Leviathan/The Third Part
- 1 The Third Part: Of a Christian Commonwealth
- 1.1 Chapter XXXII: Of the Principles of Christian Politics
- 1.2 Chapter XXXIII: Of the Number, Antiquity, Scope, Authority, and Interpreters of the Books of Holy Scripture
- 1.3 Chapter XXXIV: Of the Signification of Spirit, Angel, and Inspiration in the Books of Holy Scripture
- 1.4 Chapter XXXV: Of the Signification in Scripture of Kingdom of God, of Holy, Sacred, and Sacrament
- 1.5 Chapter XXXVI: Of the Word of God, and of Prophets
- 1.6 Chapter XXXVII: Of Miracles and Their Use
- 1.7 Chapter XXXVIII: Of the Signification in Scripture of Eternal Life, Hell, Salvation, the World to Come, and Redemption
- 1.8 Chapter XXXIX: Of the Signification in Scripture of the Word Church
- 1.9 Chapter XL: Of the Rights of the Kingdom of God, in Abraham, Moses, the High Priests, and the Kings of Judah
- 1.10 Chapter XLI: Of the Office of Our Blessed Saviour
- 1.11 Chapter XLII: Of Power Ecclesiastical
- 1.12 Chapter XLIII: Of What Is Necessary for a Man's Reception into the Kingdom of Heaven
The Third Part: Of a Christian Commonwealth
Chapter XXXII: Of the Principles of Christian Politics
I have derived the rights of sovereign power, and the duty of subjects, hitherto from the principles of nature only; such as experience has found true, or consent concerning the use of words has made so; that is to say, from the nature of men, known to us by experience, and from definitions, of such words as are essential to all political reasoning, universally agreed on. But in that I am next to handle, which is the nature and rights of a Christian Commonwealth, whereof there dependeth much upon supernatural revelations of the will of God, the ground of my discourse must be not only the natural word of God, but also the prophetical.
Nevertheless, we are not to renounce our senses and experience, nor that which is the undoubted word of God, our natural reason. For they are the talents which he hath put into our hands to negotiate, till the coming again of our blessed Saviour; and therefore not to be folded up in the napkin of an implicit faith, but employed in the purchase of justice, peace, and true religion. For though there be many things in God's word above reason; that is to say, which cannot by natural reason be either demonstrated or confuted; yet there is nothing contrary to it; but when it seemeth so, the fault is either in our unskillful interpretation, or erroneous ratiocination.
Therefore, when anything therein written is too hard for our examination, we are bidden to captivate our understanding to the words; and not to labour in sifting out a philosophical truth by logic of such mysteries as are not comprehensible, nor fall under any rule of natural science. For it is with the mysteries of our religion as with wholesome pills for the sick, which swallowed whole have the virtue to cure, but chewed, are for the most part cast up again without effect.
But by the captivity of our understanding is not meant a submission of the intellectual faculty to the opinion of any other man, but of the will to obedience where obedience is due. For sense, memory, understanding, reason, and opinion are not in our power to change; but always, and necessarily such, as the things we see, hear, and consider suggest unto us; and therefore are not effects of our will, but our will of them. We then captivate our understanding and reason when we forbear contradiction; when we so speak as, by lawful authority, we are commanded; and when we live accordingly; which, in sum, is trust and faith reposed in him that speaketh, though the mind be incapable of any notion at all from the words spoken.
When God speaketh to man, it must be either immediately or by mediation of another man, to whom He had formerly spoken by Himself immediately. How God speaketh to a man immediately may be understood by those well enough to whom He hath so spoken; but how the same should be understood by another is hard, if not impossible, to know. For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it. It is true that if he be my sovereign, he may oblige me to obedience, so as not by act or word to declare I believe him not; but not to think any otherwise than my reason persuades me. But if one that hath not such authority over me shall pretend the same, there is nothing that exacteth either belief or obedience.
For to say that God hath spoken to him in the Holy Scripture is not to say God hath spoken to him immediately, but by mediation of the prophets, or of the Apostles, or of the Church, in such manner as He speaks to all other Christian men. To say He hath spoken to him in a dream is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him; which is not of force to win belief from any man that knows dreams are for the most part natural, and may proceed from former thoughts; and such dreams as that, from self-conceit, and foolish arrogance, and false opinion of a man's own goodliness, or virtue, by which he thinks he hath merited the favour of extraordinary revelation. To say he hath seen a vision, or heard a voice, is to say that he dreamed between sleeping and waking: for in such manner a man doth many times naturally take his dream for a vision, as not having well observed his own slumbering. To say he speaks by supernatural inspiration is to say he finds an ardent desire to speak, or some strong opinion of himself, for which he can allege no natural and sufficient reason. So that though God Almighty can speak to a man by dreams, visions, voice, and inspiration, yet He obliges no man to believe He hath so done to him that pretends it; who, being a man, may err and, which is more, may lie.
How then can he to whom God hath never revealed His will immediately (saving by the way of natural reason) know when he is to obey or not to obey His word, delivered by him that says he is a prophet? Of four hundred prophets, of whom the King of Israel, asked counsel concerning the war he made against Ramoth Gilead, only Micaiah was a true one.* The prophet that was sent to prophesy against the altar set up by Jeroboam,*(2) though a true prophet, and that by two miracles done in his presence appears to be a prophet sent from God, was yet deceived by another old prophet that persuaded him, as from the mouth of God, to eat and drink with him. If one prophet deceive another, what certainty is there of knowing the will of God by other way than that of reason? To which I answer out of the Holy Scripture that there be two marks by which together, not asunder, a true prophet is to be known. One is the doing of miracles; the other is the not teaching any other religion than that which is already established. Asunder, I say, neither of these is sufficient. "If a prophet rise amongst you, or a dreamer of dreams, and shall pretend the doing of a miracle, and the miracle come to pass; if he say, Let us follow strange gods, which thou hast not known, thou shalt not hearken to him, etc. But that prophet and dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to you to revolt from the Lord your God."*(3) In which words two things are to be observed; first, that God will not have miracles alone serve for arguments to approve the prophet's calling; but (as it is in the third verse) for an experiment of the constancy of our adherence to Himself. For the works of the Egyptian sorcerers, though not so great as those of Moses, yet were great miracles. Secondly, that how great soever the miracle be, yet if it tend to stir up revolt against the king or him that governeth by the king's authority, he that doth such miracle is not to be considered otherwise than as sent to make trial of their allegiance. For these words, revolt from the Lord your God, are in this place equivalent to revolt from your king. For they had made God their king by pact at the foot of Mount Sinai; who ruled them by Moses only; for he only spake with God, and from time to time declared God's commandments to the people. In like manner, after our Saviour Christ had made his Disciples acknowledge him for the Messiah (that is to say, for God's anointed, whom the nation of the Jews daily expected for their king, but refused when he came), he omitted not to advertise them of the danger of miracles. "There shall arise," saith he, "false Christs, and false prophets, and shall do great wonders and miracles, even to the seducing (if it were possible) of the very elect."*(4) By which it appears that false prophets may have the power of miracles; yet are we not to take their doctrine for God's word. St. Paul says further to the Galatians that "if himself or an angel from heaven preach another Gospel to them than he had preached, let him be accursed."*(5) That Gospel was that Christ was King; so that all preaching against the power of the king received, in consequence to these words, is by St. Paul accursed. For his speech is addressed to those who by his preaching had already received Jesus for the Christ, that is to say, for King of the Jews.
- I Kings, 22
- (2) Ibid., 13
- (3) Deuteronomy, 13. 1-5
- (4) Matthew, 24. 24
- (5) Galatians, 1. 8
And as miracles, without preaching that doctrine which God hath established; so preaching the true doctrine, without the doing of miracles, is an insufficient argument of immediate revelation. For if a man that teacheth not false doctrine should pretend to be a prophet without showing any miracle, he is never the more to be regarded for his pretence, as is evident by Deuteronomy, 18. 21, 22: "If thou say in thy heart, How shall we know that the word" (of the prophet) "is not that which the Lord hath spoken? When the prophet shall have spoken in the name of the Lord, that which shall not come to pass, that is the word which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it out of the pride of his own heart, fear him not." But a man may here again ask: When the prophet hath foretold a thing, how shall we know whether it will come to pass or not? For he may foretell it as a thing to arrive after a certain long time, longer than the time of man's life; or indefinitely, that it will come to pass one time or other: in which case this mark of a prophet is unuseful; and therefore the miracles that oblige us to believe a prophet ought to be confirmed by an immediate, or a not long deferred event. So that it is manifest that the teaching of the religion which God hath established, and the showing of a present miracle, joined together, were the only marks whereby the Scripture would have a true prophet, that is to say, immediate revelation, to be acknowledged; of them being singly sufficient to oblige any other man to regard what he saith.
Seeing therefore miracles now cease, we have no sign left whereby to acknowledge the pretended revelations or inspirations of any private man; nor obligation to give ear to any doctrine, farther than it is conformable to the Holy Scriptures, which since the time of our Saviour supply the place and sufficiently recompense the want of all other prophecy; and from which, by wise and learned interpretation, and careful ratiocination, all rules and precepts necessary to the knowledge of our duty both to God and man, without enthusiasm, or supernatural inspiration, may easily be deduced. And this Scripture is it out of which I am to take the principles of my discourse concerning the rights of those that are the supreme governors on earth of Christian Commonwealths, and of the duty of Christian subjects towards their sovereigns. And to that end, I shall speak, in the next chapter, of the books, writers, scope and authority of the Bible.
Chapter XXXIII: Of the Number, Antiquity, Scope, Authority, and Interpreters of the Books of Holy Scripture
By the Books of Holy Scripture are understood those which ought to be the canon, that is to say, the rules of Christian life. And because all rules of life, which men are in conscience bound to observe, are laws, the question of the Scripture is the question of what is law throughout all Christendom, both natural and civil. For though it be not determined in Scripture what laws every Christian king shall constitute in his own dominions; yet it is determined what laws he shall not constitute. Seeing therefore I have already proved that sovereigns in their own dominions are the sole legislators; those books only are canonical, that is, law, in every nation, which are established for such by the sovereign authority. It is true that God is the Sovereign of all sovereigns; and therefore, when he speaks to any subject, he ought to be obeyed, whatsoever any earthly potentate command to the contrary. But the question is not of obedience to God, but of when, and what God hath said; which, to subjects that have no supernatural revelation, cannot be known but by that natural reason which guided them for the obtaining of peace and justice to obey the authority of their several Commonwealths; that is to say, of their lawful sovereigns. According to this obligation, I can acknowledge no other books of the Old Testament to be Holy Scripture but those which have been commanded to be acknowledged for such by the authority of the Church of England. What books these are is sufficiently known without a catalogue of them here; and they are the same that are acknowledged by St. Jerome, who holdeth the rest, namely, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobias, the first and the second of Maccabees (though he had seen the first in Hebrew), and the third and fourth of Esdras, for Apocrypha. Of the canonical, Josephus, a learned Jew, that wrote in the time of the Emperor Domitian, reckoneth twenty-two, making the number agree with the Hebrew alphabet. St. Jerome does the same, though they reckon them in different manner. For Josephus numbers five books of Moses, thirteen of prophets that writ the history of their own times (which how it agrees with the prophets writings contained in the Bible we shall see hereafter), and four of Hymns and moral precepts. But St. Jerome reckons five Books of Moses, eight of prophets, and nine of other Holy Writ which he calls of Hagiographa. The Septuagint, who were seventy learned men of the Jews, sent for by Ptolemy, king of Egypt, to translate the Jewish law out of the Hebrew into the Greek, have left us no other for Holy Scripture in the Greek tongue but the same that are received in the Church of England.
As for the books of the New Testament, they are equally acknowledged for canon by all Christian churches, and by all sects of Christians that admit any books at all for canonical.
Who were the original writers of the several books of Holy Scripture has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other history, which is the only proof of matter of fact; nor can be by any arguments of natural reason: for reason serves only to convince the truth, not of fact, but of consequence. The light therefore that must guide us in this question must be that which is held out unto us from the books themselves: and this light, though it show us not the writer of every book, yet it is not unuseful to give us knowledge of the time wherein they were written.
And first, for the Pentateuch, it is not argument enough that they were written by Moses, because they are called the five Books of Moses; no more than these titles, the Book of Joshua, the Book of Judges, the Book of Ruth, and the Books of the Kings, are arguments sufficient to prove that they were written by Joshua, by the Judges, by Ruth, and by the Kings. For in titles of books, the subject is marked as often as the writer. The History of Livy denotes the writer; but the History of Scanderberg is denominated from the subject. We read in the last chapter of Deuteronomy concerning the sepulchre of Moses, "that no man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day,"* that is, to the day wherein those words were written. It is therefore manifest that those words were written after his interment. For it were a strange interpretation to say Moses spake of his own sepulchre (though by prophecy), that it was not found to that day wherein he was yet living. But it may perhaps be alleged that the last chapter only, not the whole Pentateuch, was written by some other man, but the rest not. Let us therefore consider that which we find in the Book of Genesis, "And Abraham passed through the land to the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh, and the Canaanite was then in the land";*(2) which must needs be the words of one that wrote when the Canaanite was not in the land; and consequently, not of Moses, who died before he came into it. Likewise Numbers, 21. 14, the writer citeth another more ancient book, entitled, The Book of the Wars of the Lord, wherein were registered the acts of Moses, at the Red Sea, and at the brook of Arnon. It is therefore sufficiently evident that the five Books of Moses were written after his time, though how long after it be not so manifest.
- Deuteronomy, 34. 6
- (2) Genesis, 12. 6
But though Moses did not compile those books entirely, and in the form we have them; yet he wrote all that which he is there said to have written: as for example, the volume of the law, which is contained, as it seemeth, in the 11th of Deuteronomy, and the following chapters to the 27th, which was also commanded to be written on stones, in their entry into the land of Canaan. And this did Moses himself write, and deliver to the priests and elders of Israel, to be read every seventh year to all Israel, at their assembling in the feast of tabernacles.* And this is that law which God commanded that their kings (when they should have established that form of government) should take a copy of from the priests and Levites; and which Moses commanded the priests and Levites to lay in the side of the Ark;*(2) and the same which, having been lost, was long time after found again by Hilkiah,*(3) and sent to King Josias, who, causing it to be read to the people, renewed the covenant between God and them.*(4)
- Deuteronomy, 21. 9, 10
- (2) Ibid., 31. 26
- (3) II KIngs, 22. 8
- (4) Ibid., 23. 1-3
That the Book of Joshua was also written long after the time of Joshua may be gathered out of many places of the book itself. Joshua had set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, for a monument of their passage; of which the writer saith thus, "They are there unto this day";* for unto this day is a phrase that signifieth a time past, beyond the memory of man. In like manner, upon the saying of the Lord that He had rolled off from the people the reproach of Egypt, the writer saith, "The place is called Gilgal unto this day";*(2) which to have said in the time of Joshua had been improper. So also the name of the valley of Achor, from the trouble that Achan raised in the camp, the writer saith, "remaineth unto this day";*(3) which must needs be therefore long after the time of Joshua. Arguments of this kind there be many other; as Joshua, 8. 29, 13. 13, 14. 14, 15. 63.
- Joshua, 4. 9
- (2) Ibid., 5. 9
- (3) Ibid., 7. 26
The same is manifest by like arguments of the Book of Judges, 1. 21, 26, 4. 24, 10. 4, 15. 19, 18. 6, and Ruth, 1. 1, but especially Judges, 18. 30. where it said that Jonathan "and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan, until the day of the captivity of the land."
That the Books of Samuel were also written after his own time, there are the like arguments, I Samuel, 5. 5, 7. 13, 15, 27. 6, and 30. 25, where, after David had adjudged equal part of the spoils to them that guarded the ammunition, with them that fought, the writer saith, "He made it a statute and an ordinance to Israel to this day." Again, when David (displeased that the Lord had slain Uzzah for putting out his hand to sustain the Ark) called the place Perez-uzzah, the writer saith it is called so "to this day":* the time therefore of the writing of that book must be long after the time of the fact; that is, long after the time of David.
- II Samuel, 6. 8
As for the two Books of the Kings, and the two Books of the Chronicles, besides the places which mention such monuments, as the writer saith remained till his own days; such as are I Kings, 9. 13, 9. 21, 10. 12, 12. 19; II Kings, 2. 22, 10. 27, 14. 7, 16. 6, 17. 23, 17. 34, 17. 41, and I Chronicles, 4. 41, 5. 26. It is argument sufficient they were written after the captivity in Babylon that the history of them is continued till that time. For the facts registered are always more ancient than the register; and much more ancient than such books as make mention of and quote the register; as these books do in diverse places, referring the reader to the chronicles of the Kings of Judah, to the chronicles of the Kings of Israel, to the books of the prophet Samuel, of the prophet Nathan, of the prophet Ahijah; to the vision of Jehdo, to the books of the prophet Serveiah, and of the prophet Addo.
The Books of Esdras and Nehemiah were written certainly after their return from captivity; because their return, the re-edification of the walls and houses of Jerusalem, the renovation of the covenant, and ordination of their policy are therein contained.
The history of Queen Esther is of the time of the Captivity; and therefore the writer must have been of the same time, or after it.
The Book of Job hath no mark in it of the time wherein it was written: and though it appear sufficiently that he was no feigned person;* yet the book itself seemeth not to be a history, but a treatise concerning a question in ancient time much disputed: why wicked men have often prospered in this world, and good men have been afflicted; and it is the more probable, because from the beginning to the third verse of the third chapter, where the complaint of Job beginneth, the Hebrew is (as St. Jerome testifies) in prose; and from thence to the sixth verse of the last chapter in hexameter verses; and the rest of that chapter again in prose. So that the dispute is all in verse; and the prose is added, as a preface in the beginning and an epilogue in the end. But verse is no usual style of such as either are themselves in great pain, as Job; or of such as come to comfort them, as his friends; but in philosophy, especially moral philosophy, in ancient time frequent.
- Ezekiel, 14. 14 and James, 5. 11
The Psalms were written the most part by David, for the use of the choir. To these are added some songs of Moses and other holy men; and some of them after the return from the Captivity, as the 137th and the 126th, whereby it is manifest that the Psalter was compiled, and put into the form it now hath, after the return of the Jews from Babylon.
The Proverbs, being a collection of wise and godly sayings, partly of Solomon, partly of Agur the son of Jakeh, and partly of the mother of King Lemuel, cannot probably be thought to have been collected by Solomon, rather than by Agur, or the mother of Lemuel; and that, though the sentences be theirs, yet the collection or compiling them into this one book was the work of some other godly man that lived after them all.
The Books of Ecclesiastes and the Canticles have nothing that was not Solomon's, except it be the titles or inscriptions. For The Words of the Preacher, the Son of David, King in Jerusalem, and The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's, seem to have been made for distinction's sake, then, when the books of Scripture were gathered into one body of the law; to the end that not the doctrine only, but the authors also might be extant. OF the Prophets, the most ancient are Zephaniah, Jonas, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micaiah, who lived in the time of Amaziah and Azariah, otherwise Ozias, Kings of Judah. But the Book of Jonah is not properly a register of his prophecy; for that is contained in these few words, "Forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed"; but a history or narration of his frowardness and disputing God's commandments; so that there is small probability he should be the author, seeing he is the subject of it. But the Book of Amos is his prophecy.
Jeremiah, Obadiah, Nahum, and Habakkuk prophesied in the time of Josiah.
Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah, in the Captivity.
When Joel and Malachi prophesied is not evident by their writings. But considering the inscriptions or titles of their books, it is manifest enough that the whole Scripture of the Old Testament was set forth, in the form we have it, after the return of the Jews from their Captivity in Babylon, and before the time of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, that caused it to be translated into Greek by seventy men, which were sent him out of Judea for that purpose. And if the books of Apocrypha (which are recommended to us by the Church, though not for canonical, yet for profitable books for our instruction) may in this point be credited, the Scripture was set forth in the form we have it in by Esdras, as may appear by that which he himself saith, in the second book, chapter 14, verses 21, 22, etc., where, speaking to God, he saith thus, "Thy law is burnt; therefore no man knoweth the things which thou hast done, or the works that are to begin. But if I have found grace before thee, send down the holy spirit into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world, since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days, may live." And verse 45: "And it came to pass, when the forty days were fulfilled, that the Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast written, publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it; but keep the seventy last, that thou mayst deliver them only to such as be wise among the people." And thus much concerning the time of the writing of the books of the Old Testament.
The writers of the New Testament lived all in less than an age after Christ's ascension, and had all of them seen our Saviour, or been his Disciples, except St. Paul and St. Luke; and consequently whatsoever was written by them is as ancient as the time of the Apostles. But the time wherein the books of the New Testament were received and acknowledged by the Church to be of their writing is not altogether so ancient. For, as the books of the Old Testament are derived to us from no higher time than that of Esdras, who by the direction of God's spirit retrieved them when they were lost: those of the New Testament, of which the copies were not many, nor could easily be all in any one private man's hand, cannot be derived from a higher time than that wherein the governors of the Church collected, approved, and recommended them to us as the writings of those Apostles and disciples under whose names they go. The first enumeration of all the books, both of the Old and New Testament, is in the Canons of the Apostles, supposed to be collected by Clement the First (after St. Peter), Bishop of Rome. But because that is but supposed, and by many questioned, the Council of Laodicea is the first we know that recommended the Bible to the then Christian churches for the writings of the prophets and Apostles: and this Council was held in the 364th year after Christ. At which time, though ambition had so far prevailed on the great doctors of the Church as no more to esteem emperors, though Christian, for the shepherds of the people, but for sheep; and emperors not Christian, for wolves; and endeavoured to pass their doctrine, not for counsel and information, as preachers; but for laws, as absolute governors; and thought such frauds as tended to make the people the more obedient to Christian doctrine to be pious; yet I am persuaded they did not therefore falsify the Scriptures, though the copies of the books of the New Testament were in the hands only of the ecclesiastics; because if they had had an intention so to do, they would surely have made them more favorable to their power over Christian princes and civil sovereignty than they are. I see not therefore any reason to doubt but that the Old and New Testament, as we have them now, are the true registers of those things which were done and said by the prophets and Apostles. And so perhaps are some of those books which are called Apocrypha, if left out of the Canon, not for inconformity of doctrine with the rest, but only because they are not found in the Hebrew. For after the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, there were few learned Jews that were not perfect in the Greek tongue. For the seventy interpreters that converted the Bible into Greek were all of them Hebrews; and we have extant the works of Philo and Josephus, both Jews, written by them eloquently in Greek. But it is not the writer but the authority of the Church that maketh a book canonical. And although these books were written by diverse men, yet it is manifest the writers were all endued with one and the same spirit, in that they conspire to one and the same end, which is the setting forth of the rights of the kingdom of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For the book of Genesis deriveth the genealogy of God's people from the creation of the world to the going into Egypt: the other four Books of Moses contain the election of God for their King, and the laws which he prescribed for their government: the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel, to the time of Saul, describe the acts of God's people till the time they cast off God's yoke, and called for a king, after the manner of their neighbour nations: the rest of the history of the Old Testament derives the succession of the line of David to the Captivity, of which line was to spring the restorer of the kingdom of God, even our blessed Saviour, God the Son, whose coming was foretold in the books of the prophets, after whom the Evangelists wrote his life and actions, and his claim to the kingdom, whilst he lived on earth: and lastly, the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles declare the coming of God, the Holy Ghost, and the authority He left with them and their successors, for the direction of the Jews and for the invitation of the Gentiles. In sum, the histories and the prophecies of the Old Testament and the gospels and epistles of the New Testament have had one and the same scope, to convert men to the obedience of God: 1. in Moses and the priests; 2. in the man Christ; and 3. in the Apostles and the successors to apostolical power. For these three at several times did represent the person of God: Moses, and his successors the high priests, and kings of Judah, in the Old Testament: Christ Himself, in the time he lived on earth: and the Apostles, and their successors, from the day of Pentecost (when the Holy Ghost descended on them) to this day.
It is a question much disputed between the diverse sects of Christian religion, from whence the Scriptures derive their authority; which question is also propounded sometimes in other terms, as, how we know them to be the word of God, or, why we believe them to be so; and the difficulty of resolving it ariseth chiefly from the improperness of the words wherein the question itself is couched. For it is believed on all hands that the first and original author of them is God; and consequently the question disputed is not that. Again, it is manifest that none can know they are God's word (though all true Christians believe it) but those to whom God Himself hath revealed it supernaturally; and therefore the question is not rightly moved, of our knowledge of it. Lastly, when the question is propounded of our belief; because some are moved to believe for one, and others for other reasons, there can be rendered no one general answer for them all. The question truly stated is: by what authority they are made law.
As far as they differ not from the laws of nature, there is no doubt but they are the law of God, and carry their authority with them, legible to all men that have the use of natural reason: but this is no other authority than that of all other moral doctrine consonant to reason; the dictates whereof are laws, not made, but eternal.
If they be made law by God Himself, they are of the nature of written law, which are laws to them only to whom God hath so sufficiently published them as no man can excuse himself by saying he knew not they were His.
He therefore to whom God hath not supernaturally revealed that they are His, nor that those that published them were sent by Him, is not obliged to obey them by any authority but his whose commands have already the force of laws; that is to say, by any other authority than that of the Commonwealth, residing in the sovereign, who only has the legislative power. Again, if it be not the legislative authority of the Commonwealth that giveth them the force of laws, it must be some other authority derived from God, either private or public: if private, it obliges only him to whom in particular God hath been pleased to reveal it. For if every man should be obliged to take for God's law what particular men, on pretence of private inspiration or revelation, should obtrude upon him (in such a number of men that out of pride and ignorance take their own dreams, and extravagant fancies, and madness for testimonies of God's spirit; or, out of ambition, pretend to such divine testimonies, falsely and contrary to their own consciences), it were impossible that any divine law should be acknowledged. If public, it is the authority of the Commonwealth or of the Church. But the Church, if it be one person, is the same thing with a Commonwealth of Christians; called a Commonwealth because it consisteth of men united in one person, their sovereign; and a Church, because it consisteth in Christian men, united in one Christian sovereign. But if the Church be not one person, then it hath no authority at all; it can neither command nor do any action at all; nor is capable of having any power or right to anything; nor has any will, reason, nor voice; for all these qualities are personal. Now if the whole number of Christians be not contained in one Commonwealth, they are not one person; nor is there a universal Church that hath any authority over them; and therefore the Scriptures are not made laws by the universal Church: or if it be one Commonwealth, then all Christian monarches and states are private persons, and subject to be judged, deposed, and punished by a universal sovereign of all Christendom. So that the question of the authority of the Scriptures is reduced to this: whether Christian kings, and the sovereign assemblies in Christian Commonwealths, be absolute in their own territories, immediately under God; or subject to one Vicar of Christ, constituted over the universal Church; to be judged condemned, deposed, and put to death, as he shall think expedient or necessary for the common good.
Which question cannot be resolved without a more particular consideration of the kingdom of God; from whence also, we are to judge of the authority of interpreting the Scripture. For, whosoever hath a lawful power over any writing, to make it law, hath the power also to approve or disapprove the interpretation of the same.
Chapter XXXIV: Of the Signification of Spirit, Angel, and Inspiration in the Books of Holy Scripture
Seeing the foundation of all true ratiocination is the constant signification of words; which, in the doctrine following, dependeth not (as in natural science) on the will of the writer, nor (as in common conversation) on vulgar use, but on the sense they carry in the Scripture; it is necessary, before I proceed any further, to determine, out of the Bible, the meaning of such words as by their ambiguity may render what I am to infer upon them obscure or disputable. I will begin with the words body and spirit, which in the language of the Schools are termed substances, corporeal and incorporeal.
The word body, in the most general acceptation, signifieth that which filleth or occupieth some certain room or imagined place; and dependeth not on the imagination, but is a real part of that we call the universe. For the universe, being the aggregate of all bodies, there is no real part thereof that is not also body; nor anything properly a body that is not also part of that aggregate of all bodies, the universe. The same also, because bodies are subject to change, that is to say, to variety of appearance to the sense of living creatures, is called substance, that is to say, subject to various accidents: as sometimes to be moved, sometimes to stand still; and to seem to our senses sometimes hot, sometimes cold; sometimes of one colour, smell, taste, or sound, sometimes of another. And this diversity of seeming, produced by the diversity of the operation of bodies on the organs of our sense, we attribute to alterations of the bodies that operate, and call them accidents of those bodies. And according to this acceptation of the word, substance and body signify the same thing; and therefore substance incorporeal are words which, when they are joined together, destroy one another, as if a man should say, an incorporeal body.
But in the sense of common people, not all the universe is called body, but only such parts thereof as they can discern, by the sense of feeling, to resist their force; or, by the sense of their eyes, to hinder them from a farther prospect. Therefore in the common language of men, air and aerial substances use not to be taken for bodies, but, as often as men are sensible of their effects, are called wind, or breath, or (because the same are called in the Latin spiritus) spirits; as when they call that aerial substance which in the body of any living creature gives it life and motion, vital and animal spirits. But for those idols of the brain which represent bodies to us where they are not, as in a looking-glass, in a dream, or to a distempered brain waking, they are (as the Apostle saith generally of all idols) nothing; nothing at all, I say, there where they seem to be; and in the brain itself, nothing but tumult, proceeding either from the action of the objects or from the disorderly agitation of the organs of our sense. And men that are otherwise employed than to search into their causes know not of themselves what to call them; and may therefore easily be persuaded, by those whose knowledge they much reverence, some to call them bodies, and think them made of air compacted by a power supernatural, because the sight judges them corporeal; and some to call them spirits, because the sense of touch discerneth nothing, in the place where they appear, to resist their fingers: so that the proper signification of spirit in common speech is either a subtle, fluid, and invisible body, or a ghost, or other idol or phantasm of the imagination. But for metaphorical significations there be many: for sometimes it is taken for disposition or inclination of the mind, as when for the disposition to control the sayings of other men, we say, a spirit of contradiction; for a disposition to uncleanness, an unclean spirit; for perverseness, a froward spirit; for sullenness, a dumb spirit; and for inclination to godliness and God's service, the Spirit of God: sometimes for any eminent ability, or extraordinary passion, or disease of the mind, as when great wisdom is called the spirit of wisdom; and madmen are said to be possessed with a spirit.
Other signification of spirit I find nowhere any; and where none of these can satisfy the sense of that word in Scripture, the place falleth not under human understanding; and our faith therein consisteth, not in our opinion, but in our submission; as in all places where God is said to be a Spirit, or where by the Spirit of God is meant God Himself. For the nature of God is incomprehensible; that is to say, we understand nothing of what He is, but only that He is; and therefore the attributes we give Him are not to tell one another what He is, nor to signify our opinion of His nature, but our desire to honour Him with such names as we conceive most honourable amongst ourselves.
"The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."* Here if by the Spirit of God be meant God Himself, then is motion attributed to God, and consequently place, which are intelligible only of bodies, and not of substances incorporeal; and so the place is above our understanding that can conceive nothing moved that changes not place or that has not dimension; and whatsoever has dimension is body. But the meaning of those words is best understood by the like place, where when the earth was covered with waters, as in the beginning, God intending to abate them, and again to discover the dry land, useth the like words, "I will bring my Spirit upon the earth, and the waters shall be diminished":*(2) in which place by Spirit is understood a wind (that is an air or spirit moved), which might be called, as in the former place, the Spirit of God, because it was God's work.
- Genesis, 1. 2
- (2) Ibid., 8. 1
Pharaoh calleth the wisdom of Joseph the Spirit of God. For Joseph having advised him to look out a wise and discreet man, and to set him over the land of Egypt, he saith thus, "Can we find such a man as this is, in whom is the Spirit of God?"* And Exodus, 28. 3, "Thou shalt speak," saith God, "to all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron garments, to consecrate him." Where extraordinary understanding, though but in making garments, as being the gift of God, is called the Spirit of God. The same is found again, Exod. 31. 3-6, and 35. 31 And Isaiah, 11. 2, 3, where the prophet, speaking of the Messiah, saith, "The Spirit of the Lord shall abide upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel, and fortitude, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord." Where manifestly is meant, not so many ghosts, but so many eminent graces that God would give him.
- Genesis, 41. 38
In the Book of Judges, an extraordinary zeal and courage in the defence of God's people is called the Spirit of God; as when it excited Othniel, Gideon, Jephtha, and Samson to deliver them from servitude, Judges, 3. 10, 6. 34, 11. 29, 13. 25, 14. 6, 19. And of Saul, upon the news of the insolence of the Ammonites towards the men of Jabesh Gilead, it is said that "The Spirit of God came upon Saul, and his anger" (or, as it is in the Latin, his fury) "was kindled greatly."* Where it is not probable was meant a ghost, but an extraordinary zeal to punish the cruelty of the Ammonites. In like manner by the Spirit of God that came upon Saul, when he was amongst the prophets that praised God in songs and music,*(2) is to be understood, not a ghost, but an unexpected and sudden zeal to join with them in their devotion.
- I Samuel, 11. 6
- (2) Ibid., 19. 20
The false prophet Zedekiah saith to Micaiah, "Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee?"* Which cannot be understood of a ghost; for Micaiah declared before the kings of Israel and Judah the event of the battle as from a vision and not as from a spirit speaking in him.
- I Kings, 22. 24
In the same manner it appeareth, in the books of the Prophets, that though they spake by the Spirit of God, that is to say, by a special grace of prediction; yet their knowledge of the future was not by a ghost within them, but by some supernatural dream or vision.
It is said, "God made man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils (spiraculum vitae) the breath of life, and man was made a living soul."* There the breath of life inspired by God signifies no more but that God gave him life; and "as long as the spirit of God is in my nostrils"*(2) is no more than to say, "as long as I live." So in Ezekiel, 1. 20, "the spirit of life was in the wheels," is equivalent to, "the wheels were alive." And "the spirit entered into me, and me, and set me on my feet,"*(3) that is, "I recovered my vital strength"; not that any ghost or incorporeal substance entered into and possessed his body.
- Genesis, 2. 7
- (2) Job, 27. 3
- (3) Ezekiel, 2. 30
In the eleventh chapter of Numbers, verse 17, "I will take," saith God, "of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee"; that is, upon the seventy elders: whereupon two of the seventy are said to prophesy in the camp; of whom some complained, and Joshua desired Moses to forbid them, which Moses would not do. Whereby it appears that Joshua knew not they had received authority so to do, and prophesied according to the mind of Moses, that is to say, by a spirit or authority subordinate to his own.
In the like sense we read that "Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands upon him":* that is, because he was ordained by Moses to prosecute the work he had himself begun (namely, the bringing of God's people into the promised land) but, prevented by death, could not finish.
- Deuteronomy, 34. 9
In the like sense it is said, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his":* not meaning thereby the ghost of Christ, but a submission to his doctrine. As also, "Hereby you shall know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God";*(2) by which is meant the spirit of unfeigned Christianity, submission to that main article of Christian faith, that Jesus is the Christ; which cannot be interpreted of a ghost.
- Romans, 8. 9
- (2) I John, 4. 2
Likewise these words, "And Jesus full of the Holy Ghost"* (that is, as it is expressed, Matthew, 4. 1, and Mark, 1. 12, "of the Holy Spirit") may be understood for zeal to do the work for which he was sent by God the Father: but to interpret it of a ghost is to say that God Himself (for so our Saviour was) was filled with God; which is very improper and insignificant. How we came to translate spirits by the word ghosts, which signifieth nothing, neither in heaven nor earth, but the imaginary inhabitants of man's brain, I examine not: but this I say, the word spirit in the text signifieth no such thing; but either properly a real substance or, metaphorically, some extraordinary ability or affection of the mind or of the body.
- Luke, 4. 1
The Disciples of Christ, seeing him walking upon the sea* supposed him to be a spirit, meaning thereby an aerial body, and not a phantasm: for it is said they all saw him; which cannot be understood of the delusions of the brain (which are not common to many at once. as visible bodies are; but singular, because of the differences of fancies), but of bodies only. In like manner, where he was taken for a spirit, by the same Apostles:*(2) so also when St. Peter was delivered out of prison, it would not be believed; but when the maid said he was at the door, they said it was his angel;*(3) by which must be meant a corporeal substance, or we must say the disciples themselves did follow the common opinion of both Jews and Gentiles that some such apparitions were not imaginary, but real; and such as needed not the fancy of man for their existence: these the Jews called spirits and angels, good or bad; as the Greeks called the same by the name of demons. And some such apparitions may be real and substantial; that is to say, subtle bodies, which God can form by the same power by which He formed all things, and make use of as ministers and messengers (that is to say, angels), to declare His will, and execute the same when He pleaseth in extraordinary and supernatural manner. But when He hath so formed them they are substances, endued with dimensions, and take up room, and can be moved from place to place, which is peculiar to bodies; and therefore are not ghosts not ghosts incorporeal, that is to say, ghosts that are in no place; that is to say, that are nowhere; that is to say, that, seeming to be somewhat, are nothing. But if corporeal be taken in the most vulgar manner, for such substances as are perceptible by our external senses; then is substance incorporeal a thing not imaginary, but real; namely, a thin substance invisible, but that hath the same dimensions that are in grosser bodies.
