Bellarmine on Trent sess. VII can. 13: the sacramental rites and ceremonies
by Gerardus Maiella
It has been a long while since our last post here; as usual, however, this is not at all to say that we have not been busy. Indeed, we have continued our readings, researches, and translations as earnestly as ever over the past (almost) two years, although the coronavirus pandemic has nonetheless obtruded various obstacles upon our work. Our attention has for a long while now been fixed on matters pertaining to the Church’s authority over the liturgy, and the writings of the theologians on this topic, with particular reference to the Council of Trent and St. Pius V’s reform of the Missal and Breviary. It came to our attention a long while back, that in some of the more radical fringes of the Catholic traditionalist movement, appeals and arguments are made to Trent and to St. Pius V’s Quo primum tempore, as proofs indicting in some substantial way the Novus Ordo Missæ of St. Paul VI. While we have long been dissatisfied with much in and about the liturgical reform, and find little in the new Mass to recommend it over the Tridentine liturgy; nevertheless the aforementioned appeals struck us as both very weak, and injurious to the Church’s authority so far as we were familiar with it. But the documents involved also seemed to us very intriguing, and after happening upon some other interesting and pertinent texts, we resolved to dive more deeply into what the theologians, canonists, liturgists, and rubricists had to say about ecclesial and pontifical power in the liturgy, and about the documents in question. While we are still in the process of finding, reading, translating, and organizing an ever-growing body of texts on this subject for a modest opusculum on the matter, we thought it good to post some lengthier texts which we have translated in the course of our inquiries, which are probably too large to include in full in the main body of that treatise but which we should like to have around for reference nonetheless.
The first entry in this series of sorts will be from the De controversiis of St. Robert Bellarmine, De sacramentis in genere, lib. II, cap. 29-32. In these chapters, our Cardinal and Doctor dissertates on the rites and ceremonies spoken of in the seventh session of Trent, can. 13, expounding and establishing the catholic doctrine on the matter and repelling the errors of the Protestant heretics of his day.
For this translation, we employed the 1613 Tri-Adelphorum edition of the Cardinal’s De controversiis, tom. III, col. 191ff. Since this translation was completed as something ancillary to our projects and hence of lesser importance, we have omitted to include internal hyperlinks to the works referenced within the text as has been our wont in other more recent posts of ours here and at The Josias.
A .pdf version of this translation may be found here.
CONTROVERSY THE SIXTH.
On the ceremonies of the Sacraments in general.
We shall treat of the rites of the individual Sacraments in their own places; here we dispute only of the rites in general. We have decided to dispute this final controversy, as much because it is a most worthy thing to know, as also so that there be no canon of the Council of Trent regarding the Sacraments in general, which we shall not have defended; for up to this point we have defended all but the last, which declares anathema to those, who either contemn the ceremonies of the Church, or think that they can be omitted without sin.
There shall be four parts of this question. The FIRST, on the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies. The SECOND, on the state of the case, and the errors and lies of the heretics. The THIRD, on the explanation and proof of the truth. The FOURTH, on the objections of the adversaries.
On the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies.
As regards the FIRST, some things shall have to be noted in order to understand the state of the case. The FIRST is, what is a ceremony. And a ceremony is an external act of religion, which act is praiseworthy for no other reason, than that it is for the honor of God. For religion, which is the most noble of the moral virtues, has three acts, as with any other virtue. FIRSTLY, the internal elicited act, which is to will to God due honor, and to give him worship. SECONDLY, the external act corresponding to the internal act, which is any external action, which is not elsewise good, and praiseworthy, than because it is done to worship God, such as sacrifice, genuflexion, and similar things. THIRDLY, the commanded act, that is, the act of any virtue, which is ordained by religion to the honor of God. In this way, fasting, almsgiving, and other things of that sort can be called acts of religion, when they are done to worship God, although they otherwise be the acts of other virtues. Of this third act St. James spoke, cap. 1, that religion is to visit the orphaned, and to guard oneself immaculate from this age; and St. Augustine in the Enchiridion, cap. 3, said, that God is worshiped in faith, and hope, and charity. Of these three acts, the first is in no way a ceremony; the third is also not a ceremony, except insofar as commanded by religion; the second is properly and simply a ceremony, and of it we treat in this place.
As regards the name: Ceremonies, amongst the Hebrews, are called תקים, which word properly signifies not so much the external action itself, as the law, or statute, by which that action is commanded. Wherefore also in the new Testament the Judaic ceremonies are usually called by the name of law, as in Matth. 11. The laws and the prophets until John. Gal. 5. I testify to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. The Greeks render that word everywhere with δικαιώματα, that is, justifications, because they were rites instituted for justifying and purging man. The Latin interpreter almost always translates cæremonia in the old Testament for the Hebrew word תקים. Now this Latin word either is taken from the city of Cære, as is the opinion of Livy, lib. I, and Valerius Maximus lib. 1. c. 1., because in that city the Sacra Romana were preserved at the time when the Gauls plundered Rome; or perhaps more correctly it is drawn from the word carendo, so that a cæremonia is as it were a carimonia, as St. Augustine thinks, lib. 2. retract. cap. 37. and Gellius lib. 4. capit. 9. and Macrobius lib. 2. Saturnal. cap. 3. on account of the fact that certain ceremonies are set in abstaining, and lacking, as it was with the Jews, who abstained from the use of the flesh of swine, and nearly all the vows of the Nazarenes, and of others, who abstained even by vow from the use of wine, and of many other things.
