [Isaiah, chap, i.] complaineth, speaking of Jerusalem, and saying, "The city which once was faithful and full of judgment, how is it now become a whorish city? " And in like manner Hosea also, the prophet [chap, ix.], "Jerusalem, thou hast fornicated and gone a whoring from thy God. Thou hast loved like a harlot to get gain in every barn of com." And in many other places of Scripture, where fornication cannot be otherwise expounded.

These two rules thus premised, now let us mark the Scriptures, and, according to the same, judge of the whole state of the church, both what is past, and what is to come: First, treating of the causes of tribulation to come: Secondly, of the vicinity of time of the said tribulation to come.

And first, concerning the state of the church, and of causes of tribulation, thus saith the Lord in the prophet Ezekiel [chap, xvi.], speaking to the church states of under the name of Jerusalem: "In the day of thy birth I came by thee, and saw thee trodden down in thine own blood," &c. Here he speaketh of the described, time of the martyrdom of the church. Then it followeth, "After this thou wast cleansed from thy blood, thou wast grown up, and waxen great; then i.xhe washed I thee with water, I purged thy blood from thee" (speaking of ceasing of persecution), "I anointed thee with oil, I gave thee change of raiment, I girded thee with white silk, I decked thee with costly apparel, I put rings upon church, thy fingers, a chain about thy neck, spangles upon thy forehead, and ear-rings upon thine ears. Thus wast thou decked with silver and gold, and a beautiful crown set upon thine head. Marvellous goodly wast thou and beautiful, even church, a very queen wast thou: for thou wast excellent in my beauty, which I put upon thee, saith the Lord God," &c. This prophecy, or rather history, speaketh of, and declareth, the prosperity of the church. And now hear the corruption and transgression of the church, for so it followeth: "But thou hast put confidence in thine own beauty, and played the harlot, when thou hadst gotten thee a name. Thou hast committed whoredom with all that went by thee, and hast fulfilled their desires; yea, thou hast taken thy garments of divers colours and decked thine altars therewith, whereupon thou mightest fulfil thy whoredom of such a fashion as never was done, nor shall be." Which whoredom can in no wise be expounded for carnal, but spiritual whoredom. And therefore, see how lively he hath painted out the corruption and falling of the church.

And therefore followeth now the correction and punishment of the church followeth, "Behold I stretch out my hand over thee, and will diminish thy store of food, and deliver thee over unto the wills of the Philistines, and of such as hate thee: and they shall break down thy stews, and destroy thy brothel-houses (that is, the place wherein thou didst exercise this wickedness) "they shall strip thee out of thy clothes: all thy fair beautiful jewels shall they take from thee, and so let thee sit naked and bare," &c. [Ezek. xvi.] Here is plainly to be seen what shall happen to the church, and more followeth in the said chapter: "Thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters upon thy left hand: but the youngest sister that dwelleth on thy right hand is Sodoma with her daughters, whose sins were these: pride, fulness of meat, abundance, and idleness, neither reached they their hand to the poor. And yet, neither Sodoma thy sister, with her daughters, hath done so evil as thou and thy daughters: neither hath Samaria" (that is, the synagogue) "done half of thy sins; yea, thou hast exceeded them in wickedness. Take therefore and bear thine own confusion," &c. Again in Ezek. [chap, xxiii.], after the prophet had described at large the wickedness, corruption, and punishment of the synagogue, turning to the church, he saith, "And when her sister saw this, she raged and was mad with lust more than before; she was mad, that is, with fleshly lust, love of riches, and following voluptuousness. Her fornication and whoredom she committed with princes and great lords, clothed with all manner of gorgeous apparel; so that her paps were bruised, and her breasts were marred." And then speaking of her punishment, he saith, "Then my heart forsook her, like as my heart was gone from her sister also." And more over, repeating again the cause thereof, he addeth, "Thy wickedness and thy fornication hath wrought thee all this," &c.

The like we find also in Isaiah, Jeremy, Ezekiel, and in all the other prophets, who, prophesying all together in one meaning, and almost in one manner of words, do conclude with a full agreement and prophecy to come, that the church shall fall, and then be punished for her great excesses, and be utterly spoiled, except she repent of all her abominations. Whereof speaketh Hosea [chap, ii.], "Let her put away her whoredom out of her sight, and her adultery from her breasts, lest I strip her naked, and set her even as she came naked into the world," (that is, in her primitive poverty). So if she do it not, it shall follow of her as in the prophet Nahum [chap, hi.], " For the multitude of the fornication of the fair and beautiful harlot, which is a master of witchcraft, yea and selleth the people through her whoredom, and the nations through her witchcraft." And it followeth upon the same, "Behold I come upon thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and will pull thy clothes over thy head, that they nakedness shall appear among the heathen, and thy shame amongst the There- kingdoms" &C. Wherefore by these it is to be understood that upon this church the primitive justice of God is to be revealed hereafter. And thus church, much of the first of the four members above touched.

Now to the second member of my theme, "Juxta est; " concerning the nearness of time. Although it is not for us to know the moments and articles of time; yet, by certain notes and signs, peradventure, it may be collected and that the gathered, that which I have here to say. For the tractation whereof, first I ground myself upon the saying of the apostle Paul [2Thes. ii.], where he writeth, "That unless there "come a defection first," &c. By the which defection, Jerorne gathereth ond expoundeth allegorically, the desolation of the monarchy of Rome: between which desolation, and the persecution of the church by Antichrist, he putteth no mean space. And now, what is the state of that commonwealth, if it be compared to the majesty of that it hath been, judge yourselves. Another gloss there is that saith, how by that defection is meant, defection that from the church of Rome shall come a departing of some other churches.

The second note and mark is this, when the church shall be worse in manners than was the synagogue; as appeareth by the ordinary gloss upon the third of Jeremiah, where it is written, "The backslider Israel may seem just and righteous in comparison of sinful Judah;" that is, the synagogue in comparison of the church of God. Whereof writeth Origen saying, Think that to be spoken of us what the Lord saith in Ezekiel [chap, xvi.], "Thou hast exceeded thy sister in thine iniquities." Wherefore now, to compare the one with the other: First, ye know how Christ rebuked the Pharisees, who, as Jerome witnesseth, were then the clergy of the Jews, of covetousness, for that they suffered doves to be sold in the temple of God: Secondly, for that they did honour God with their lips, and not with their heart; and because they said, and but did not: Thirdly, he rebuked them, for that they were hypocrites. To church the first then, let us see whether it be worse to sell both church and sacraments together than to suffer doves to be sold in the temple, or not. Secondly, whereas the Pharisees were rebuked for honouring God with their lips, and not with their heart, there be some who neither honour God with heart, nor yet with lips, and who neither do well, nor yet say well; neither do they preach any word at all, but be dumb dogs, not able to bark, impudent and shameless dogs, that never have enough; such pastors as have no understanding, declining and straying all in their own way, every one given to covetousness from the highest to the lowest And thirdly, as for hypocrisy, there be also some whose intolerable pride and malice are so manifest and notorious, kindled up like a fire, that no cloak or shadow of hypocrisy can cover it, but they are so past all shame, that it may be well verified of them, which the prophet speaks, "Thou hast gotten thee the face of a harlot; thou wouldst not blush," &c. 

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