- Matthew, 14. 26 and Mark, 6. 49
- (2) Luke, 24. 3, 7
- (3) Acts, 12. 15
By the name of angel is signified, generally, a messenger; and most often, a messenger of God: and by a messenger of God is signified anything that makes known His extraordinary presence; that is to say, the extraordinary manifestation of His power, especially by a dream or vision.
Concerning the creation of angels, there is nothing delivered in the Scriptures. That they are spirits is often repeated: but by the name of spirit is signified both in Scripture and vulgarly, both amongst Jews and Gentiles, sometimes thin bodies; as the air, the wind, the spirits vital and animal of living creatures; and sometimes the images that rise in the fancy in dreams and visions; which are not real substances, nor last any longer than the dream or vision they appear in; which apparitions, though no real substances, but accidents of the brain; yet when God raiseth them supernaturally, to signify His will, they are not improperly termed God's messengers, that is to say, His angels.
And as the Gentiles did vulgarly conceive the imagery of the brain for things really subsistent without them, and not dependent on the fancy; and out of them framed their opinions of demons, good and evil; which because they seemed to subsist really, they called substances; and because they could not feel them with their hands, incorporeal: so also the Jews upon the same ground, without anything in the Old Testament that constrained them thereunto, had generally an opinion (except the sect of the Sadducees) that those apparitions, which it pleased God sometimes to produce in the fancy of men, for His own service, and therefore called them His angels, were substances, not dependent on the fancy, but permanent creatures of God; whereof those which they thought were good to them, they esteemed the angels of God, and those they thought would hurt them, they called evil angels, or evil spirits; such as was the spirit of Python, and the spirits of madmen, of lunatics and epileptics: for they esteemed such as were troubled with such diseases, demoniacs.
But if we consider the places of the Old Testament where angels are mentioned, we shall find that in most of them, there can nothing else be understood by the word angel, but some image raised, supernaturally, in the fancy, to signify the presence of God in the execution of some supernatural work; and therefore in the rest, where their nature is not expressed, it may be understood in the same manner.
For we read that the same apparition is called not only an angel, but God, where that which is called the angel of the Lord, saith to Hagar, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly";* that is, speaketh in the person of God. Neither was this apparition a fancy figured, but a voice. By which it is manifest that angel signifieth there nothing but God Himself, that caused Hagar supernaturally to apprehend a voice from heaven; or rather, nothing else but a voice supernatural, testifying God's special presence there. Why therefore may not the angels that appeared to Lot, and are called men;*(2) and to whom, though they were two, Lot speaketh as but to one,*(3) and that one as God (for the words are, "Lot said unto them, Oh not so my Lord"), be understood of images of men, supernaturally formed in the fancy; as well as before by angel was understood a fancied voice? When the angel called to Abraham out of heaven, to stay his hand from slaying Isaac,*(4)
there was no apparition, but a voice; which nevertheless was called properly enough a messenger or angel of God, because it declared God's will supernaturally, and saves the labour of supposing any permanent ghosts. The angels which Jacob saw on the ladder of heaven*(5) were a vision of his sleep; therefore only fancy and a dream; yet being supernatural, and signs of God's special presence, those apparitions are not improperly called angels. The same is to be understood where Jacob saith thus, "The angel of the Lord appeared to me in my sleep."*(6) For an apparition made to a man in his sleep is that which all men call a dream, whether such dream be natural or supernatural: and that which there Jacob calleth an angel was God Himself; for the same angel saith, "I am the God of Bethel."*(7)
- Genesis, 16. 7, 10
- (2) Ibid., 19. 10
- (3) Ibid., 19. 18
- (4) Genesis, 22. 11
- (5) Ibid., 28. 12
- (6) Ibid., 31. 11
- (7) Ibid., 31. 13
Also the angel that went before the army of Israel to the Red Sea, and then came behind it, is the Lord Himself;* and He appeared not in the form of a beautiful man, but in form, by day, of a "pillar of cloud," and, by night, in form of a "pillar of fire";*(2) and yet this pillar was all the apparition and angel promised to Moses for the army's guide: for this cloudy pillar is said to have descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and to have talked with Moses.*(3)
- Exodus, 14. 19
- (2) Ibid., 13. 21
- (3) Ibid., 33. 2
There you see motion and speech, which are commonly attributed to angels, attributed to a cloud, because the cloud served as a sign of God's presence; and was no less an angel than if it had had the form of a man or child of never so great beauty; or wings, as usually they are painted, for the false instruction of common people. For it is not the shape, but their use, that makes them angels. But their use is to be significations of God's presence in supernatural operations; as when Moses had desired God to go along with the camp, as He had done always before the making of the golden calf, God did not answer, "I will go," nor "I will send an angel in my stead"; but thus, "My presence shall go with thee."*
- Exodus, 33. 14
To mention all the places of the Old Testament where the name of angel is found would be too long. Therefore to comprehend them all at once, I say there is no text in that part of the Old Testament which the Church of England holdeth for canonical from which we can conclude there is, or hath been created, any permanent thing (understood by the name of spirit or angel) that hath not quantity, and that may not be by the understanding divided; that is to say, considered by parts; so as one part may be in one place, and the next part in the next place to it; and, in sum, which is not (taking body for that which is somewhat or somewhere) corporeal; but in every place the sense will bear the interpretation of angel for messenger; as John Baptist is called an angel, and Christ the Angel of the Covenant; and as (according to the same analogy) the dove and the fiery tongues, in that they were signs of God's special presence, might also be called angels. Though we find in Daniel two names of angels, Gabriel and Michael; yet it is clear out of the text itself that by Michael is meant Christ, not as an angel, but as a prince:* and that Gabriel (as the like apparitions made to other holy men in their sleep) was nothing but a supernatural phantasm, by which it seemed to Daniel in his dream that two saints being in talk, one of them said to the other, "Gabriel, let us make this man understand his vision": for God needeth not to distinguish his celestial servants by names, which are useful only to the short memories of mortals. Nor in the New Testament is there any place out of which it can be proved that angels (except when they are put for such men as God hath made the messengers and ministers of His word or works) are things permanent, and withal incorporeal. That they are permanent may be gathered from the words of our Saviour himself where he saith it shall be said to the wicked in the last day, "Go ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels":*(2) which place is manifest for the permanence of evil angels (unless we might think the name of Devil and his angels may be understood of the Church's adversaries and their ministers); but then it is repugnant to their immateriality, because everlasting fire is no punishment to impatible substances, such as are all things incorporeal. Angels therefore are not thence proved to be incorporeal. In like manner where St. Paul says, "Know ye not that we shall judge the angels?"*(3) And II Peter, 2. 4, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell"; and "And the angels that kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the last day";*(4) though it prove the permanence of angelical nature, it confirmeth also their materiality. And, "In the resurrection men do neither marry, nor give in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven":*(5) but in the resurrection men shall be permanent, and not incorporeal; so therefore also are the angels.
- Daniel, 12. 1
- (2) Matthew, 25. 41
- (3) I Corinthians, 6. 3
- (4) Jude, 1. 6
- (5) Matthew, 22. 30
There be diverse other places out of which may be drawn the like conclusion. To men that understand the signification of these words, substance and incorporeal (as incorporeal is taken not for subtle body, but for not body), they imply a contradiction: insomuch as to say, an angel or spirit is in that sense an incorporeal substance is to say, in effect, there is no angel nor spirit at all. Considering therefore the signification of the word angel in the Old Testament, and the nature of dreams and visions that happen to men by the ordinary way of nature, I was inclined to this opinion, that angels were nothing but supernatural apparitions of the fancy, raised by the special and extraordinary operation of God, thereby to make His presence and commandments known to mankind, and chiefly to His own people. But the many places of the New Testament, and our Saviour's own words, and in such texts wherein is no suspicion of corruption of the Scripture, have extorted from my feeble reason an acknowledgement and belief that there be also angels substantial and permanent. But to believe they be in no place, that is to say, nowhere, that is to say, nothing, as they, though indirectly, say that will have them incorporeal, cannot by Scripture be evinced.
On the signification of the word spirit dependeth that of the word inspiration; which must either be taken properly, and then it is nothing but the blowing into a man some thin and subtle air or wind in such manner as a man filleth a bladder with his breath; or if spirits be not corporeal, but have their existence only in the fancy, it is nothing but the blowing in of a phantasm; which is improper to say, and impossible; for phantasms are not, but only seem to be, somewhat. That word therefore is used in the Scripture metaphorically only: as where it is said that God inspired into man the breath of life,* no more is meant than that God gave unto him vital motion. For we are not to think that God made first a living breath, and then blew it into Adam after he was made, whether that breath were real or seeming; but only as it is "that he gave him life, and breath";*(2) that is, made him a living creature. And where it is said "all Scripture is given by inspiration from God,"*(3) speaking there of the Scripture of the Old Testament, it is an easy metaphor to signify that God inclined the spirit or mind of those writers to write that which should be useful in teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing men in the way of righteous living. But where St. Peter saith that "Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,"*(4) by the Holy Spirit is meant the voice of God in a dream or vision supernatural, which is not inspiration: nor when our Saviour, breathing on His Disciples, said, "Receive the Holy Spirit, was that breath the Spirit, but a sign of the spiritual graces he gave unto them. And though it be said of many, and of our Saviour Himself, that he was full of the Holy Spirit; yet that fullness is not to be understood for infusion of the substance of God, but for accumulation of his gifts, such as are the gift of sanctity of life, of tongues, and the like, whether attained supernaturally or by study and industry; for in all cases they are the gifts of God. So likewise where God says, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions,"*(5) we are not to understand it in the proper sense, as if his Spirit were like water, subject to effusion or infusion; but as if God had promised to give them prophetical dreams and visions. For the proper use of the word infused, in speaking of the graces of God, is an abuse of it; for those graces are virtues, not bodies to be carried hither and thither, and to be poured into men as into barrels.
- Genesis, 2. 7
- (2) Acts, 17. 25
- (3) II Timothy, 3. 16
- (4) II Peter, 1. 21
- (5) Joel, 2. 28
In the same manner, to take inspiration in the proper sense, or to say that good spirits entered into men to make them prophesy, or evil spirits into those that became phrenetic, lunatic, or epileptic, is not to take the word in the sense of the Scripture; for the Spirit there is taken for the power of God, working by causes to us unknown. As also the wind that is there said to fill the house wherein the Apostles were assembled on the day of Pentecost* is not to be understood for the Holy Spirit, which is the Deity itself; but for an external sign of God's special working on their hearts to effect in them the internal graces and holy virtues He thought requisite for the performance of their apostleship.
- Acts, 2. 2
Chapter XXXV: Of the Signification in Scripture of Kingdom of God, of Holy, Sacred, and Sacrament
The kingdom of God in the writings of divines, and specially in sermons and treatises of devotion, is taken most commonly for eternal felicity, after this life, in the highest heaven, which they also call the kingdom of glory; and sometimes for the earnest of that felicity, sanctification, which they term the kingdom of grace; but never for the monarchy, that is to say, the sovereign power of God over any subjects acquired by their own consent, which is the proper signification of kingdom.
To the contrary, I find the kingdom of God to signify in most places of Scripture a kingdom properly so named, constituted by the votes of the people of Israel in peculiar manner, wherein they chose God for their king by covenant made with Him, upon God's promising them the possession of the land of Canaan; and but seldom metaphorically; and then it is taken for dominion over sin (and only in the New Testament), because such a dominion as that every subject shall have in the kingdom of God, and without prejudice to the sovereign.
From the very creation, God not only reigned over all men naturally by His might, but also had peculiar subjects, whom He commanded by a voice, as one man speaketh to another. In which manner He reigned over Adam and gave him commandment to abstain from the tree of cognizance of good and evil; which when he obeyed not, but tasting thereof took upon him to be as God, judging between good and evil, not by his Creator's commandment, but by his own sense, his punishment was a privation of the estate of eternal life, wherein God had at first created him: and afterwards God punished his posterity for their vices, all but eight persons, with a universal deluge; and in these eight did consist the then kingdom of God.
After this, it pleased God to speak to Abraham, and to make a covenant with him in these words, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee; And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession."* In this covenant Abraham promiseth for himself and his posterity to obey, as God, the Lord that spake to him; and God on his part promiseth to Abraham the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. And for a memorial and a token of this covenant, he ordaineth the sacrament of circumcision.*(2) This is it which is called the Old Covenant, or Testament, and containeth a contract between God and Abraham, by which Abraham obligeth himself and his posterity in a peculiar manner to be subject to God's positive law; for to the law moral he was obliged before, as by an oath of allegiance. And though the name of King be not yet given to God; nor of kingdom to Abraham and his seed, yet the thing is the same; namely, an institution by pact of God's peculiar sovereignty over the seed of Abraham, which in the renewing of the same covenant by Moses at Mount Sinai is expressly called a peculiar kingdom of God over the Jews: and it is of Abraham, not of Moses, St. Paul saith that he is the father of the faithful;*(3) that is, of those that are loyal and do not violate their allegiance sworn to God, then by circumcision, and afterwards in the New Covenant by baptism.
- Genesis, 17. 7, 8
- (2) Ibid., 16. 11
- (3) Romans, 4. 11
This covenant at the foot of Mount Sinai was renewed by Moses where the Lord commandeth Moses to speak to the people in this manner, "If you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar people to me, for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a sacerdotal kingdom, and an holy nation."* For a "peculiar people," the vulgar Latin hath, peculium de cunctis populis: the English translation made in the beginning of the reign of King James hath, a "peculiar treasure unto me above all nations"; and the Geneva French, "the most precious jewel of all nations." But the truest translation is the first, because it is confirmed by St. Paul himself where he saith,*(2) alluding to that place, that our blessed Saviour "gave Himself for us, that He might purify us to Himself, a peculiar (that is, an extraordinary) people": for the word is in the Greek periousios, which is opposed commonly to the word epiousios: and as this signifieth ordinary, quotidian, or, as in the Lord's Prayer, of daily use; so the other signifieth that which is overplus, and stored up, and enjoyed in a special manner; which the Latins call peculium: and this meaning of the place is confirmed by the reason God rendereth of it, which followeth immediately, in that He addeth, "For all the earth is mine," as if He should say, "All the nations of the world are mine; but it is not so that you are mine, but in a special manner: for they are all mine, by reason of my power; but you shall be mine by your own consent and covenant," which is an addition to his ordinary title to all nations.
- Exodus, 19. 5
- (2) Titus, 2. 14
The same is again confirmed in express words in the same text, "Ye shall be to me a sacerdotal kingdom, and an holy nation." The vulgar Latin hath it, regnum sacerdotale, to which agreeth the translation of that place, sacerdotium regale, a regal priesthood;* as also the institution itself, by which no man might enter into the sanctum sanctorum, that is to say, no man might enquire God's will immediately of God Himself, but only the high priest. The English translation before mentioned, following that of Geneva, has, "a kingdom of priests"; which is either meant of the succession of one high priest after another, or else it accordeth not with St. Peter, nor with the exercise of the high priesthood. For there was never any but the high priest only that was to inform the people of God's will; nor any convocation of priests ever allowed to enter into the sanctum sanctorum.
- I Peter, 2. 9
Again, the title of a holy nation confirms the same: for holy signifies that which is God's by special, not by general, right. All the earth, as is said in the text, is God's; but all the earth is not called holy, but that only which is set apart for his especial service, as was the nation of the Jews. It is therefore manifest enough by this one place that by the kingdom of God is properly meant a Commonwealth, instituted (by the consent of those which were to be subject thereto) for their civil government and the regulating of their behaviour, not only towards God their king, but also towards one another in point of justice, and towards other nations both in peace and war; which properly was a kingdom wherein God was king, and the high priest was to be, after the death of Moses, his sole viceroy, or lieutenant.
But there be many other places that clearly prove the same. As first when the elders of Israel, grieved with the corruption of the sons of Samuel, demanded a king, Samuel, displeased therewith, prayed unto the Lord; and the Lord answering said unto him, "Hearken unto the voice of the people, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."* Out of which it is evident that God Himself was then their king; and Samuel did not command the people, but only delivered to them that which God from time to time appointed him.
- I Samuel, 8. 7
Again, where Samuel saith to the people, "When ye saw that Nahash, king of the children of Ammon, came against you, ye said unto me, Nay, but a king shall reign over us; when the Lord your God was your king":* it is manifest that God was their king, and governed the civil state of their Commonwealth.
- I Samuel, 12. 12
And after the Israelites had rejected God, the prophets did foretell His restitution; as, "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem";* where he speaketh expressly of His reign in Zion and Jerusalem; that is, on earth. And, "And the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion":*(2) this Mount Zion is in Jerusalem upon the earth. And, "As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you";*(3) and, "I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant";*(4) that is, I will reign over you, and make you to stand to that covenant which you made with me by Moses, and broke in your rebellion against me in the days of Samuel, and in your election of another king.
- Isaiah, 24. 23
- (2) Micah, 4. 7
- (3) Ezekiel, 20. 33
- (4) Ibid., 20. 37
And in the New the New Testament the angel Gabriel saith of our Saviour, "He shall be great, and be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."* This is also a kingdom upon earth, for the claim whereof, as an enemy to Caesar, he was put to death; the title of his cross was Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews; he was crowned in scorn with a crown of thorns; and for the proclaiming of him, it is said of the Disciples "That they did all of them contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there was another King, one Jesus."*(2) The kingdom therefore of God is a real, not a metaphorical kingdom; and so taken, not only in the Old Testament, but the New. When we say, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and glory," it is to be understood of God's kingdom, by force of our covenant, not by the right of God's power; for such a kingdom God always hath; so that it were superfluous to say in our prayer, "Thy kingdom come," unless it be meant of the restoration of that kingdom of God by Christ which by revolt of the Israelites had been interrupted in the election of Saul. Nor had it been proper to say, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"; or to pray, "Thy kingdom come," if it had still continued.
- Luke, 1. 32, 33
- (2) Acts, 17. 7
There be so many other places that confirm this interpretation that it were a wonder there is no greater notice taken of it, but that it gives too much light to Christian kings to see their right of ecclesiastical government. This they have observed, that instead of a sacerdotal kingdom, translate, a kingdom of priests: for they may as well translate a royal priesthood, as it is in St. Peter, into a priesthood of kings. And whereas, for a peculiar people, they put a precious jewel, or treasure, a man might as well call the special regiment or company of a general the general's precious jewel, or his treasure.
In short, the kingdom of God is a civil kingdom, which consisted first, in the obligation of the people of Israel to those laws which Moses should bring unto them from Mount Sinai; and which afterwards the high priest, for the time being, should deliver to them from before the cherubim in the sanctum sanctorum; and which kingdom having been cast off in the election of Saul, the prophets foretold, should be restored by Christ; and the restoration whereof we daily pray for when we say in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come"; and the right whereof we acknowledge when we add, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and glory, for ever and ever, Amen"; and the proclaiming whereof was the preaching of the Apostles; and to which men are prepared by the teachers of the Gospel; to embrace which Gospel (that is to say, to promise obedience to God's government) is to be in the kingdom of grace, because God hath gratis given to such the power to be the subjects (that is, children) of God hereafter when Christ shall come in majesty to judge the world, and actually to govern his own people, which is called the kingdom of glory. If the kingdom of God (called also the kingdom of heaven, from the gloriousness and admirable height of that throne) were not a kingdom which God by His lieutenants or vicars, who deliver His commandments to the people, did exercise on earth, there would not have been so much contention and war about who it is by whom God speaketh to us; neither would many priests have troubled themselves with spiritual jurisdiction, nor any king have denied it them.
Out of this literal interpretation of the kingdom of God ariseth also the true interpretation of the word holy. For it is a word which in God's kingdom answereth to that which men in their kingdoms use to call public, or the king's.
The king of any country is the public person, or representative of all his own subjects. And God the king of Israel was the Holy One of Israel. The nation which is subject to one earthly sovereign is the nation of that sovereign, that is, of the public person. So the Jews, who were God's nation, were called a holy nation.* For by holy is always understood either God Himself or that which is God's in propriety; as by public is always meant either the person or the Commonwealth itself, or something that is so the Commonwealth's as no private person can claim any propriety therein.
- Exodus, 19. 6
Therefore the Sabbath (God's day) is a holy day; the Temple (God's house), a holy house; sacrifices, tithes, and offerings (God's tribute), holy duties; priests, prophets, and anointed kings, under Christ (God's ministers), holy men; the celestial ministering spirits (God's messengers), holy angels; and the like: and wheresoever the word holy is taken properly, there is still something signified of propriety gotten by consent. In saying "Hallowed be thy name," we do but pray to God for grace to keep the first Commandment of having no other Gods but Him. Mankind is God's nation in propriety: but the Jews only were a holy nation,. Why, but because they became his propriety by covenant?
And the word profane is usually taken in the Scripture for the same with common; and consequently their contraries, holy and proper, in the kingdom of God must be the same also. But figuratively, those men also are called holy that led such godly lives, as if they had forsaken all worldly designs, and wholly devoted and given themselves to God. In the proper sense, that which is made holy by God's appropriating or separating it to his own use is said to be sanctified by God, as the seventh day in the fourth Commandment; and as the elect in the New Testament were said to be sanctified when they were endued with the spirit of godliness. And that which is made holy by the dedication of men, and given to God, so as to be used only in his public service, is called also sacred, and said to be consecrated, as temples, and other houses of public prayer, and their utensils, priests, and ministers, victims, offerings, and the external matter of sacraments. OF holiness there be degrees: for of those things that are set apart for the service of God, there may be some set apart again for a nearer and more especial service. The whole nation of the Israelites were a people holy to God; yet the tribe of Levi was amongst the Israelites a holy tribe; and amongst the Levites the priests were yet more holy; and amongst the priests the high priest was the most holy. So the land of Judea was the Holy Land, but the Holy City wherein God was to be worshipped was more holy; and again, the Temple more holy than the city, and the sanctum sanctorum more holy than the rest of the Temple.
A sacrament is a separation of some visible thing from common use; and a consecration of it to God's service, for a sign either of our admission into the kingdom of God, to be of the number of his peculiar people, or for a commemoration of the same. In the Old Testament the sign of admission was circumcision; in the New Testament, baptism. The commemoration of it in the Old Testament was the eating (at a certain time, which was anniversary) of the Paschal Lamb, by which they were put in mind of the night wherein they were delivered out of their bondage in Egypt; and in the New Testament, the celebrating of the Lord's Supper, by which we are put in mind of our deliverance from the bondage of sin by our blessed Saviour's death upon the cross. The sacraments of admission are but once to be used, because there needs but one admission; but because we have need of being often put in mind of our deliverance and of our allegiance, the sacraments of commemoration have need to be reiterated. And these are the principal sacraments and, as it were, the solemn oaths we make of our allegiance. There be also other consecrations that may be called sacraments, as the word implieth only consecration to God's service; but as it implies an oath or promise of allegiance to God, there were no other in the Old Testament but circumcision and the Passover; nor are there any other in the New Testament but baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Chapter XXXVI: Of the Word of God, and of Prophets
When there is mention of the word of God, or of man, it doth not signify a part of speech, such as grammarians call a noun or a verb, or any simple voice, without a contexture with other words to make it significative; but a perfect speech or discourse, whereby the speaker affirmeth, denieth, commandeth, promiseth, threateneth, wisheth, or interrogateth. In which sense it is not vocabulum that signifies a word, but sermo (in Greek logos) that is, some speech, discourse, or saying.
Again, if we say the word of God, or of man, it may be understood sometimes of the speaker: as the words that God hath spoken, or that a man hath spoken; in which sense, when we say the Gospel of St. Matthew, we understand St. Matthew to be the writer of it: and sometimes of the subject; in which sense, when we read in the Bible, "The words of the days of the kings of Israel, or Judah," it is meant the acts that were done in those days were the subject of those words; and in the Greek, which, in the Scripture, retaineth many Hebraisms, by the word of God is oftentimes meant, not that which is spoken by God, but concerning God and His government; that is to say, the doctrine of religion: insomuch as it is all one to say logos theou, and theologia; which is that doctrine which we usually call divinity, as is manifest by the places following: "The Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles."* That which is here called the word of God was the doctrine of Christian religion; as it appears evidently by that which goes before. And where it is said to the Apostles by an angel, "Go stand and speak in the Temple, all the words of this life";*(2) by the words of this life is meant the doctrine of the Gospel, as is evident by what they did in the Temple, and is expressed in the last verse of the same chapter. "Daily in the Temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Christ Jesus":*(3) in which place it is manifest that Jesus Christ was the subject of this "word of life"; or, which is all one, the subject of the "words of this life eternal" that our Saviour offered them. So the word of God is called the word of the Gospel, because it containeth the doctrine of the kingdom of Christ; and the same word is called the word of faith;*(4) that is, as is there expressed, the doctrine of Christ come and raised from the dead. Also, "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom";*(5) that is the doctrine of the kingdom taught by Christ. Again, the same word is said "to grow and to be multiplied";*(6) which to understand of the evangelical doctrine is easy, but of the voice or speech of God, hard and strange. In the same sense the doctrine of devils*(7) signifieth not the words of any devil, but the doctrine of heathen men concerning demons, and those phantasms which they worshipped as gods.
- Acts, 13. 46
- (2) Ibid., 5. 20
- (3) Ibid., 15. 7
- (4) Romans, 10. 8, 9
- (5) Matthew, 13. 19
- (6) Acts, 12. 24
- (7) I Timothy, 4. 1
Considering these two significations of the word of God, as it is taken in Scripture, it is manifest in this latter sense (where it is taken for the doctrine of Christian religion) that the whole Scripture is the word of God: but in the former sense, not so. For example, though these words, "I am the Lord thy God," etc., to the end of the Ten Commandments, were spoken by God to Moses; yet the preface, "God spake these words and said," is to be understood for the words of him that wrote the holy history. The word of God, as it is taken for that which He hath spoken, is understood sometimes properly, sometimes metaphorically. Properly, as the words He hath spoken to His prophets: metaphorically, for His wisdom, power, and eternal decree, in making the world; in which sense, those fiats, "Let their be light, Let there be a firmament, Let us make man," etc.* are the word of God. And in the same sense it is said, "All things were made by it, and without it was nothing made that was made":*(2) and "He upholdeth all things by the word of His power";*(3) that is, by the power of His word; that is, by His power: and "The worlds were framed by the word of God";*(4) and many other places to the same sense: as also amongst the Latins, the name of fate, which signifieth properly the word spoken, is taken in the same sense.
- Genesis, 1
- (2) John, 1. 3
- (3) Hebrews, 1. 3
- (4) Ibid., 11. 3
Secondly, for the effect of His word; that is to say, for the thing itself, which by His word is affirmed, commanded, threatened, or promised; as where Joseph is said to have been kept in prison, "till his word was come";* that is, till that was come to pass which he had foretold to Pharoah's butler concerning his being restored to his office:*(2) for there, by his word was come, is meant the thing itself was come to pass. So also, Elijah saith to God, "I have done all these thy words,"*(3) instead of "I have done all these things at thy word," or commandment. And, "Where is the word of the Lord"*(4) is put for "Where is the evil He threatened." And, "There shall none of my words be prolonged any more";*(5) by words are understood those things which God promised to His people. And in the New Testament, "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away";*(6) that is, there is nothing that I have promised or foretold that shall not come to pass. And in this sense it is that St. John the Evangelist, and, I think, St. John only, calleth our Saviour Himself as in the flesh the Word of God, "And the Word was made flesh";*(7) that is to say, the word, or promise, that Christ should come into the world, "who in the beginning was with God": that is to say, it was in the purpose of God the Father to send God the Son into the world to enlighten men in the way of eternal life; but it was not till then put in execution, and actually incarnate; so that our Saviour is there called the Word, not because he was the promise, but the thing promised. They that taking occasion from this place do commonly call him the Verb of God do but render the text more obscure. They might as well term him the Noun of God: for as by noun, so also by verb, men understand nothing but a part of speech, a voice, a sound, that neither affirms, nor denies, nor commands, nor promiseth, nor is any substance corporeal or spiritual; and therefore it cannot be said to be either God or man; whereas our Saviour is both. And this Word which St. John in his Gospel saith was with God is, in his first Epistle, called the "Word of life";*(8) and "the Eternal Life, which was with the Father":*(9) so that he can be in no other sense called the Word than in that wherein He is called Eternal Life; that is, he that hath procured us eternal life by his coming in the flesh. So also the Apostle, speaking of Christ clothed in a garment dipped in blood, saith his name is "the Word of God,"*(10) which is to be understood as if he had said his name had been "He that was come according to the purpose of God from the beginning, and according to His word and promises delivered by the prophets." So that there is nothing here of the incarnation of a word, but of the incarnation of God the Son, therefore called the Word, because his incarnation was the performance of the promise; in like manner as the Holy Ghost is called the Promise.*(11)
- Psalms, 105. 19
- (2) Genesis, 11. 13
- (3) I Kings, 18. 36
- (4) Jeremiah, 17. 15
- (5) Ezekiel, 12. 28
- (6) Matthew, 24. 35
- (7) John, 1. 14
- (8) Ibid., 1. 1
- (9) Ibid., 1. 2
- (10) Apocalypse, 19. 13
- (11) Acts, 1. 4; Luke, 24. 49
There are also places of the Scripture where by the Word of God is signified such words as are consonant to reason and equity, though spoken sometimes neither by prophet nor by a holy man. For Pharaoh Necho was an idolater, yet his words to the good King Josiah, in which he advised him by messengers not to oppose him in his march against Carchemish, are said to have proceeded from the mouth of God; and that Josiah, not hearkening to them, was slain in the battle; as is to be read II Chronicles, 35. 21, 22, 23. It is true that as the same history is related in the first Book of Esdras, not Pharaoh, but Jeremiah, spake these words to Josiah from the mouth of the Lord. But we are to give credit to the canonical Scripture whatsoever be written in the Apocrypha.
The Word of God is then also to be taken for the dictates of reason and equity, when the same is said in the Scriptures to be written in man's heart; as Psalms, 37. 31; Jeremiah, 31. 33; Deuteronomy, 30. 11, 14, and many other like places.
The name of prophet signifieth in Scripture sometimes prolocutor; that is, he that speaketh from God to man, or from man to God: and sometimes predictor, or a foreteller of things to come: and sometimes one that speaketh incoherently, as men that are distracted. It is most frequently used in the sense speaking from God to the people. So Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others were prophets. And in this sense the high priest was a prophet, for he only went into the sanctum sanctorum to enquire of God, and was to declare his answer to the people. And therefore when Caiaphas said it was expedient that one man should die for the people, St. John saith that "He spake not this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that one man should die for the nation."* Also they that in Christian congregations taught the people are said to prophesy.*(2) In the like sense it is that God saith to Moses concerning Aaron, "He shall be thy spokesman to the people; and he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God":*(3) that which here is spokesman is, Exodus, 7. 1, interpreted prophet: "See," saith God, "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." In the sense of speaking from man to God, Abraham is called a prophet where God in a dream speaketh to Abimelech in this manner, "Now therefore restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet, and shall pray for thee";*(4) whereby may be also gathered that the name of prophet may be given not unproperly to them that in Christian churches have a calling to say public prayers for the congregation. In the same sense, the prophets that came down from the high place, or hill of god, with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, Saul amongst them, are said to prophesy, in that they praised God in that manner publicly.*(5) In the like sense is Miriam called a prophetess.*(6) So is it also to be taken where St. Paul saith, "Every man that prayeth or prophesieth with his head covered," etc., and every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered":*(7) for prophecy in that place signifieth no more but praising God in psalms and holy songs, which women might do in the church, though it were not lawful for them to speak to the congregation. And in this signification it is that the poets of the heathen, that composed hymns and other sorts of poems in the honor of their gods, were called vates, prophets, as is well enough known by all that are versed in the books of the Gentiles, and as is evident where St. Paul saith of the Cretans that a prophet of their own said they were liars;*(8) not that St. Paul held their poets for poets for prophets, but acknowledgeth that the word prophet was commonly used to signify them that celebrated the honour of God in verse.
- John, 11. 51
- (2) I Corinthians, 14. 3
- (3) Exodus, 4. 16
- (4) Genesis, 20. 7
- (5) I Samuel, 10. 5, 6, 10
- (6) Exodus, 15. 20
- (7) I Corinthians, 11. 4, 5
- (8) Titus, 1. 12
When by prophecy is meant prediction, or foretelling of future contingents, not only they were prophets who were God's spokesmen, and foretold those things to others which God had foretold to them; but also all those impostors that pretend by the help familiar spirits, or by superstitious divination of events past, from false causes, to foretell the like events in time to come: of which (as I have declared already in the twelfth Chapter of this discourse) there be many kinds who gain in the opinion of the common sort of men a greater reputation of prophecy by one casual event that may be but wrested to their purpose, than can be lost again by never so many failings. Prophecy is not an art, nor, when it is taken for prediction, a constant vocation, but an extraordinary and temporary employment from God, most often of good men, but sometimes also of the wicked. The woman of Endor, who is said to have had a familiar spirit, and thereby to have raised a phantasm of Samuel, and foretold Saul his death, was not therefore a prophetess; for neither had she any science whereby she could raise such a phantasm, nor does it appear that God commanded the raising of it, but only guided that imposture to be a means of Saul's terror and discouragement, and by consequent, of the discomfiture by which he fell. And for incoherent speech, it was amongst the Gentiles taken for one sort of prophecy, because the prophets of their oracles, intoxicated with a spirit or vapor from the cave of the Pythian Oracle at Delphi, were for the time really mad, and spake like madmen; of whose loose words a sense might be made to fit any event, in such sort as all bodies are said to be made of materia prima. In the Scripture I find it also so taken in these words, "And the evil spirit came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house."*
- I Samuel, 18. 10
And although there be so many significations in Scripture of the word prophet; yet is that the most frequent in which it is taken for him to whom God speaketh immediately that which the prophet is to say from Him to some other man, or to the people. And hereupon a question may be asked, in what manner God speaketh to such a prophet. Can it, may some say, be properly said that God hath voice and language, when it cannot be properly said He hath a tongue or other organs as a man? The Prophet David argueth thus, "Shall He that made the eye, not see? or He that made the ear, not hear?"* But this may be spoken, not, as usually, to signify God's nature, but to signify our intention to honour Him. For to see and hear are honourable attributes, and may be given to God to declare as far as capacity can conceive His almighty power. But if it were to be taken in the strict and proper sense, one might argue from his making of all other parts of man's body that he had also the same use of them which we have; which would be many of them so uncomely as it would be the greatest contumely in the world to ascribe them to Him. Therefore we are to interpret God's speaking to men immediately for that way, whatsoever it be, by which God makes them understand His will: and the ways whereby He doth this are many, and to be sought only in the Holy Scripture; where though many times it be said that God spake to this and that person, without declaring in what manner, yet there be again many places that deliver also the signs by which they were to acknowledge His presence and commandment; and by these may be understood how He spake to many of the rest.
- Psalms, 94. 9
In what manner God spake to Adam, and Eve, and Cain, and Noah is not expressed; nor how he spake to Abraham, till such time as he came out of his own country to Sichem in the land of Canaan, and then God is said to have appeared to him.* So there is one way whereby God made His presence manifest; that is, by an apparition, or vision. And again, the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision";*(2) that is to say, somewhat, as a sign of God's presence, appeared as God's messenger to speak to him. Again, the Lord appeared to Abraham by an apparition of three angels;*(3) and to Abimelech in a dream;*(4) to Lot by an apparition of two angels;*(5) and to Hagar by the apparition of one angel;*(6) and to Abraham again by the apparition of a voice from heaven;*(7) and to Isaac in the night*(8) (that is, in his sleep, or by dream); and to Jacob in a dream;*(9) that is to say (as are the words of the text), "Jacob dreamed that he saw a ladder," etc. And in a vision of angels;*(10) and to Moses in the apparition of a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush;*(11) and after the time of Moses, where the manner how God spake immediately to man in the Old Testament is expressed, He spake always by a vision, or by a dream; as to Gideon, Samuel, Eliah, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets; and often in the New Testament, as to Joseph, to St. Peter, to St. Paul, and to St. John the Evangelist in the Apocalypse.
- Genesis, 12. 7
- (2) Ibid., 15. 1
- (3) Ibid., 18. 1
- (4) Ibid., 20. 3
- (5) Ibid., 19. 1
- (6) Ibid., 21. 17
- (7) Ibid., 22. 11
- (8) Ibid., 26. 24
- (9) Ibid., 28. 12
- (10) Ibid., 32. 1
- (11) Exodus, 3. 2
Only to Moses He spake in a more extraordinary manner in Mount Sinai, and in the Tabernacle; and to the high priest in the Tabernacle, and in the sanctum sanctorum of the Temple. But Moses, and after him the high priests, were prophets of a more eminent place and degree in God's favour; and God Himself in express words declareth that to other prophets He spake in dreams and visions, but to His servant Moses in such manner as a man speaketh to his friend. The words are these: "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house; with him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold."* And, "The Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend."*(2) And yet this speaking of God to Moses was by mediation of an angel, or angels, as appears expressly, Acts 7. 35 and 53, and Galatians, 3. 19, and was therefore a vision, though a more clear vision than was given to other prophets. And conformable hereunto, where God saith, "If there arise amongst you a prophet, or dreamer of dreams,"*(3) the latter word is but the interpretation of the former. And, "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions":*(4) where again, the word prophesy is expounded by dream and vision. And in the same manner it was that God spake to Solomon, promising him wisdom, riches, and honour; for the text saith, "And Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream":*(5) so that generally the prophets extraordinary in the Old Testament took notice of the word of God no otherwise than from their dreams or visions that is to say, from the imaginations which they had in their sleep or in an ecstasy: which imaginations in every true prophet were supernatural, but in false prophets were either natural or feigned.