But let us come to the partition. There are five partitions of ceremonies. The FIRST partition is taken from the end, or effect. For some are instituted in order to justify, such as the Sacraments, and of these we do not now treat: some for certain spiritual effects, such as the coercion of demons, as exorcisms, blessed water, etc., some only for adornment and signification, as the white garment of neophytes, the lights of candles, etc., and of these do we treat.
The SECOND partition is drawn from the efficient cause, that is, from the institutor. For some are in a certain way instituted by nature itself, which are able to be called natural: of which sort is, to look to heaven, to lift up the hands, to bend the knee, to beat the breast, when we pray to God: these nature itself teaches, whence they are also common to the Gentiles, and to any sects whatsoever. Some are instituted by God, as were many in the old testament, and some Sacraments in the new; and these are called divine ceremonies. Finally, some were instituted by the Apostles, or their successors, which are called Ecclesiastical ceremonies. And the partition of words is similar; for ceremonies are a certain kind of visible words. For we see some words to be natural, such as those by which we express various effects; for in the same way do all lament, sigh, laugh, etc. Others we see instituted by God, such as in Gen. 1. the name of heaven, earth, sea, and elsewhere the names of certain great men. Finally, we see others instituted by men, as when in Gen. 2. Adam gave names to the living things.
The THIRD partition is drawn from the formal cause. For some ceremonies are immediately the worship of God, such as sacrifice, prayer, adoration, etc.; some dispose to the worship of God, such as fasting, celibacy, harshness of life, etc.; some are instruments of divine worship, such as temples, altars, chalices, etc.
The FOURTH partition is from the material cause, or from the material object. For some ceremonies are concerned with persons; such as exorcisms, insufflations, the scattering of ashes, etc.; some regard times, such as feast days, vigils, Quadragesima, and thus also there are determinate times for the celebration of the Sacraments: some regard the mode, such as that the Sacraments be administered in the Latin tongue; finally, some regard things themselves, such as blessings of water, oil, vestments, palms, etc.
The FIFTH partition is taken from the accidents, so that some are universal, others particular, as the fast of the Sabbath in the times of Augustine was observed at Rome but not at Milan; and contrariwise the washing of feet after Baptism was observed at Milan, and not Rome. See Augustine epist. 118. and Ambrose lib. de Sacramentis 3. cap. 1. Likewise, some are temporary, such as abstinence from blood and things strangled, Act. 25. while others are perpetual, such as the rites of the Sacraments. Finally, some are of precept, others free, regarding which see Augustine epist. 118.
On the state of the case.
Now in order that we might understand the state of the case, three things are to be observed. FIRSTLY, there are not a few things, in which the adversaries agree with us. FIRSTLY, they admit that some ceremonies are necessary for the administration of the sacraments, besides the ceremonies in which is contained the essence of the Sacraments. SECONDLY, those ceremonies are to be employed, which have a mandate or example in Scripture, such as prayers, thanksgivings, exhortations, psalmody: that these were used by the Apostles is clear from 1. Cor. 14. and 1. Tim. 2. THIRDLY, they admit that the Church, regarding these ceremonies which are found in the Scriptures, can establish a sure order, and mode, by which they ought to be observed, lest there be confusion. Thus Luther in libro de piis cæremoniis, and in lib. de formula Missæ. Calvin lib. 4. Instit. cap. 10. §.14. Chemnitz in Examen 2. par. pag. 171. Finally the same is proved by all of the agendæ which nearly all of their Churches have issued.
SECONDLY it is to be observed, that many things are reprehended by the adversaries in the doctrine of Catholics regarding the ceremonies, but these are all their lies, not our dogmas: wherefore all these things shall have to be noted, and separated, in order that the true state of the case might be made clear.
Therefore, Chemnitz in 2. par. Examen. pag. 157. et seq. attributes all these things to us, FIRSTLY, that the Council of Trent has approved any rites whatsoever thought up by men, even the most absurd. Calvin has the same in the Antidotum of this canon. But it is false: for the Council does not approve any rites but those received by the universal Church, which rites Augustine also approves epist. 118. so that he says, that to dispute against them is an insanity of the most insolent kind.
SECONDLY, that we assert as to be retained rites which oppose the word of God. THIRDLY, that the Pope is able to change the institutes of Christ. FOURTHLY, that it is a mortal sin, and worthy of anathema, to change even the tiniest thing in these ceremonies. Thus Calvin in the Antidotum. FIFTHLY, that we prefer human ceremonies to divine precepts. Thus Calvin lib. 4. Instit. cap. 10. and Confessio. in Apolog. August. art. 15. et ultim. SIXTHLY, that we think, that without these human rites, the Sacraments have no verity and efficacy. Which indeed is a most impudent lie: and yet the same lie is to be found in Tilman Heshusius lib. de 600. erroribus Pontificiorum. tit. 15. errore 13. SEVENTHLY, that to the individual ceremonies we attribute some spiritual power. EIGHTHLY, that we attribute to some ceremonies the efficacy of Sacraments, such as the Paschal candle. Luther has something similar in the final homily on Baptism, where he says that Catholics think that blessed water, and similar consecrated things, are Sacraments: although the same Luther says the contrary in lib. de capt. Babylonica, cap. de ordine. NINTHLY, that we prefer our ceremonies to the very Sacraments of Christ. Calvin says this in the Antidotum, where he most impudently lies, that we prefer salt, and oil, and spittle to the water of Baptism. TENTHLY, that Tertullian, and Cyprian, from the error of the Montanists, taught that exorcisms and anointing have spiritual effects. But we have never read the Montanists to have taught anything of the sort: but we read it all throughout all the Fathers. ELEVENTHLY, that Cyprian and Cornelius attributed to Unction the effect of Baptism, and that afterward, the Master of the sentences being the witness, these opinions were corrected, and yet now they are again renewed by the Council of Trent. But these are all lies. For Cornelius and Cyprian do not speak of the Ecclesiastical ceremonies; but of the Sacrament of Confirmation; and they attribute to it, not the effect of Baptism, but another proper to it. Nor is there found in the Master any word regarding the correction of this opinion; all that is corrected is the error of Cyprian regarding Anabaptism lib. 4. sent. dist. 6.
To these, others add, that we think the chief worship of God consists in these ceremonies. Thus Calvin lib. 4. Institut. c. 10. §.9. and 12., likewise the Confessio Augustana art. 26, which is in regard to the difference of foods. Likewise, that through these ceremonies men are justified, and in a certain way have succeeded to the place of Christ. Thus Calvin loc. cit. §.15. and Apologia Confessio. art. 15. But all these are lies, and do not pertain to the state of the question. For all we Catholics admit, that the Ecclesiastical ceremonies are not the chief worship; nor that from them depends the essence and efficacy of the Sacraments; nor that they have power to justify, as do the Sacraments, hence they are inferior to the Sacraments, nor are rites to be approved which oppose the word of God; nor are they to be multiplied overmuch, such that by their multitude they in a certain way overwhelm the religion which they ought to serve. For as farmers desire in their grapevines, not only grapes, but also vine shoots, by which the grapes are given ornament, and assisted; but if the shoots grow too much, and impede more than help, they trim them back: thus it is to be done in rites of this sort, as Augustine teaches epist. 119. cap. 19. In these things, therefore, we agree with the adversaries.
Note THIRDLY, that the whole controversy consists in six heads. The FIRST is, whether there are some ceremonies instituted by Christ, or the Apostles, which are not found in Scripture, but are known from tradition alone. The SECOND is, whether the ceremonies, which are not Sacraments, have any spiritual power, such as that of coercing demons. The THIRD is, whether the Church is able to institute new ceremonies. The FOURTH, whether she is able to institute them, such that the faithful are held to observe them in conscience, even aside from scandal. The FIFTH, whether ceremonies of this sort are good things, and meritorious, and a part of the divine worship. The SIXTH, whether the Sacraments are to be celebrated, and administered in the Latin tongue.
To all these Catholics respond affirmatively; to the same heads, only excepting the third, nearly all Lutherans and Calvinists respond negatively. Indeed Luther in lib. de formula Missæ, and in lib. de piis cæremoniis, and the Confessio Augustana, artic. 15. and 26. and Philipp in locis. tit. de cæremoniis, and Illyricus in Apologia pro Confessione Antverpiensi. cap. 10. and the Lutherans commonly, think that the Church is able to institute some ceremonies for the instruction, and splendor, and order of the Church; so long as obligation, and fancy of worship is absent. But Calvin lib. 4. Institutio. capit. 10. §11. contends, that this is not permitted in any way, and Brentius seems to think the same in the Confessio Wirtembergensis, cap. de cæremoniis. For he says, that the Church is able to institute the arrangement of sermons, lections, feasts, and other things, which are celebrated according to the mandates, or examples of the Scriptures: but it is not permitted to mix in new rites to obscure the truth already made known in the Gospel; of which sort are to light candles in daytime, to use banners, or crosses, to signify the victory of Christ, etc. Finally, Chemnitz quite evidently teaches the same, pag. 166. For after he has said that it is an arduous question, whether it is permitted to men to superadd, for any reason, some rites to those which the Son of God instituted: he subjoins, that nothing is to be added or subtracted from the divine institution, and those who add them, seem to do so, as if the ceremonies instituted by Christ are not fitting and sufficient enough.
The truth is explained, and defended.
Now in order that the truth be explained, and proved, we shall assert some propositions. The FIRST: Christ, or the Apostles, instituted some ceremonies, which we have from no Scripture, but from tradition alone. This is to be proved more copiously, when we discuss the individual ceremonies; for now, it is proved briefly from the fact, that the Sacrament of Chrism is sacrosanct, just as the Sacrament of Baptism, as Augustine affirms lib. 2 cap. 104. contra literas Petiliani: but only God can institute Sacraments; therefore Christ instituted the Sacrament of Chrism, and yet we never find mention of Chrism in Scripture. Likewise 1. Cor. 11. the Apostle says: The others I will set in order when I come. And yet he writes nothing afterward regarding the rite of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, of which he there spoke: nor is it credible that he did not provide that which he had promised, or that his laws afterward perished. For this reason, the blessed Augustine affirms epist. 118. that amongst the other laws of the Apostles, one was, that we receive the Eucharist after having fasted; and that, along with the other rites which the Church observes, is what the Apostle promised, when he says: The rest I will set in order when I come. Basil lib. de Spiritu sancto, cap. 27. enumerates many things (and in the first place the sign of the cross) instituted by the Apostles which have come to us only by way of tradition. In like manner, that water is to be mixed with the wine in the Eucharist, is asserted to have been instituted by Christ himself by Cyprian lib. 2. epist. 3. and from what Augustine says, lib. 3. doct. Christian. cap. 21, and yet this is not found expressly in any Scripture. But of these things elsewhere.