- Numbers, 12. 6, 7, 8
- (2) Exodus, 33. 11
- (3) Deuteronomy, 13. 1
- (4) Joel, 2. 28
- (5) I Kings, 3. 15
The same prophets were nevertheless said to speak by the spirit; as where the prophet, speaking of the Jews, saith, "They made their hearts hard as adamant, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of Hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets."* By which it is manifest that speaking by the spirit or inspiration was not a particular manner of God's speaking, different from vision, when they that were said to speak by the Spirit were extraordinary prophets, such as for every new message were to have a particular commission or, which is all one, a new dream or vision.
- Zechariah, 7. 12 OF prophets that were so by a perpetual calling in the Old Testament, some were supreme and some subordinate: supreme were first Moses, and after him the high priests, every one for his time, as long the priesthood was royal; and after the people of the Jews had rejected God, that He should no more reign over them, those kings which submitted themselves to God's government were also his chief prophets; and the high priest's office became ministerial. And when God was to be consulted, they put on the holy vestments, and enquired of the Lord as the king commanded them, and were deprived of their office when the king thought fit. For King Saul commanded the burnt offering to be brought;* and he commands the priest to bring the Ark near him;*(2) and, again, to let it alone, because he saw an advantage upon his enemies.*(3) And in the same chapter Saul asketh counsel of God. In like manner King David, after his being anointed, though before he had possession of the kingdom, is said to "enquire of the Lord" whether he should fight against the Philistines at Keilah;*(4) and David commandeth the priest to bring him the ephod, to enquire whether he should stay in Keilah or not.*(5) And King Solomon took the priesthood from Abiathar,*(6) and gave it to Zadok.*(7) Therefore Moses, and the high priests, and the pious kings, who enquired of God on all extraordinary occasions how they were to carry themselves, or what event they were to have, were all sovereign prophets. But in what manner God spake unto them is not manifest. To say that when Moses went up to God in Mount Sinai it was a dream, or vision, such as other prophets had, is contrary to that distinction which God made between Moses and other prophets.*(8) To say God spake or appeared as He is in His own nature is to deny His infiniteness, invisibility, incomprehensibility. To say he spake by inspiration, or infusion of the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit signifieth the Deity, is to make Moses equal with Christ, in whom only the Godhead, as St. Paul speaketh, dwelleth bodily.*(9) And lastly, to say he spake by the Holy Spirit, as it signifieth the graces or gifts of the Holy Spirit, is to attribute nothing to him supernatural. For God disposeth men to piety, justice, mercy, truth, faith, and all manner of virtue, both moral and intellectual, by doctrine, example, and by several occasions, natural and ordinary.
- I Samuel, 13. 9
- (2) Ibid., 14. 18
- (3) Ibid., 14. 19
- (4) Ibid., 23. 2
- (5) Ibid., 23. 9
- (6) I Kings, 2. 27
- (7) Ibid., 2. 35
- (8) Numbers, 12. 6, 7, 8
- (9) Colossians, 2. 9
And as these ways cannot be applied to God, in His speaking to Moses at Mount Sinai; so also they cannot be applied to Him in His speaking to the high priests from the mercy-seat. Therefore in what manner God spake to those sovereign prophets of the Old Testament, whose office it was to enquire of Him, is not intelligible. In the time of the New Testament there was no sovereign prophet but our Saviour, who was both God that spake, and the prophet to whom He spake.
To subordinate prophets of perpetual calling, I find not any place that proveth God spake to them supernaturally, but only in such manner as naturally He inclineth men to piety, to belief, to righteousness, and to other virtues all other Christian men. Which way, though it consist in constitution, instruction, education, and the occasions and invitements men have to Christian virtues, yet it is truly attributed to the operation of the Spirit of God, or Holy Spirit, which we in our language call the Holy Ghost: for there is no good inclination that is not of the operation of God. But these operations are not always supernatural. When therefore a prophet is said to speak in the spirit, or by the Spirit of God, we are to understand no more but that he speaks according to God's will, declared by the supreme prophet. For the most common acceptation of the word spirit is in the signification of a man's intention, mind, or disposition.
In the time of Moses, there were seventy men besides himself that prophesied in the camp of the Israelites. In what manner God spake to them is declared in the eleventh Chapter of Numbers, verse 25: "The Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto Moses, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the seventy elders. And it came to pass, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease." By which it is manifest, first, that their prophesying to the people was subservient and subordinate to the prophesying of Moses; for that God took of the spirit of Moses put upon them; so that they prophesied as Moses would have them: otherwise they had not been suffered to prophesy at all. For there was a complaint made against them to Moses;* and Joshua would have Moses to have forbidden them; which he did not, but said to Joshua "Be not jealous in my behalf." Secondly, that the Spirit of God in that place signifieth nothing but the mind and disposition to obey and assist Moses in the administration of the government. For if it were meant they had the substantial Spirit of God; that is, the divine nature, inspired into them, then they had it in no less manner than Christ himself, in whom only the Spirit of God dwelt bodily. It is meant therefore of the gift and grace of God, that guided them to co-operate with Moses, from whom their spirit was derived. And it appeareth that they were such as Moses himself should appoint for elders and officers of the people:*(2) for the words are, "Gather unto me seventy men, whom thou knowest to be elders and officers of the people": where, thou knowest is the same with thou appointest, or hast appointed to be such. For we are told before that Moses, following the counsel of Jethro his father-in-law, did appoint judges and officers over the people such as feared God;*(3) and of these were those seventy whom God, by putting upon them Moses' spirit, inclined to aid Moses in the administration of the kingdom: and in this sense the spirit of God is said presently upon the anointing of David to have come upon David, and left Saul;*(4) God giving His graces to him He chose to govern His people, and taking them away from him He rejected. So that by the spirit is meant inclination to God's service, and not any supernatural revelation.
- Numbers, 11. 27
- (2) Ibid., 11. 16
- (3) Exodus, 18
- (4) I Samuel, 16. 13, 14
God spake also many times by the event of lots, which were ordered by such as He had put in authority over His people. So we read that God manifested by the lots which Saul caused to be drawn the fault that Jonathan had committed in eating a honeycomb, contrary to the oath taken by the people.* And God divided the land of Canaan amongst the Israelites by the "lots that Joshua did cast before the Lord in Shiloh."*(2) In the same manner it seemeth to be that God discovered the crime of Achan.*(3) And these are the ways whereby God declared His will in the Old Testament.
- I Samuel, 14. 43
- (2) Joshua, 18. 10
- (3) Ibid., 7. 16, etc.
All which ways He used also in the New Testament. To the Virgin Mary, by a vision of an angel; to Joseph, in a dream; again to Paul, in the way to Damascus in a vision of our Saviour; and to Peter in the vision of a sheet let down from heaven with diverse sorts of flesh of clean and unclean beasts; and in prison, by vision of an angel; and to all the Apostles and writers of the New Testament, by the graces of His Spirit; and to the Apostles again, at the choosing of Matthias in the place of Judas Iscariot, by lot.
Seeing then all prophecy supposeth vision or dream (which two, when they be natural, are the same), or some especial gift of God so rarely observed in mankind as to be admired where observed; and seeing as well such gifts as the most extraordinary dreams and visions may proceed from God, not only by His supernatural and immediate, but also by his natural operation, and by mediation of second causes; there is need of reason and judgement to discern between natural and supernatural gifts, and between natural and supernatural visions or dreams. And consequently men had need to be very circumspect, and wary, in obeying the voice of man that, pretending himself to be a prophet, requires us to obey God in that way which he in God's name telleth us to be the way to happiness. For he that pretends to teach men the way of so great felicity pretends to govern them; that is to say, rule and reign over them; which is a thing that all men naturally desire, and is therefore worthy to be suspected of ambition and imposture; and consequently ought be examined and tried by every man before he yield them obedience, unless he have yielded it them already in the institution of a Commonwealth; as when the prophet is the civil sovereign, or by the civil sovereign authorized. And if this examination of prophets and spirits were not allowed to every one of the people, it had been to no purpose to set out the marks by which every man might be able to distinguish between those whom they ought, and those whom they ought not to follow. Seeing therefore such marks are set out to know a prophet by,* and to know a spirit by;*(2) and seeing there is so much prophesying in the Old Testament, and so much preaching in the New Testament against prophets, and so much greater a number ordinarily of false prophets than of true; every one is to beware of obeying their directions at their own peril. And first, that there were many more false than true prophets appears by this, that when Ahab consulted four hundred prophets, they were all false impostors, but only one Micaiah.*(3) And a little before the time of the Captivity the prophets were generally liars. "The prophets," saith the Lord by Jeremiah, "prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor spake unto them: they prophesy to you a false vision, a thing of naught, and the deceit of their heart."*(4) Insomuch as God commanded the people by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah not to obey them. "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy to you. They make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord."*(5)
- Deuteronomy, 13. 1, etc.
- (2) I John, 4. 1, etc.
- (3) I Kings, 22
- (4) Jeremiah, 14. 14
- (5) Ibid., 23. 16
Seeing then there was in the time of the Old Testament such quarrels amongst the visionary prophets, one contesting with another, and asking, "When departed the spirit from me, to go to thee?" as between Micaiah and the rest of the four hundred; and such giving of the lie to one another, as in Jeremiah, 14. 14, and such controversies in the new Testament this day amongst the spiritual prophets: every man then was, and now is, bound to make use of his natural reason to apply to all prophecy those rules which God hath given us to discern the true from the false. Of which rules, in the Old Testament, one was conformable doctrine to that which Moses the sovereign prophet had taught them; and the other, the miraculous power of foretelling what God would bring to pass, as I have already shown out of Deuteronomy, 13. 1, etc. And in the New Testament there was but one only mark, and that was the preaching of this doctrine that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the King of the Jews, promised in the Old Testament. Whosoever denied that article, he was a false prophet, whatsoever miracles he might seem to work; and he that taught it was a true prophet. For St. John, speaking expressly of the means to examine spirits, whether they be of God or not, after he had told them that there would arise false prophets, saith thus, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God";* that is, is approved and allowed as a prophet of God: not that he is a godly man, or one of the elect for this that he confesseth, professeth, or preacheth Jesus to be the Christ, but for that he is a prophet avowed. For God sometimes speaketh by prophets whose persons He hath not accepted; as He did by Baalam, and as He foretold Saul of his death by the Witch of Endor. Again in the next verse, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of Christ. And this is the spirit of Antichrist." So that the rule is perfect rule is perfect on both sides: that he is a true prophet which preacheth the Messiah already come, in the person of Jesus; and he a false one that denieth him come, and looketh for him in some future impostor that shall take upon him that honour falsely, whom the Apostle there properly calleth Antichrist. Every man therefore ought to consider who is the sovereign prophet; that is to say, who it is that is God's vicegerent on earth, and hath next under God the authority of governing Christian men; and to observe for a rule that doctrine which in the name of God he hath commanded to be taught, and thereby to examine and try out the truth of those doctrines which pretended prophets, with miracle or without, shall at any time advance: and if they find it contrary to that rule, to do as they did that came to Moses and complained that there were some that prophesied in the camp whose authority so to do they doubted of; and leave to the sovereign, as they did to Moses, to uphold or to forbid them, as he should see cause; and if he disavow them, then no more to obey their voice, or if he approve them, then to obey them as men to whom God hath given a part of the spirit of their sovereign. For when Christian men take not their Christian sovereign for God's prophet, they must either take their own dreams for the prophecy they mean to be governed by, and the tumour of their own hearts for the Spirit of God; or they must suffer themselves to be lead by some strange prince, or by some of their fellow subjects that can bewitch them by slander of the government into rebellion, without other miracle to confirm their calling than sometimes an extraordinary success and impunity; and by this means destroying all laws, both divine and human, reduce all order, government, and society to the first chaos of violence and civil war.
- I John, 4. 2, etc.
Chapter XXXVII: Of Miracles and Their Use
By Miracles are signified the admirable works of God: and therefore they are also called wonders. And because they are for the most part done for a signification of His commandment in such occasions as, without them, men are apt to doubt (following their private natural reasoning) what He hath commanded, and what not, they are commonly, in Holy Scripture, called signs, in the same sense as they are called by the Latins, ostenta and portenta, from showing and foresignifying that which the Almighty is about to bring to pass.
To understand therefore what is a miracle, we must first understand what works they are which men wonder at and call admirable. And there be but two things which make men wonder at any event: the one is if it be strange, that is to say, such as the like of it hath never or very rarely been produced; the other is if when it is produced, we cannot imagine it to have been done by natural means, but only by the immediate hand of God. But when we see some possible natural cause of it, how rarely soever the like has been done; or if the like have been often done, how impossible soever it be to imagine a natural means thereof, we no more wonder, nor esteem it for a miracle.
Therefore, if a horse or cow should speak, it were a miracle, because both the thing is strange and the natural cause difficult to imagine; so also were it to see a strange deviation of nature in the production of some new shape of a living creature. But when a man, or other animal, engenders his like, though we know no more how this is done than the other; yet because it is usual, it is no miracle. In like manner, if a man be metamorphosed into a stone, or into a pillar, it is a miracle, because strange; but if a piece of wood be so changed, because we see it often it is no miracle: and yet we know no more by what operation of God the one is brought to pass than the other.
The first rainbow that was seen in the world was a miracle, because the first, and consequently strange, and served for a sign from God, placed in heaven to assure His people there should be no more a universal destruction of the world by water. But at this day, because they are frequent, they are not miracles, neither to them that know their natural causes, nor to them who know them not. Again, there be many rare works produced by the art of man; yet when we know they are done, because thereby we know also the means how they are done, we count them not for miracles, because not wrought by the immediate hand of God, but by mediation of human industry.
Furthermore, seeing admiration and wonder is consequent to the knowledge and experience wherewith men are endued, some more, some less, it followeth that the same thing may be a miracle to one, and not to another. And thence it is that ignorant and superstitious men make great wonders of those works which other men, knowing to proceed from nature (which is not the immediate, but the ordinary work of God), admire not at all; as when eclipses of the sun and moon have been taken for supernatural works by the common people, when nevertheless there were others could, from their natural causes, have foretold the very hour they should arrive; or, as when a man, by confederacy and secret intelligence, getting knowledge of the private actions of an ignorant, unwary man, thereby tells him what he has done in former time, it seems to him a miraculous thing; but amongst wise and cautelous men, such miracles as those cannot easily be done.
Again, it belongeth to the nature of a miracle that it be wrought for the procuring of credit to God's messengers, ministers, and prophets, that thereby men may know they are called, sent, and employed by God, and thereby be the better inclined to obey them. And therefore, though the creation of the world, and after that the destruction of all living creatures in the universal deluge, were admirable works; yet because they were not done to procure credit to any prophet or other minister of God, they use not to be called miracles. For how admirable soever any work be, the admiration consisteth not in that could be done, because men naturally believe the Almighty can do all things, but because He does it at the prayer or word of a man. But the works of God in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, were properly miracles, because they were done with intention to make the people of Israel believe that Moses came unto them, not out of any design of his own interest, but as sent from God Therefore after God had commanded him to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage, when he said, "They will not believe me, but will say the Lord hath not appeared unto me,"* God gave him power to turn the rod he had in his hand into a serpent, and again to return it into a rod; and by putting his hand into his bosom, to make it leprous, and again by pulling it out to make it whole, to make the children of Israel believe that the God of their fathers had appeared unto him:*(2) and if that were not enough, He gave him power to turn their waters into blood. And when he had done these miracles before the people, it is said that "they believed him."*(3) Nevertheless, for fear of Pharaoh, they durst not yet obey him. Therefore the other works which were done to plague Pharaoh and the Egyptians tended all to make the Israelites believe in Moses, and properly miracles. In like manner if we consider all the miracles done by the hand of Moses, and all the rest of the prophets till the Captivity, and those of our Saviour and his Apostles afterwards, we shall find their end was always to beget or confirm belief that they came not of their own motion, but were sent by God. We may further observe in Scripture that the end of miracles was to beget belief, not universally in all men, elect and reprobate, but in the elect only; that is to say, in such as God had determined should become His subjects. For those miraculous plagues of Egypt had not for end the conversion of Pharaoh; for God had told Moses before that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh, that he should not let the people go: and when he let them go at last, not the miracles persuaded him, but the plagues forced him to it. So also of our Saviour it is written that He wrought not many miracles in His own country, because of their unbelief;*(4) and instead of, "He wrought not many," it is, "He could work none."*(5) It was not because he wanted power; which, to say, were blasphemy against God; nor that the end of miracles was not to convert incredulous men to Christ; for the end of all the miracles of Moses, of the prophets, of our Saviour and of his Apostles was to add men to the Church; but it was because the end of their miracles was to add to the Church, not all men, but such as should be saved; that is to say, such as God had elected. Seeing therefore our Saviour was sent from His Father, He could not use His power in the conversion of those whom His Father had rejected. They that, expounding this place of St. Mark, say that this word, "He could not," is put for, "He would not," do it without example in the Greek tongue (where would not is put sometimes for could not, in things inanimate that have no will; but could not, for would not, never), and thereby lay a stumbling block before weak Christians, as if Christ could do no miracles but amongst the credulous.
- Exodus, 4. 1
- (2) Ibid., 4. 5
- (3) Ibid., 4. 31
- (4) Matthew, 13. 58
- (5) Mark, 6. 5
From that which I have here set down, of the nature and use of a miracle, we may define it thus: a miracle is a work of God (besides His operation by the way of nature, ordained in the Creation) done for the making manifest to His elect the mission of an extraordinary minister for their salvation.
And from this definition, we may infer: first, that in all miracles the work done is not the effect of any virtue in the prophet, because it is the effect of the immediate hand of God; that is to say, God hath done it, without using the prophet therein as a subordinate cause.
Secondly, that no devil, angel, or other created spirit can do a miracle. For it must either be by virtue of some natural science or by incantation, that is, virtue of words. For if the enchanters do it by their own power independent, there is some power that proceedeth not from God, which all men deny; and if they do it by power given them, then is the work not from the immediate hand of God, but natural, and consequently no miracle.
There be some texts of Scripture that seem to attribute the power of working wonders, equal to some of those immediate miracles wrought by God Himself, to certain arts of magic and incantation. As, for example, when we read that after the rod of Moses being cast on the ground became a serpent, "the magicians of Egypt did the like by their enchantments";* and that after Moses had turned the waters of the Egyptian streams, rivers, ponds, and pools of water into blood, "the magicians of Egypt did likewise, with their enchantments";*(2) and that after Moses had by the power of God brought frogs upon the land, "the magicians also did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt";*(3) will not man be apt to attribute miracles to enchantments; that is to say, to the efficacy of the sound of words; and think the same very well proved out of this and other such places? And yet there is no place of Scripture that telleth us what an enchantment is. If therefore enchantment be not, as many think it, a working of strange effects by spells and words, but imposture and delusion wrought by ordinary means; and so far from supernatural, as the impostors need not the study so much of natural causes, but the ordinary ignorance, stupidity, and superstition of mankind, to do them; those texts that seem to countenance the power of magic, witchcraft, and enchantment must needs have another sense than at first sight they seem to bear.
- Exodus, 7. 11
- (2) Ibid., 7. 22
- (3) Ibid., 8. 7
For it is evident enough that words have no have now effect but on those that understand them, and then they have no other but to signify the intentions or passions of them that speak; and thereby produce hope, fear, or other passions, or conceptions in the hearer. Therefore when a rod seemeth a serpent, or the waters blood, or any other miracle seemeth done by enchantment; if it be not to the edification of God's people, not the rod, nor the water, nor any other thing is enchanted; that is to say, wrought upon by the words, but the spectator. So that all the miracle consisteth in this, that the enchanter has deceived a man; which is no miracle, but a very easy matter to do.
For such is the ignorance and aptitude to error generally of all men, but especially of them that have not much knowledge of natural causes, and of the nature and interests of men, as by innumerable and easy tricks to be abused. What opinion of miraculous power, before it was known there was a science of the course of the stars, might a man have gained that should have told the people, this hour, or day, the sun should be darkened? A juggler, by the handling of his goblets and other trinkets, if it were not now ordinarily practised, would be thought to do his wonders by the power at least of the Devil. A man that hath practised to speak by drawing in of his breath (which kind of men in ancient time were called ventriloqui) and so make the weakness of his voice seem to proceed, not from the weak impulsion of the organs of speech, but from distance of place, is able to make very many men believe it is a voice from heaven, whatsoever he please to tell them. And for a crafty man that hath enquired into the secrets and familiar confessions that one man ordinarily maketh to another of his actions and adventures past, to tell them him again is no hard matter; and yet there be many that by such means as that obtain the reputation of being conjurers. But it is too long a business to reckon up the several sorts of those men which the Greeks called thaumaturgi, that is to say, workers of things wonderful; and yet these do all they do by their own single dexterity. But if we look upon the impostures wrought by confederacy, there is nothing how impossible soever to be done that is impossible to be believed. For two men conspiring, one to seem lame, the other to cure him with a charm, will deceive many: but many conspiring, one to seem lame, another so to cure him, and all the rest to bear witness, will deceive many more.
In this aptitude of mankind to give too hasty belief to pretended miracles, there can there can be no better nor I think any other caution than that which God hath prescribed, first by Moses (as I have said before in the precedent chapter), in the beginning of the thirteenth and end of the eighteenth of Deuteronomy; that we take not any for prophets that teach any other religion than that which God's lieutenant, which at that time was Moses, hath established; nor any, though he teach the same religion, whose prediction we do not see come to pass. Moses therefore in his time, and Aaron and his successors in their times, and the sovereign governor of God's people next under God Himself, that is to say, the head of the Church in all times, are to be consulted what doctrine he hath established before we give credit to a pretended miracle or prophet. And when that is done, the thing they pretend to be a miracle, we must both see it done and use all means possible to consider whether it be really done; and not only so, but whether it be such as no man can do the like by his natural power, but that it requires the immediate hand of God. And in this also we must have recourse to God's lieutenant, to whom in all doubtful cases we have submitted our private judgements. For example, if a man pretend that after certain words spoken over a piece of bread, that presently God hath made it not bread, but a god, or a man, or both, and nevertheless it looketh still as like bread as ever it did, there is no reason for any man to think it really done, nor consequently to fear him till he enquire of God by his vicar or lieutenant whether it be done or not. If he say not, then followeth that which Moses, saith "he hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not fear him."* If he say it is done, then he is not to contradict it. So also if we see not, but only hear tell of a miracle, we are to consult the lawful Church; that is to say, the lawful head thereof, how far we are to give credit to the relators of it. And this is chiefly the case of men that in these days live under Christian sovereigns. For in these times I do not know one man that ever saw any such wondrous work, done by the charm or at the word or prayer of a man, that a man endued but with a mediocrity of reason would think supernatural: and the question is no more whether what we see done be a miracle; whether the miracle we hear, or read of, were a real work, and not the act of a tongue or pen; but in plain terms, whether the report be true, or a lie. In which question we are not every one to make our own private reason or conscience, but the public reason, that is the reason of God's supreme lieutenant, judge; and indeed we have made him judge already, if we have given him a sovereign power to do all that is necessary for our peace and defence. A private man has always the liberty, because thought is free, to believe or not believe in his heart those acts that have been given out for miracles, according as he shall see what benefit can accrue, by men's belief, to those that pretend or countenance them, and thereby conjecture whether they be miracles or lies. But when it comes to confession of that faith, the private reason must submit to the public; that is to say, to God's lieutenant. But who is this lieutenant of God, and head of the Church, shall be considered in its proper place hereafter.
- Deuteronomy, 18. 22
Chapter XXXVIII: Of the Signification in Scripture of Eternal Life, Hell, Salvation, the World to Come, and Redemption
The maintenance of civil society depending on justice, and justice on the power of life and death, and other less rewards and punishments residing in them that have the sovereignty of the Commonwealth; it is impossible a Commonwealth should stand where any other than the sovereign hath a power of giving greater rewards than life, and of inflicting greater punishments than death. Now seeing eternal life is a greater reward than the life present, and eternal torment a greater punishment than the death of nature, it is a thing worthy to be well considered of all men that desire, by obeying authority, to avoid the calamities of confusion and civil war, what is meant in Holy Scripture by life eternal and torment eternal; and for what offences, and against whom committed, men are to be eternally tormented; and for what actions they are to obtain eternal life.
And first we find that Adam was created in such a condition of life as, had he not broken the commandment of God, he had enjoyed it in the Paradise of Eden everlastingly. For there was the tree of life, whereof he was so long allowed to eat as he should forbear to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was not allowed him. And therefore as soon as he had eaten of it, God thrust him out of Paradise, "lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live forever."* By which it seemeth to me (with submission nevertheless both in this, and in all questions whereof the determination dependeth on the Scriptures, to the interpretation of the Bible authorized by the Commonwealth whose subject I am) that Adam, if he had not sinned, had had an eternal life on earth; and that mortality entered upon himself, and his posterity, by his first sin. Not that actual death then entered, for Adam then could never have had children; whereas he lived long after, and saw a numerous posterity ere he died. But where it is said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,"*(2) it must needs be meant of his mortality and certitude of death. Seeing then eternal life was lost by Adam's forfeiture, in committing sin, he that should cancel that forefeiture was to recover thereby that life again. Now Jesus Christ hath satisfied for the sins of all that believe in him, and therefore recovered to all believers that eternal life which was lost by the sin of Adam. And in this sense it is that the comparison of St. Paul holdeth: "As by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life."*(3) Which is again more perspicuously delivered in these words, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."*(4)
- Genesis, 3. 22
- (2) Ibid., 2. 17
- (3) Romans, 5. 18, 19
- (4) I Corinthians, 15. 21, 22
Concerning the place wherein men shall enjoy that eternal life which Christ hath obtained for them, the texts next before alleged seem to make it on earth. For if, as in Adam, all die, that is, have forfeited Paradise and eternal life on earth, even so in Christ all shall be made alive; then all men shall be made to live on earth; for else the comparison were not proper. Hereunto seemeth to agree that of the Psalmist, "Upon Zion God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore";* for Zion is in Jerusalem upon earth: as also that of St. John, "To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."
- (2) This was the tree of Adam's eternal life; but his life was to have been on earth. The same seemeth to be confirmed again by St. John, where he saith, "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband": and again, verse 10, to the same effect; as if he should say, the new Jerusalem, the Paradise of God, at the coming again of Christ, should come down to God's people from heaven, and not they go up to it from earth. And this differs nothing from that which the two men in white clothing (that is, the two angels) said to the Apostles that were looking upon Christ ascending: "This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him go up into heaven." Which soundeth as if they had said he should come down to govern them under his Father eternally here, and not take them up to govern them in heaven; and is conformable to the restoration of the kingdom of God, instituted under Moses, which was a political government of the Jews on earth. Again, that saying of our Saviour, "that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven," is a description of an eternal life, resembling that which we lost in Adam in the point of marriage. For seeing Adam and Eve, if they had not sinned, had lived on earth eternally in their individual persons, it is manifest they should not continually have procreated their kind. For if immortals should have generated, as mankind doth now, the earth in a small time would not have been able to afford them place to stand on. The Jews that asked our Saviour the question, whose wife the woman that had married many brothers should be in the resurrection, knew not what were the consequences of life eternal: and therefore our puts them in mind of this consequence of immortality; that there shall be no generation, and consequently no marriage, no more than there is marriage or generation among the angels. The comparison between that eternal life which Adam lost, and our Saviour by his victory over death hath recovered, holdeth also in this, that as Adam lost eternal life by his sin, and yet lived after it for a time, so the faithful Christian hath recovered eternal life by Christ's passion, though he die a natural death, and remain dead for a time; namely, till the resurrection. For as death is reckoned from the condemnation of Adam, not from the execution; so life is reckoned from the absolution, not from the resurrection of them that are elected in Christ.
That the place wherein men are to live eternally, after the resurrection, is the heavens, meaning by heaven those parts of the world which are the most remote from earth, as where the stars are, or above the stars, in another higher heaven, called coelum empyreum (whereof there is no mention in Scripture, nor ground in reason), is not easily to be drawn from any text that I can find. By the Kingdom of Heaven is meant the kingdom of the King that dwelleth in heaven; and His kingdom was the people of Israel, whom He ruled by the prophets, his lieutenants; first Moses, and after him Eleazar, and the sovereign priests, till in the days of Samuel they rebelled, and would have a mortal man for their king after the manner of other nations. And when our Saviour Christ by the preaching of his ministers shall have persuaded the Jews to return, and called the Gentiles to his obedience, then shall there be a new king of heaven; because our King shall then be God, whose throne is heaven, without any necessity evident in the Scripture that man shall ascend to his happiness any higher than God's footstool the earth. On the contrary, we find written that "no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, that is in heaven." Where I observe, by the way, that these words are not, as those which go immediately before, the words of our Saviour, but of St. John himself; for Christ was then not in heaven, but upon the earth. The like is said of David where St. Peter, to prove the Ascension of Christ, using the words of the Psalmist, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine Holy One to see corruption," saith they were spoken, not of David, but of Christ, and to prove it, addeth this reason, "For David is not ascended into heaven." But to this a man may easily answer and say that, though their bodies were not to ascend till the general day of judgement, yet their souls were in heaven as soon as they were departed from their bodies; which also seemeth to be confirmed by the words of our Saviour, who, proving the resurrection out of the words of Moses, saith thus, "That the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for they all live to him."
- (3) But if these words be to be understood only of the immortality of the soul, they prove not at all that which our Saviour intended to prove, which was the resurrection of the body, that is to say, the immortality of the man. Therefore our Saviour meaneth that those patriarches were immortal, not by a property consequent to the essence and nature of mankind, but by the will of God, that was pleased of His mere grace to bestow eternal life upon the faithful. And though at that time the patriarchs and many other faithful men were dead, yet as it is in the text, they "lived to God"; that is, they were written in the Book of Life with them that were absolved of their sins, and ordained to life eternal at the resurrection. That the soul of man is in its own nature eternal, and a living creature independent on the body; or that any mere man is immortal, otherwise than by the resurrection in the last day, except Enos and Elias, is a doctrine not apparent in Scripture. The whole fourteenth Chapter of Job, which is the speech not of his friends, but of himself, is a complaint of this mortality of nature; and yet no contradiction of the immortality at the resurrection. "There is hope of a tree," saith he, "if it be cast down. Though the root thereof wax old, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet when it scenteth the water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"
- (4) And, verse 12, "man lieth down, riseth not, till the heavens be no more." But when is it that the heavens shall be no more? St. Peter tells us that it is at the general resurrection. For in his second Epistle, third Chapter, verse 7, he saith that "the heavens and the earth that are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgement, and perdition of ungodly men," and, verse 12, "looking for and hasting to the coming of God, wherein the heavens shall be on fire, and shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we according to the promise look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Therefore where Job saith, "man riseth not till the heavens be no more"; it is all one, as if he had said the immortal life (and soul and life in the Scripture do usually signify the same thing) beginneth not in man till the resurrection and day of judgement; and hath for cause, not his specifical nature and generation, but the promise. For St. Peter says not, "We look for new heavens, and a new earth," but "from promise."
- Psalms, 133. 3
- (2) Revelation, 2. 7
- (3) Luke, 20. 37, 38
- (4) Job, 14. 7
Lastly, seeing it hath been already proved out of diverse evident places of Scripture, in the thirty-fifth Chapter of this book, that the kingdom of God is a civil Commonwealth, where God Himself is sovereign, by virtue first of the Old, and since of the New, Covenant, wherein He reigneth by His vicar or lieutenant; the same places do therefore also prove that after the coming again of our Saviour in his majesty and glory to reign actually and eternally, the kingdom of God is to be on earth. But because this doctrine, though proved out of places of Scripture not few nor obscure, will appear to most men a novelty, I do but propound it, maintaining nothing in this or any other paradox of religion, but attending the end of that dispute of the sword, concerning the authority (not yet amongst my countrymen decided), by which all sorts of doctrine are to be approved or rejected; and whose commands, both in speech and writing, whatsoever be the opinions of private men, must by all men, that mean to be protected by their laws, be obeyed. For the points of doctrine concerning the kingdom of God have so great influence on the kingdom of man as not to be determined but by them that under God have the sovereign power.
As the kingdom of God, and eternal life, so also God's enemies, and their torments after judgement, appear by the Scripture to have their place on earth. The name of the place where all men remain till the resurrection, that were either buried or swallowed up of the earth, is usually called in Scripture by words that signify under ground; which the Latins read generally infernus and inferi, and the Greeks ades; that is to say, a place where men cannot see; and containeth as well the grave as any other deeper place. But for the place of the damned after the resurrection, it is not determined, neither in the Old nor New Testament, by any note of situation, but only by the company: as that it shall be where such wicked men were, as God in former times in extraordinary and miraculous manner had destroyed from off the face of the earth: as for example, that they are in Inferno, in Tartarus, or in the bottomless pit; because Corah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up alive into the earth. Not that the writers of the Scripture would have us believe there could be in the globe of the earth, which is not only finite, but also, compared to the height of the stars, of no considerable magnitude, a pit without a bottom; that is, a hole of infinite depth, such as the Greeks in their demonology (that is to say in their doctrine concerning demons), and after them the Romans, called Tartarus; of which Virgil says, Bis patet in praeceps, tantum tenditque sub umbras, Quantus ad aethereum coeli suspectus Olympum: for that is a thing the proportion of earth to heaven cannot bear: but that we should believe them there, indefinitely, where those men are, on whom God inflicted that exemplary punishment.
Again, because those mighty men of the earth that lived in the time of Noah, before the flood (which the Greeks called heroes, and the Scripture giants, and both say were begotten by copulation of the children of God with the children of men), were for their wicked life destroyed by the general deluge, the place of the damned is therefore also sometimes marked out by the company of those deceased giants; as Proverbs, 21. 16, "The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the giants," and Job, 26. 5, "Behold the giants groan under water, and they that dwell with them." Here the place of the damned is under the water. And Isaiah, 14. 9, "Hell is troubled how to meet thee" (that is, the King of Babylon) "and will displace the giants for thee": and here again the place of the damned, if the sense be literal, is to be under water.
Thirdly, because the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the extraordinary wrath of God, were consumed for their wickedness with fire and brimstone, and together with them the country about made a stinking bituminous lake, the place of the damned is sometimes expressed by fire, and a fiery lake: as in the Apocalypse, 21. 8, "But the timorous, incredulous, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." So that it is manifest that hell fire, which is here expressed by metaphor, from the real fire of Sodom, signifieth not any certain kind or place of torment, but is to be taken indefinitely for destruction, as it is in Revelation, 20, at the fourteenth verse, where it is said that "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire"; that is to say, were abolished and destroyed; as if after the day of judgement there shall be no more dying, nor no more going into hell; that is, no more going to Hades (from which word perhaps our word hell is derived), which is the same with no more dying.
Fourthly, from the plague of darkness inflicted on the Egyptians, of which it is written, "They saw not one another, neither rose any man from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings";* the place of the wicked after judgement is called utter darkness, or, as it is in the original, darkness without. And so it is expressed where the king commandeth his servants, "to bind hand and foot the man that had not on his wedding garment and to cast him into," eis to skotos to exoteron "external darkness,"
- (2) or "darkness without": which, though translated "utter darkness," does not signify how great, but where that darkness is to be; namely, without the habitation of God's elect.
- Exodus, 10. 23
- (2) Matthew, 22. 13
Lastly, whereas there was a place near Jerusalem called the Valley of the Children of Hinnon in a part whereof called Tophet the Jews had committed most grievous idolatry, sacrificing their children to the idol Moloch; and wherein also God had afflicted His enemies with most grievous punishments; and wherein Josiah had burnt the priests of Moloch upon their own altars, as appeareth at large in II Kings, Chapter 23; the place served afterwards to receive the filth and garbage which was carried thither out of the city; and there used to be fires made, from time to time, to purify the air and take away the stench of carrion. From this abominable place, the Jews used ever after to call the place of the damned by the name of Gehenna, or Valley of Hinnon. And this Gehenna is that word which is usually now translated hell; and from the fires from time to time there burning, we have the notion of everlasting and unquenchable fire.
Seeing now there is none that so interprets the Scripture as that after the day of judgement the wicked are all eternally to be punished in the Valley of Hinnon; or that they shall so rise again as to be ever after underground or underwater; or that after the resurrection they shall no more see one another, nor stir from one place to another; it followeth, methinks, very necessarily, that which is thus said concerning hell fire is spoken metaphorically; and that therefore there is a proper sense to be enquired after (for of all metaphors there is some real ground, that may be expressed in proper words), both of the place of hell, and the nature of hellish torments and tormenters.