The SECOND proposition: Some ceremonies have spiritual power. We shall speak of this elsewhere as well; in the meanwhile it is proved in the case of the sign of the cross. For all the Fathers affirm throughout that one’s front is to be armed, and fortified against all the snares of the demons, and that its power is wondrous. See Tertullian in the beginning of the Scorpiacum. Origen hom. 6. in cap. 15. Exod. Cyprian lib. 4. epist. 6. Lactantius lib. 4. cap. 27. & 27. Nazienzen, oratio 1. in Iulianum. Nyssenus in vita Gregorii Thaumaturgi. Epiphanius hæres. 30. Chrysostom hom. quod Christus sit Deus. Ephrem in lib. de armatura spirituali. Palladius in hist. Lausiaca, c. 2. & 54. Jerome in vita Hilarionis. Sulpitius in vita S. Martini. Augustine lib. 22. de civit. Dei, c. 8. Prudentius in hymno ante somnum. Paulinus Natali 8. But in the name of the others, let us hear ATHANASIUS in lib. de Incarn. et salutari adventu Domini; By the sign of the cross, says he, are all magics put in check, and sorceries become ineffectual. And below: Let him come forward, who wishes to have experience of these sayings, and amongst their demonic illusions and impostrous prophecies, and miracles of magic, let him make use of the sign of the cross, which is derided by them, and let him call upon the name of Christ, and he shall see, how the demons flee for fear of him, how the prophecies cease, and the magics and sorceries lie still.
But it should be OBSERVED, that the sign of the cross works in three modes in deterring demons. FIRSTLY from the apprehension of the demons themselves. SECONDLY from the devotion of man. THIRDLY, and that most of all, from the institution of God, and thus ex opere operato. And there can be no doubt of the first, that the demon, when he sees the sign of the cross made, recalls that he has been defeated utterly by the cross of Christ, and thereupon shrinks from that sign of his own calamity, and flees, as dogs flee, when they see sticks or stones. Next, this sign has power from the devotion of the man who signs himself, in that mode in which vocal prayer has power. For the sign of the cross is a certain kind of invocation of the merits of Christ crucified, expressed in a sign; we speak with the heart, the mouth, and nods. And thus to oppose to the devil, and any evil thing, the sign of the cross, is to set forth the passion of Christ, that is, to invoke God through the merits of Christ. Since then the effect proceeds more from internal faith, and devotion, than from the figure itself of the cross, just as when we pray aloud, and make impetration, the impetration is not attributed to the sound of the voice, but to faith, and devotion. Aside from these two modes there is also a third, from the institution of God, and ex opere operato. For often Jewish, or Heathen men, without true faith or devotion, have been assisted by the sign of the cross, as is clear of Julian the Apostate as found in Nazianzen orat. 1. in Iulianum: and of Joseph the Hebrew in Epiphanius hæres. 30. and of another Hebrew in Gregory lib. 3. Dialog. cap. 3. Hence St. AUGUSTINE li. 83. qq. q. 79. says, No wonder that these signs have power, when they are employed by good Christians, and even when they are used by those who are foreign [to the Church], who have certainly not lent their name to that militia, they yet have force on account of the honor of the most excellent Emperor. But when powers of this sort do not yield to these signs, God himself prohibits it thus in hidden ways, when he judges it just, and useful. For in no way do any spirits dare to scorn these signs, they tremble at them wherever they see them. Thus Augustine.
The THIRD proposition: The Church is able to institute new ceremonies, not indeed for justifying the impious, but for other spiritual effects. NOTE that for explication, the ceremonies instituted by the Church can be useful in three ways. FIRSTLY, for adorning and representing some mystery of religion, and in that way for helping the more uneducated; and regarding this there can be no doubt amongst Catholics. SECONDLY, for curing diseases, and repelling demons and purging venial sins, and other things of this sort, and that by way of impetration, as when the Church blesses candles, palms, fields, etc. These have power for those effects for which they are instituted, from the power of the Church’s prayers, which without doubt are heard: and of this also there is no question amongst Catholics. In a THIRD way, it is probable that the Church is able to institute ceremonies of this sort for the same effects by the application of the merits of Christ, such that they produce those effects ex opere operato, in the manner in which the Sacraments justify ex opere operato. For Christ without doubt merited for his Church not merely grace, and glory, but also all other benefices which can be useful to her. And indeed, in order to obtain the grace and justification of the impious, he himself instituted the Sacraments, to which are applied his merits, nor is it now permitted to institute other signs for this principal effect; for other lesser benefices he left to the Church the power to institute signs, to which his merits would be applied. Thus do some dispute, but this is not yet so certain, especially since we see that these signs do not have an infallible effect. Although it could be said that they have an infallible effect, if it be useful to men, but not absolutely, because often it is not expedient for us to obtain those benefices: in this way we are accustomed to speak of extreme unction, as regards the effect of corporal healing.
But whatever is the case regarding this; our proposition only asserts against the heretics, that it is permitted to the Church to institute new ceremonies, not for justifying from mortal sins, but for other ends. It is proved FIRSTLY by the examples of the Synagogue, or of private men in the old Testament. For there is no reason, why the Church of Christ could not be capable of that which certain private men or the Synagogue had been able to do, without express mandate, although not without the inspiration of God. Genes. 28. Jacob, although he was not yet Patriarch, but a private man, yet being impelled by God, as it seems, though not expressly commanded, devised a new ceremony. Namely, he erected a stone as a title, pouring oil upon it, and called the name of that place Bethel, in memory of the vision which he had had in that place. Likewise the Synagogue of the Jews, Mardochai being the author, added a new solemn feast day, to be celebrated by all, which God had not instituted in the law, as we have from Esther 9. The same was done in the time of Judith in the addition of another feast; for thus we read in the final chapter: But the day of the festivity of this victory is received by the Hebrews in the number of holy days, and is religiously observed by the Jews from that time until this day. Nor is it an obstacle, that the heretics do not accept this book: for it is enough for us, if they show the same trust to it, which they show to Livy, or Sallust; for here the matter does not concern some abstruse dogma, but the history of a thing done. We have something similar in the Macchabees lib. 1. ca. 4. where there is instituted a new feast of the dedication of the altar, for the celebrating of which feast, even the Lord himself went up to Jerusalem, John 10.
SECONDLY, it is proved from the example of the Apostles. For the Apostles, having in Acts 15 been congregated in Council, instituted a new ceremony, that is, that the Gentiles abstain from blood, and things suffocated: which certainly God had never commanded, except to the Jews, and moreover that Judaic law had already been purged, and abrogated by the death of Christ. Wherefore that was a truly new ceremony of the Apostles, instituted for another end than had the Judaic once been; whence it is called the dogma of the Apostles, Act. 16. And furthermore, we have already proved above that the Apostles instituted many other things, although they are not found in the Scriptures. Now there is no reason, why the Church could be incapable now of that which it could do then. For the Apostles did not do this thing from some new revelation granted to them, but from the ordinary power of governing the Church; as is clear from the fact that they convened a Council, and having discussed opinions, established what they judged to be useful.
THIRDLY; if the Church were not able to do this, it would be impossible either on the part of the Church, or on the part of the ceremonies, or on the part of novelty, that is, either she could not, because she has not the authority of establishing something, or because the ceremonies (as Brentius says) are proper to the old testament, and hence do not belong to the new Testament, or because it is not permitted to add to the ceremonies instituted by Christ: but none of these can be said: for that the Church is able to establish something, is manifestly clear, from the fact, that from the beginning of the faith, in each age, Councils have been celebrated which have always issued canons: but to condemn all the Councils would be a manifest insanity; so I shall in the meanwhile omit a great many arguments, with which I have demonstrated this elsewhere. Now, that ceremonies are not repugnant to the new law, is clear from the Sacraments instituted by Christ, which are most true ceremonies, as even the adversaries concede. Finally, that the novelty is not repugnant, is clear, because the Lord never prohibited us to add ceremonies in order to administer his Sacraments more commodiously and usefully. No indeed, since the Lord instituted very few ceremonies, and did not pass on the mode in which they ought to be administered, he without doubt left it to the providence of the pastors of his Church, as Augustine rightly teaches, epist. 118. cap. 6.
The FOURTH proposition: The ceremonies instituted by the Church cannot be omitted without sin, even without regard to scandal. This depends upon another question, Whether Ecclesiastical laws oblige in conscience: which we have disputed lib. 4. de Pontifice, cap. 15 et seq. The chief reason is from Paul Rom. 13. There is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. And further on: Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. Which judgment, even if it is applied by the Apostle in particular to temporal Princes, when he subjoins, if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain: yet the judgment is general regarding all who have power, as Calvin concedes lib. 4. Instit. cap. 10. §.5. and is clear from the words: There is no power but from God. For this proposition is equivalent to this one, All power is from God. Now, that there is in the Church a certain kind of power of Overseers over the rest, cannot be denied, since scripture teaches that all throughout, as in Rom. 12: He that ruleth, with carefulness. 2. Cor. 10: I write these things, being absent, that, being present, I may not deal more severely, according to the power which the Lord hath given me. Heb. 13: Obey your prelates. It is effected, therefore, that they who do not observe the laws of the Church, sin in conscience. For this is signified by all those words: They resist the ordinance of God: and, they purchase to themselves damnation: and, be subject of necessity: and, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. See more in the place cited.
But in particular, that the ceremonies are not all of free observance, is proved from the fact that, on account of ceremonies, the gravest quarrels have arisen in the Church, and laws regarding ceremonies have been imposed under the gravest penalties, and at length they have been considered heretics, who do not obey them. All of these are manifest arguments, that the matter is not a free one: for quarrels do not arise regarding free matters.
The FIRST quarrel in the Church was regarding the legal ceremonies, and this quarrel was pacified by the Apostles, Act. 15. where, when they say, It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burden upon you, than these necessary things, that you abstain from blood, etc. they would not call a ceremonial law a burden, nor a necessary thing, unless it were to oblige in conscience.