And first for the tormenters, we have their nature and properties exactly and properly delivered by the names of the enemy, or Satan; the Accuser, or Diabolus; the Destroyer, or Abaddon. Which significant names, Satan, Devil, Abaddon, set not forth to us any individual person, as proper names use to do, but only an office or quality; and are therefore appellatives; which ought not to have been left untranslated, as they are in the Latin and modern Bibles, because thereby they seem to be the proper names of demons; and men are more easily seduced to believe the doctrine of devils, which at that time was the religion of the Gentiles, and contrary to that of Moses and of Christ.
And because by the Enemy, the Accuser, and Destroyer is meant the enemy of them that shall be in the kingdom of God; therefore if the kingdom of God after the resurrection be upon the earth (as in the former chapter I have shown by Scripture it seems to be), the enemy and his kingdom must be on earth also. For so also was it in the time before the Jews had deposed God. For God's kingdom was in Palestine; and the nations round about were the kingdoms of the Enemy; and consequently by Satan is meant any earthly enemy of the Church.
The torments of hell are expressed sometimes by "weeping, and gnashing of teeth," as Matthew, 8. 12; sometimes, by "the worm of conscience," as Isaiah, 66. 24, and Mark, 9. 44, 46, 48; sometimes, by fire, as in the place now quoted, "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," and many places besides: sometimes, by "shame, and contempt," as, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life; and some to shame, and everlasting contempt."* All which places design metaphorically a grief and discontent of mind from the sight of that eternal felicity in others which they themselves through their own incredulity and disobedience have lost. And because such felicity in others is not sensible but by comparison with their own actual miseries, it followeth that they are to suffer such bodily pains and calamities as are incident to those who not only live under evil and cruel governors, but have also for enemy the eternal king of the saints, God Almighty. And amongst these bodily pains is to be reckoned also to every one of the wicked a second death. For though the Scripture be clear for a universal resurrection, yet we do not read that to any of the reprobate is promised an eternal life. For whereas St. Paul, to the question concerning what bodies men shall rise with again, saith that "the body is sown in corruption, and is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power";
- (2) glory and power cannot be applied to the bodies of the wicked: nor can the name of second death be applied to those that can never die but once. And although in metaphorical speech a calamitous life everlasting may be called an everlasting death, yet it cannot well be understood of a second death. The fire prepared for the wicked is an everlasting fire: that is to say, the estate wherein no man can be without torture, both of body and mind, after the resurrection, shall endure for ever; and in that sense the fire shall be unquenchable, and the torments everlasting: but it cannot thence be inferred that he who shall be cast into that fire, or be tormented with those torments, shall endure and resist them so as be eternally burnt and tortured, and yet never be destroyed nor die. And though there be many places that affirm everlasting fire and torments, into which men may be cast successively one after another for ever, yet I find none that affirm there shall be an eternal life therein of any individual person; but to the contrary, an everlasting death, which is the second death: "For after death and the grave shall have delivered up the dead which were in them, and every man be judged according to his works; death and the grave shall also be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
- (3) Whereby it is evident that there is to be a second death of every one that shall be condemned at the day judgement, after which he shall die no more.
- Daniel, 12. 2
- (2) I Corinthians, 15. 42, 43
- (3) Revelation, 20. 13, 14
The joys of life eternal are in Scripture comprehended all under the name of salvation, or being saved. To be saved is to be secured, either respectively, against special evils, or absolutely, against all evil, comprehending want, sickness, and death itself. And because man was created in a condition immortal, not subject to corruption, and consequently to nothing that tendeth to the dissolution of his nature; and fell from that happiness by the sin of Adam; it followeth that to be saved from sin is to be saved from all the evil and calamities that sin hath brought upon us. And therefore in the Holy Scripture, remission of sin, and salvation from death and misery, is the same thing, as it appears by the words of our Saviour, who, having cured a man sick of the palsy, by saying, "Son be of good cheer thy sins be forgiven thee";* and knowing that the scribes took for blasphemy that a man should pretend to forgive sins, asked them "whether it were easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or, Arise and walk";
- (2) signifying thereby that it was all one, as to the saving of the sick, to say, "Thy sins are forgiven," and "Arise and walk"; and that he used that form of speech only to show he had power to forgive sins. And it is besides evident in reason that since death and misery were the punishments of sin, the discharge of sin must also be a discharge of death and misery; that is to say, salvation absolute, such as the faithful are to enjoy after the day of judgement, by the power and favour of Jesus Christ, who that cause is called our Saviour.
- Matthew, 9. 2
- (2) Ibid., 9. 5
Concerning particular salvations, such as are understood, "as the Lord liveth that saveth Israel,"* that is, from their temporary enemies; and, "Thou art my Saviour, thou savest me from violence";
- (2) and, "God gave the Israelites a Saviour, and so they were delivered from the hand of the Assyrians,"
- (3) and the like, I need say nothing; there being neither difficulty nor interest to corrupt the interpretation of texts of that kind.
- I Samuel, 14. 39
- (2) II Samuel, 22. 3
- (3) II Kings, 13. 5
But concerning the general salvation, because it must be in the kingdom of heaven, there is great difficulty concerning the place. On one side, by kingdom, which is an estate ordained by men for their perpetual security against enemies and want, it seemeth that this salvation should be on earth. For by salvation is set forth unto us a glorious reign of our king by conquest; not a safety by escape: and therefore there where we look for salvation, we must look also for triumph; and before triumph, for victory; and before victory, for battle; which cannot well be supposed shall be in heaven. But how good soever this reason may be, I will not trust to it without very evident places of Scripture. The state of salvation is described at large, Isaiah, 33. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24:
"Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
"But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king, he will save us.
"Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail: then is the a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.
"And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that shall dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
In which words we have the place from whence salvation is to proceed, "Jerusalem, a quiet habitation"; the eternity of it, "a tabernacle that shall not be taken down," etc.; the Saviour of it, "the Lord, their judge, their lawgiver, their king, he will save us"; the salvation, "the Lord shall be to them as a broad moat of swift waters," etc.; the condition of their enemies, "their tacklings are loose, their masts weak, the lame shall take the spoil of them"; the condition of the saved, "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick"; and lastly, all this is comprehended in forgiveness of sin, "the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." By which it is evident that salvation shall be on earth, then, when God shall reign, at the coming again of Christ, in Jerusalem; and from Jerusalem shall proceed the salvation of the Gentiles that shall be received into God's kingdom: as is also more expressly declared by the same prophet, "And they" (that is, the Gentiles who had any Jew in bondage) "shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord":* whereby it is manifest that the chief seat of God's kingdom, which is the place from whence the salvation of us that were Gentiles shall proceed, shall be Jerusalem: and the same is also confirmed by our Saviour, in his discourse with the woman of Samaria concerning the place of God's worship; to whom he saith that the Samaritans worshipped they knew not what, but the Jews worshipped what they knew, "for salvation is of the Jews"
- (2) (ex Judaeis, that is, begins at the Jews): as if he should say, you worship God, but know not by whom He will save you, as we do, that know it shall be by one of the tribe of Judah; a Jew, not a Samaritan. And therefore also the woman not impertinently answered him again, "We know the Messias shall come." So that which our Saviour saith, "Salvation is from the Jews,: is the same that Paul says, "The gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith";
- (3) from the faith of the Jew to the faith of the Gentile. In the like sense the prophet Joel, describing the day of judgement, that God would "shew wonders in heaven, and in earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun should be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
- (4) He addeth, "and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be salvation."
- (5) And Obadiah, verse 17, saith the same, "Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance; and there shall be holiness, and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions," that is, the possessions of the heathen, which possessions he expresseth more particularly in the following verses, by the mount of Esau, the land of the Philistines, the fields of Ephraim, of Samaria, Gilead, and the cities of the South, and concludes with these words, "the kingdom shall be the Lord's." All these places are for salvation, and the kingdom of God, after the day of judgement, upon earth. On the other side, I have not found any text that can probably be drawn to prove any ascension of the saints into heaven; that is to say, into any coelum empyreum, or other ethereal region, saving that it is called the kingdom of heaven: which name it may have because God, that was king of the Jews, governed them by His commands sent to Moses by angels from heaven; and after their revolt, sent His Son from heaven to reduce them to their obedience; and shall send him thence again to rule both them and all other faithful men from the day of judgement, everlastingly: or from that, that the throne of this our Great King is in heaven; whereas the earth is but His footstool. But that the subjects of God should have any place as high as His throne, or higher than His footstool, it seemeth not suitable to the dignity of a king, nor can I find any evident text for it in Holy Scripture.
- Isaiah, 66. 20, 21
- (2) John, 4. 22
- (3) Romans, 1. 16, 17
- (4) Joel, 2. 30, 31
- (5) Ibid., 2. 32
From this that hath been said of the kingdom of God, and of salvation, it is not hard to interpret what is meant by the world to come. There are three worlds mentioned in the Scripture; the old world, the present world, and the world to come. Of the first, St. Peter speaks, "If God spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly," etc.* So the first world was from Adam to the general flood. Of the present world, our Saviour speaks, "My kingdom is not of this world."
- (2) For He came only to teach men the way of salvation, and to renew the kingdom of His Father by His doctrine. Of the world to come, St. Peter speaks, "Nevertheless we according to his promise look for new heavens, and a new earth."
- (3) This is that world wherein Christ coming down from heaven in the clouds, with great power and glory, shall send His angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, and from the uttermost parts of the earth, and thenceforth reign over them, under his Father, everlastingly.
- II Peter, 2. 5
- (2) John, 18. 36
- (3) II Peter, 3. 13
Salvation of a sinner supposeth a precedent redemption; for he that is once guilty of sin is obnoxious to the penalty of the same; and must pay, or some other for him, such ransom as he that is offended, and has him in his power, shall require. And seeing the person offended is Almighty God, in whose power are all things, such ransom is to be paid before salvation can be acquired, as God hath been pleased to require. By this ransom is not intended a satisfaction for sin equivalent to the offence, which no sinner for himself, nor righteous man can ever be able to make for another: the damage a man does to another he may make amends for by restitution or recompense, but sin cannot be taken away by recompense; for that were to make the liberty to sin a thing vendible. But sins may be pardoned to the repentant, either gratis or upon such penalty as God is pleased to accept. That which God usually accepted, in the Old Testament, was some sacrifice or oblation. To forgive sin is not an act of injustice, though the punishment have been threatened. Even amongst men, though the promise of good bind the promiser; yet threats, that is to say, promises of evil, bind them not; much less shall they bind God, who is infinitely more merciful than men. Our Saviour Christ therefore to redeem us did not in that sense satisfy for the sins of men, as that his death, of its own virtue, could make it unjust in God to punish sinners with eternal death; but did make that sacrifice and oblation of Himself, at His first coming, which God was pleased to require for the salvation at His second coming, of such as in the meantime should repent and believe in Him. And though this act of our redemption be not always in Scripture called a sacrifice and oblation, but sometimes a price; yet by price we are not to understand anything by the value whereof He could claim to a pardon for us from his offended Father; but that price which God the Father was pleased in mercy to demand.
Chapter XXXIX: Of the Signification in Scripture of the Word Church
The Word Church (ecclesia) signifieth in the books of Holy Scripture diverse things. Sometimes, though not often, it is taken for God's house, that is to say, for a temple wherein Christians assemble to perform holy duties publicly; as, "Let your women keep silence in the churches":* but this is metaphorically put for the congregation there assembled, and hath been since used for the edifice itself to distinguish between the temples of Christians and idolaters. The Temple of Jerusalem was God's house, and the house of prayer; and so is any edifice dedicated by Christians to the worship of Christ, Christ's house: and therefore the Greek Fathers call it Kuriake, the Lord's house; and thence in our language it came to be called kirk, and church.
- I Corinthians, 14. 34
Church, when not taken for a house, signifieth the same that ecclesia signified in the Grecian Commonwealths; that is to say, a congregation, or an assembly of citizens, called forth to hear the magistrate speak unto them; and which in the Commonwealth of Rome was called concio, as he that spake was called ecclesiastes, and concionator. And when they were called forth by lawful authority, it was ecclesia legitima, a lawful Church, ennomos Ekklesia.* But when they were excited by tumultuous and seditious clamour, then it was a confused Church, Ekklesia sugkechumene.
- Acts, 19. 39
It is taken also sometimes for the men that have right to be of the congregation, though not actually assembled; that is to say, for the whole multitude of Christian men, how far soever they be dispersed: as where it is said that "Saul made havoc of the church":* and in this sense is Christ said to be Head of the Church. And sometimes for a certain part of Christians; as, "Salute the Church that is in his house."
- (2) Sometimes also for the elect only; as, "A glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish";
- (3) which is meant of the Church triumphant, or Church to come. Sometimes, for a congregation assembled of professors of professors of Christianity, whether their profession be true or counterfeit, as it is understood where it is said, "Tell it to the Church, and if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee as a Gentile, or publican."
- Acts, 8. 3
- (2) Colossians, 4. 15
- (3) Ephesians, 5. 27
- (4) Matthew, 18. 17
And in this last sense only it is that the Church can be taken for one person; that is to say, that it can be said to have power to will, to pronounce, to command, to be obeyed, to make laws, or to do any other action whatsoever; for without authority from a lawful congregation, whatsoever act be done in a concourse of people, it is the particular act of every one of those that were present, and gave their aid to the performance of it; and not the act of them all in gross, as of one body; much less the act of them that were absent, or that, being present, were not willing it should be done. According to this sense, I define a Church to be: a company of men professing Christian religion, united in the person of one sovereign; at whose command they ought to assemble, and without whose authority they ought not to assemble. And because in all Commonwealths that assembly which is without warrant from the civil sovereign is unlawful; that Church also which is assembled in any Commonwealth that hath forbidden them to assemble is an unlawful assembly.
It followeth also that there is on earth no such universal Church as all Christians are bound to obey, because there is no power on earth to which all other Commonwealths are subject. There are Christians in the dominions of several princes and states, but every one of them is subject to that Commonwealth whereof he is himself a member, and consequently cannot be subject to the commands of any other person. And therefore a Church, such a one as is capable to command, to judge, absolve, condemn, or do any other act, is the same thing with a civil Commonwealth consisting of Christian men; and is called a civil state, for that the subjects of it are men; and a Church, for that the subjects thereof are Christians. Temporal and spiritual government are but two words brought into the world to make men see double and mistake their lawful sovereign. It is true that the bodies of the faithful, after the resurrection, shall be not only spiritual, but eternal; but in this life they are gross and corruptible. There is therefore no other government in this life, neither of state nor religion, but temporal; nor teaching of any doctrine lawful to any subject which the governor both of the state and of the religion forbiddeth to be taught. And that governor must be one; or else there must needs follow faction and civil war in the Commonwealth between the Church and State; between spiritualists and temporalists; between the sword of justice and the shield of faith; and, which is more, in every Christian man's own breast between the Christian and the man. The doctors of the Church are called pastors; so also are civil sovereigns: but if pastors be not subordinate one to another, so as that there may be one chief pastor, men will be taught contrary doctrines, whereof both may be, and one must be, false. Who that one chief pastor is, according to the law of nature, hath been already shown; namely, that it is the civil sovereign: and to whom the Scripture hath assigned that office, we shall see in the chapters following.
Chapter XL: Of the Rights of the Kingdom of God, in Abraham, Moses, the High Priests, and the Kings of Judah
The father of the faithful, and first in the kingdom of God by covenant, was Abraham. For with him was the covenant first made; wherein he obliged himself and his seed after him to acknowledge and obey the commands of God; not only such as he could take notice of (as moral laws) by the light of nature; but also such as God should in special manner deliver to him by dreams and visions. For as to the moral law, they were already obliged, and needed not have been contracted withal, by promise of the land of Canaan. Nor was there any contract that could add to or strengthen the obligation by which both they and all men else were bound naturally to obey God Almighty: and therefore the covenant which Abraham made with God was to take for the commandment of God that which in the name of God was commanded him, in a dream or vision, and to deliver it to his family and cause them to observe the same.
In this contract of God with Abraham, we may observe three points of important consequence in the government of God's people. First, that at the making of this covenant God spoke only to Abraham, and therefore contracted not with any of his family or seed otherwise than as their wills (which make the essence of all covenants) were before the contract involved in the will of Abraham, who was therefore supposed to have had a lawful power to make them perform all that he covenanted for them. According whereunto God saith, "All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, for I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord."* From whence may be concluded this first point, that they to whom God hath not spoken immediately are to receive the positive commandments of God from their sovereign, as the family and seed of Abraham did from Abraham their father and lord and civil sovereign. And consequently in every Commonwealth, they who have no supernatural revelation to the contrary ought to obey the laws of their own sovereign in the external acts and profession of religion. As for the inward thought and belief of men, which human governors can take no notice of (for God only knoweth the heart), they are not voluntary, nor the effect of the laws, but of the unrevealed will and of the power of God, and consequently fall not under obligation.
- Genesis, 18. 18, 19
From whence proceedeth another point; that it was not unlawful for Abraham, when any of his subjects should pretend private vision or spirit, or other revelation from God, for the countenancing of any doctrine which Abraham should forbid, or when they followed or adhered to any such pretender, to punish them; and consequently that it is lawful now for the sovereign to punish any man that shall oppose his private spirit against the laws: for he hath the same place in the Commonwealth that Abraham had in his own family.
There ariseth also from the same a third point; that as none but Abraham in his family, so none but the sovereign in a Christian Commonwealth, can take notice what is or what is not the word of God. For God spoke only to Abraham, and it was he only that was able to know what God said, and to interpret the same to his family: and therefore also, they that have the place of Abraham in a Commonwealth are the only interpreters of what God hath spoken.
The same covenant was renewed with Isaac, and afterwards with Jacob, but afterwards no more till the Israelites were freed from the Egyptians and arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai: and then it was renewed by Moses (as I have said before, Chapter thirty-five), in such manner as they became from that time forward the peculiar kingdom of God, whose lieutenant was Moses for his own time: and the succession to that office was settled upon Aaron and his heirs after him to be to God a sacerdotal kingdom forever.
By this constitution, a kingdom is acquired to God. But seeing Moses had no authority to govern the Israelites as a successor to the right of Abraham, because he could not claim it by inheritance, it appeareth not as yet that the people were obliged to take him for God's lieutenant longer than they believed that God spoke unto him. And therefore his authority, notwithstanding the covenant they made with God, depended yet merely upon the opinion they had of his sanctity, and of the reality of his conferences with God, and the verity of his miracles; which opinion coming to change, they were no more obliged to take anything for the law of God which he propounded to them in God's name. We are therefore to consider what other ground there was of their obligation to obey him. For it could not be the commandment of God that could oblige them, because God spoke not to them immediately, but by the mediation of Moses himself: and our Saviour saith of himself, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true";* much less if Moses bear witness of himself, especially in a claim of kingly power over God's people, ought his testimony to be received. His authority therefore, as the authority of all other princes, must be grounded on the consent of the people and their promise to obey him. And so it was: for "the people when they saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we die."
- (2) Here was their promise of obedience; and by this it was they obliged themselves to obey whatsoever he should deliver unto them for the commandment of God.
- John, 5. 31
- (2) Exodus, 20. 18, 19
And notwithstanding the covenant constituteth a sacerdotal kingdom, that is to say, a kingdom hereditary to Aaron; yet that is to be understood of the succession after Moses should be dead. For whosoever ordereth and establisheth the policy as first founder of a Commonwealth, be it monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, must needs have sovereign power over the people all the while he is doing of it. And that Moses had that power all his own time is evidently affirmed in the Scripture. First, in the text last before cited, because the people promised obedience, not to Aaron, but to him. Secondly, "And God said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come nigh, neither shall the people go up with him."* By which it is plain that Moses, who was alone called up to God (and not Aaron, nor the other priests, nor the seventy elders, nor the people who were forbidden to come up), was alone he that represented to the Israelites the person of God; that is to say, was their sole sovereign under God. And though afterwards it be said, "Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone,"
- (2) etc.; yet this was not till after Moses had been with God before, and had brought to the people the words which God had said to him. He only went for the business of the people; the others, as the nobles of his retinue, were admitted for honour to that special grace which was not allowed to the people; which was, as in the verse after appeareth, to see God and live. "God laid not His hand upon them, they saw God, and did eat and drink" (that is, did live), but did not carry any commandment from Him to the people. Again, it is everywhere said, "The Lord spake unto Moses," as in all other occasions of government, so also in also in the ordering of the ceremonies of religion, contained in the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st chapters of Exodus, and throughout Leviticus; to Aaron, seldom. The calf that Aaron made, Moses threw into the fire. Lastly, the question of the authority of Aaron, by occasion of his and Miriam's mutiny against Moses, was judged by God Himself for Moses.
- (3) So also in the question between Moses and the people, who had the right of governing the people, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly "gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is amongst them, why lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?"
- (4) God caused the earth to swallow Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with their wives and children, alive, and consumed those two hundred and fifty princes with fire. Therefore neither Aaron, nor the people, nor any aristocracy of the chief princes of the people, but Moses alone had next under God the sovereignty over the Israelites: and that not only in causes of civil policy, but also of religion: for Moses only spoke with God, and therefore only could tell the people what it was that God required at their hands. No man upon pain of death might be so presumptuous as to approach the mountain where God talked with Moses. "Thou shalt set bounds," saith the Lord, "to the people round about, and say, Take heed to yourselves that you go not up into the Mount, or touch the border of it; whosoever toucheth the Mount shall surely be put to death."
- (5) And again, "Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze."
- (6) Out of which we may conclude that whosoever in Christian Commonwealth holdeth the place of Moses is the sole messenger of God and interpreter of His commandments. And according hereunto, no man ought in the interpretation of the Scripture to proceed further than the bounds which are set by their several sovereigns. For the Scriptures, since God now speaketh in them, are the Mount Sinai, the bounds whereof are the laws of them that represent God's person on earth. To look upon them, and therein to behold the wondrous works of God, and learn to fear Him, is allowed; but to interpret them, that is, to pry into what God saith to him whom He appointeth to govern under Him, and make themselves judges whether he govern as God commandeth him, or not, is to transgress the bounds God hath set us, and to gaze upon God irreverently.
- Exodus, 24. 1, 2
- (2) Ibid., 24. 9
- (3) Numbers, 12
- (4) Ibid., 16. 3
- (5) Exodus, 19. 12
- (6) Ibid., 19. 21
There was no prophet in the time of Moses, nor pretender to the spirit of God, but such as Moses had approved and authorized. For there were in his time but seventy men that are said to prophesy by the spirit of God, and these were all of Moses his election; concerning whom God said to Moses, "Gather to me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people."* To these God imparted His spirit; but it was not a different spirit from that of Moses; for it is said, "God came down in a cloud, and took of the spirit that was upon Moses, and gave it to the seventy elders."
- (2) But as I have shown before, Chapter thirty-six, by spirit is understood the mind; so that the sense of the place is no other than this, that God endued them with a mind conformable and subordinate to that of Moses, that they might prophesy, that is to say, speak to the people in God's name in such manner as to set forward (as ministers of Moses, and by his authority) such doctrine as was agreeable to Moses his doctrine. For they were but ministers; and when two of them prophesied in the camp, it was thought a new and unlawful thing; and as it is in the 27th and 28th verses of the same chapter, they were accused of it, and Joshua advised Moses to forbid them, as not knowing that it was by Moses his spirit that they prophesied. By which it is manifest that no subject ought to pretend to prophecy, or to the spirit, in opposition to the doctrine established by him whom God hath set in the place of Moses.
- Numbers, 11. 16
- (2) Ibid., 11. 25
Aaron being dead, and after him also Moses, the kingdom, as being a sacerdotal kingdom, descended by virtue of the covenant to Aaron's son, Eleazar the high priest: and God declared him, next under Himself, for sovereign, at the same time that He appointed Joshua for the general of their army. For thus God saith expressly concerning Joshua: "He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him."* Therefore the supreme power of making war and peace was in the priest. The supreme power of judicature belonged also to the high priest: for the Book of the Law was in their keeping, and the priests and Levites only were the subordinate judges in causes civil, as appears in Deuteronomy, 17. 8, 9, 10. And for the manner of God's worship, there was never doubt made but that the high priest, till the time of Saul, had the supreme authority. Therefore the civil and ecclesiastical power were both joined together in one and the same person, the high priest; and ought to be so, in whosoever governeth by divine right; that is, by authority immediate from God.
- Numbers, 27. 21
After the death of Joshua, till the time of Saul, the time between is noted frequently in the Book of Judges, "that there was in those days no king in Israel"; and sometimes with this addition, that "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." By which is to be understood that where it is said, "there was no king," is meant, "there was no sovereign power," in Israel. And so it was, if we consider the act and exercise of such power. For after the death of Joshua and Eleazar, "there arose another generation that knew not the Lord, nor the nor the works which He had done for Israel, but did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim."* And the Jews had that quality which St. Paul noteth, "to look for a sign," not only before they would submit themselves to the government of Moses, but also after they had obliged themselves by their submission. Whereas signs and miracles had for end to procure faith, not to keep men from violating it when they have once given it, for to that men are obliged by the law of nature. But if we consider not the exercise, but the right of governing, the sovereign power was still in the high priest. Therefore whatsoever obedience was yielded to any of the judges (who were men chosen by God extraordinarily to save His rebellious subjects out of the hands of the enemy), it cannot be drawn into argument against the right the high priest had to the sovereign power in all matters both of policy and religion. And neither the judges nor Samuel himself had an ordinary, but extraordinary, calling to the government, and were obeyed by the Israelites, not out of duty, but out of reverence to their favour with God, appearing in their wisdom, courage, or felicity. Hitherto therefore the right of regulating both the policy and the religion were inseparable.
- Judges, 2. 10
To the judges succeeded kings: and whereas before all authority, both in religion and policy, was in the high priest; so now it was all in the king. For the sovereignty over the people which was, before, not only by virtue of the divine power, but also by a particular pact of the Israelites in God, and next under Him, in the high priest, as His vicegerent on earth, was cast off by the people, with the consent of God Himself. For when they said to Samuel, "make us a king to judge us, like all the nations,"* they signified that they would no more be governed by the commands that should be laid upon them by the priest, in the name of God; but by one that should command them in the same manner that all other nations were commanded; and consequently in deposing the high priest of royal authority, they deposed that peculiar government of God. And yet God consented to it, saying to Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people, in all that they shall say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee; but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."
- (2) Having therefore rejected God, in whose right the priests governed, there was no authority left to the priests but such as the king was pleased to allow them; which was more or less, according as the kings were good or evil. And for the government of civil affairs, it is manifest, it was all in the hands of the king. For in the same chapter they say they will be like all the nations; that their king shall be their judge, and go before them, and fight their battles;
- (3) that is, he shall have the whole authority, both in peace and war. In which is continued also the ordering of religion: for there was no other word of God in that time by which to regulate religion but the Law of Moses, which was their civil law. Besides, we read that Solomon "thrust out Abiathar from being priest before the Lord":
- (4) he had therefore authority over the high priest, as over any other subject, which is a great mark of supremacy in religion. And we read also that he dedicated the Temple; that he blessed the people; and that he himself in person made that excellent prayer, used in the consecrations of all churches and houses of prayer;
- (5) which is another great mark of supremacy in religion. Again, we read that when there was question concerning the Book of the Law found in the Temple, the same was not decided by the high priest, but Josiah sent both and others to enquire concerning it, of Huldah, the prophetess;
- (6) which is another mark of the supremacy in religion. Lastly, we read that David made Hashabiah and his brethren, Hebronites, officers of Israel among them westward, "in all business of the Lord, and in the service of the king."
- (7) Likewise, that he made other Hebronites "rulers over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh" (these were the rest of Israel that dwelt beyond Jordan) "for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king."
- (8) Is not this full power, both temporal and spiritual, as they call it that would divide it? To conclude: from the first institution of God's kingdom, to the Captivity, the supremacy of religion was in the same hand with that of the civil sovereignty; and the priest's office, after the election of Saul, was not magisterial, but ministerial.
- I Samuel, 8. 5
- (2) Ibid., 8. 7
- (3) Ibid., 8. 20
- (4) I Kings, 2. 27
- (5) Ibid., 8
- (6) II Kings, 22
- (7) I Chronicles, 26. 30
- (8) Ibid., 26. 32
Notwithstanding the government both in policy and religion were joined, first in the high priests, and afterwards in the kings, so far forth as concerned the right; yet it appeareth by the same holy history that the people understood it not; but there being amongst them a great part, and probably the greatest part, that no longer than they saw great miracles, or, which is equivalent to a miracle, great abilities, or great felicity in the enterprises of their governors, gave sufficient credit either to the fame of Moses or to the colloquies between God and the priests, they took occasion, as oft as their governors displeased them, by blaming sometimes the policy, sometimes the religion, to change the government or revolt from their obedience at their pleasure; and from thence proceeded from time to time the civil troubles, divisions, and calamities of the nation. As for example, after the death of Eleazar and Joshua, the next generation, which had not seen the wonders of God, but were left to their own weak reason, not knowing themselves obliged by the covenant of a sacerdotal kingdom, regarded no more the commandment of the priest, nor any law of Moses, but did every man that which was right in his own eyes; and obeyed in civil affairs such men as from time to time they thought able to deliver them from the neighbour nations that oppressed them; and consulted not with God, as they ought to do, but with such men, or women, as they guessed to be prophets by their predictions of things to come; and though they had an idol in their chapel, yet if they had a Levite for their chaplain, they made account they worshipped the God of Israel.
And afterwards when they demanded a king, after the manner of the nations, yet it was not with a design to depart from the worship of God their King; but despairing of the justice of the sons of Samuel, they would have a king to judge them in civil actions; but not that they would allow their king to change the religion which they thought was recommended to them by Moses. So that they always kept in store a pretext, either of justice or religion, to discharge themselves of their obedience whensoever they had hope to prevail. Samuel was displeased with the people, for that they desired a king (for God was their King already, and Samuel had but an authority under Him); yet did Samuel, when Saul observed not his counsel in destroying Agag as God had commanded, anoint another king, namely, David, to take the succession from his heirs. Rehoboam was no idolater; but when the people thought him an oppressor, that civil pretence carried from him ten tribes to Jeroboam an idolater. And generally through the whole history of the kings, as well of Judah as of Israel, there were prophets that always controlled the kings for transgressing the religion, and sometimes also for errors of state; as Jehoshaphat was reproved by the prophet Jehu for aiding the King of Israel against the Syrians;* and Hezekiah, by Isaiah, for showing his treasures to the ambassadors of Babylon. By all which it appeareth that though the power both of state and religion were in the kings, yet none of them were uncontrolled in the use of it but such as were gracious for their own natural abilities or felicities. So that from the practice of those times, there can no argument be drawn that the right of supremacy in religion was not in the kings, unless we place it in the prophets, and conclude that because Hezekiah, praying to the Lord before the cherubim, was not answered from thence, nor then, but afterwards by the prophet Isaiah, therefore Isaiah was supreme head of the Church; or because Josiah consulted Huldah the prophetess, concerning the Book of the Law, that therefore neither he, nor the high priest, but Huldah the prophetess had the supreme authority in matter of religion, which I think is not the opinion of any doctor.
- II Chronicles, 19. 2
During the Captivity the Jews had no Commonwealth at all; and after their return, though they renewed their covenant with God, yet there was no promise made of obedience, neither to Esdras nor to any other: and presently after they became subjects to the to the Greeks, from whose customs and demonology, and from the doctrine of the Cabalists, their religion became much corrupted: in such sort as nothing can be gathered from their confusion, both in state and religion, concerning the supremacy in either. And therefore so far forth as concerneth the Old Testament, we may conclude that whosoever had the sovereignty of the Commonwealth amongst the Jews, the same had also the supreme authority in matter of God's external worship, and represented God's person; that is, the person of God the Father; though He were not called by the name of Father till such time as He sent into the world His Son Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from their sins, and bring them into his everlasting kingdom to be saved for evermore. Of which we are to speak in the chapter following.
Chapter XLI: Of the Office of Our Blessed Saviour
We find in Holy Scripture three parts of the office of the Messiah: the first of a redeemer, or saviour; the second of a pastor, counsellor, or teacher, that is, of a prophet sent from God to convert such as God hath elected to salvation; the third of a king, an eternal king, but under his Father, as Moses and the high priests were in their several times. And to these three parts are correspondent three times. For, our redemption he wrought at his first coming, by the sacrifice wherein he offered up himself for our sins upon the cross; our conversion he wrought partly then in his own person, and partly worketh now by his ministers, and will continue to work till his coming again. And after his coming again shall begin that his glorious reign over his elect which is to last eternally.
To the office of a redeemer, that is, of one that payeth the ransom of sin, which ransom is death, it appertaineth that he was sacrificed, and thereby bore upon his own head and carried away from us our iniquities, in such sort as God had required. Not that the death of one man, though without sin, can satisfy for the offences of all men, in the rigour of justice, but in the mercy of God, that ordained such sacrifices for sin as He was pleased in His mercy to accept. In the old law (as we may read, Leviticus, 16) the Lord required that there should, every year once, be made an atonement for the sins of all Israel, both priests and others; for the doing whereof Aaron alone was to sacrifice for himself and the priests a young bullock, and for the rest of the people he was to receive from them two young goats, of which he was to sacrifice one; but as for the other, which was the scapegoat, he was to lay his hands on the head thereof, and by a confession of the iniquities of the people, to lay them all on that head, and then by some opportune man to cause the goat to be led into the wilderness, and there to escape and carry away with him the iniquities of the people. As the sacrifice of the one goat was a sufficient, because an acceptable, price for the ransom of all Israel; so the death of the Messiah is a sufficient price for the sins of all mankind, because there was no more required. Our Saviour Christ's sufferings seem to be here figured as clearly as in the oblation of Isaac, or in any other type of him in the Old Testament. He was both the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before the shearer, so opened he not his mouth":* here is the sacrificed goat. "He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows";
- (2) and again, "the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all":
- (3) and so he is the scapegoat. "He was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people":
- (4) there again he is the sacrificed goat. And again, "he shall bear their sins":
- (5) he is the scapegoat. Thus is the Lamb of God equivalent to both those goats; sacrificed, in that he died; and escaping, in his resurrection; being raised opportunely by his Father, and removed from the habitation of men in his ascension.
- Isaiah, 53. 7
- (2) Ibid., 53. 4
- (3) Ibid., 53. 6
- (4) Ibid., 53. 8
- (5) Ibid., 53. 11
For as much therefore as he that redeemeth hath no title to the thing redeemed, before the redemption and ransom paid, and this ransom was the death of the redeemer, it is manifest that our Saviour, as man, was not king of those that he redeemed, before he suffered death; that is, during that time he conversed bodily on the earth. I say he was not then king in present, by virtue of the pact which the faithful make with him in baptism: nevertheless, by the renewing of their pact with God in baptism, they were obliged to obey him for king, under his Father, whensoever he should be pleased to take the kingdom upon him. According whereunto, our Saviour himself expressly saith, "My kingdom is not of this world."* Now seeing the Scripture maketh mention but of two worlds; this that is now, and shall remain to the day of judgement, which is therefore also called the last day; and that which shall be after the day of judgement, when there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; the kingdom of Christ is not to begin till the general resurrection. And that is it which our Saviour saith, "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works."
- (2) To reward every man according to his works is to execute the office of a king; and this is not to be till he come in the glory of his Father, with his angels. When our Saviour saith, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you do, that observe and do";
- (3) he declareth plainly that he ascribeth kingly power, for that time, not to himself, but to them. And so he doth also, where he saith, "Who made me a judge or divider over you?"
- (4) And, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world."
- (5) And yet our Saviour came into this world that he might be a king and a judge in the world to come: for he was the Messiah, that is, the Christ, that is, the anointed priest and the sovereign prophet of God; that is to say, he was to have all the power that was in Moses the prophet, in the high priests that succeeded Moses, and in the kings that succeeded the priests. And St. John says expressly, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement to the Son."
- (6) And this is not repugnant to that other place, "I came not to judge the world": for this is spoken of the world present, the other of the world to come; as also where it is said that at the second coming of Christ, "Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
- John, 18. 36
- (2) Matthew, 16. 27
- (3) Ibid., 23. 2
- (4) Luke, 12. 14
- (5) John, 12. 47
- (6) Ibid., 5. 22
- (7) Matthew, 19. 28
If then Christ, whilst he was on earth, had no kingdom in this world, to what end was his first coming? It was to restore unto God, by a new covenant, the kingdom which, being his by the old covenant, had been cut off by the rebellion of the Israelites in the election of Saul. Which to do, he was to preach unto them that he was the Messiah, that is, the king promised to them by the prophets, and to offer himself in sacrifice for the sins of them that should by faith submit themselves thereto; and in case the nation generally should refuse him, to call to his obedience such as should believe in him amongst the Gentiles. So that there are two parts of our Saviour's office during his abode upon the earth: one to proclaim himself the Christ; and another by teaching, and by working of miracles, to persuade and prepare men to live so as to be worthy of the immortality believers were to enjoy, at such time as he should come in majesty to take possession of his Father's kingdom. And therefore it is that the time of his preaching is often by himself called the regeneration, which is not properly a kingdom, and thereby a warrant to deny obedience to the magistrates that then were; for he commanded to obey those that sat then in Moses' chair, and to pay tribute to Caesar; but only an earnest of the kingdom of God that was to come to those to whom God had given the grace to be his disciples and to believe in him; for which cause the godly are said to be already in the kingdom of grace, as naturalized in that heavenly kingdom.