The SECOND quarrel was regarding the day of Pascha, that is, regarding another ceremony. And the Church considered this ceremony of such great importance, that Pope Victor I wished to separate the whole of Asia from the unity of the faithful, because the Asians refused to obey in this matter. Witness to this is Eusebius li. 5. hist. c. 25. Then the Nicene Council convened, most of all on account of this question, as Epiphanius writes, hæres. 70, and Constantine in his epistle in Eusebius lib. 3. de vita Constantini, and Athanasius in epist. de synodis Arimini, et Seleuciæ: where he also adds, that the Nicene Council commanded with eloquent words, that all should obey. And the Council of Antioch, celebrated not long after, in can. 1 excommunicates those, who do not observe the law of the Nicene Council regarding Pascha. Finally, the Fathers considered to be heretics those who wished to observe that ceremony in a different way, as is clear from Epiphanius hæres. 50, Augustine hær. 29. and Theodoretus lib. 3. de fabulis hæreticorum.
The THIRD quarrel concerned the rite of Baptism, whether heretics truly baptized. This quarrel exercised the Church a great deal, and many Councils were thence held, and finally the Donatists were considered as heretics, because they would not submit to the definition of the general Council. See Eusebius lib. 6. hist. cap. 3. and Augustine in great part in tom. 7.
There have afterwards been other quarrels regarding the choosing of foods, the times of fastings, feast days, pilgrimages, vigils, candles, and other ceremonies, on account of which the Encratites were numbered amongst the heretics by Epiphanius hæres. 46 and Augustine hæres. 23. Then the Manicheans, who rejected a great many of the Church’s ceremonies, according to Augustine li. 20. contra Faust. cap. 3, and the Aerians, in Epiphanius hæres. 75 and Augustine hæres. 53, and Vigilantius in Jerome in li. contra Vigilantium. Then Claudius Taurinensis, according to Jonas in the three books on sacred images. Then the Petrobrusians, in Bernard epist. 240. Then the Waldenses, according to Guido in the summa de hæreticis: and the Thaburites according to Æneas Sylvius lib. de origine Bohemorum, c. 35. Finally John Wiclef, in Thomas Waldensis, tom. 3. de Sacramentalibus.
This proposition is proved, lastly: for if the observance of the ceremonies were a free matter, it could in no way happen, that any order and uniformity would be preserved. For if uniformity is hardly preserved now in any chief matters, when it is so severely commanded, what would occur if it were a free matter? And yet the Apostle commands 1. Corint. 14. that all things be done decently, and according to order. This reason moved Calvin to sanction his ceremonies by law. For in lib. 4. Instit. cap. 10. §.27. he says, that the Church is unloosed in its sinews, and deformed, and dissipated, if it be permitted to anyone whomsoever to change the ceremonies, and § 31. he says, that the ceremonies ought to be observed with a free conscience, yet such, that they not be held in contempt, nor passed over in supine negligence: and further on he says, that it is not a crime if through imprudence, or forgetfulness, something should be omitted; where he indicates that it is a crime, if they be omitted through contempt, or crass negligence. But the Church teaches nothing else regarding its ceremonies.
The FIFTH proposition: Ceremonies are not indifferent things, but are useful, meritorious, and a part of the divine worship. All these are to be proved through parts. And the FIRST, that ceremonies are useful, is proved by these reasons, FIRSTLY; Ceremonies, as they arise from internal pious affection, and devotion, so also preserve, nourish, and enlarge it, as Augustine teaches lib. de cura pro mortuis, ca. 4. and epist. 119. ca. 11. and li. 9. Confess. ca. 6. and 7. And we ourselves experience this, when we enter Basilicas which are ornate, and clean, and fitted out with crosses and sacred images, and altars, and when lights are lit we very easily conceive devotion: while on the contrary, when we enter the temples of heretics, where there is naught but a seat for preaching; and wooden tables for making a meal, we seem to enter a profane hall, not the house of God.
The SECOND usefulness is, that ceremonies assist not only affection, but also understanding, as Augustine teaches in the same epist. 119. ca. 7. and especially for the uneducated, ceremonies fill the place of Scripture, or a picture. Moreover, sometimes some dogmas are better argued for from the ancient ceremonies, than by many testimonies. Certainly S. Augustine lib. 1. de peccatorum merit. et remiss. cap. 34. and lib. 6. in Iulianum cap. 2. very clearly thinks he has proven, that original sin is in infants prior to Baptism, because according to the custom of the Church, they are exorcised, and breathed upon, and commanded, through the mouths of those bearing them, to renounce the Devil, and his works.
The THIRD usefulness is, that they assist the memory. For unless we represent each year through various ceremonies the Lord’s arrival, appearance, passion, and other mysteries of redemption, benefices so eminent would easily be given over to forgetfulness.
The FOURTH is, the exercise of faith. For we greatly exercise faith when we are armed against the Devil by the sign of the cross, or blessed water, or similar things. Indeed we protest that in that ceremony, we believe with surety that so great is the power of the crucified one, that at his image alone the demons flee.
The FIFTH is the conservation of religion. This, ceremonies provide, lest religion become worthless, and be scorned, and thus gradually perish. For the chief excellence of our religion, that it is spiritual, is not readily perceived by us, who are corporeal. Thus the mysteries are not proposed to us denuded, but vested, and adorned, so that they present to the senses a certain majesty, and through that they are perceived with greater reverence by the mind itself. And thus ceremonies are for religion, what salt is for meats, and bark for the pith. Hence Augustine lib. 19. contra Faustum. cap. 11. rightly affirms that no religion, neither true nor false, can consist without ceremonies. And hence amongst the ancients, to be a Theologian was nothing else than to know which divinities were worshiped by which ceremonies, as can be known from Plato in the Dialogus de regno. And that amongst the Jews it was a very important thing to know the ceremonies, is clear from ca. 18. Exod. where Jethro advises Moses, that he commit civil judgments to others, and that he teach the people the ceremonies, and rite of worshiping. That amongst Christians the knowledge of the ceremonies was also of great value, the question of Pascha abundantly demonstrates. The same is gathered from Basil, epist. 63, Leo epist. 4. and Innocent epist. 1. ad Decentium, who reprehend Bishops who disregarded the ceremonies.
The SIXTH is the distinction of Catholics from heretics. For the Sacraments are indeed symbols of a certain sort, by which they distinguish from infidels, yet we can hardly be distinguished from heretics, but by means of the ceremonies we are very well distinct. In this time, the sign of the cross, the abstinence from meats on the sixth feria, and similar things are the best signs distinguishing Catholics from heretics. For this reason, in the beginning of the Church, the Apostles changed the Sabbath to Sunday, lest we seem to judaize: and Epiphanius in the end of the book contra omnes hæreses, reviews the ceremonies of the Church, in order to indicate certain notes as it were, by which the Church is distinguished from all sects. Hence also, holy men have ever desired to die, rather than be forced to renounce a ceremony, since they understood that the sign of the militia is cast off by none but the deserters thereof. A witness of this is S. Eleazar lib. 2. Machab. ca. 6. who wished to be slain, rather than pretend to have eaten swine’s flesh, lest in that way he seem to have deserted his religion: and the seven brothers afterward followed him, Machab. li. 2. ca. 7. Also a witness is the one who, according to Tertullian in lib. de corona militis, wished to die, rather than be crowned with a laurel with the other soldiers: for amongst the Christians then, it was the ceremony not to do that.
But now, that they are meritorious, and pleasing to God. IT IS PROVED, because all the works of the virtues please God, and with God merit a reward, if they are done as is necessary, that is, with faith and charity. Now the ceremonies are works of the virtues. For, at the very least, they are acts of religion, often they are also acts at once of religion, and of some other virtue, and finally when they are commanded, they are also acts of obedience. SECONDLY, the exterior profession of faith pleases God, as is clear from Matt. 19. Whosoever shall confess me etc. and Rom. 10. With the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. But by ceremonies we profess the faith, as is clear, because the Turk no less understands me to be a Christian if he sees me venerate the cross, than if I say that I am a Christian. Wherefore the adversaries also admit, that through the Sacraments we testify to the faith. THIRDLY, God is pleased by faith, hope, charity, devotion, and every interior good act; therefore also pleasing are exterior acts, which are partly the effects of what is interior, and partly (as we have said) increase and preserve those interior things. Whence Exo. 17. when Moses prayed with uplifted hands, the people of God overcame, and when he laid them down, it was overcome.
Now, that they are able to be called a part of the divine worship, IS PROVED: For natural reason itself teaches man, who consists of mind and body, that he ought to honor and worship God, both in mind through interior acts, and in body through exterior acts. Whence CYPRIAN in serm. de orat. Dominica: Let us consider, says he, that we stand under the sight of God: we must please the divine eyes, both in demeanor of body, and in manner of speech. SECONDLY, all the other virtues, though they consist principally in the mind, yet are consummated through exterior acts, as is clear regarding temperance, fortitude, and the others; why therefore shall we not say the same of religion? And it is confirmed, for if vocal prayer, as all agree, is the worship of God, why not also bodily adoration? For as vocal prayer is worship, because it is a sign of mental prayer; so will adoration be worship, because it is a sign of internal adoration. THIRDLY, nature teaches, that God is to be worshiped in the highest manner, since he is the supreme Being. But he worships more, who does so in body and mind, than he who does so in mind only, therefore God is able to be worshiped with corporeal ceremonies. FOURTHLY, God is truly offended, and afflicted by ignominy not merely by an internal act, but by an external act also; therefore he is to be honored not only by an internal act, but an external also.
But to all these things the adversaries would respond, that they do not deny that God can, and ought to be worshiped by some ceremonies, but they deny this of ceremonies invented by men. For God is not pleased by any worship which he did not institute, or certainly to which he has given testimony by his word.
But to the contrary; For either it is required, that God have approved worship in particular, and expressly, or it suffices, if he should have approved it in general, and in virtute. The first cannot be said, namely, that God is not pleased by worship which he himself shall not have approved expressly in particular. For without doubt, that worship of Abel was pleasing, who offered up from the fatted of his flock, Gen. 4. and Heb. 11. and yet God had not commanded this: and similarly was the worship of Jacob pleasing, who erected a stone as a title, Genes. 28. and the worship of the Blessed Virgin, who vowed perpetual virginity, which God had never commanded: therefore it will be enough, if God should have commended something in general. And Calvin admits this. For in li. 4. Inst. ca. 10. §.30, wishing to prove that kneeling is good and divine, because it is indicated in general by Paul in that decorousness, which he prescribes in prayer. But in this way all our ceremonies are good, and divine: for they are indicated in general by God, and approved in many ways. FIRSTLY, in this very testimony of Paul, kneeling is no more included, than the lighting of candles, and sacred vestments, and other things of this sort. SECONDLY, when God commands that prelates are to be obeyed, in general he commands that all ecclesiastical laws be obeyed; not a few of which regard ceremonies. LASTLY. God is the author of all the virtues; for Sap. 8. it is said of the divine Wisdom: She teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life, where there are enumerated the four Cardinal virtues, to which all others are reduced. God therefore teaches, and commends religion, which is a part of justice, and hence external worship, which is a part of religion.