Hitherto therefore there is nothing done or taught by Christ that tendeth to the diminution of the civil right of the Jews or of Caesar. For as touching the Commonwealth which then was amongst the Jews, both they that bore rule amongst them and they that were governed did all expect the Messiah and kingdom of God; which they could not have done if their laws had forbidden him, when he came, to manifest and declare himself. Seeing therefore he did nothing, but by preaching and miracles go about to prove himself to be that Messiah, he did therein nothing against their laws. The kingdom he claimed was to be in another world: he taught all men to obey in the meantime them that sat in Moses' seat: he allowed them to give Caesar his tribute, and refused to take upon himself to be a judge. How then could his words or actions be seditious, or tend to the overthrow of their then civil government? But God having determined his sacrifice for the reduction of His elect to their former covenanted obedience, for the means, whereby He would bring the same to effect, made use of their malice and ingratitude. Nor was it contrary to the laws of Caesar. For though Pilate himself, to gratify the Jews, delivered him to be crucified; yet before he did so, he pronounced openly that he found no fault in him; and put for title of his condemnation, not as the Jews required, "that he pretended to be king," but simply, "that he was King of the Jews"; and notwithstanding their clamour, refused to alter it, saying, "What I have written, I have written."
As for the third part of his office, which was to be king, I have already shown that his kingdom was not to begin till the resurrection. But then he shall be king, not only as God, in which sense he is king already, and ever shall be, of all the earth, in virtue of his omnipotence; but also peculiarly of his own elect, by virtue of the pact they make with him in their baptism. And therefore it is that our Saviour saith that his Apostles should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, "When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory":* whereby he signified that he should reign then in his human nature; and "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works."
- (2) The same we may read, Mark, 13. 26, and 14. 62, and more expressly for the time, Luke, 22. 29, 30, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed to me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." By which it is manifest that the kingdom of Christ appointed to him by his Father is not to be before the Son of Man shall come in glory, and make his Apostles judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. But a man may here ask, seeing there is no marriage in the kingdom of heaven, whether men shall then eat and drink. What eating therefore is meant in this place? This is expounded by our Saviour where he saith, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give you."
- (3) So that by eating at Christ's table is meant the eating of the tree of life; that is to say, the enjoying of immortality, in the kingdom of the Son of Man. By which places, and many more, it is evident that our Saviour's kingdom is to be exercised by him in his human nature.
- Loc. cit.
- (2) Ibid., 16. 27
- (3) John, 6. 27
Again, he is to be king then no otherwise than as subordinate or vicegerent of God the Father, as Moses was in the wilderness, and as the high priests were before the reign of Saul, and as the kings were after it. For it is one of the prophecies concerning Christ that he be like, in office, to Moses: "I will raise them up a prophet," saith the Lord, "from amongst their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth";* and this similitude with Moses is also apparent in the actions of our Saviour himself, whilst he was conversant on earth. For as Moses chose twelve princes of the tribes to govern under him; so did our Saviour choose twelve Apostles, who shall sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel: and as Moses authorized seventy elders to receive the Spirit of God, and to prophesy to the people, that is, as I have said before, to speak unto them in the name of God; so our Saviour also ordained seventy disciples to preach his kingdom and salvation to all nations. And as when a complaint was made to Moses against those of the seventy that prophesied in the camp of Israel, he justified them in it as being subservient therein to his government; so also our Saviour, when St. John complained to him of a certain man that cast out devils in his name, justified him therein, saying, "Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is on our part."
- Deuteronomy, 18. 18
- (2) Luke, 9. 50
Again, our Saviour resembled Moses in the institution of sacraments, both of admission into the kingdom of God and of commemoration of his deliverance of his elect from their miserable condition. As the children of Israel had for sacrament of their reception into the kingdom of God, before the time of Moses, the rite of circumcision, which rite, having been omitted in the wilderness, was again restored as soon as they came into the Land of Promise; so also the Jews, before the coming of our Saviour, had a rite of baptizing, that is, of washing with water all those that, being Gentiles, embraced the God of Israel. This rite St. John the Baptist used in the reception of all them that gave their names to the Christ, whom he preached to be already come into the world; and our Saviour instituted the same for a sacrament to be taken by all that believed in him. For what cause the rite of baptism first proceeded is not expressed formally in the Scripture, but it may be probably thought to be an imitation of the law of Moses concerning leprosy; wherein the leprous man was commanded to be kept out of the camp of Israel for a certain time; after which time, being judged by the priest to be clean, he was admitted into the camp after a solemn washing. And this may therefore be a type of the washing in baptism, wherein such men as are cleansed of the leprosy of sin by faith are received into the Church with the solemnity of baptism. There is another conjecture drawn from the ceremonies of the Gentiles, in a certain case that rarely happens: and that is, when a man that was thought dead chanced to recover, other men made scruple to converse with him, as they would do to converse with a ghost, unless he were received again into the number of men by washing, as children new born were washed from the uncleanness of their nativity, which was a kind of new birth. This ceremony of the Greeks, in the time that Judaea was under the dominion of Alexander and the Greeks his successors, may probably enough have crept into the religion of the Jews. But seeing it is not likely our Saviour would countenance a heathen rite, it is most likely it proceeded from the legal ceremony of washing after leprosy. And for the other sacrament, of eating the Paschal Lamb, it is manifestly imitated in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; in which the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine do keep in memory our deliverance from the misery of sin by Christ's Passion, as the eating of the Paschal Lamb kept in memory the deliverance of the Jews out of the bondage of Egypt. Seeing therefore the authority of Moses was but subordinate, and he but a lieutenant to God, it followeth that Christ, whose authority, as man, was to be like that of Moses, was no more but subordinate to the authority of his Father. The same is more expressly signified by that that he teacheth us to pray, "Our Father, let thy kingdom come"; and, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory"; and by that it is said that "He shall come in the glory of his Father"; and by that which St. Paul saith, "then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father";* and by many other most express places.
- I Corinthians, 15. 24
Our Saviour therefore, both in teaching and reigning, representeth, as Moses did, the person God; which God from that time forward, but not before, is called the Father; and, being still one and the same substance, is one person as represented by Moses, and another person as represented by His Son the Christ. For person being a relative to a representer, it is consequent to plurality of representers that there be a plurality of persons, though of one and the same substance.
Chapter XLII: Of Power Ecclesiastical
For the understanding of power ecclesiastical, what and in whom it is, we are to distinguish the time from the ascension of our Saviour into two parts; one before the conversion of kings and men endued with sovereign civil power; the other after their conversion. For it was long after the ascension before any king or civil sovereign embraced and publicly allowed the teaching of Christian religion.
And for the time between, it is manifest that the power ecclesiastical was in the Apostles; and after them in such as were by them ordained to preach the gospel, and to convert men to Christianity; and to direct them that were converted in the way of salvation; and after these the power was delivered again to others by these ordained, and this was done by imposition of hands upon such as were ordained; by which was signified the giving of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, to those whom they ordained ministers of God, to advance His kingdom. So that imposition of hands was nothing else but the seal of their commission to preach Christ and teach his doctrine; and the giving of the Holy Ghost by that ceremony of imposition of hands was an imitation of that which Moses did. For Moses used the same ceremony to his minister Joshua, as we read, Deuteronomy, 34. 9, "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him." Our Saviour therefore between his resurrection and ascension gave his spirit to the Apostles; first, by breathing on them, and saying, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit";* and after his ascension by sending down upon them a "mighty wind, and cloven tongues of fire";
- (2) and not by imposition of hands; as neither did God lay His hands on Moses: and his Apostles afterward transmitted the same spirit by imposition of hands, as Moses did to Joshua. So that it is manifest hereby in whom the power ecclesiastical continually remained in those first times where there was not any Christian Commonwealth; namely, in them that received the same from the Apostles, by successive laying on of hands.
- John, 20. 22
- (2) Acts, 2. 2, 3
Here we have the person of God born now the third time. For Moses and the high priests were God's representative in the Old Testament; and our Saviour himself, as man, during his abode on earth: so the Holy Ghost, that is to say, the Apostles and their successors, in the office of preaching and teaching, that had received the Holy Spirit, have represented him ever since. But a person (as I have shown before, Chapter thirteen) is he that is represented, as of as he is represented; and therefore God, who has been represented (that is, personated) thrice, may properly enough be said to be three persons; though neither the word Person nor Trinity be ascribed to him in the Bible. St. John indeed saith, "There be three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one":* but this disagreeth not, but accordeth fitly with three persons in the proper signification of persons; which is that which is represented by another. For so God the Father, as represented by Moses, is one person; and as represented by His Son, another person; and as represented by the Apostles, and by the doctors that taught by authority from them derived, is a third person; and yet every person here is the person of one and the same God. But a man may here ask what it was whereof these three bore witness. St. John therefore tells us that they bear witness that "God hath given us eternal life in His Son." Again, if it should be asked wherein that testimony appeareth, the answer is easy; for He hath testified the same by the miracles He wrought, first by Moses; secondly, by His Son himself; and lastly by His Apostles that had received the Holy Spirit; all which in their times represented the person of God, and either prophesied or preached Jesus Christ. And as for the Apostles, it was the character of the apostleship, in the twelve first and great Apostles, to bear witness of his resurrection, as appeareth expressly where St. Peter, when a new Apostle was to be chosen in the place of Judas Iscariot, useth these words, "Of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, beginning at the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection":
- (2) which words interpret the "bearing of witness" mentioned by St. John. There is in the same place mentioned another Trinity of witnesses in earth. For he saith, "there are three that bear witness in earth; the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one":
- (3) that is to say, the graces of God's Spirit, and the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, which all agree in one testimony to assure the consciences of believers of eternal life; of which testimony he saith, "He that believeth on the Son of Man hath the witness in himself."
- (4) In this Trinity on earth, the unity is not of the thing; for the spirit, the water, and the blood are not the same substance, though they give the same testimony: but in the Trinity of heaven, the persons are the persons of one and the same God, though represented in three different times and occasions. To conclude, the doctrine of the Trinity, as far as can be gathered directly from the Scripture, is in substance this: that God, who is always one and the same, was the person represented by Moses; the person represented by his Son incarnate; and the person represented by the Apostles. As represented by the Apostles, the Holy Spirit by which they spoke is God; as represented by His Son, that was God and man, the Son is that God; as represented by Moses and the high priests, the Father, that is to say, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that God: from whence we may gather the reason those names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the signification of the godhead, are never used in the Old Testament: for they are persons, that is, they have their names from representing; which could not be till diverse men had represented God's person in ruling or in directing under Him.
- Luke, 5. 11
- (2) Acts, 1. 21, 22
- (3) Ibid., 1. 8
- (4) Ibid., 1. 10
Thus we see how the power ecclesiastical was left by our Saviour to the Apostles; and how they were (to the end they might the better exercise that power) endued with the Holy Spirit, which is therefore called sometimes in the New Testament paracletus, which signifieth an assister, or one called to for help, though it be commonly translated a comforter. Let us now consider the power itself, what it was, and over whom.
Cardinal Bellarmine, in his third general controversy, hath handled a great many questions concerning the ecclesiastical power of the Pope of Rome, and begins with this, whether it ought to be monarchical, aristocratical, or democratical. All which sorts of power are sovereign and coercive. If now it should appear that there is no coercive power left them by our Saviour, but only a power to proclaim the kingdom of Christ, and to persuade men to submit themselves there unto; and, by precepts and good counsel, to teach them that have submitted what they are to do, that they may be received into the kingdom of God when it comes; and that the Apostles, and other ministers of the Gospel, are our schoolmasters, and not our commanders, and their precepts not laws, but wholesome counsels; then were all that dispute in vain.
I have shown already, in the last chapter, that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world: therefore neither can his ministers, unless they be kings, require obedience in his name. For if the Supreme King have not his regal power in this world; by what authority can obedience be required to his officers? "As my Father sent me," so saith our Saviour, "I send you."* But our Saviour was sent to persuade the Jews to return to, and to invite the Gentiles to receive, the kingdom of his Father, and not to reign in majesty, no not as his Father's lieutenant till the day of judgement.
- John, 20. 21
The time between the ascension and the general resurrection is called, not a reigning, but a regeneration; that is, a preparation of men for the second and glorious coming of Christ at the day of judgement, as appeareth by the words of our Saviour, "You that have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you shall also sit upon twelve thrones";* and of St. Paul, "Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace";
- (2) and is compared by our Saviour to fishing; that is, to winning men to obedience, not by coercion and punishing, but by persuasion. And therefore he said not to his Apostles he would make them so many Nimrods, hunters of men; but fishers of men. It is compared also to leaven, to sowing of seed, and to the multiplication of a grain of mustard-seed; by all which compulsion is excluded; and consequently there can in that time be no actual reigning. The work of Christ's ministers is evangelization; that is, a proclamation of Christ, and a preparation for his second coming; as the evangelization of John the Baptist was a preparation to his first coming.
- Matthew, 19. 28
- (2) Ephesians, 6. 15
Again, the office of Christ's ministers in this world is to make men believe and have faith in Christ: but faith hath no relation to, nor dependence at all upon, compulsion or commandment; but only upon certainty, or probability of arguments drawn from reason, or from something men believe already. Therefore the ministers of Christ in this world have no power by that title to punish any man for not believing or for contradicting what they say: they have, I say, no power by that title of Christ's ministers to punish such; but if they have sovereign civil power, by politic institution, then they may indeed lawfully punish any contradiction to their laws whatsoever: and St. Paul, of himself and other the then preachers of the Gospel, saith in express words, "We have no dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy."*
- II Corinthians, 1. 24
Another argument, that the ministers of Christ in this present world have no right of commanding, may be drawn from the lawful authority which Christ hath left to all princes, as well Christians as infidels. St. Paul saith, "Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing to the Lord."* And, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, as fearing the Lord":
- (2) this is spoken to them whose masters were infidels; and yet they are bidden to obey them in all things. And again, concerning obedience to princes, exhorting "to be subject to the higher powers," he saith, "that all power is ordained of God"; and "that we ought to subject to them not only for" fear of incurring their "wrath, but also for conscience sake."
- (3) And St. Peter, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as to them that be sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well; for so is the will of God."
- (4) And again St. Paul, "Put men in mind to be subject to principalities, and powers, and to obey magistrates."
- (5) These princes and powers whereof St. Peter and St. Paul here speak were all infidels: much more therefore we are to obey those Christians whom God hath ordained to have sovereign power over us. How then can we be obliged to obey any minister of Christ if he should command us to do anything contrary to the command of the king or other sovereign representant of the Commonwealth whereof we are members, and by whom we look to be protected? It is therefore manifest that Christ hath not left to his ministers in this world, unless they be also endued with civil authority, any authority to command other men.
- Colossians, 3. 20
- (2) Ibid., 3. 22
- (3) Romans, 13. 1-6
- (4) I Peter, 2. 13, 14, 15
- (5) Titus, 3. 1
But what, may some object, if a king, or a senate, or other sovereign person forbid us to believe in Christ? To this I answer that such forbidding is of no effect; because belief and unbelief never follow men's commands. Faith is a gift of God which man can neither give nor take away by promise of rewards or menaces of torture. And, if it be further asked, what if we be commanded by our lawful prince to say with our tongue we believe not; must we obey such command? Profession with the tongue is but an external thing, and no more than any other gesture whereby we signify our obedience; and wherein a Christian, holding firmly in his heart the faith of Christ, hath the same liberty which the prophet Elisha allowed to Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was converted in his heart to the God of Israel, for he saith, "Thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing."* This the Prophet approved, and bid him "Go in peace." Here Naaman believed in his heart; but by bowing before the idol Rimmon, he denied the true God in effect as much as if he had done it with his lips. But then what shall we answer to our Saviour's saying, "Whosoever denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father which is in heaven?"
- (2) This we may say, that whatsoever a subject, as Naaman was, is compelled to in obedience to his sovereign, and doth it not in order to his own mind, but in order to the laws of his country, that action is not his, but his sovereign's; nor is it he that in this case denieth Christ before men, but his governor, and the law of his country. If any man shall accuse this doctrine as repugnant to true and unfeigned Christianity, I ask him, in case there should be a subject in any Christian Commonwealth that should be inwardly in his heart of the Mahomedan religion, whether if his sovereign command him to be present at the divine service of the Christian church, and that on pain of death, he think that Mahomedan obliged in conscience to suffer death for that cause, rather than to obey that command of his lawful prince. If he say he ought rather to suffer death, then he authorizeth all private men to disobey their princes in maintenance of their religion, true or false: if he say he ought to be obedient, then he alloweth to himself that which he denieth to another, contrary to the words of our Saviour, "Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, that do ye unto them";
- (3) and contrary to the law of nature (which is the indubitable everlasting law of God), "Do not to another that which thou wouldest not he should do unto thee."
- II Kings, 5. 17, 18
- (2) Matthew, 10. 33
- (3) Luke, 6. 31
But what then shall we say of all those martyrs we read of in the history of the Church, that they have needlessly cast away their lives? For answer hereunto, we are to distinguish the persons that have been for that cause put to death; whereof some have received a calling to preach and profess the profess the kingdom of Christ openly; others have had no such calling, nor more has been required of them than their own faith. The former sort, if they have been put to death for bearing witness to this point, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, were true martyrs; for a martyr is, to give the true definition of the word, a witness of the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah; which none can be but those that those that conversed with him on earth, and saw him after he was risen: for a witness must have seen what he testifieth, or else his testimony is not good. And that none but such can properly be called martyrs of Christ is manifest out of the words of St. Peter, "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out amongst us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a martyr" (that is, a witness) "with us of his resurrection":* where we may observe that he which is to be a witness of truth of the resurrection of Christ, that is to say, of the truth of this fundamental article of Christian religion, that Jesus was the Christ, must be some Disciple that conversed with him, and saw him before and after his resurrection; and consequently must be one of his original Disciples: whereas they which were not so can witness no more, but that their antecessors said it, and are therefore but witnesses of other men's testimony, and are but second martyrs, or martyrs of Christ's witnesses.
- Acts, 1. 21, 22
He that to maintain every doctrine which he himself draweth out of the history of our Saviour's life, and of the Acts or Epistles of the Apostles, or which he believeth, upon the authority of a private man, will oppose the laws and authority of the civil state, is very far from being a martyr of Christ, or a martyr of his martyrs. It is one article only, which to die for meriteth so honourable a name, and that article is this, that Jesus is the Christ; that is to say, he that hath redeemed us, and shall come again to give us salvation, and eternal life in his glorious kingdom. To die for every tenet that serveth the ambition or profit of the clergy is not required; nor is it the death of the witness, but the testimony itself that makes the martyr: for the word signifieth nothing else but the man that beareth witness, whether he be put to death for his testimony, or not.
Also he that is not sent to preach this fundamental article, but taketh it upon him of his private authority, though he be a witness, and consequently a martyr, either primary of Christ, or secondary of his Apostles, Disciples, or their successors; yet is he not obliged to suffer death for that cause, because being not called thereto, it is not required at his hands; nor ought he to complain if he loseth the reward he expecteth from those that never set him on work. None therefore can be a martyr, neither of the first nor second degree, that have not a warrant to preach Christ come in the flesh; that is to say, none but such as are sent to the conversion of infidels. For no man is a witness to him that already believeth, and therefore needs no witness; but to them that deny, or doubt, or have not heard it. Christ sent his Apostles and his seventy Disciples with authority to preach; he sent not all that believed. And he sent them to unbelievers; "I send you," saith he, "as sheep amongst wolves";* not as sheep to other sheep.
- Matthew, 10. 16
Lastly, the points of their commission, as they are expressly set down in the gospel, contain none of them any authority over the congregation.
We have first that the twelve Apostles were sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and commanded to preach "that the kingdom of God was at hand."* Now preaching, in the original, is that act which a crier, herald, or other officer useth to do publicly in proclaiming of a king. But a crier hath not right to command any man. And the seventy Disciples are sent out as "Labourers, not as lords of the harvest";
- (2) and are bidden to say, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you";
- (3) and by kingdom here is meant, not the kingdom of grace, but the kingdom of glory; for they are bidden to denounce it to those cities which shall not receive them, as a threatening, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for such a city.
- (4) And our Saviour telleth his Disciples, that sought priority of place, their office was to minister, even as the Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
- (5) Preachers therefore have not magisterial, but ministerial power: "Be not called masters," saith our Saviour, "for one is your master, even Christ."
- Matthew, 10. 6, 7
- (2) Luke, 10. 2
- (3) Ibid., 10. 9
- (4) Ibid., 10. 11
- (5) Matthew, 20. 28
- (6) Ibid., 23. 10
Another point of their commission is to "teach all nations"; as it is in Matthew, 28. 19, or as in St. Mark, 16. 15, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Teaching, therefore, and preaching is the same thing. For they that proclaim the coming of a king must withal make known by what right he cometh, if they mean men shall submit themselves unto him: as St. Paul did to the Jews of Thessalonica, when "three Sabbath days he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus is Christ."* But to teach out of the Old Testament that Jesus was Christ, that is to say, king, and risen from the dead, is not to say that men are bound, after they believe it, to obey those that tell them so, against the laws and commands of their sovereigns; but that they shall do wisely to expect the coming of Christ hereafter, in patience and faith, with obedience to their present magistrates.
- Acts, 17. 2, 3
Another point of their commission is to "baptize, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." What is baptism? Dipping into water. But what is it to dip a man into the water in the name of anything? The meaning of these words of baptism is this. He that is baptized is dipped or washed as a sign of becoming a new man and a loyal subject to that God whose person was represented in old time by Moses, and the high priests, when He reigned over the Jews; and to Jesus Christ, His Son, God and Man, that hath redeemed us, and shall in his human nature represent his Father's person in his eternal kingdom after the resurrection; and to acknowledge the doctrine of the Apostles, who, assisted by the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, were left for guides to bring us into that kingdom, to be the only and assured way thereunto. This being our promise in baptism; and the authority of earthly sovereigns being not to be put down till the day of judgement; for that is expressly affirmed by St. Paul, where he saith, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive. But every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming; then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power."* It is manifest that we do not in baptism constitute over us another authority by which our external actions are to be governed in this life, but promise to take the doctrine of the Apostles for our direction in the way to life eternal.
- I Corinthians, 15. 22, 23, 24
The power of remission and retention of sins, called also the power of loosing and binding, and sometimes the keys of the kingdom of heaven is a consequence of the authority to baptize or refuse to baptize. For baptism is the sacrament of allegiance of them that are to be received into the kingdom of God; that is to say, into eternal life; that is to say, to remission of sin: for as eternal life was lost by the committing, so it is recovered by the remitting of men's sins. The end of baptism is remission of sins: therefore St. Peter, when they that were converted by his sermon on the day of Pentecost asked what they were to do, advised them to "repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins."* And therefore, seeing to baptize is to declare the reception of men into God's kingdom, and to refuse to baptize is to declare their exclusion, it followeth that the power to declare them cast out, or retained in it, was given to the same Apostles, and their substitutes and successors. And therefore after our Saviour had breathed upon them, saying, "Receive the Holy Ghost,"
- (2) he addeth in the next verse, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." By which words is not granted an authority to forgive or retain sins, simply and absolutely, as God forgiveth or retaineth them, Who knoweth the heart of man and truth of his penitence and conversion; but conditionally, to the penitent: and this forgiveness, or absolution, in case the absolved have but a feigned repentance, is thereby, without other act or sentence of the absolved, made void, and hath no effect at all to salvation, but, on the contrary, to the aggravation of his sin. Therefore the Apostles and their successors are to follow but the outward marks of repentance; which appearing, they have no authority to deny absolution; and if they appear not, they have no authority to absolve. The same also is to be observed in baptism: for to a converted Jew or Gentile, the Apostles had not the power to deny baptism, nor to grant it to the unpenitent. But seeing no man is able to discern the truth of another man's repentance, further than by external marks taken from his words and actions, which are subject to hypocrisy, another question will arise: who is it that is constituted judge of those marks? And this question is decided by our Saviour himself: "If thy brother," saith he, "shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
- (3) By which it is manifest that the judgement concerning the truth of repentance belonged not to any one man, but to the Church, that is, to the assembly of the faithful, or to them that have authority to be their representant. But besides the judgement, there is necessary also the pronouncing of sentence: and this belonged always to the Apostle, or some pastor of the Church, as prolocutor; and of this our Saviour speaketh in the eighteenth verse, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And conformable hereunto was the practice of St. Paul where he saith, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have determined already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one to Satan";
- (4) that is to say, to cast him out of the Church, as a man whose sins are not forgiven. Paul here pronounceth the sentence, but the assembly was first to hear the cause (for St. Paul was absent), and by consequence to condemn him. But in the same chapter the judgement in such a case is more expressly attributed to the assembly: "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator," etc., "with such a one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?"
- (5) The sentence therefore by which a man was put out of the Church was pronounced by the Apostle or pastor; but the judgement concerning the merit of the cause was in the Church; that is to say, as the times were before the conversion of kings, and men that had sovereign authority in the Commonwealth, the assembly of the Christians dwelling in the same city; as in Corinth, in the assembly of the Christians of Corinth.
- Acts, 2. 38
- (2) John, 20. 22
- (3) Matthew, 18. 15, 16, 17
- (4) I Corinthians, 5. 3, 4, 5
- (5) Ibid., 5. 11, 12
This part of the power of the keys by which men were thrust out from the kingdom of God is that which is called excommunication and to excommunicate is, in the original, aposunagogon poiein, to cast out of the synagogue; that is, out of the place of divine service; a word drawn from the custom of the Jews, to cast out of their synagogues such as they thought in manners or doctrine contagious, as lepers were by the law of Moses separated from the congregation of Israel till such time as they should be by the priest pronounced clean.
The use and effect of excommunication, whilst it was not yet strengthened with the civil power, was no more than that they who were not excommunicate were to avoid the company of them that were. It was not enough to repute them as heathen, that never had been Christians; for with such they might eat and drink, which with excommunicate persons they might not do, as appeareth by the words of St. Paul where he telleth them he had formerly forbidden them to "company with fornicators";* but, because that could not be without going out of the world, he restraineth it to such fornicators and otherwise vicious persons as were of the brethren; "with such a one," he saith, they ought not to keep company, "no not to eat." And this is no more than our Saviour saith, "Let him be to thee as a heathen, and as a publican."
- (2) For publicans (which signifieth farmers and receivers of the revenue of the Commonwealth) were so hated and detested by the Jews that were to pay it, as that publican and sinner were taken amongst them for the same thing; insomuch as when our Saviour accepted the invitation of Zacchaeus a publican, though it were to convert him, yet it was objected to him as a crime. And therefore, when our Saviour, to heathen, added publican, he did forbid them to eat with a man excommunicate.
- I Corinthians, 5. 9, 10, etc.
- (2) Matthew, 18. 17
As for keeping them out of their synagogues, or places of assembly, they had no power to do it but that of the owner of the place, whether he were Christian or heathen. And because all places are by right in the dominion of the Commonwealth, as well he that was excommunicated as he that never was baptized, might enter into them by commission from the civil magistrate; as Paul before his conversion entered into their synagogues at Damascus, to apprehend Christians, men and women, and to carry them bound to Jerusalem, by commission from the high priest.*
- Acts, 9. 2
By which it appears that upon a Christian that should become an apostate, in a place where the civil power did persecute or not assist the Church, the effect of excommunication had nothing in it, neither of damage in this world nor of terror: not of terror, because of their unbelief; nor of damage, because they returned thereby into the favour of the world; and in the world to come were to be in no worse estate than they which never had believed. The damage redounded rather to the Church, by provocation of them they cast out to a freer execution of their malice.
Excommunication therefore had its effect only upon those that believed that Jesus Christ was to come again in glory to reign over and to judge both the quick and the dead, and should therefore refuse entrance into his kingdom to those whose sins were retained; that is, to those that were excommunicated by the Church. And thence it is that St. Paul calleth excommunication a delivery of the excommunicate person to Satan. For without the kingdom of Christ, all other kingdoms after judgement are comprehended in the kingdom of Satan. This is it that the faithful stood in fear of, as long as they stood excommunicate, that is to say, in an estate wherein their sins were not forgiven. Whereby we may understand that excommunication in the time that Christian religion was not authorized by the civil power was used only for a correction of manners, not of errors in opinion: for it is a punishment whereof none could be sensible but such as believed and expected the coming again of our Saviour to judge the world; and they who so believed needed no other opinion, but only uprightness of life, to be saved.
There lieth excommunication for injustice; as, if thy brother offend thee, tell it him privately, then with witnesses; lastly, tell the Church, and then if he obey not, "Let him be to thee as an heathen man, and a publican."* And there lieth excommunication for a scandalous life, as "If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such a one ye are not to eat."
- (2) But to excommunicate a man that held this foundation, that Jesus was the Christ, for difference of opinion in other points by which that foundation was not destroyed, there appeareth no authority in the Scripture, nor example in the Apostles. There is indeed in St. Paul a text that seemeth to be to the contrary: "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject."
- (3) For a heretic is he that, being a member of the Church, teacheth nevertheless some private opinion which the Church has forbidden: and such a one, St. Paul adviseth Titus after the first and second admonition, to reject. But to reject in this place is not to excommunicate the man; but to give over admonishing him, to let him alone, to set by disputing with him, as one that is to be convinced only by himself. The same Apostle saith, "Foolish and unlearned questions avoid":
- (4) The word avoid in this place, and reject in the former, is the same in the original, paraitou, but foolish questions may be set by without excommunication. And again, "Avoid foolish questions,:
- (5) where the original periistaso (set them by) is equivalent to the former word, reject. There is no other place that can so much as colourably be drawn to countenance the casting out of the Church faithful men, such as believed the foundation, only for a singular superstructure of their own, proceeding perhaps from a good and pious conscience. But, on the contrary, all such places as command avoiding such disputes are written for a lesson to pastors, such as Timothy and Titus were, not to make new articles of faith by determining every small controversy, which oblige men to a needless burden of conscience, or provoke them to break the union of the Church. Which lesson the Apostles themselves observed well. St. Peter and St. Paul, though their controversy were great, as we may read in Galatians, 2. 11, yet they did not cast one another out of the Church. Nevertheless, during the Apostles' times, there were other pastors that observed it not; as Diotrephes who cast out of the Church such as St. John himself thought fit to be received into it, out of a pride he took in pre-eminence:
- (6) so early it was that vainglory and ambition had found entrance into the Church of Christ.
- Matthew, 18. 15, 16, 17
- (2) I Corinthians, 5. 3, 4, 5
- (3) Ibid., 5. 11, 12
- (4) II Timothy, 2. 23
- (5) Titus, 3. 9
- (6) 3 John, 9, etc.
That a man be liable to excommunication, there be many conditions requisite; as first, that he be a member of some commonalty, that is to say, of some lawful assembly, that is to say, of some Christian Church that hath power to judge of the cause for which he is to be excommunicated. For where there is no community, there can be no excommunication; nor where there is no power to judge, can there be any power to give sentence.
From hence it followeth that one Church cannot be excommunicated by another: for either they have equal power to excommunicate each other, in which case excommunication is not discipline, nor an act of authority, but schism, and dissolution of charity; or one is so subordinate to the other as that they both have but one voice, and then they be but one Church; and the part excommunicated is no more a Church, but a dissolute number of individual persons.
And because the sentence of excommunication importeth an advice not to keep company nor so much as to eat with him that is excommunicate, if a sovereign prince or assembly be excommunicate, the sentence is of no effect. For all subjects are bound to be in the company and presence of their own sovereign, when he requireth it, by the law of nature; nor can they lawfully either expel him from any place of his own dominion, whether profane or holy; nor go out of his dominion without his leave; much less, if he call them to that honour, refuse to eat with him. And as to other princes and states, because they are not parts of one and the same congregation, they need not any other sentence to keep them from keeping company with the state excommunicate: for the very institution, as it uniteth many men into one community, so it dissociateth one community from another: so that excommunication is not needful for keeping kings and states asunder; nor has any further effect than is in the nature of policy itself, unless it be to instigate princes to war upon one another.
Nor is the excommunication of a Christian subject that obeyeth the laws of his own sovereign, whether Christian or heathen, of any effect. For if he believe that "Jesus is the Christ, he hath the Spirit of God,"* "and God dwelleth in him, and he in God."
- (2) But he that hath the Spirit of God; he that dwelleth in God; he in whom God dwelleth, can receive no harm by the excommunication of men. Therefore, he that believeth Jesus to be the Christ is free from all the dangers threatened to persons excommunicate. He that believeth it not is no Christian. Therefore a true and unfeigned Christian is not liable to excommunication: nor he also that is a professed Christian, till his hypocrisy appear in his manners; that is, till his behaviour be contrary to the law of his sovereign, which is the rule of manners, and which Christ and his Apostles have commanded us to be subject to. For the Church cannot judge of manners but by external actions, which actions can never be unlawful but when they are against the law of the Commonwealth.
- John, 5. 1
- (2) Ibid., 4. 15
If a man's father, or mother, or master be excommunicate, yet are not the children forbidden to keep them company, nor to eat with them; for that were, for the most part, to oblige them not to eat at all, for want of means to get food; and to authorize them to disobey their parents and masters, contrary to the precept of the Apostles.
In sum, the power of excommunication cannot be extended further than to the end for which the Apostles and pastors of the Church have their commission from our Saviour; which is not to rule by command and coercion, but by teaching and direction of men in the way of salvation in the world to come. And as a master in any science may abandon his scholar when he obstinately neglecteth the practice of his rules, but not accuse him of injustice, because he was never bound to obey him: so a teacher of Christian doctrine may abandon his disciples that obstinately continue in an unchristian life; but he cannot say they do him wrong, because they are not obliged to obey him: for to a teacher that shall so complain may be applied the answer of God to Samuel in the like place, "They have not rejected thee, but me."* Excommunication therefore, when it wanteth the assistance of the civil power, as it doth when a Christian state or prince is excommunicate by a foreign authority, is without effect, and consequently ought to be without terror. The name of fulmen excommunicationis (that is, the thunderbolt of excommunication) proceeded from an imagination of the Bishop of Rome, which first used it, that he was king of kings, as the heathen made Jupiter king of the gods; and assigned him, in their poems and pictures, a thunderbolt wherewith to subdue and punish the giants that should dare to deny his power: which imagination was grounded on two errors; one, that the kingdom of Christ is of this world, contrary to our Saviour's own words, "My kingdom is not of this world";
- (2) the other, that he is Christ's vicar, not only over his own subjects, but over all the Christians of the world; whereof there is no ground in Scripture, and the contrary shall be proved in its due place.
- I Samuel, 8. 7
- (2) John, 18. 36
St. Paul coming to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews, "as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus whom he preached was the Christ."* The Scriptures here mentioned were the Scriptures of the Jews, that is, the Old Testament. The men to whom he was to prove that Jesus was the Christ, and risen again from the dead, were also Jews, and did believe already that they were the word of God. Hereupon, as it is in the fourth verse some of them believed, and, as it is in the fifth verse, some believed not. What was the reason, when they all believed the Scripture, that they did not all believe alike, but that some approved, others disapproved, the interpretation of St. Paul that cited them, and every one interpreted them to himself? It was this: St. Paul came to them without any legal commission, and in the manner of one that would not command, but persuade; which he must needs do, either by miracles, as Moses did to the Israelites in Egypt, that they might see his authority in God's works; or by reasoning from the already received Scripture, that they might see the truth of his doctrine in God's word. But whosoever persuadeth by reasoning from principles written maketh him to whom he speaketh judge; both of the meaning of those principles and also of the force of his inferences upon them. If these Jews of Thessalonica were not, who else was the judge of what St. Paul alleged out of Scripture? If St. Paul, what needed he to quote any places to prove his doctrine? It had been enough to have said, "I find it so in Scripture; that is to say, in your laws, of which I am interpreter, as sent by Christ." The interpreter therefore of the Scripture, to whose interpretation the Jews of Thessalonica were bound to stand, could be none: every one might believe or not believe, according as the allegations seemed to himself to be agreeable or not agreeable to the meaning of the places alleged. And generally in all cases of the world he that pretendeth any proof maketh judge of his proof him to whom he addresseth his speech. And as to the case of the Jews in particular, they were bound by express words to receive the determination of all hard questions from the priests and judges of Israel for the time being.
- (2) But this is to be understood of the Jews that were yet unconverted.
- Acts, 17. 2, 3
- (2) Deuteronomy, 17
For the conversion of the Gentiles, there was no use of alleging the Scriptures, which they believed not. The Apostles therefore laboured by reason to confute their idolatry; and that done, to persuade them to the faith of Christ by their testimony of his life and resurrection. So that there could not yet be any controversy concerning the authority to interpret Scripture; seeing no man was obliged, during his infidelity, to follow any man's interpretation of any Scripture except his sovereign's interpretation of the laws of his country.
Let us now consider the conversion itself, and see what there was therein that could be cause of such an obligation. Men were converted to no other thing than to the belief of that which the Apostles preached: and the Apostles preached nothing but that Jesus was the Christ, that is to say, the King that was to save them and reign over them eternally in the world to come; and consequently that he was not dead, but risen again from the dead, and gone up into heaven, and should come again one day to judge the world (which also should rise again to be judged), and reward every man according to his works. None of them preached that himself, or any other Apostle, was such an interpreter of the Scripture as all that became Christians ought to take their interpretation for law. For to interpret the laws is part of the administration of a present kingdom, which the Apostles had not. They prayed then, and all other pastors since, "Let thy kingdom come"; and exhorted their converts to obey their then ethnic princes. The New Testament was not yet published in one body. Every of the evangelists was interpreter of his own gospel, and every Apostle of his own epistle; and of the Old Testament our Saviour himself saith to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think to have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me."* If he had not meant they should interpret them, he would not have bidden them take thence the proof of his being the Christ: he would either have interpreted them himself, or referred them to the interpretation of the priests.
- John, 5. 39
When a difficulty arose, the Apostles and elders of the Church assembled themselves together, and determined what should be preached and taught, and how they should interpret the Scriptures to the people, but took not from the people the liberty to read and interpret them to themselves. The Apostles sent diverse letters to the Churches, and other writings for their instruction; which had been in vain if they had not allowed them to interpret, that is, to consider the meaning of them. And as it was in the Apostles' time, it must be till such time as there should be pastors that could authorize an interpreter whose interpretation should generally be stood to: but that could not be till kings were pastors, or pastors kings.
There be two senses wherein a writing may be said to be canonical: for canon signifieth a rule; and a rule is a precept by which a man is guided and directed in any action whatsoever. Such precepts, though given by a teacher to his disciple, or a counsellor to his friend, without power to compel him to observe them, are nevertheless canons, because they are rules. But when they are given by one whom he that receiveth them is bound to obey, then are those canons not only rules, but laws: the question therefore here is of the power to make the Scriptures, which are the rules of Christian faith, laws.
That part of the Scripture which was first law was the Ten Commandments, written in two tables of stone and delivered by God Himself to Moses, and by Moses made known to the people. Before that time there was no written law of God, who, as yet having not chosen any people to be His peculiar kingdom, had given no law to men, but the law of nature, that is to say, the precepts of natural reason, written in every man's own heart. Of these two tables, the first containeth the law of sovereignty: 1. That they should not obey nor honour the gods of other nations, in these words, Non habebis deos alienos coram me; that is, "Thou shalt not have for gods, the gods that other nations worship, but only me": whereby they were forbidden to obey or honour as their king and governor any other God than Him that spake unto them by Moses, and afterwards by the high priest. 2. That they "should not make any image to represent Him"; that is to say, they were not to choose to themselves, neither in heaven nor in earth, any representative of their own fancying, but obey Moses and Aaron, whom He had appointed to that office. 3. That "they should not take the name of God in vain"; that is, they should not speak rashly of their King, nor dispute his right, nor the commissions of Moses and Aaron, His lieutenants. 4. That "they should every seventh day abstain from their ordinary labour," and employ that time in doing Him public honour. The second table containeth the duty of one man towards another, as "To honour parents"; "Not to kill"; "Not to commit adultery"; "Not to steal"; "Not to corrupt judgement by false witness"; and finally, "Not so much as to design in their heart the doing of any injury one to another." The question now is who it was that gave to these written tables the obligatory force of laws. There is no doubt but they were made laws by God Himself: but because a law obliges not, nor is law to any but to them that acknowledge it to be the act of the sovereign, how could the people of Israel, that were forbidden to approach the mountain to hear what God said to Moses, be obliged to obedience to all those laws which Moses propounded to them? Some of them were indeed the laws of nature, as all the second table, and therefore to be acknowledged for God's laws; not to the Israelites alone, but to all people: but of those that were peculiar to the Israelites, as those of the first table, the question remains, saving that they had obliged themselves, presently after the propounding of them, to obey Moses, in these words, "Speak thou to us, and we will hear thee; but let not God speak to us, lest we die."* It was therefore only Moses then, and after him the high priest, whom, by Moses, God declared should administer this His peculiar kingdom, that had on earth the power to make this short Scripture of the Decalogue to be law in the commonwealth of Israel. But Moses, and Aaron, and the succeeding high priests were the civil sovereigns. Therefore hitherto the canonizing, or making of the Scripture law, belonged to the civil sovereign.
- Exodus, 20. 19
The judicial law, that is to say, the laws that God prescribed to the magistrates of Israel for the rule of their administration of justice, and of the sentences or judgements they should pronounce in pleas between man and man; and the Levitical law, that is to say, the rule that God prescribed touching the rites and ceremonies of the priests and Levites, were all delivered to them by Moses only; and therefore also became laws by virtue of the same promise of obedience to Moses. Whether these laws were then written, or not written, but dictated to the people by Moses, after his forty days being with God in the Mount, by word of mouth, is not expressed in the text; but they were all positive laws, and equivalent to Holy Scripture, and made canonical by Moses the civil sovereign.
After the Israelites were come into the plains of Moab over against Jericho, and ready to enter into the Land of Promise, Moses to the former laws added diverse others; which therefore are called Deuteronomy; that is, Second Laws; and are, as it is written, "the words of a covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb."* For having explained those former laws, in the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy, he addeth others, that begin at the twelfth Chapter and continue to the end of the twenty-sixth of the same book. This law they were commanded to write upon great stones plastered over, at their passing over Jordan:
- (2) this law also was written by Moses himself in a book, and delivered into the hands of the priests, and to the elders of Israel,
- (3) and commanded "to be put in the side of the Ark";
- (4) for in the Ark itself was nothing but the Ten Commandments. This was the law which Moses commanded the kings of Israel should keep a copy of:
- (5) and this is the law which, having been long time lost, was found again in the Temple in the time of Josiah, and by his authority received for the law of God. But both Moses at the writing and Josiah at the recovery thereof had both of them the civil sovereignty. Hitherto therefore the power of making Scripture canonical was in the civil sovereign.
- Deuteronomy, 29. 1
- (2) Ibid., 27
- (3) Ibid., 31. 9
- (4) Ibid., 31. 26
- (5) Ibid., 17. 18
Besides this Book of the Law, there was no other book, from the time of Moses till after the Captivity, received amongst the Jews for the law of God. For the prophets, except a few, lived in the time of the Captivity itself; and the rest lived but a little before it, and were so far from having their prophecies generally received for laws as that their persons were persecuted, partly by false prophets, and partly by the kings were seduced by them. And this book itself, which was confirmed by Josiah for the law of God, and with it all the history of the works of God, was lost in the Captivity, and sack of the city of Jerusalem, as appears by that of II Esdras, 14. 21, "Thy law is burnt; therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of Thee, or the works that shall begin." And before the Captivity, between the time when the law was lost (which is not mentioned in the Scripture, but may probably be thought to be the time of Rehoboam when Shishak, King of Egypt, took the spoil of the Temple*) and the time of Josiah, when it was found again, they had no written word of God, but ruled according to their own discretion, or by the direction of such as each of them esteemed prophets.
- I Kings, 14. 26
From hence we may infer that the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which we have at this day, were not canonical, nor a law unto the Jews, till the renovation of their covenant with God at their return from the Captivity, and restoration of their Commonwealth under Esdras. But from that time forward they were accounted the law of the Jews, and for such translated into Greek by seventy elders of Judaea, and put into the library of Ptolemy at Alexandria, and approved for the word of God. Now seeing Esdras was the high priest, and the high priest was their civil sovereign, it is manifest that the Scriptures were never made laws, but by the sovereign civil power.
By the writings of the Fathers that lived in the time before that Christian religion was received and authorized by Constantine the Emperor, we may find that the books we now have of the New Testament were held by the Christians of that time (except a few, in respect of whose paucity the rest were called the Catholic Church, and others heretics) for the dictates of the Holy Ghost; and consequently for the canon, or rule of faith: such was the reverence and opinion they had of their teachers; as generally the reverence that the disciples bear to their first masters in all manner of doctrine they receive from them is not small. Therefore there is no doubt but when St. Paul wrote to the churches he had converted; or any other Apostle or Disciple of Christ, to those which had then embraced Christ; they received those their writings for the true Christian doctrine. But in that time when not the power and authority of the teacher, but the faith of the hearer, caused them to receive it, it was not the Apostles that made their own writings canonical, but every convert made them so to himself.
But the question here is not what any Christian made a law or canon to himself, which he might again reject by the same right he received it, but what was so made a canon to them as without injustice they could not do anything contrary thereunto. That the New Testament should in this sense be canonical, that is to say, a law in any place where the law of the Commonwealth had not made it so, is contrary to the nature of a law. For a law, as hath been already shown, is the commandment of that man, or assembly, to whom we have given sovereign authority to make such rules for the direction of our actions as he shall think fit, and to punish us when we do anything contrary to the same. When therefore any other man shall offer unto us any other rules, which the sovereign ruler hath not prescribed, they are but counsel and advice; which, whether good or bad, he that is counselled may without injustice refuse to observe; and when contrary to the laws already established, without injustice cannot observe, how good soever he conceiveth it to be. I say he cannot in this case observe the same in his actions, nor in his discourse with other men, though he may without blame believe his private teachers and wish he had the liberty to practise their advice, and that it were publicly received for law. For internal faith is in its own nature invisible, and consequently exempted from all human jurisdiction; whereas the words and actions that proceed from it, as breaches of our civil obedience, are injustice both before God and man. Seeing then our Saviour hath denied his kingdom to be in this world, seeing he hath said he came not to judge, but to save the world, he hath not subjected us to other laws than those of the Commonwealth; that is, the Jews to the law of Moses, which he saith he came not to destroy, but to fulfil;* and other nations to the laws of their several sovereigns, and all men to the laws of nature; the observing whereof, both he himself and his Apostles have in their teaching recommended to us as a necessary condition of being admitted by him in the last day into his eternal kingdom, wherein shall be protection and life everlasting. Seeing then our Saviour and his Apostles left not new laws to oblige us in this world, but new doctrine to prepare us for the next, the books of the New Testament, which contain that doctrine, until obedience to them was commanded by them that God had given power to on earth to be legislators, were not obligatory canons, that is, laws, but only good and safe advice for the direction of sinners in the way to salvation, which every man might take and refuse at his own peril, without injustice.
- Matthew, 5
Again, our Saviour Christ's commission to his Apostles and Disciples was to proclaim his kingdom, not present, but to come; and to teach all nations, and to baptize them that should believe; and to enter into the houses of them that should receive them; and where they were not received, to shake off the dust of their feet against them; but not to call for fire from heaven to destroy them, nor to compel them to obedience by the sword. In all which there is nothing of power, but of persuasion. He sent them out as sheep unto wolves, not as kings to their subjects. They had not in commission to make laws; but to obey and teach obedience to laws made; and consequently they could not make their writings obligatory canons, without the help of the sovereign civil power. And therefore the Scripture of the New Testament is there only law where the lawful civil power hath made it so. And there also the king, or sovereign, maketh it a law to himself; by which he subjecteth himself, not to the doctor or Apostle that converted him, but to God Himself, and His Son Jesus Christ, as immediately as did the Apostles themselves.
That which may seem to give the New Testament, in respect of those that have embraced Christian doctrine, the force of laws, in the times and places of persecution, is the decrees they made amongst themselves in their synods. For we read the style of the council of the Apostles, the elders, and the whole Church, in this manner, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things,"* etc., which is a style that signifieth a power to lay a burden on them that had received their doctrine. Now "to lay a burden on another" seemeth the same as to oblige, and therefore the acts of that council were laws to the then Christians. Nevertheless, they were no more laws than are these other precepts, "Repent"; "Be baptized"; "Keep the Commandments"; "Believe the Gospel"; "Come unto me"; "Sell all that thou hast"; "Give it to the poor"; and "Follow me"; which are not commands, but invitations and callings of men to Christianity, like that of Isaiah, "Ho, every man that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, come, and buy wine and milk without money."
- (2) For first, the Apostles' power was no other than that of our Saviour, to invite men to embrace the kingdom of God; which they themselves acknowledged for a kingdom, not present, but to come; and they that have no kingdom can make no laws. And secondly, if their acts of council were laws, they could not without sin be disobeyed. But we read not anywhere that they who received not the doctrine of Christ did therein sin, but that they died in their sins; that is, that their sins against the laws to which they owed obedience were not pardoned. And those laws were the laws of nature, and the civil laws of the state, whereto every Christian man had by pact submitted himself. And therefore by the burden which the Apostles might lay on such as they had converted are not to be understood laws, but conditions, proposed to those that sought salvation; which they might accept or refuse at their own peril, without a new sin, though not without the hazard of being condemned and excluded out of the kingdom of God for their sins past. And therefore of infidels, St. John saith not, the wrath of God shall come upon them, but the wrath of God remaineth upon them;
- (3) and not that they shall he condemned, but that they are condemned already.
- (4) Nor can it be conceived that the benefit of faith is remission of sins, unless we conceive withal that the damage of infidelity is the retention of the same sins.
- Acts, 15. 28
- (2) Isaiah, 55. 1
- (3) John, 3. 36
- (4) Ibid., 3. 18
But to what end is it, may some man ask, that the Apostles and other pastors of the Church, after their time, should meet together to agree upon what doctrine should be taught, both for faith and manners, if no man were obliged to observe their decrees? To this may be answered that the Apostles and elders of that council were obliged, even by their entrance into it, to teach the doctrine therein concluded, and decreed to be taught, so far forth as no precedent law, to which they were obliged to yield obedience, was to the contrary; but not that all other Christians should be obliged to observe what they taught. For though they might deliberate what each of them should teach, yet they could not deliberate what others should do, unless their assembly had had a legislative power, which none could have but civil sovereigns. For though God be the sovereign of all the world, we are not bound to take for His law whatsoever is propounded by every man in His name; nor anything contrary to the civil law, which God hath expressly commanded us to obey.
Seeing then the acts of council of the Apostles were then no laws, but counsels; much less are laws the acts of any other doctors or councils since, if assembled without the authority of the civil sovereign. And consequently, the books of the New Testament, though most perfect rules of Christian doctrine, could not be made laws by any other authority than that of kings or sovereign assemblies.
The first council that made the Scriptures we now have canon is not extant: for that collection of the canons of the Apostles, attributed to Clemens, the first bishop of Rome after St. Peter, is subject to question: for though the canonical books be there reckoned up; yet these words, Sint vobis omnibus Clericis & Laicis Libri venerandi, etc., contain a distinction of clergy and laity that was not in use so near St. Peter's time. The first council for settling the canonical Scripture that is extant is that of Laodicea, Can. 59, which forbids the reading of other books than those in the churches; which is a mandate that is not addressed to every Christian, but to those only that had authority to read anything publicly in the Church; that is, to ecclesiastics only. OF ecclesiastical officers in the time of the Apostles, some were magisterial, some ministerial. Magisterial were the offices of preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God to infidels; of administering the sacraments and divine service; and of teaching the rules of faith and manners to those that were converted. Ministerial was the office of deacons, that is, of them that were appointed to the administration of the secular necessities of the Church, at such time as they lived upon a common stock of money, raised out of the voluntary contributions of the faithful.
Amongst the officers Amongst the officer magisterial, the first and principal were the Apostles, whereof there were at first but twelve; and these were chosen and constituted by our Saviour himself; and their office was not only to preach, teach, and baptize, but also to be martyrs (witnesses of our Saviour's resurrection). This testimony was the specifical and essential mark whereby the apostleship was distinguished from other magistracy ecclesiastical; as being necessary for an Apostle either to have seen our Saviour after his resurrection or to have conversed with him before, and seen his works, and other arguments of his divinity, whereby they might be taken for sufficient witnesses. And therefore at the election of a new Apostle in the place of Judas Iscariot, St. Peter saith, "Of these men that have companied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection":* where by this word must is implied a necessary property of an Apostle, to have companied with the first and prime Apostles in the time that our Saviour manifested himself in the flesh.
- Acts, 1. 21, 22
The first Apostle of those which were not constituted by Christ in the time he was upon the earth was Matthias, chosen in this manner: there were assembled together in Jerusalem about one hundred and twenty Christians.* These appointed two, Joseph the Just and Matthias,
- (2) and caused lots to be drawn; "and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the apostles."
- (3) So that here we see the ordination of this Apostle was the act of the congregation, and not of St. Peter, nor of the eleven, otherwise than as members of the assembly.
- Acts, 1. 15
- (2) Ibid., 1. 23
- (3) Ibid., 1. 26
After him there was never any other Apostle ordained, but Paul and Barnabas, which was done, as we read, in this manner: "There were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen; which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered unto the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted, and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."*
- Acts, 13. 1, 2, 3
By which it is manifest that though they were called by the Holy Ghost, their calling was declared unto them, and their mission authorized by the particular church of Antioch. And that this their calling was to the apostleship is apparent by that, that they are both called Apostles:* and that it was by virtue of this act of the church of Antioch that they were Apostles, St. Paul declareth plainly in that he useth the word, which the Holy Ghost used at his calling, for he styleth himself, "An apostle separated unto the gospel of God,"
- (2) alluding to the words of the Holy Ghost, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul," etc. But seeing the work of an Apostle was to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ, a man may here ask how St. Paul, that conversed not with our Saviour before his Passion, could know he was risen. To which is easily answered that our Saviour himself appeared to him in the way to Damascus, from heaven, after his ascension; "and chose him for a vessel to bear his name before the Gentiles, and kings, and children of Israel"; and consequently, having seen the Lord after his Passion, was a competent witness of his resurrection: and as for Barnabas, he was a disciple before the Passion. It is therefore evident that Paul and Barnabas were Apostles, and yet chosen and authorized, not by the first Apostles alone, but by the Church of Antioch; as Matthias was chosen and authorized by the Church of Jerusalem.
- Acts, 14. 14
- (2) Romans, 1. 1
Bishop, a word formed in our language out of the Greek episcopus, signifieth an overseer or superintendent of any business, and particularly a pastor or shepherd; and thence by metaphor was taken, not only amongst the Jews that were originally shepherds, but also amongst the heathen, to signify the office of a king, or any other ruler or guide of people, whether he ruled by laws or doctrine. And so the Apostles were the first Christian bishops, instituted by Christ himself: in which sense the apostleship of Judas is called "his bishoprick."* And afterwards, when there were constituted elders in the Christian churches, with charge to guide Christ's flock by their doctrine and advice, these elders were also called bishops. Timothy was an elder (which word elder, in the New Testament, is a name of office as well as of age); yet he was also a bishop. And bishops were then content with the title of elders. Nay, St. John himself, the Apostle beloved of our Lord, beginneth his Second Epistle with these words, "The elder to the elect lady." By which it is evident that bishop, pastor, elder, doctor, that is to say, teacher, were but so many diverse names of the same office in the time of the Apostles. For there was then no government by coercion, but only by doctrine and persuading. The kingdom of God was yet to come, in a new world; so that there could be no authority to compel in any church till the Commonwealth had embraced the Christian faith; and consequently no diversity of authority, though there were diversity of employments.
- Acts, 1. 20
Besides these magisterial employments in the Church; namely, apostles, bishops, elders, pastors, and doctors, whose calling was to proclaim Christ to the Jews and infidels, and to direct and teach those that believed, we read in the New Testament of no other. For by the names of evangelists and prophets is not signified any office, but several gifts by which several men were profitable to the Church: as evangelists, by writing the life and acts of our Saviour; such as were St. Matthew and St. John Apostles, and St. Mark and St. Luke Disciples, and whosoever else wrote of that subject (as St. Thomas and St. Barnabas are said to have done, though the Church have not received the books that have gone under their names); and as prophets, by the gift of interpreting the Old Testament, and sometimes by declaring their special revelations to the Church. For neither these gifts, nor the gifts of languages, nor the gift of casting out devils, nor of curing other diseases, nor anything else did make an officer in the save only the due calling and election to the charge of teaching.
As the Apostles Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas were not made by our Saviour himself, but were elected by the Church, that is, by the assembly of Christians; namely, Matthias by the church of Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas by the church of Antioch; so were also the presbyters and pastors in other cities, elected by the churches of those cities. For proof whereof, let us consider, first, how St. Paul proceeded in the ordination of presbyters in the cities where he had converted men to the Christian faith, immediately after he and Barnabas had received their apostleship. We read that "they ordained elders in every church";* which at first sight may be taken for an argument that they themselves chose and gave them their authority: but if we consider the original text, it will be manifest that they were authorized and chosen by the assembly of the Christians of each city. For the words there are cheirotonesantes autois presbuterous kat ekklesian, that is, "when they had ordained them elders by the holding up of hands in every congregation." Now it is well enough known that in all those cities the manner of choosing magistrates and officers was by plurality of suffrages; and, because the ordinary way of distinguishing the affirmative votes from the negatives was by holding up of hands, to ordain an officer in any of the cities was no more but to bring the people together to elect them by plurality of votes, whether it were by plurality of elevated hands, or by plurality of voices, or plurality of balls, or beans, or small stones, of which every man cast in one, into a vessel marked for the affirmative or negative; for diverse cities had diverse customs in that point. It was therefore the assembly that elected their own elders: the Apostles were only presidents of the assembly to call them together for such election, and to pronounce them elected, and to give them the benediction, which now is called consecration. And for this cause they that were presidents of the assemblies, as in the absence of the Apostles the elders were, were called proestotes and in Latin antistites; which words signify the principal person of the assembly, whose office was to number the votes, and to declare thereby who was chosen; and where the votes were equal, to decide the matter in question by adding his own which is the office of a president in council. And, because all the churches had their presbyters ordained in the same manner, where the word is constitute, as ina katasteses kata polin presbuterous, "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest constitute elders in every city,"
- (2) we are to understand the same thing; namely, that he should call the faithful together, and ordain them presbyters by plurality of suffrages. It had been a strange thing if in a town where men perhaps had never seen any magistrate otherwise chosen than by an assembly, those of the town, becoming Christians, should so much as have thought on any other way of election of their teachers and guides, that is to say, of their presbyters (otherwise called bishops), than this of plurality of suffrages, intimated by St. Paul in the word cheirotonesantes.
- (3) Nor was there ever any choosing of bishops, before the emperors found it necessary to regulate them in order to the keeping of the peace amongst them, but by the assemblies of the Christians in every several town.
- Acts, 14. 23
- (2) Titus, 1. 5
- (3) Acts, 14. 23
The same is also confirmed by the continual practice even to this day in the election of the bishops of Rome. For if the bishop of any place had the right of choosing another to the succession of the pastoral office, in any city, at such time as he went from thence to plant the same in another place; much more had he had the right to appoint his successor in that place in which he last resided and died: and we find not that ever any bishop of Rome appointed his successor. For they were a long time chosen by the people, as we may see by the sedition raised about the election between Damasus and Ursinus; which Ammianus Marcellinus saith was so great that Juventius the Praefect, unable to keep the peace between them, was forced to go out of the city; and that there were above a hundred men found dead upon that occasion in the church itself. And though they afterwards were chosen, first, by the whole clergy of Rome, and afterwards by the cardinals; yet never any was appointed to the succession by his predecessor. If therefore they pretended no right to appoint their own successors, I think I may reasonably conclude they had no right to appoint the successors of other bishops without receiving some new power; which none could take from the Church to bestow on them, but such as had a lawful authority, not only to teach, but to command the Church, which none could do but the civil sovereign.
The word minister in the original, diakonos, signifieth one that voluntarily doth the business of another man, and differeth from a servant only in this, that servants are obliged by their condition to what is commanded them; whereas ministers are obliged only by their undertaking, and bound therefore to no more than that they have undertaken: so that both they that teach the word of God and they that administer the secular affairs of the Church are both ministers, but they are ministers of different persons. For the pastors of the Church, called "the ministers of the word,"* are ministers of Christ, whose word it is: but the ministry of a deacon, which is called "serving of tables,"
- (2) is a service done to the church or congregation: so that neither any one man nor the whole Church could ever of their pastor say he was their minister; but of a deacon, whether the charge he undertook were to serve tables or distribute maintenance to the Christians when they lived in each city on a common stock, or upon collections, as in the first times, or to take a care of the house of prayer, or of the revenue, or other worldly business of the Church, the whole congregation might properly call him their minister.
- Acts, 6. 4
- (2) Ibid., 6. 2
For their employment as deacons was to serve the congregation, though upon occasion they omitted not to preach the Gospel, and maintain the doctrine of Christ, every one according to his gifts, as St. Stephen did; and both to preach and baptize, as Philip did: for that Philip, which preached the Gospel at Samaria,* and baptized the eunuch,
- (2) was Philip the Deacon, not Philip the Apostle. For it is manifest that when Philip preached in Samaria, the Apostles were at Jerusalem,
- (3) and "when they heard that Samaria had received the word of God, sent Peter and John to them";
- (4) by imposition of whose hands they that were baptized received (which before by the baptism of Philip they had not received) the Holy Ghost.
- (5) For it was necessary for the conferring of the Holy Ghost that their baptism should be administered or confirmed by a minister of the word, not by a minister of the Church. And therefore to confirm the baptism of those that Philip the Deacon had baptized, the Apostles sent out of their own number from Jerusalem to Samaria, Peter and John, who conferred on them that before were but baptized, those graces that were signs of the Holy Spirit, which at that time did accompany all true believers; which what they were may be understood by that which St. Mark saith, "These signs follow them that believe in my name; they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
- (6) This to do was it that Philip could not give, but the Apostles could and, as appears by this place, effectually did to every man that truly believed, and was by a minister of Christ himself baptized: which power either Christ's ministers in this age cannot confer, or else there are very few true believers, or Christ hath very few ministers.
- Acts, 8. 5
- (2) Ibid., 8. 38
- (3) Ibid., 8. 1
- (4) Ibid., 8. 14
- (5) Ibid., 8. 15
- (6) Mark, 16. 17
That the first deacons were chosen, not by the Apostles, but by a congregation of the disciples; that is, of Christian men of all sorts, is manifest out of Acts, 6, where we read that the Twelve, after the number of disciples was multiplied, called them together, and having told them that it was not fit that the Apostles should leave the word of God, and serve tables, said unto them, "Brethren look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."* Here it is manifest that though the Apostles declared them elected, yet the congregation chose them; which also is more expressly said where it is written that "the saying pleased the whole multitude, and they seven," etc.
- Acts, 6. 3
- (2) Ibid., 6. 5
Under the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi were only capable of the priesthood and other inferior offices of the Church. The land was divided amongst the other tribes, Levi excepted, which by the subdivision of the tribe of Joseph into Ephraim and Manasseh were still twelve. To the tribe of Levi were assigned certain cities for their habitation, with the suburbs for their cattle; but for their portion they were to have the tenth of the fruits of the land of their brethren. Again, the priests for their maintenance had the tenth of that tenth, together with part of the oblations and sacrifices. For God had said to Aaron, "Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part amongst them; I am thy part and thine inheritance amongst the children of Israel."* For God being then King, and having constituted the tribe of Levi to be His public ministers, He allowed them for their maintenance the public revenue, that is to say, the part that God had reserved to Himself; which were tithes and offerings: and that is it which is meant where God saith, "I am thine inheritance." And therefore to the Levites might not unfitly be attributed the name of clergy, from Kleros, which signifieth lot or inheritance; not that they were heirs of the kingdom of God, more than other; but that God's inheritance was their maintenance. Now seeing in this time God Himself was their King, and Moses, Aaron, and the succeeding high priests were His lieutenants; it is manifest that the right of tithes and offerings was constituted by the civil power.
- Numbers, 18. 20
After their rejection of God in the demanding of a king, they enjoyed still the same revenue; but the right thereof was derived from that, that the kings did never take it from them: for the public revenue was at the disposing of him that was the public person; and that, till the Captivity, was the king. And again, after the return from the Captivity, they paid their tithes as before to the priest. Hitherto therefore Church livings were determined by the civil sovereign. OF the maintenance of our Saviour and his Apostles, we read only they had a purse (which was carried by Judas Iscariot); and that of the Apostles such as were fishermen did sometimes use their trade; and that when our Saviour sent the twelve Apostles to preach, he forbade them to carry gold, and silver, and brass in their purses, "for that the workman is worthy of his hire":* by which it is probable their ordinary maintenance was not unsuitable to their employment; for their employment was "freely to give, because they had freely received";
- (2) and their maintenance was the free gift of those that believed the good tiding they carried about of the coming of the Messiah their Saviour. To which we may add that which was contributed out of gratitude by such as our Saviour had healed of diseases; of which are mentioned "certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary Magdalen, out of whom went seven devils; and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward; and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."
- Matthew, 10. 9, 10
- (2) Ibid., 10. 8
- (3) Luke, 8. 2, 3
After our Saviour's ascension, the Christians of every city lived in common upon the money which was made of the sale of their lands and possessions, and laid down at the feet of the Apostles, of good will, not of duty;* for "whilst the land remained." saith St. Peter to Ananias, "was it not thine? And after it was sold, was it not in thy power?"
- (2) Which showeth he needed not have saved his land, nor his money by lying, as not being bound to contribute anything at all unless he had pleased. And as in the time of the Apostles, so also all the time downward, till after Constantine the Great, we shall find that the maintenance of the bishops and pastors of the Christian Church was nothing but the voluntary contribution of them that had embraced their doctrine. There was yet no mention of tithes: but such was in the time of Constantine and his sons the affection of Christians to their pastors, as Ammianus Marcellinus saith, describing the sedition of Damasus and Ursinus about the bishopric, that it was worth their contention, in that the bishops of those times by the liberality of their flock, and especially of matrons, lived splendidly, were carried in coaches, and were sumptuous in their fare and apparel.
- Acts, 4. 34, 35
- (2) Ibid., 5. 4
But here may some ask whether the pastor were then bound to live upon voluntary contribution, as upon alms, "For who," saith St. Paul, "goeth to war at his own charges? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"* And again, "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the Temple; and they which wait at the altar partake with the altar";
- (2) that is to say, have part of that which is offered at the altar for their maintenance? And then he concludeth, "Even so hath the Lord appointed that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." From which place may be inferred, indeed, that the pastors of the Church ought to be maintained by their flocks; but not that the pastors were to determine either the quantity or the kind of their own allowance, and be, as it were, their own carvers. Their allowance must needs therefore be determined either by the gratitude and liberality of every particular man of their flock or by the whole congregation. By the whole congregation it could not be, because their acts were then no laws: therefore the maintenance of pastors before emperors and civil sovereigns had made laws to settle it was nothing but benevolence. They that served at the altar lived on what was offered. So may the pastors also take what is offered them by their flock, but not exact what is not offered. In what court should they sue for it who had no tribunals? Or if they had arbitrators amongst themselves, who should execute their judgements when they had no power to arm their officers? It remaineth therefore that there could be no certain maintenance assigned to any pastors of the Church, but by the whole congregation; and then only when their decrees should have the force, not only of canons, but also of laws; which laws could not be made but by emperors, kings, or other civil sovereigns. The right of tithes in Moses' Law could not be applied to then ministers of the Gospel, because Moses and the high priests were the civil sovereigns of the people under God, whose kingdom amongst the Jews was present; whereas the kingdom of God by Christ is yet to come.
- I Corinthians, 9. 7
- (2) Ibid., 9. 13
Hitherto hath been shown what the pastors of the Church are; what are the points of their commission, as that they were to preach, to teach, to baptize, to be presidents in their several congregations; what is ecclesiastical censure, viz., excommunication, that is to say, in those places where Christianity was forbidden by the civil laws, a putting of themselves out of the company of the excommunicate, and where Christianity was by the civil law commanded, a putting the excommunicate out of the congregations of Christians; who elected the pastors and of the Church, that it the congregation; who consecrated and blessed them, that it was the pastor; what was their due revenue, that it was none but their own possessions, and their own labour, and the voluntary contributions of devout and grateful Christians. We are to consider now what office in the Church those persons have who, being civil sovereigns, have embraced also the Christian faith.
And first, we are to remember that the right of judging what doctrines are fit for peace, and to be taught the subjects, is in all Commonwealths inseparably annexed (as hath been already proved, Chapter eighteen) to the sovereign power civil, whether it be in one man or in one assembly of men. For it is evident to the meanest capacity that men's actions are derived from the opinions they have of the good or evil which from those actions redound unto themselves; and consequently, men that are once possessed of an opinion that their obedience to the sovereign power will be more hurtful to them than their disobedience will disobey the laws, and thereby overthrow the Commonwealth, and introduce confusion and civil war; for the avoiding whereof, all civil government was ordained. And therefore in all Commonwealths of the heathen, the sovereigns have had the name of pastors of the people, because there was no subject that could lawfully teach the people, but by their permission and authority.
This right of the heathen kings cannot be thought taken from them by their conversion to the faith of Christ, who never ordained that kings, for believing in him, should be deposed, that is, subjected to any but himself, or, which is all one, be deprived of the power necessary for the conservation of peace amongst their subjects and for their defence against foreign enemies. And therefore Christian kings are still the supreme pastors of their people, and have power to ordain what pastors they please, to teach the Church, that is, to teach the people committed to their charge.
Again, let the right of choosing them be, as before the conversion of kings, in the Church, for so it was in the time of the Apostles themselves (as hath been shown already in this chapter); even so also the right will be in the civil sovereign, Christian. For in that he is a Christian, he allows the teaching; and in that he is the sovereign (which is as much as to say, the Church by representation), the teachers he elects are elected by the Church. And when an assembly of Christians choose their pastor in a Christian Commonwealth, it is the sovereign that electeth him, because it is done by his authority; in the same manner as when a town choose their mayor, it is the act of him that hath the sovereign power: for every act done is the act of him without whose consent it is invalid. And therefore whatsoever examples may be drawn out of history concerning the election of pastors by the people or by the clergy, they are no arguments against the right of any civil sovereign, because they that elected them did it by his authority.
Seeing then in every Christian Commonwealth the civil sovereign is the supreme pastor, to whose charge the whole flock of his subjects is committed, and consequently that it is by his authority that all other pastors are made, and have power to teach and perform all other pastoral offices, it followeth also that it is from the civil sovereign that all other pastors derive their right of teaching, preaching, and other functions pertaining to that office, and that they are but his ministers; in the same manner as magistrates of towns, judges in courts of justice, and commanders of armies are all but ministers of him that is the magistrate of the whole Commonwealth, judge of all causes, and commander of the whole militia, which is always the civil sovereign. And the reason hereof is not because they that teach, but because they that are to learn, are his subjects. For let it be supposed that a Christian king commit the authority of ordaining pastors in his dominions to another king (as diverse Christian kings allow that power to the Pope), he doth not thereby constitute a pastor over himself, nor a sovereign pastor over his people; for that were to deprive himself of the civil power; which, depending on the opinion men have of their duty to him, and the fear they have of punishment in another world, would depend also on the skill and loyalty of doctors who are no less subject, not only to ambition, but also to ignorance, than any other sort of men. So that where a stranger hath authority to appoint teachers, it is given him by the sovereign in whose dominions he teacheth. Christian doctors are our schoolmasters to Christianity; but kings are fathers of families, and may receive schoolmasters for their subjects from the recommendation of a stranger, but not from the command; especially when the ill teaching them shall redound to the great and manifest profit of him that recommends them: nor can they be obliged to retain them longer than it is for the public good, the care of which they stand so long charged withal as they retain any other essential right of the sovereignty.
If a man therefore should ask a pastor, in the execution of his office, as the chief priests and elders of the people asked our Saviour, "By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority?":* he can make no other just answer but that he doth it by the authority of the Commonwealth, given him by the king or assembly that representeth it. All pastors, except the supreme, execute their charges in the right, that is, by the authority of the civil sovereign, that is, jure civili. But the king, and every other sovereign, executeth his office of supreme pastor by immediate authority from God, that is to say, in God's right, or jure divino. And therefore none but kings can put into their titles, a mark of their submission to God only, Dei gratia Rex, etc. Bishops ought to say in the beginning of their mandates, "By the favour of the King's Majesty, Bishop of such a diocese"; or as civil ministers, "In His Majesty's name." For in saying, Divina providentia, which is the same with Dei gratia, though disguised, they deny to have received their authority from the civil state, and slyly slip off the collar of their civil subjection, contrary to the unity and defence of the Commonwealth.
- Matthew, 21. 23
But if every Christian sovereign be the supreme pastor of his own subjects, it seemeth that he hath also the authority, not only to preach, which perhaps no man will deny, but also to baptize, and to administer sacrament of administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and to consecrate both temples and pastors to God's service; which most men deny, partly because they use not to do it, and partly because the administration of sacraments, and consecration of persons and places to holy uses, requireth the imposition of such men's hands as by the like imposition successively from the time of the Apostles have been ordained to the like ministry. For proof therefore that Christian kings have power to baptize and to consecrate, I am to render a reason both why they use not to do it, and how, without the ordinary ceremony of imposition of hands, they are made capable of doing it when they will.
There is no doubt but any king, in case he were skilful in the sciences, might by the same right of his office read lectures of them himself by which he authorizeth others to read them in the universities. Nevertheless, because the care of the sum of the business of the Commonwealth taketh up his whole time, it were not convenient for him to apply himself in person to that particular. A king may also, if he please, sit in judgement to hear and determine all manner of causes, as well as give others authority to do it in his name; but that the charge that lieth upon him of command and government constrain him to be continually at the helm, and to commit the ministerial offices to others under him. In the like manner our Saviour, who surely had power to baptize, baptized none himself, but sent his Apostles and Disciples to baptize.* So also St. Paul, by the necessity of preaching in diverse and far distant places, baptized few: amongst all the Corinthians he baptized only Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas;
- (2) and the reason was because his principal charge was to preach.
- (3) Whereby it is manifest that the greater charge, such as is the government of the Church, is a dispensation for the less. The reason therefore why Christian kings use not to baptize is evident, and the same for which at this day there are few baptized by bishops, and by the Pope fewer.
- John, 4. 2
- (2) I Corinthians, 1. 14, 16
- (3) Ibid., 1. 17
And as concerning imposition of hands, whether it be needful for the authorizing of a king to baptize and consecrate, we may consider thus.
Imposition of hands was a most ancient public ceremony amongst the Jews, by which was designed, and made certain, the person or other thing intended in a man's prayer, blessing, sacrifice, consecration, condemnation, or other speech. So Jacob, in blessing the children of Joseph, "Laid his right hand on Ephraim the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh the firstborn";* and this he did wittingly (though they were so presented to him by Joseph as he was forced in doing it to stretch out his arms across) to design to whom he whom he intended the greater blessing. So also in the sacrificing of the burnt offering, Aaron is commanded "to lay his hands on the head of the bullock";
- (2) and "to lay his hand on the head of the ram."
- (3) The same is also said again, Leviticus, 1. 4, and 8. 14. Likewise Moses when he ordained Joshua to be captain of the Israelites, that is, consecrated him to God's service, "laid his hands upon him, and gave him his charge,"
- (4) designing and rendering certain who it was they were to obey in war. And in the consecration of the Levites God commanded that "the children of Israel should put their hands the Levites."
- (5) And in the condemnation of him that had blasphemed the Lord, God commanded that "all that heard him should lay their hands on his head, and that all the congregation should stone him."
- (6) And why should they only that heard him lay their hands upon him, and not rather a priest, Levite, or other minister of justice, but that none else were able to design and demonstrate to the eyes of the congregation who it was that had blasphemed and ought to die? And to design a man, or any other thing, by the hand to the eye is less subject to mistake than when it is done to the ear by a name.
- Genesis, 48. 14
- (2) Exodus, 29. 10
- (3) Ibid., 29. 15
- (4) Numbers, 27. 23
- (5) Ibid., 8. 10
- (6) Leviticus, 24. 14
And so much was this ceremony observed that in blessing the whole congregation at once, which cannot be done by laying on of hands, yet Aaron "did lift up his hand towards the people when he blessed them."* And we read also of the like ceremony of consecration of temples amongst the heathen, as that the priest laid his hands on some post of the temple, all the while he was uttering the words of consecration. So natural it is to design any individual thing rather by the hand, to assure the eyes, than by words to inform the ear, in matters of God's public service.
- Leviticus, 9. 22
This ceremony was not therefore new in our Saviour's time. For Jairus, whose daughter was sick, besought our Saviour not to heal her, but "to lay his hands upon her, that she might be healed."* And "they brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray."
- Mark, 5. 23
- (2) Matthew, 19. 13
According to this ancient rite, the Apostles and presbyters and the presbytery itself laid hands on them whom they ordained pastors, and withal prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost; and that not only once, but sometimes oftener, when a new occasion was presented: but the end was still the same, namely a punctual and religious designation of the person ordained either to the pastoral charge in general or to a particular mission. So "The Apostles prayed, and laid their hands"* on the seven deacons; which was done, not to give them the Holy Ghost (for they were full of the Holy Ghost before they were chosen, as appeareth immediately before
- (2)), but to design them to that office. And after Philip the Deacon had converted certain persons in Samaria, Peter and John went down "and laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
- (3) And not only an Apostle, but a presbyter had this power: for St. Paul adviseth Timothy, "Lay hands suddenly on no man";
- (4) that is, design no man rashly to the office of a pastor. The whole presbytery laid their hands on Timothy, as we read, I Timothy, 4. 14, but this is to be understood as that some did it by the appointment of the presbytery, and most likely their proestos, or prolocutor, which it may be was St. Paul himself. For in his second Epistle to Timothy, verse 6, he saith to him, "Stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the laying on of my hands": where note, by the way, that by the Holy Ghost is not meant the third person in the Trinity, but the gifts necessary to the pastoral office. We read also that St. Paul had imposition of hands twice; once from Ananias at Damascus at the time of his baptism;
- (5) and again at Antioch, when he was first sent out to preach.
- (6) The use then of this ceremony considered in the ordination of pastors was to design the person to whom they gave such power. But if there had been then any Christian that had had the power of teaching before, the baptizing of him, that is, the making him a Christian, had given him no new power, but had only caused him to preach true doctrine, that is, to use his power aright; and therefore the imposition of hands had been unnecessary; baptism itself had been sufficient. But every sovereign, before Christianity, had the power of teaching and ordaining teachers; and therefore Christianity gave them no new right, but only directed them in the way of teaching truth; and consequently they needed no imposition of hands (besides that which is done in baptism) to authorize them to exercise any part of the pastoral function, as namely, to baptize and consecrate. And in the Old Testament, though the priest only had right to consecrate, during the time that the sovereignty was in the high priest, yet it was not so when the sovereignty was in the king: for we read that Solomon blessed the people, consecrated the Temple, and pronounced that public prayer,
- (7) which is the pattern now for consecration of all Christian churches and chapels: whereby it appears he had not only the right of ecclesiastical government, but also of exercising ecclesiastical functions.
- Acts, 6. 6
- (2) Ibid., 6. 3
- (3) Ibid., 8. 17
- (4) I Timothy, 5. 22
- (5) Acts, 9. 17, 18
- (6) Ibid., 13. 3
- (7) I Kings, 8
From this consolidation of the right politic and ecclesiastic in Christian sovereigns, it is evident they have all manner of power over their subjects that can be given to man for the government of men's external actions, both in policy and religion, and may make such laws as themselves shall judge fittest, for the government of their own subjects, both as they are the Commonwealth and as they are the Church: for both State and Church are the same men.
If they please, therefore, they may, as many Christian kings now do, commit the government of their subjects in matters of religion to the Pope; but then the Pope is in that point subordinate to them, and exerciseth that charge in another's dominion jure civili, in the right of the civil sovereign; not jure divino, in God's right; and may therefore be discharged of that office when the sovereign for the good of his subjects shall think it necessary. They may also, if they please, commit the care of religion to one supreme pastor, or to an assembly of pastors, and give them what power over the Church, or one over another, they think most convenient; and what titles of honor, as of bishops, archbishops, priests, or presbyters, they will; and make such laws for their maintenance, either by tithes or otherwise, as they please, so they do it out of a sincere conscience, of which God only is the judge. It is the civil sovereign that is to appoint judges and interpreters of the canonical scriptures; for it is he that maketh them laws. It is he also that giveth strength to excommunications; which but for such laws and punishments as may humble obstinate libertines, and reduce them to union with the rest of the Church, would be contemned. In sum, he hath the supreme power in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil, as far as concerneth actions and words, for those only are known and may be accused; and of that which cannot be accused, there is no judge at all, but God, that knoweth the heart. And these rights are incident to all sovereigns, whether monarchs or assemblies: for they that are the representants of a Christian people are representants of the Church: for a Church and a Commonwealth of Christian people are the same thing.
Though this that I have here said, and in other places of this book, seem clear enough for the asserting of the supreme ecclesiastical power to Christian sovereigns, yet because the Pope of Rome's challenge to that power universally hath been maintained chiefly, and I think as strongly as is possible, by Cardinal Bellarmine in his controversy DeSummo Pontifice, I have thought it necessary, as briefly as I can, to examine the grounds and strength of his discourse. OF five books he hath written of this subject, the first containeth three questions: one, which is simply the best government, monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, and concludeth for neither, but for a government mixed of all three; another, which of these is the best government of the Church, and concludeth for the mixed, but which should most participate of monarchy; the third, whether in this mixed monarchy, St. Peter had the place of monarch. Concerning his first conclusion, I have already sufficiently proved (Chapter eighteen) that all governments, which men are bound to obey, are simple and absolute. In monarchy there is but one man supreme, and all other men that have any kind of power in the state have it by his commission, during his pleasure, and execute it in his name; and in aristocracy and democracy, but one supreme assembly, with the same power that in monarchy belongeth to the monarch, which is not a mixed, but an absolute sovereignty. And of the three sorts, which is the best is not to be disputed where any one of them is already established; but the present ought always to be preferred, maintained, and accounted best, because it is against both the law of nature and the divine positive law to do anything tending to the subversion thereof. Besides, it maketh nothing to the power of any pastor (unless he have the civil sovereignty) what kind of government is the best, because their calling is not to govern men by commandment, but to teach them and persuade them by arguments, and leave it to them to consider whether they shall embrace or reject the doctrine taught. For monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy do mark out unto us three sorts of sovereigns, not of pastors; or, as we may say, three sorts of masters of families, not three sorts of schoolmasters for their children.
And therefore the second conclusion, concerning the best form of government of the Church, is nothing to the question of the Pope's power without his own dominions: for in all other Commonwealths his power, if he have any at all, is that of the schoolmaster only, and not of the master of the family.
For the third conclusion, which is that St. Peter was monarch of the Church, he bringeth for his chief argument the place of St. Matthew, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," etc. "And I will give thee the keys of heaven; whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."* Which place, well considered, proveth no more but that the Church of Christ hath for foundation one only article; namely, that which Peter, in the name of all the Apostles professing, gave occasion to our Saviour to speak the words here cited. Which that we may clearly understand, we are to consider, that our Saviour preached by himself, by John Baptist, and by his Apostles, nothing but this article of faith, "that he was the Christ"; all other articles requiring faith no otherwise than as founded on that. John began first, preaching only this, "The kingdom of God is at hand."
- (2) Then our Saviour himself preached the same:
- (3) and to his twelve Apostles, when he gave them their commission, there is no mention of preaching any other article but that.
- (4) This was the fundamental article, that is the foundation of the Church's faith. Afterwards the Apostles being returned to him, he asketh them all, not Peter only, who men said he was; and they answered that some said he was John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets;
- (5) then he asked them all again, not Peter only, "Whom say ye that I am?"
- (6) Therefore St. Peter answered for them all, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God"; which I said is the foundation of the faith of the whole Church; from which our Saviour takes the occasion of saying, "upon this stone I will build my Church": by which it is manifest that by the foundation-stone of the Church was meant the fundamental article of the Church's faith. But why then, will some object, doth our Saviour interpose these words, "Thou art Peter"? If the original of this text had been rigidly the reason would easily have appeared. We are therefore to consider that the Apostle Simon was surnamed Stone (which is the signification of the Syriac word cephas, and of the Greek word petrus). Our Saviour therefore after the confession of that fundamental article, alluding to his name, said (as if it were in English) thus, "Thou art Stone, and upon this Stone I will build my Church": which is as much as to say, "This article, that I am the Christ, is the foundation of all the faith I require in those that are to be members my Church." Neither is this allusion to a name an unusual thing in common speech: but it had been a strange and obscure speech, if our Saviour, intending to build his Church on the person of St. Peter, had said, "Thou art a stone, and upon this stone I will build my Church," when it was so obvious, without ambiguity, to have said, "I will build my Church on thee"; and yet there had been still the same allusion to his name.
- Matthew, 16. 18, 19
- (2) Ibid., 3. 2
- (3) Matthew, 4. 17
- (4) Ibid., 10. 7
- (5) Ibid., 16. 13
- (6) Ibid., 16. 15
And for the following words, "I will give thee the keys of heaven," etc., it is no more than what our Saviour gave also to all the rest of his Disciples, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."* But howsoever this be interpreted, there is no doubt but the power here granted belongs to all supreme pastors; such as are all Christian civil sovereigns in their own dominions. Insomuch as if St. Peter, or our Saviour himself, had converted any of them to believe him and to acknowledge his kingdom; yet because his kingdom is not of this world, he had left the supreme care of converting his subjects to none but him; or else he must have deprived him of the sovereignty to which the right of teaching is inseparably annexed. And thus much in refutation of his first book, wherein he would prove St. Peter to have been the monarch universal of the Church, that is to say, of all the Christians in the world.
- Matthew, 18. 18
The second book hath two conclusions: one, that St. Peter was Bishop of Rome, and there died; the other, that the Popes of Rome are his successors; both which have been disputed by others. But supposing them true; yet if by Bishop of Rome be understood either the monarch of the Church, or the supreme pastor of it, not Silvester, but Constantine (who was the first Christian emperor) was that bishop; and as Constantine, so all other Christian emperors were of right supreme bishops of the Roman Empire. I say, of the Roman Empire, not of all Christendom, for other Christian sovereigns had the same right in their several territories, as to an office essentially adherent to their sovereignty: which shall serve for answer to his second book.
In the third book he handleth the question whether the Pope be Antichrist. For my part, I see no argument that proves he is so, in that sense the Scripture useth the name: nor will I take any argument from the quality of Antichrist to contradict the authority he exerciseth, or hath heretofore exercised, in the dominions of any other prince or state.
It is evident that the prophets of the Old Testament foretold, and the Jews expected, a Messiah, that is, a Christ, that should re-establish amongst them the kingdom of God, which had been rejected by them in the time of Samuel when they required a king after the manner of other nations. This expectation of theirs made them obnoxious to the imposture of all such as had both the ambition to attempt the attaining of the kingdom, and the art to deceive the people by counterfeit miracles, by hypocritical life, or by orations and doctrine plausible. Our Saviour therefore, and his Apostles, forewarned men of false prophets and of false Christs. False Christs are such as pretend to be the Christ, but are not, and are called properly Antichrists, in such sense as when there happeneth a schism in the Church by the election of two Popes, the one the one calleth the other Antipapa, or the false Pope. And therefore Antichrist in the proper signification hath two essential marks: one, that he denieth Jesus to be Christ; and another that he professeth himself to be Christ. The first mark is set down by St. John in his first Epistle, 4. 3, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is the spirit of Antichrist." The other mark is expressed in the words of our Saviour, "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ";* and again, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, there is Christ, believe it not." And therefore Antichrist must be a false Christ; that is, some one of them that shall pretend themselves to be Christ. And out of these two marks, to deny Jesus to be the Christ and to affirm himself to be the Christ, it followeth that he must also be an adversary of Jesus the true Christ, which is another usual signification of the word Antichrist. But of these many Antichrists, there is one special one, o Antichristos, the Antichrist, or Antichrist definitely, as one certain person; not indefinitely an Antichrist. Now seeing the Pope of Rome neither pretendeth himself, nor denieth Jesus to be the Christ, I perceive not how he can be called Antichrist; by which word is not meant one that falsely pretendeth to be his lieutenant, or vicar general, but to be He. There is also some mark of the time of this special Antichrist, as when that abominable destroyer, spoken of by Daniel,
- (2) shall stand in the holy place,
- (3) and such tribulation as was not since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be again, insomuch as if it were to last long, no flesh could be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened,"
- (4) (made fewer). But that tribulation is not yet come; for it is to be followed immediately by a darkening of the sun and moon, a falling of the stars, a concussion of the heavens, and the glorious coming again of our Saviour in the clouds.
- (5) And therefore the Antichrist is not yet come; whereas many Popes are both come and gone. It is true, the Pope, in taking upon him to give laws to all Christian kings and nations, usurpeth a kingdom in this world, which Christ took not on him: but he doth it not as Christ, but as for Christ, wherein there is nothing of the Antichrist.
- Matthew, 24. 5
- (2) Daniel, 9. 27
- (3) Matthew, 24. 15
- (4) Ibid., 24. 22
- (5) Ibid., 24. 29
In the fourth book, to prove the Pope to be the supreme judge in all questions of faith and manners, which is as much as to be the absolute monarch of all Christians in the world, he bringeth three propositions: the first, that his judgements are infallible; the second, that he can make very laws, and punish those that observe them not; the third, that our Saviour conferred all jurisdiction ecclesiastical on the Pope of Rome.
For the infallibility of his judgements, he allegeth the Scriptures: the first, that of Luke, 22. 31, "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired you that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." This, according to Bellarmine's exposition, is that Christ gave here to Simon Peter two privileges: one, that neither his faith should fail, nor the faith of any of his successors; the other, that neither he nor any of his successors should ever define any point concerning faith or manners erroneously, or contrary to the definition of a former Pope: which is a strange and very much strained interpretation. But he that with attention readeth that chapter shall find there is no place in the whole Scripture that maketh more against the Pope's authority than this very place. The priests and scribes, seeking to kill our Saviour at the Passover, and Judas possessed with a resolution to betray him, and the day of killing the Passover being come, our Saviour celebrated the same with his Apostles, which he said, till the kingdom of God was come he would do no more, and withal told them that one of them was to betray him. Hereupon they questioned which of them it should be; and withal, seeing the next Passover their master would celebrate should be when he was king, entered into a contention who should then be the greatest man. Our Saviour therefore told them that the kings of the nations had dominion over their subjects, and are called by a name in Hebrew that signifies bountiful; "but I cannot be so to you; you must endeavour to serve one another; I ordain you a kingdom, but it is such as my Father hath ordained me; a kingdom that I am now to purchase with my blood, and not to possess till my second coming; then ye shall eat and drink at my table, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." And then addressing himself to St. Peter, he saith, "Simon, Simon, Satan seeks, by suggesting a present domination, to weaken your faith of the future; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith shall not fail; thou therefore note this: being converted, and understanding my kingdom as of another world, confirm the same faith in thy brethren." To which St. Peter answered (as one that no more expected any authority in this world), "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, not only to prison, but to death." Whereby it is manifest, St. Peter had not only no jurisdiction given him in this world, but a charge to teach all the other Apostles that they also should have none. And for the infallibility of St. Peter's sentence definitive in matter of faith, there is no more to be attributed to it out of this text than that Peter should continue in the belief of this point, namely, that Christ should come again and possess the kingdom at the day of judgement; which was not given by this text to all his successors; for we see they claim it in the world that now is.
The second place is that of Matthew 16. 18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." By which, as I have already shown in this chapter, is proved no more than that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the confession of Peter, which gave occasion to that speech; namely this, that Jesus is Christ the Son of God.
The third text is John, 21. 16, 17, "Feed my sheep"; which contains no more but a commission of teaching. And if we grant the rest of the Apostles to be contained in that name of sheep, then it is the supreme power of teaching: but it was only for the time that there were no Christian sovereigns already possessed of that supremacy. But I have already proved that Christian sovereigns are in their own dominions the supreme pastors, and instituted thereto by virtue of their being baptized, though without other imposition of hands. For such imposition, being a ceremony of designing the person, is needless when he is already designed to the power of teaching what doctrine he will, by his institution to an absolute power over his subjects. For as I have proved before, sovereigns are supreme teachers, in general, by their office, and therefore oblige themselves, by their baptism, to teach the doctrine of Christ: and when they suffer others to teach their people, they do it at the peril of their own souls; for it is at the hands of the heads of families that God will require the account of the instruction of His children and servants. It is of Abraham himself, not of a hireling, that God saith, "I know him that he will command his children, and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, and do justice and judgement."*
- Genesis, 18. 19
The fourth place is that of Exodus, 28. 30, "Thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgement, the Urim and the Thummim": which he saith is interpreted by the Septuagint, delosin kai aletheian, that is, evidence and truth: and thence concludeth, God hath given evidence and truth, which is almost infallibility, to the high priest. But be it evidence and truth itself that was given; or be it but admonition to the priest to endeavour to inform himself clearly, and give judgement uprightly; yet in that it was given to the high priest, it was given to the civil sovereign (for such next under God was the high priest in the Commonwealth of Israel), and is an argument for evidence and truth, that is, for the ecclesiastical supremacy of civil sovereigns over their own subjects, against the pretended power of the Pope. These are all the texts he bringeth for the infallibility of the judgement of the Pope, in point of faith.
For the infallibility of his judgement concerning manners, he bringeth one text, which is that of John, 16. 13, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will lead you into all truth": where, saith he, by all truth is meant, at least, all truth necessary to salvation. But with this mitigation, he attributeth no more infallibility to the Pope than to any man that professeth Christianity, and is not to be damned: for if any man err in any point, wherein not to err is necessary to salvation, it is impossible he should be saved; for that only is necessary to salvation without which to be saved is impossible. What points these are I shall declare out of the Scripture in the chapter following. In this place I say no more but that though it were granted the Pope could not possibly teach any error at all, yet doth not this entitle him to any jurisdiction in the dominions of another prince, unless we shall also say a man is obliged in conscience to set on work upon all occasions the best workman, even then also when he hath formerly promised his work to another.
Besides the text, he argueth from reason, thus. If the Pope could err in necessaries, then Christ hath not sufficiently provided for the Church's salvation, because he hath commanded her to follow the Pope's directions. But this reason is invalid, unless he show when and where Christ commanded that, or took at all any notice of a Pope. Nay, granting whatsoever was given to St. Peter was given to the Pope, yet seeing there is in the Scripture no command to any man to obeyeth him when his commands are contrary to those of his lawful sovereign.
Lastly, it hath not been declared by the Church, nor by the Pope himself, that he is the civil of all the Christians in the world; and therefore all Christians are not bound to acknowledge his jurisdiction in point of manners. For the civil sovereignty, and supreme judicature in controversies of manners, are the same thing: and the makers of civil laws are not only declarers, but also makers of the justice and injustice of actions; there being nothing in men's manners that makes them righteous or unrighteous, but their conformity with the law of the sovereign. And therefore when the Pope challengeth supremacy in controversies of manners, he teacheth men to disobey the civil sovereign; which is an erroneous doctrine, contrary to the many precepts of our Saviour and his Apostles delivered to us in the Scripture.
To prove the Pope has power to make laws, he allegeth many places; as first, Deuteronomy, 17. 12, "The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die, and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel." For answer whereunto we are to remember that the high priest, next and immediately under God, was the civil sovereign; and all judges were to be constituted by him. The words alleged sound therefore thus, "The man that will presume to disobey the civil sovereign for the time being, or any of his officers, in the execution of their places, that man shall die," etc., which is clearly for the civil sovereignty, against the universal power of the Pope.
Secondly, he allegeth that of Matthew, 16, "Whatsoever ye shall bind," etc., and interpreteth it for such binding as is attributed to the Scribes and Pharisees, "They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders";* by which is meant, he says, making of laws; and concludes thence that the Pope can make laws. But this also maketh only for the legislative power of civil sovereigns: for the Scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses' chair, but Moses next under God was sovereign of the people of Israel: and therefore our Saviour commanded them to do all that they should say, but not all that they should do; that is, to obey their laws, but not follow their example.
- Matthew, 23. 4
The third place is John, 21. 16, "Feed my sheep"; which is not a power to make laws, but a command to teach. Making laws belongs to the lord of the family, who by his own discretion chooseth his chaplain, as also a schoolmaster to teach his children.
The fourth place, John, 20. 21, is against him. The words are, "As my Father sent me, so send I you." But our Saviour was sent to redeem by his death such as should believe; and by his own and his Apostles' preaching to prepare them for their entrance into his kingdom; which he himself saith is not of this world, and hath taught us to pray for the coming of it hereafter, though he refused to tell his Apostles when it should come;* and in which, when it comes, the twelve Apostles shall sit on twelve thrones (every one perhaps as high as that of St. Peter), to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Seeing then God the Father sent not our Saviour to make laws in this present world, we may conclude from the text that neither did our Saviour send St. Peter to make laws here, but to persuade men to expect his second coming with a steadfast faith; and in the meantime, if subjects, to obey their princes; and if princes, both to believe it themselves and to do their best to make their subjects do the same, which is the office of a bishop. Therefore this place maketh most strongly for the joining of the ecclesiastical supremacy to the civil sovereignty, contrary to that which Cardinal Bellarmine allegeth it for.
- Acts, 1. 6, 7
The fifth is Acts, 15. 28, "It hath seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication." Here he notes the word "laying of burdens" for the legislative power. But who is there that, reading this text, can say this style of the Apostles may not as properly be used in giving counsel as in making laws? The style of a law is, "we command": but, "we think good," is the ordinary style of them that but give advice; and they lay a burden that give advice, though it be conditional, that is, if they to whom they give it will attain their ends: and such is the burden of abstaining from things strangled, and from blood, not absolute, but in case they will not err. I have shown before (Chapter twenty-five) that law is distinguished from counsel in this, that the reason of a law is taken from the design and benefit of him that prescribeth it; but the reason of a counsel, from the design and benefit of him to whom the counsel is given. But here, the Apostles aim only at the benefit of the converted Gentiles, namely, their salvation; not at their own benefit; for having done their endeavour, they shall have their reward, whether they be obeyed or not. And therefore the acts of this council were not laws, but counsels.
The sixth place is that of Romans, 13, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God"; which is meant, he saith, not only of secular, but also of ecclesiastical princes. To which I answer, first, that there are no ecclesiastical princes but those that are also civil sovereigns, and their principalities exceed not the compass of their civil sovereignty; without those bounds, though they may be received for doctors, they cannot be acknowledged for princes. For if the Apostle had meant we should be subject both to our own princes and also to the Pope, he had taught us a doctrine which Christ himself hath told us is impossible, namely, to serve two masters. And though the Apostle say in another place, "I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me";* it is not that he challenged a power either to put to death, imprison, banish, whip, or fine any of them, which are punishments; but only to excommunicate, which, without the civil power, is no more but a leaving of their company, and having no more to do with them than with a heathen man or a publican; which in many occasions might be a greater pain to the excommunicant than to the excommunicate.
- II Corinthians, 13. 10
The seventh place is I Corinthians, 4. 21, "Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and the spirit of lenity?" But here again, it is not the power of a magistrate to punish offenders, that is meant by a rod; but only the power of excommunication, which is not in its own nature a punishment, but only a denouncing of punishment, that Christ shall inflict, when he shall be in possession of his kingdom, at the day of judgement. Nor then also shall it be properly a punishment, as upon a subject that hath broken the law; but a revenge, as upon an enemy, or revolter, that denyeth the right of our saviour to the kingdom: and therefore this proveth not the legislative power of any bishop that has not also the civil power.
The eighth place is Timothy, 3. 2, "A bishop must be the husband but of one wife, vigilant, sober," etc., which he saith was a law. I thought that none could make a law in the Church but the monarch of the Church, St. Peter. But suppose this precept made by the authority of St. Peter; yet I see no reason why to call it a law, rather than an advice, seeing Timothy was not a subject, but a disciple of St. Paul; nor the flock under the charge of Timothy, his subjects in the kingdom, but his scholars in the school of Christ. If all the precepts he giveth Timothy be laws, why is not this also a law, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for health's sake"? And why are not also the precepts of good physicians so many laws, but that it is not the imperative manner of speaking, but an absolute subjection to a person, that maketh his precepts laws?
In like manner, the ninth place, I Timothy, 5. 19, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses," is a wise precept, but not a law.
The tenth place is Luke, 10. 16, "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me." And there is no doubt but he that despiseth the counsel of those that are sent by Christ despiseth the counsel of Christ himself. But who are those now that are sent by Christ but such as are ordained pastors by lawful authority? And who are lawfully ordained that are not ordained by the sovereign pastor? And who is ordained by the sovereign pastor in a Christian Commonwealth that is not ordained by the authority of the sovereign thereof? Out of this place therefore it followeth that he which heareth his sovereign, being a Christian, heareth Christ; and he that despiseth the doctrine which his king, being a Christian, authorizeth despiseth the doctrine of Christ, which is not that which Bellarmine intendeth here to prove, but the contrary. But all this is nothing to a law. Nay more, a Christian king, a pastor and teacher of his subjects makes not thereby his doctrines laws. He cannot oblige men to believe, though as a civil sovereign he may make laws suitable to his doctrine, which may oblige men to certain actions, and sometimes to such as they would not otherwise do, and which he ought not to command; and yet when they are commanded, they are laws; and the external actions done in obedience to them, without the inward approbation, are the actions of the sovereign, and not of the subject, which is in that case but as an instrument, without any motion of his own at all, because God hath commanded to obey them.
The eleventh is every place where the Apostle, for counsel, putteth some word by which men use to signify command, or calleth the following of his counsel by the name of obedience. And therefore they are alleged out of I Corinthians, 11. 2, "I commend you for keeping my precepts as I delivered them to you." The Greek is, "I commend you for keeping those things I delivered to you, as I delivered them": which is far from signifying that they were laws, or anything else, but good counsel. And that of I Thessalonians, 4. 2, "You know what commandments we gave you": where the Greek word is paraggelias edokamen, equivalent to paredokamen, "what we delivered to you," as in the place next before alleged, which does not prove the traditions of the Apostles to be any more than counsels; though as is said in the eighth verse, "he that despiseth them, despiseth not man, but God": for our Saviour himself came not to judge, that is, to be king in this world; but to sacrifice himself for sinners, and leave doctors in his Church, to lead, not to drive men to Christ, who never accepteth forced actions (which is all the law produceth), but the inward conversion of the heart, which is not the work of laws, but of counsel and doctrine.
And that of II Thessalonians, 3. 14, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed": where from the word obey, he would infer that this epistle was a law to the Thessalonians. The epistles of the emperors were indeed laws. If therefore the Epistle of St. Paul were also a law, they were to obey two masters. But the word obey, as it is in the Greek upakouei, signifieth hearkening to, or putting in practice, not only that which is commanded by him that has right to punish, but also that which is delivered in a way of counsel for our good; and therefore St. Paul does not bid kill him that disobeys; nor beat, nor imprison, nor amerce him, which legislators may all do; but avoid his company, that he may be ashamed: whereby it is evident it was not the empire of an Apostle, but his reputation amongst the faithful, which the Christians stood in awe of.
The last place is that of Hebrews, 13. 17, "Obey your leaders, and submit yourselves to them, for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account": and here also is intended by obedience, a following of their counsel: for the reason of our obedience is not drawn from the will and command of our pastors, but from our own benefit, as being the salvation of our souls they watch for, and not for the exaltation of their own power and authority. If it were meant here that all they teach were laws, then not only the Pope, but every pastor in his parish should have legislative power. Again, they that are bound to obey their pastors have no power to examine their commands. What then shall we say to St. John, who bids us "not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world?"* It is therefore manifest that we may dispute the doctrine of our pastors, but no man can dispute a law. The commands of civil sovereigns are on all sides granted to be laws: if any else can make a law besides himself, all Commonwealth, and consequently all peace and justice, must cease; which is contrary to all laws, both divine and human. Nothing therefore can be drawn from these or any other places of Scripture to prove the decrees of the Pope, where he has not also the civil sovereignty, to be laws.
- I John, 4. 1
The last point he would prove is this, that our Saviour Christ has committed ecclesiastical jurisdiction immediately to none but the Pope. Wherein he handleth not the question of supremacy between the Pope and Christian kings, but between the Pope and other bishops. And first, he says it is agreed that the jurisdiction of bishops is at least in the general de jure divino, that is, in the right of God; for which he alleges St. Paul, Ephesians, 4. 11, where he says that Christ, after his ascension into heaven, "gave gifts to men, some Apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and some teachers"; and thence infers they have indeed their jurisdiction in God's right, but will not grant they have it immediately from God, but derived through the Pope. But if a man may be said to have his jurisdiction de jure divino, and yet not immediately; what lawful jurisdiction, though but civil, is there in a Christian Commonwealth that is not also de jure divino? For Christian kings have their civil power from God immediately; and the magistrates under Him exercise their several charges in virtue of His commission; wherein that which they do is no less de jure divino mediato than that which the bishops do in virtue of the Pope's ordination. All lawful power is of God, immediately in the supreme governor, and mediately in those that have authority under him: so that either he must grant every constable in the state to hold his office in the right of God, or he must not hold that any bishop holds his so, besides the Pope himself.
But this whole dispute, whether Christ left the jurisdiction to the Pope only, or to other bishops also, if considered out of those places where the Pope has the civil sovereignty, is a contention de lana caprina: for none of them, where they are not sovereigns, has any jurisdiction at all. For jurisdiction is the power of hearing and determining causes between man and man, and can belong to none but him that hath the power to prescribe the rules of right and wrong; that is, to make laws; and with the sword of justice to compel men to obey his decisions, pronounced either by himself or by the judges he ordaineth thereunto, which none can lawfully do but the civil sovereign.
Therefore when he allegeth, out of the sixth chapter of Luke, that our Saviour called his disciples together, and chose twelve of them, which he named Apostles, he proveth that he elected them (all, except Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas), and gave them power and command to preach, but not to judge of causes between man and man: for that is a power which he refused to take upon himself, saying, "Who made me a judge, or a divider, amongst you?" and in another place, "My kingdom is not of this world." But he that hath not the power to hear and determine causes between man and man cannot be said to have any jurisdiction at all. And yet this hinders not but that our Saviour gave them power to preach and baptize in all parts of the world, supposing they were not by their own lawful sovereign forbidden: for to our own sovereigns Christ himself and his Apostles have in sundry places expressly commanded us in all things to be obedient.
The arguments by which he would prove that bishops receive their jurisdiction from the Pope (seeing the Pope in the dominions of other princes hath no jurisdiction himself) are all in vain. Yet because they prove, on the contrary, that all bishops receive jurisdiction, when they have it, from their civil sovereigns, I will not omit the recital of them.
The first is from Numbers, 11, where Moses, not being able alone to undergo the whole burden of administering the affairs of the people of Israel, God commanded him to choose seventy elders, and took part of the spirit of Moses, to put it upon those seventy elders: by which is understood, not that God weakened the spirit of Moses, for that had not eased him at all, but that they had all of them their authority from him; wherein he doth truly and ingenuously interpret that place. But seeing Moses had the entire sovereignty in the Commonwealth of the Jews, it is manifest that it is thereby signified that they had their authority from the civil sovereign: and therefore that place proveth that bishops in every Christian Commonwealth have their authority from the civil sovereign; and from the Pope in his own territories only, and not in the territories of any other state.
The second argument is from the nature of monarchy, wherein all authority is in one man, and in others by derivation from him. But the government of the Church, he says, is monarchical. This also makes for Christian monarchs. For they are really monarchs of their own people; that is, of their own Church (for the Church is the same thing with a Christian people); whereas the power of the Pope, though he were St. Peter, is neither monarchy, nor hath anything of archical nor cratical, but only of didactical; for God accepteth not a forced, but a willing obedience.
The third is from that the See of St. Peter is called by St. Cyprian, the head, the source, the root, the sun, from whence the authority of bishops is derived. But by the law of nature, which is a better principle of right and wrong than the word of any doctor that is but a man, the civil sovereign in every Commonwealth is the head, the source, the root, and the sun, from which all jurisdiction is derived. And therefore the jurisdiction of bishops is derived from the civil sovereign.
The fourth is taken from the inequality of their jurisdictions: for if God, saith he, had given it them immediately, He had given as well equality of jurisdiction, as of order: but we see some are bishops but of one town, some of a hundred towns, and some of many whole provinces; which differences were not determined by the command of God: their jurisdiction therefore is not of God, but of man: and one has a greater, another a less, as it pleaseth the Prince of the Church. Which argument, if he had proved before that the Pope had had a universal jurisdiction over all Christians, had been for his purpose. But seeing that hath not been proved, and that it is notoriously known the large jurisdiction of the Pope was given him by those that had it, that is, by the emperors of Rome (for the Patriarch of Constantinople, upon the same title, namely, of being bishop of the capital city of the Empire, and seat of the emperor, claimed to be equal to him), it followeth that all other bishops have their jurisdiction from the sovereigns of the place wherein they exercise the same: and as for that cause they have not their authority de jure divino; so neither hath the Pope his de jure divino, except only where he is also the civil sovereign.
His fifth argument is this: "If bishops have their jurisdiction immediately from God, the Pope could not take it from them, for he can do nothing contrary to God's ordination"; and this consequence is good and well proved. "But," saith he, "the Pope can do this, and has done it." This also is granted, so he do it in his own dominions, or in the dominions of any other prince that hath given him that power; but not universally, in right of the popedom: for that power belongeth to every Christian sovereign, within the bounds of his own empire, and is inseparable from the sovereignty. Before the people of Israel had, by the commandment of God to Samuel, set over themselves a king, after the manner of other nations, the high priest had the civil government; and none but he could make nor depose an inferior priest. But that power was afterwards in the king, as may be proved by this same argument of Bellarmine; for if the priest, be he the high priest or any other, had his jurisdiction immediately from God, then the king could not take it from him; for he could do nothing contrary to God's ordinance. But it is certain that King Solomon deprived Abiathar the high priest of his office,* and placed Zadok in his room.
- (2) Kings therefore may in the like manner ordain and deprive bishops, as they shall think fit, for the well governing of their subjects.
- I Kings, 2. 26, 27
- (2) Ibid., 2. 35
His sixth argument is this: if bishops have their jurisdiction de jure divino, that is, immediately from God, they that maintain it should bring some word of God to prove it: but they can bring none. The argument is good; I have therefore nothing to say against it. But it is an argument no less good to prove the Pope himself to have no jurisdiction in the dominion of any other prince.
Lastly, he bringeth for argument the testimony of two Popes, Innocent and Leo; and I doubt not but he might have alleged, with as good reason, the testimonies of all the Popes almost since St. Peter: for, considering the love of power naturally implanted in mankind, whosoever were made Pope, he would be tempted to uphold the same opinion. Nevertheless, they should therein but do as Innocent and Leo did, bear witness of themselves, and therefore their witness should not be good.
In the fifth book he hath four conclusions. The first is that the Pope is not lord of all the world; the second, that the Pope is not lord of all the Christian world; the third, that the Pope, without his own territory, has not any temporal jurisdiction directly. These three conclusions are easily granted. The fourth is that the Pope has, in the dominions of other princes, the supreme temporal power indirectly: which is denied; unless he mean by indirectly that he has gotten it by indirect means, then is that also granted. But I understand that when he saith he hath it indirectly, he means that such temporal jurisdiction belongeth to him of right, but that this right is but a consequence of his pastoral authority, the which he could not exercise, unless he have the other with it: and therefore to the pastoral power, which he calls spiritual, the supreme power civil is necessarily annexed; and that thereby he hath a right to change kingdoms, giving them to one, and taking them from another, when he shall think it conduces to the salvation of souls.
Before I come to consider the arguments by which he would prove this doctrine, it will not be amiss to lay open the consequences of it, that princes and states that have the civil sovereignty in their several Commonwealths may bethink themselves whether it be convenient for them, and conducing to the good of their subjects of whom they are to give an account at the day of judgement, to admit the same.
When it is said the Pope hath not, in the territories of other states, the supreme civil power directly, we are to understand he doth not challenge it, as other civil sovereigns do, from the original submission thereto of those that are to be governed. For it is evident, and has already been sufficiently in this treatise demonstrated, that the right of all sovereigns is derived originally from the consent of every one of those that are to be governed; whether they that choose him do it for it for their common defence against an enemy, as when they agree amongst themselves to appoint a man or an assembly of men to protect them, or whether they do it to save their lives, by submission to a conquering enemy. The Pope therefore, when he disclaimeth the supreme civil power over other states directly, denieth no more but that his right cometh to him by that way; he ceaseth not for all that to claim it another way; and that is, without the consent of them that are to be governed, by a right given him by God, which he calleth indirectly, in his assumption to the papacy. But by what way soever he pretend, the power is the same; and he may, if it be granted to be his right, depose princes and states, as often as it is for the salvation of souls, that is, as often as he will: for he claimeth also the sole power to judge whether it be to the salvation of men's souls, or not. And this is the doctrine, not only that Bellarmine here, and many other doctors teach in their sermons and books, but also that some councils have decreed, and the Popes have accordingly, when the occasion hath served them, put in practice. For the fourth council of Lateran, held under Pope Innocent the Third (in the third Chapter, De Haereticis), hath this canon: "If a king, at the Pope's admonition, do not purge his kingdom of heretics, and being excommunicate for the same, make not satisfaction within a year, his subjects are absolved of their obedience." And the practice hereof hath been seen on diverse occasions: as in the deposing of Childeric, King of France; in the translation of the Roman Empire to Charlemagne; in the oppression of John, King of England; in transferring the kingdom of Navarre; and of late years, in the league against Henry the Third of France, and in many more occurrences. I think there be few princes that consider not this as unjust and inconvenient; but I wish they would all resolve to be kings or subjects. Men cannot serve two masters. They ought therefore to ease them, either by holding the reins of government wholly in their own hands, or by wholly delivering them into the hands of the Pope, that such men as are willing to be obedient may be protected in their obedience. For this distinction of temporal and spiritual power is but words. Power is as really divided, and as dangerously to all purposes, by sharing with another indirect power, as with a direct one. But to come now to his arguments.
The first is this, "The civil power is subject to the spiritual: therefore he that hath the supreme power spiritual hath right to command temporal princes, and dispose of their temporals in order to the spiritual." As for the distinction of temporal and spiritual, let us consider in what sense it may be said intelligibly that the temporal or civil power is subject to the spiritual. There be but two ways that those words can be made sense. For when we say one power is subject to another power, the meaning either is that he which hath the one is subject to him that hath the other; or that the one power is to the other as the means to the end. For we cannot understand that one power hath power over another power; or that one power can have right or command over another: for subjection, command, right, and power are accidents, not of powers, but of persons. One power may be subordinate to another, as the art of a saddler to the art of a rider. If then it be granted that the civil government be ordained as a means to bring us to a spiritual felicity, yet it does not follow that if a king have the civil power, and the Pope the spiritual, that therefore the king is bound to obey the Pope, more than every saddler is bound to obey every rider. Therefore as from subordination of an art cannot be inferred the subjection of the professor; so from the subordination of a government cannot be inferred the subjection of the governor. When therefore he saith the civil power is subject to the spiritual, his meaning is that the civil sovereign is subject to the spiritual sovereign. And the argument stands thus: the civil sovereign is subject to the spiritual; therefore the spiritual prince may command temporal princes, (where the conclusion is the same with the antecedent he should have proved). But to prove it, he allegeth first, this reason, "Kings and popes, clergy and laity, make but one Commonwealth; that is to say, but one Church: and in all bodies the members depend one upon another: but things spiritual depend not of things temporal: therefore temporal depend on spiritual, and therefore are subject to them." In which argumentation there be two gross errors: one is that all Christian kings, popes, clergy, and all other Christian men make but one Commonwealth: for it is evident that France is one Commonwealth, Spain another, and Venice a third, etc. And these consist of Christians, and therefore also are several bodies of Christians; that is to say, several churches: and their several sovereigns represent them, whereby they are capable of commanding and obeying, of doing and suffering, as a natural man; which no general or universal Church is, till it have a representant, which it hath not on earth: for if it had, there is no doubt but that all Christendom were one Commonwealth, whose sovereign were that representant, both in things spiritual and temporal: and the Pope, to make himself this representant, wanteth three things that our Saviour hath not given him, to command, and to judge, and to punish, otherwise than, by excommunication, to run from those that will not learn of him: for though the Pope were Christ's only vicar, yet he cannot exercise his government till our Saviour's second coming: and then also it is not the Pope, but St. Peter himself, with the other Apostles, that are to be judges of the world.
The other error in this his first argument is that he says the members of every Commonwealth, as of a natural body, depend one of another. It is true they cohere together, but they depend only on the sovereign, which is the soul of the Commonwealth; which failing, the Commonwealth is dissolved into a civil war, no one man so much as cohering to another, for want of a common dependence on a known sovereign; just as the members of the natural body dissolve into earth for want of a soul to hold them together. Therefore there is nothing in this similitude from whence to infer a dependence of the laity on the clergy, or of the temporal officers on the spiritual, but of both on the civil sovereign; which ought indeed to direct his civil commands to the salvation of souls; but is not therefore subject to any but God Himself. And thus you see the laboured fallacy of the first argument, to deceive such men as distinguish not between the subordination of actions in the way to the end; and the subjection of persons one to another in the administration of the means. For to every end, the means are determined by nature, or by God Himself supernaturally: but the power to make men use the means is in every nation resigned, by the law of nature, which forbiddeth men to violate their faith given, to the civil sovereign.
His second argument is this: "Every Commonwealth, because it is supposed to be perfect and sufficient in itself, may command any other Commonwealth not subject to it, and force it to change the administration of the government; nay depose the prince, and set another in his room, if it cannot otherwise defend itself against the injuries he goes about to do them: much more may a spiritual Commonwealth command a temporal one to change the administration of their government, and may depose princes, and institute others, when they cannot otherwise defend the spiritual good."
That a Commonwealth, to defend itself against injuries, may lawfully do all that he hath here said is very true; and hath already in that which hath gone before been sufficiently demonstrated. And if it were also true that there is now in this world a spiritual Commonwealth, distinct from a civil Commonwealth, then might the prince thereof, upon injury done him, or upon want of caution that injury be not done him in time to come, repair and secure himself by war; which is, in sum, deposing, killing, or subduing, or doing any act of hostility. But by the same reason, it would be no less lawful for a civil sovereign, upon the like injuries done, or feared, to make war upon the spiritual sovereign; which I believe is more than Cardinal Bellarmine would have inferred from his own proposition.
But spiritual Commonwealth there is none in this world: for it is the same thing with the kingdom of Christ; which he himself saith is not of this world, but shall be in the next world, at the resurrection, when they that have lived justly, and believed that he was the Christ, shall, though they died natural bodies, rise spiritual bodies; and then it is that our Saviour shall judge the world, and conquer his adversaries, and make a spiritual Commonwealth. In the meantime, seeing there are no men on earth whose bodies are spiritual, there can be no spiritual Commonwealth amongst men that are yet in the flesh; unless we call preachers, that have commission to teach and prepare men for their reception into the kingdom of Christ at the resurrection, a Commonwealth; which I have proved already to be none.
The third argument is this: "It is not lawful for Christians to tolerate an infidel or heretical king, in case he endeavour to draw them to his heresy, or infidelity. But to judge whether a king draw his subjects to heresy, or not, belongeth to the Pope. Therefore hath the Pope right to determine whether the prince be to be deposed, or not deposed."
To this I answer that both these assertions false. For Christians, or men of what religion soever, if they tolerate not their king, whatsoever law he maketh, though it be concerning religion, do violate their faith, contrary to the divine law, both natural and positive: nor is there any judge of heresy amongst subjects but their own civil sovereign. For heresy is nothing else but a private opinion, obstinately maintained, contrary to the opinion which the public person (that is to say, the representant of the Commonwealth) hath commanded to be taught. By which it is manifest that an opinion publicly appointed to be taught cannot be heresy; nor the sovereign princes that authorize them, heretics. For heretics are none but private men that stubbornly defend some doctrine prohibited by their lawful sovereigns.
But to prove that Christians are not to tolerate infidel or heretical kings, he allegeth a place in Deuteronomy where God forbiddeth the Jews, when they shall set a king over themselves, to choose a stranger:* and from thence inferreth that it is unlawful for a Christian to choose a king that is not a Christian. And it is true that he that is a Christian, that is, he that hath already obliged himself to receive our Saviour, when he shall come, for his king, shall tempt God too much in choosing for king in this world one that he knoweth will endeavour, both by terror and persuasion, to make him violate his faith. But, it is, saith he, the same danger to choose one that is not a Christian for king, and not to depose him when he is chosen. To this I say, the question is not of the danger of not deposing; but of the justice of deposing him. To choose him may in some cases be unjust; but to depose him, when he is chosen, is in no case just. For it is always violation of faith, and consequently against the law of nature, which is the eternal law of God. Nor do we read that any such doctrine was accounted Christian in the time of the Apostles; nor in the time of the Roman Emperors, till the popes had the civil sovereignty of Rome. But to this he hath replied that the Christians of old deposed not Nero, nor Dioclesian, nor Julian, nor Valens, an Arian, for this cause only, that they wanted temporal forces. Perhaps so. But did our Saviour, who for calling for might have had twelve legions of immortal, invulnerable angels to assist him, want forces to depose Caesar, or at least Pilate, that unjustly, without finding fault in him, delivered him to the Jews to be crucified? Or ff the Apostles wanted temporal forces to depose Nero, was it therefore necessary for them in their epistles to the new made Christians to teach them, as they did, to obey the powers constituted over them, whereof Nero in that time was one, and that they ought to obey them, not for fear of their wrath, but for conscience sake? Shall we say they did not only obey, but also teach what they meant not, for want of strength? It is not therefore for want of strength, but for conscience sake, that Christians are to tolerate their heathen princes, or princes (for I cannot call any one whose doctrine is the public doctrine, a heretic) that authorize the teaching of an error. And whereas for the temporal power of the Pope, he allegeth further that St. Paul appointed judges under the heathen princes of those times, such as were not ordained by those princes;
- (2) it is not true. For St. Paul does but advise them to take some of their brethren to compound their differences, as arbitrators, rather than to go to law one with another before the heathen judges; which is a wholesome precept, and full of charity, fit to be practised also in the best Christian Commonwealths. And for the danger that may arise to religion, by the subjects tolerating of a heathen, or an erring prince, it is a point of which a subject is no competent judge; or if he be, the Pope's temporal subjects may judge also of the Pope's doctrine. For every Christian prince, as I have formerly proved, is no less supreme pastor of his own subjects than the Pope of his.
- Deuteronomy, 17
- (2) I Corinthians, 6
The fourth argument is taken from the baptism of kings; wherein, that they may be made Christians, they submit their sceptres to Christ, and promise to keep and defend the Christian faith. This is true; for Christian kings are no more but Christ's subjects: but they may, for all that, be the Pope's fellows; for they are supreme pastors of their own subjects; and the Pope is no more but king and pastor, even in Rome itself.
The fifth argument is drawn from the words spoken by our Saviour, "Feed my sheep"; by which was given all power necessary for a pastor; as the power to chase away wolves, such as are heretics; the power to shut up rams, if they be mad, or push at the other sheep with their horns, such as are evil, though Christian, kings; and power to give the flock convenient food: from whence he inferreth that St. Peter had these three powers given him by Christ. To which I answer that the last of these powers is no more than the power, or rather command, to teach. For the first, which is to chase away wolves, that is, heretics, the place he quoteth is, "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."* But neither are heretics false prophets, or at all prophets: nor (admitting heretics for the wolves there meant) were the Apostles commanded to kill them, or if they were kings, to depose them; but to beware of, fly, and avoid them. Nor was it to St. Peter, nor to any of the Apostles, but to the multitude of the Jews that followed him into the mountain, men for the most part not yet converted, that he gave this counsel, to beware of false prophets: which therefore, if it confer a power of chasing away kings, was given not only to private men, but to men that were not at all Christians. And as to the power of separating and shutting up of furious rams, by which he meaneth Christian kings that refuse to submit themselves to the Roman pastor, our Saviour refused to take upon him that power in this world himself, but advised to let the corn and tares grow up together till the day of judgement: much less did he give it to St. Peter, or can St. Peter give it to the Popes. St. Peter, and all other pastors, are bidden to esteem those Christians that disobey the Church, that is, that disobey the Christian sovereign, as heathen men and as publicans. Seeing then men challenge to the Pope no authority over heathen princes, they ought to challenge none over those that are to be esteemed as heathen.
- Matthew, 7. 15
But from the power to teach only, he inferreth also a coercive power in the Pope over kings. The pastor, saith he, must give his flock convenient food: therefore food: therefore the pope may and ought to compel kings to do their duty. Out of which it followeth that the Pope, as pastor of Christian men, is king of kings: which all Christian kings ought indeed either to confess, or else they ought to take upon themselves the supreme pastoral charge, every one in his own dominion.
His sixth and last argument is from examples. To which I answer, first, that examples prove nothing; secondly, that the examples he allegeth make not so much as a probability of right. The fact of Jehoiada in killing Athaliah* was either by the authority of King Joash, or it was a horrible crime in the high priest, which ever after the election of King Saul was a mere subject. The fact of St. Ambrose in excommunicating Theodosius the Emperor, if it were true he did so, was a capital crime. And for the Popes, Gregory I, Gregory II, Zachary, and Leo III, their judgements are void, as given in their own cause; and the acts done by them conformably to this doctrine are the greatest crimes, especially that of Zachary, that are incident to human nature. And thus much of power ecclesiastical; wherein I had been more brief, forbearing to examine these arguments of Bellarmine, if they had been his as a private man, and not as the champion of the Papacy against all other Christian princes and states.
- II Kings, 11
Chapter XLIII: Of What Is Necessary for a Man's Reception into the Kingdom of Heaven
The most frequent pretext of sedition and civil war in Christian Commonwealths hath a long time proceeded from a difficulty, not yet sufficiently resolved, of obeying at once both God and man then when their commandments are one contrary to the other. It is manifest enough that when a man receiveth two contrary commands, and knows that one of them is God's, he ought to obey that, and not the other, though it be the command even of his lawful sovereign (whether a monarch or a sovereign assembly), or the command of his father. The difficulty therefore consisteth in this, that men, when they are commanded in the name of God, know not in diverse cases whether the command be from God, or whether he that commandeth do but abuse God's name for some private ends of his own. For as there were in the Church of the Jews many false prophets that sought reputation with the people by feigned dreams and visions; so there have been in all times, in the Church of Christ, false teachers that seek reputation with the people by fantastical and false doctrines; and by such reputation, as is the nature of ambition, to govern them for their private benefit.
But this difficulty of obeying both God and the civil sovereign on earth, to those that can distinguish between what is necessary and what is not necessary for their reception into the kingdom of God, is of no moment. For if the command of the civil sovereign be such as that it may be obeyed without the forfeiture of life eternal, not to obey it is unjust; and the precept of the apostle takes place: "Servants, obey your masters in all things"; and "Children, obey your parents in all things"; and the precept of our Saviour, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' chair; all therefore they shall say, that observe, and do." But if the command be such as cannot be obeyed, without being damned to eternal death, then it were madness to obey it, and the counsel of our Saviour takes place, "Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul."* All men therefore that would avoid both the punishments that are to be in this world inflicted for disobedience to their earthly sovereign, and those that shall be inflicted in the world to come for disobedience to God, have need be taught to distinguish well between what is, and what is not, necessary to eternal salvation.
- Matthew, 10. 28
All that is necessary to salvation is contained in two virtues, faith in Christ, and obedience to laws. The latter of these, if it were perfect, were enough to us. But because we are all guilty of disobedience to God's law, not only originally in Adam, but also actually by our own transgressions, there is required at our hands now, not only obedience for the rest of our time, but also a remission of sins for the time past; which remission is the reward of our faith in Christ. That nothing else is necessarily required to salvation is manifest from this, that the kingdom of heaven is shut to none but to sinners; that is to say, to the disobedient, or transgressors of the law; nor to them, in case they repent, and believe all the articles of Christian faith necessary to salvation.
The obedience required at our hands by God, that accepteth in all our actions the will for the deed, is a serious endeavour to obey Him; and is called also by all such names as signify that endeavour. And therefore obedience is sometimes called by the names of charity and love, because they imply a will to obey; and our Saviour himself maketh our love to God, and to one another, a fulfilling of the whole law; and sometimes by the name of righteousness, for righteousness is but the will to give to every one his own, that is to say, the will to obey the laws; and sometimes by the name of repentance, because to repent implieth a turning away from sin, which is the same with the return of the will to obedience. Whosoever therefore unfeignedly desireth to fulfil the commandments of God, or repenteth him truly of his transgressions, or that loveth God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, hath all the obedience necessary to his reception into the kingdom of God: for if God should require perfect innocence, there could no flesh be saved.
But what commandments are those that God hath given us? Are all those laws which were given to the Jews by the hand of Moses the commandments of God? If they be, why are not Christians taught to obey them? If they be not, what others are so, besides the law of nature? For our Christ hath not given us new laws, but counsel to observe those we are subject to; that is to say, the laws of nature, and the laws of our several sovereigns: nor did he make any new law to the Jews in his Sermon on the Mount, but only expounded the laws of Moses, to which they were subject before. The laws of God therefore are none but the laws of nature, whereof the principal is that we should not violate our faith, that is, a commandment to obey our civil sovereigns, which we constituted over us by mutual pact one with another. And this law of God, that commandeth obedience to the law civil, commandeth by consequence obedience to all the precepts of the Bible; which, as I have proved in the precedent chapter, is there only law where the civil sovereign hath made it so; and in other places but counsel, which a man at his own peril may without injustice refuse to obey.
Knowing now what is the obedience necessary to salvation, and to whom it is due, we are to consider next, concerning faith, whom and why we believe, and what are the articles or points necessarily to be believed by them that shall be saved. And first, for the person whom we believe, because it is impossible to believe any person before we know what he saith, it is necessary he be one that we have heard speak. The person therefore whom Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets believed was God Himself, that spake unto them supernaturally; and the person whom the Apostles and Disciples that conversed with Christ believed, was our Saviour himself. But of them, to whom neither God the Father nor our Saviour ever spake, it cannot be said that the person whom they believed was God. They believed the Apostles, and after them the pastors and doctors of the Church that recommended to their faith the history of the Old and New Testament: so that the faith of Christians ever since our Saviour's time hath had for foundation, first, the reputation of their pastors, and afterward, the authority of those that made the Old and New Testament to be received for the rule of faith; which none could do but Christian sovereigns, who are therefore the supreme pastors, and the only persons whom Christians now hear speak from God; except such as God speaketh to in these days supernaturally. But because there be many false prophets gone out into the world, other men are to examine such spirits, as St. John adviseth us, "whether they be of God, or not."* And, therefore, seeing the examination of doctrines belongeth to the supreme pastor, the person which all they that have no special revelation are to believe is, in every Commonwealth, the supreme pastor, that is to say, the civil sovereign.
- I John, 4. 1
The causes why men believe any Christian doctrine are various: for faith is the gift of God, and He worketh it in each several man by such ways as it seemeth good unto Himself. The most ordinary immediate cause of our belief, concerning any point of Christian faith, is that we believe the Bible to be the word of God. But why we believe the Bible to be the word of God is much disputed, as all questions must needs be that are not well stated. For they make not the question to be, why we believe it, but how we know it; as if believing and knowing were all one. And thence while one side ground their knowledge upon the infallibility of the Church, and the other side on the testimony of the private spirit, neither side concludeth what it pretends. For how shall a man know the infallibility of the Church but by knowing first the infallibility of the Scripture? Or how shall a man know his own private spirit to be other than a belief grounded upon the authority and arguments of his teachers or upon a presumption of his own gifts? Besides, there is nothing in the Scripture from which can be inferred the infallibility of the Church; much less, of any particular Church; and least of all, the infallibility of any particular man.
It is manifest, therefore, that Christian men do not know, but only believe the Scripture to be the word of God; and that the means of making them believe, which God is pleased to afford men ordinarily, is according to the way of nature, that is to say, from their teachers. It is the doctrine of St. Paul concerning Christian faith in general, "Faith cometh by hearing,"* that is, by hearing our lawful pastors. He saith also, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?"
- (2) Whereby it is evident that the ordinary cause of believing that the Scriptures are the word of God is the same with the cause of the believing of all other articles of our faith, namely, the hearing of those that are by the law allowed and appointed to teach us, as our parents in their houses, and our pastors in the churches: which also is made more manifest by experience. For what other cause can there be assigned why in Christian Commonwealths all men either believe or at least profess the Scripture to be the word of God, and in other Commonwealths scarce any, but that in Christian Commonwealths they are taught it from their infancy, and in other places they are taught otherwise?
- Romans, 10. 17
- (2) Ibid., 10. 14, 15
But if teaching be the cause of faith, why do not all believe? It is certain therefore that faith is the gift of God, and He giveth it to whom He will. Nevertheless, because to them to whom He giveth it, He giveth it by the means of teachers, the immediate cause of faith is hearing. In a school, where many are taught, and some profit, others profit not, the cause of learning in them that profit is the master; yet it cannot be thence inferred that learning is not the gift of God. All good things proceed from God; yet cannot all that have them say they are inspired; for that implies a gift supernatural, and the immediate hand of God; which he that pretends to, pretends to be a prophet, and is subject to the examination of the Church.
But whether men know, or believe, or grant the Scriptures to be the word of God, if out of such places of them as are without obscurity I shall show what articles of faith are necessary, and only necessary, for salvation, those men must needs know, believe, or grant the same.
The unum necessarium, only article of faith, which the Scripture maketh simply necessary to salvation is this, that Jesus is the Christ. By the name of Christ is understood the King which God had before promised by the prophets of the Old Testament to send into the world, to reign (over the Jews and over such of other nations as should believe in him) under Himself eternally; and to give them that eternal life which was lost by the sin of Adam. Which, when I have proved out of Scripture, I will further show when, and in what sense, some other articles may be also called necessary.
For proof that the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ, is all the faith required to salvation, my first argument shall be from the scope of the evangelists; which was, by the description of the life of our Saviour, to establish that one article, Jesus is the Christ. The sum of St. Matthew's Gospel is this, that Jesus was of the stock of David, born of a virgin, which are the marks of the true Christ; that the Magi came to worship him as King of the Jews; that Herod for the same cause sought to kill him; that John the Baptist proclaimed him; that he preached by himself and his Apostles that he was that King; that he taught the law, not as a scribe, but as a man of authority; that he cured diseases by his word only, and did many other miracles, which were foretold the Christ should do; that he was saluted King when he entered into Jerusalem; that he forewarned them to beware of all others that should pretend to be Christ; that he was taken, accused, and put to death for saying he was King; that the cause of his condemnation, written on the cross, was JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. All which tend to no other end than this, that men should believe that Jesus is the Christ. Such therefore was the scope of St. Matthew's Gospel. But the scope of all the evangelists, as may appear by reading them, was the same. Therefore the scope of the whole Gospel was the establishing of that only article. And St. John expressly makes it his conclusion, "These things are written, that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God."*
- John, 20. 31
My second argument is taken from the subject of the sermons of the Apostles, both whilst our Saviour lived on earth, and after his ascension. The Apostles in our Saviour's time were sent to preach the kingdom of God:* for neither there, nor Matthew, 10. 7, giveth he any commission to them other than this, "As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand"; that is, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the King which was to come. That their preaching also after his ascension was the same is manifest out of the Acts, 17. 6, "They drew," saith St. Luke, "Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also, whom Jason hath received. And these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus." And out of the second and third verses of the same chapter, where it is said that St. Paul, "as his manner was, went in unto them; and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures; opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus is Christ."
- Luke, 9. 2
The third argument is from those places of Scripture by which all the faith required to salvation is declared to be easy. For if an inward assent of the mind to all the doctrines concerning Christian faith now taught, whereof the greatest part are disputed, were necessary to salvation, there would be nothing in the world so hard as to be a Christian. The thief upon the cross, though repenting, could not have been saved for saying, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom"; by which he testified no beliefs of any other article, but this, that Jesus was the King. Nor could it be said, as it is, Matthew, 11. 30, that "Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light": nor that "little children believe in him," as it is, Matthew, 18. 6. Nor could St. Paul have said (I Cor., 1. 21), "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe":* nor could St. Paul himself have been saved, much less have been so great a doctor of the Church so suddenly, that never perhaps thought of transubstantiation, nor purgatory, nor many other articles now obtruded.
- I Corinthians, 1. 21
The fourth argument is taken from places express, and such as receive no controversy of interpretation; as first, John, 5. 39, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me." Our Saviour here speaketh of the Scriptures only of the Old Testament; for the Jews at that time could not search the Scriptures of the New Testament, which were not written. But the Old Testament hath nothing of Christ but the marks by which men might know him when he came; as that he should descend from David; be born at Bethlehem, and of a virgin; do great miracles, and the like. Therefore to believe that this Jesus was, he was sufficient to eternal life: but more than sufficient is not necessary; and consequently no other article is required. Again, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall not die eternally."* Therefore to believe in Christ is faith sufficient to eternal life; and consequently no more faith than that is necessary. But to believe in Jesus, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all one, as appeareth in the verses immediately following. For when our Saviour had said to Martha, "Believest thou this?"
- (2) she answereth, "Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."
- (3) Therefore this article alone is faith sufficient to life eternal, and more than sufficient is not necessary. Thirdly, John, 20. 31, "These things are written that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." There, to believe that Jesus is the Christ is faith sufficient to the obtaining of life; and therefore no other article is necessary. Fourthly, I John, 4. 2, "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." And I John, 5. 1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." And verse 5, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Fifthly, Acts, 8. 36, 37, "See," saith the eunuch, "here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayst. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Therefore this article believed, Jesus is the Christ, is sufficient to baptism, that is to say, to our reception into the kingdom of God, and, by consequence, only necessary. And generally in all places where our Saviour saith to any man, "Thy faith hath saved thee," the cause he saith it is some confession which directly, or by consequence, implieth a belief that Jesus is the Christ.
- John, 11. 26
- (2) Ibid.
- (3) Ibid., 11. 27
The last argument is from the places where this article is made the foundation of faith: for he that holdeth the foundation shall be saved. Which places are first, Matthew, 24. 23, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not, for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs, and wonders," etc. Here, we see, this article, Jesus is the Christ, must be held, though he that shall teach the contrary should do great miracles. The second place is Galatians, 1. 8, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." But the gospel which Paul and the other Apostles preached was only this article, that Jesus is the Christ: therefore for the belief of this article, we are to reject the authority of an angel from heaven; much more of any mortal man, if he teach the contrary. This is therefore the fundamental article of Christian faith. A third place is I John, 4. 1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit. Hereby ye shall know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that is come in the flesh is of God." By which it is evident that this article is the measure and rule by which to estimate and examine all other articles, and is therefore only fundamental. A fourth is Matthew, 16. 18, where, after St. Peter had professed this article, saying to our Saviour, "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God," our Saviour answered, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church": from whence I infer that this article is that on which all other doctrines of the Church are built, as on their foundation. A fifth is I Corinthians, 3. 11, 12, etc., "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus is the Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work, what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." Which words, being partly plain and easy to understand, and partly allegorical and difficult, out of that which is plain may be inferred that pastors that teach this foundation, that Jesus is the Christ, though they draw from it false consequences (which all men are sometimes subject to), they may nevertheless be saved; much more that they may be saved, who, being no pastors, but hearers, believe that which is by their lawful pastors taught them. Therefore the belief of this article is sufficient; and by consequence, there is no other article of faith necessarily required to salvation.
Now for the part which is allegorical, as that "the fire shall try every man's work," and that they "shall be saved, but so as by fire," or "through fire" (for the original is dia puros), it maketh nothing against this conclusion which I have drawn from the other words that are plain. Nevertheless, because upon this place there hath been an argument taken to prove the fire of purgatory, I will also here offer you my conjecture concerning the meaning of this trial of doctrines and saving of men as by fire. The Apostle here seemeth to allude to the words of the Prophet Zechariah, who, speaking of the restoration of the kingdom of God, saith thus, "Two parts therein shall be cut off, and die, but the third shall be left therein; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on the name of the Lord, and I will hear them."* The day of judgement is the day of the restoration of the kingdom of God; and at that day it is that St. Peter tells us shall be the conflagration of the world, wherein the wicked shall perish; but the remnant which God will save shall pass through that fire unhurt, and be therein (as silver and gold are refined by the fire from their dross) tried, and refined from their idolatry, and be made to call upon the name of the true God.
- (2) Alluding whereto, St. Paul here saith that "the day" (that is, the day of judgement, the great day of our Saviour's coming to restore the kingdom of God in Israel) shall try every man's doctrine, by judging which are gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; and then they that have built false consequences on the true foundation shall see their doctrines condemned; nevertheless they themselves shall be saved, and pass unhurt through this universal fire, and live eternally, to call upon the name of the true and only God. In which sense there is nothing that accordeth not with the rest of Holy Scripture, or any glimpse of the fire of purgatory.
- Zechariah, 13. 8, 9
- (2) II Peter, 3
But a man may here ask whether it be not as necessary to salvation to believe that God is Omnipotent Creator of the world; that Jesus Christ is risen; and that all men else shall rise again from the dead at the last day; as to believe that Jesus is the Christ. To which I answer, they are; and so are many more articles; but they are such as are contained in this one, and may be deduced from it, with more or less difficulty. For who is there that does not see that they who believe Jesus to be the Son of the God of Israel, and that the Israelites had for God the Omnipotent Creator of all things, do therein also believe that God is the Omnipotent Creator of all things? Or how can a man believe that Jesus is the king that shall reign eternally, unless he believe him also risen again from the dead? For a dead man cannot exercise the office of a king. In sum, he that holdeth this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, holdeth expressly all that he seeth rightly deduced from it, and implicitly all that is consequent thereunto, though he have not skill enough to discern the consequence. And therefore it holdeth still good that the belief of this one article is sufficient faith to obtain remission of sins to the penitent, and consequently to bring them into the kingdom of heaven.
Now that I have shown that all the obedience required to salvation consisteth in the will to obey the law of God, that is to say, in repentance; and all the faith required to the same is comprehended in the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ; I will further allege those places of the Gospel that prove that all that is necessary to salvation is contained in both these joined together. The men to whom St. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, next after the ascension of our Saviour, asked him, and the rest of the Apostles, saying, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"* To whom St. Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
- (2) Therefore repentance and baptism, that is, believing that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is necessary to salvation. Again, our Saviour being asked by a certain ruler, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
- (3) answered, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother":
- (4) which when he said he had observed, our Saviour added, "Sell all thou hast, give it to the poor, and come and follow me": which was as much as to say, rely on me that am the king. Therefore to fulfil the law, and to believe that Jesus is the king, is all that is required to bring a man to eternal life. Thirdly, St. Paul saith, "The just shall live by faith";
- (5) not every one, but the just; therefore faith and justice (that is, the will to be just, or repentance) are all that is necessary to life eternal. And our Saviour preached, saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Evangel,"
- (6) that is, the good news that the Christ was come. Therefore to repent, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is required to salvation.
- Acts, 2. 37
- (2) Ibid., 2. 38
- (3) Luke, 18. 18
- (4) Ibid., 18. 20
- (5) Romans, 1. 17
- (6) Mark, 1. 15
Seeing then it is necessary that faith and obedience (implied in the word repentance) do both concur to our salvation, the question by which of the two we are justified is impertinently disputed. Nevertheless, it will not be impertinent to make manifest in what manner each of them contributes thereunto, and in what sense it is said that we are to be justified by the one and by the other. And first, if by righteousness be understood the justice of the works themselves, there is no man that can be saved; for there is none that hath not transgressed the law of God. And therefore when we are said to be justified by works, it is to be understood of the will, which God doth always accept for the work itself, as well in good as in evil men. And in this sense only it is that a man is called just, or unjust; and that his justice justifies him, that is, gives him the title, in God's acceptation of just, and renders him capable of living by his faith, which before he was not. So that justice justifies in that sense in which to justify is the same as that to denominate a man just; and not in the signification of discharging the law, whereby the punishment of his sins should be unjust.
But a man is then also said to be justified when his plea, though in itself insufficient, is accepted; as when we plead our will, our endeavour to fulfil the law, and repent us of our failings, and God accepteth it for the performance itself. And because God accepteth not the will for the deed, but only in the faithful, it is therefore, faith that makes good our plea; and in this sense it is that faith only justifies: so that faith and obedience are both necessary to salvation, yet in several senses each of them is said to justify.
Having thus shown what is necessary to salvation, it is not hard to reconcile our obedience to God with our obedience to the civil sovereign, who is either Christian or infidel. If he be a Christian, he alloweth the belief of this article, that Jesus is the Christ; and of all the articles that are contained in, or are by evident consequence deduced from it: which is all the faith necessary to salvation. And because he is a sovereign, he requireth obedience to all his own, that is, to all the civil laws; in which also are contained all the laws of nature, that is, all the laws of God: for besides the laws of nature, and the laws of the Church, which are part of the civil law (for the Church that can make laws is the Commonwealth), there be no other laws divine. Whosoever therefore obeyeth his Christian sovereign is not thereby hindered neither from believing nor from obeying God. But suppose that a Christian king should from this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, draw some false consequences, that is to say, make some superstructions of hay or stubble, and command the teaching of the same; yet seeing St. Paul says he shall be saved; much more shall he be saved that teacheth them by his command; and much more yet, he that teaches not, but only believes his lawful teacher. And in case a subject be forbidden by the civil sovereign to profess some of those his opinions, upon what just ground can he disobey? Christian kings may err in deducing a consequence, but who shall judge? Shall a private man judge, when the question is of his own obedience? Or shall any man judge but he that is appointed thereto by the Church, that is, by the civil sovereign that representeth it? Or if the Pope or an Apostle judge, may he not err in deducing of a consequence? Did not one of the two, St. Peter or St. Paul, err in a superstructure, when St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face? There can therefore be no contradiction between the laws of God and the laws of a Christian Commonwealth.
And when the civil sovereign is an infidel, every one of his own subjects that resisteth him sinneth against the laws of God (for such are the laws of nature), and rejecteth the counsel of the Apostles that admonisheth all Christians to obey their princes, and all children and servants to obey their parents and masters in all things. And for their faith, it is internal and invisible; they have the license that Naaman had, and need not put themselves into danger for it. But if they do, they ought to expect their reward in heaven, and not complain of their lawful sovereign, much less make war upon him. For he that is not glad of any just occasion of martyrdom has not the faith he professeth, but pretends it only, to set some colour upon his own contumacy. But what infidel king is so unreasonable as, knowing he has a subject that waiteth for the second coming of Christ, after the present world shall be burnt, and intendeth then to obey Him (which is the intent of believing that Jesus is the Christ), and in the meantime thinketh himself bound to obey the laws of that infidel king, which all Christians are obliged in conscience to do, to put to death or to persecute such a subject?
And thus much shall suffice, concerning the kingdom of God and policy ecclesiastical. Wherein I pretend not to advance any position of my own, but only to show what are the consequences that seem to me deducible from the principles of Christian politics (which are the Holy Scriptures), in confirmation of the power of civil sovereigns and the duty of their subjects. And in the allegation of Scripture, I have endeavoured to avoid such texts as are of obscure or controverted interpretation, and to allege none but in such sense as is most plain and agreeable to the harmony and scope of the whole Bible, which was written for the re-establishment of the kingdom of God in Christ.
For it is not the bare words, but the scope of the writer, that giveth the true light by which any writing is to be interpreted; and they that insist upon single texts, without considering the main design, can derive no thing from them clearly; but rather, by casting atoms of Scripture as dust before men's eyes, make everything more obscure than it is, an ordinary artifice of those that seek not the truth, but their own advantage.