The SIXTH proposition: It has been most wisely instituted, that in the Latin Church, the Sacraments be administered in Latin. NOTE FIRSTLY; that when we speak of the language in which the Sacraments ought to be administered, Matrimony must be excepted. For because Matrimony consists in mutual consent, words or gestures are necessarily required, which are understood by both parties. And similarly the confession of sins ought to be done in a language known to both: although Confession is not so much the Sacrament, as it is the matter of the Sacrament.
Note SECONDLY; that it is not of divine law, in what language the Sacraments be administered, nor does it pertain to the essence of the Sacraments; for Baptism will be valid as much if it is ministered in Latin, as if in Italian, or another language: yet on account of many and most grave reasons, it has seemed good to the Church, and to the holy Spirit himself, who rules her, that the Sacraments not be administered in the vulgar tongue, except perhaps in the case of necessity.
Note THIRDLY; that we speak of the Latin Church: for in the Greek Church they do rightly, when they use the Greek tongue, and in the Churches of Syria, when they use the Chaldaic tongue. For there is required for the ministry of the Sacraments a language which is not vulgar, but which yet is not entirely unknown at least to the learned, otherwise the necessary pastors and ministers would not be found. Now the Greek, Chaldaic, and Latin tongues are such: for none is vulgar, and yet each is common, and known to the learned in their regions. The same can nearly be said of the Arabic tongue, which is now common to many eastern Provinces, and in it are the divine offices celebrated, but vulgar Arabic is one thing, and that which they use in sacris is another.
This proposition IS PROVED, FIRSTLY, from the ancient consuetude of the Church. The Latin Church has always administered the Sacraments in Latin, though the Latin tongue had long ceased to be vulgar. This is evident from Isidore, Alcuin, Amalarius, Rabanus, Strabo, Micrologus, Rupert, and Thomas Waldensis, who have written about the divine offices in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and England, at a time when the Latin tongue was never vulgar, and they most clearly teach, that the Sacraments were customarily administered in the Latin tongue. For they describe in Latin the entire rite, and the formal words, which it was necessary to use. Moreover, in administering the Sacraments, there are always read some parts of the divine Scripture, and most of all amongst the adversaries: but the Scriptures were not then extant, except in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as is clear from Bede lib. 1. hist. Gentis suæ, cap. 1. where he says, that in England in his time there were four vulgar tongues, but Latin was common to all by reason of the Scriptures. Rabanus also lib. 3. de Instit. Clericorum ca. 8. says, that in his age the divine letters existed in naught but these three tongues. Finally, the adversaries will not produce any edition of the Scriptures in German, or French, or even Spanish, or Italian, except that was made a few years hence. They could present the Gothic edition, which Ulphilas Bishop of the Goths is said to have made, in Tripar. hist. lib. 8. cap. 13. and in Socrates li. 4. c. 27. But this Bishop no sooner did that, than he commenced being an Arian with the whole of his people. Lastly, ADD two examples, which clearly indicate, that formerly the vulgar tongue was not used in the celebration of the Sacraments. ONE is that of the Moravians, who, as is said in Æneas Sylvius de origine Bohemorum, cap. 13. besought from the Roman Pontiff, that they might be able to celebrate the divine offices in the Slavonic tongue. The OTHER is that of the Bohemians, who, requesting the same, were denied by Gregory the Seventh, as found in li. 7. of his epistles. But if the use of the vulgar tongue had then been common, they would not have sought this license.
SECONDLY it is proved by reason. For there is no necessity, which compels that the Sacraments be administered in the vulgar tongue, and to the contrary, there are many things incommodious, if it be done. That there is no necessity, is proved. For if there were any necessity, it is that most of all, that those who receive the Sacraments understand what is said: but this is not true necessity. For the words of the Sacraments, are either directed to the elements, as the consecration of the Eucharist, the blessing of water, and oil; but the elements understand no language: or they are directed to God, as the deprecatory forms of the words, which sort is in extreme unction. But God understands all tongues: or they are directed to persons; but these are to be consecrated, or absolved, not to be instructed and taught, as in Baptism, and Absolution, and hence it is something per accidens, if the person understands them. A sign of this is, that most truly and effectually are even those baptized and reconciled, who have not the use of reason, as is clear in the baptism of infants, and the reconciliation of the invalid, who are estranged from the senses: that these can be reconciled, and also baptized, if they lack Baptism, Augustine teaches in libro 1. de adulterinis coniugiis. ca. 26. and 28. and the Fourth Council of Carthage canon. 76. and Leo I. epist. 91. ad Theodorum. Moreover, generally there are none in the Latin Church so coarse, that they do not understand the words of the Sacraments, although they be Latin, or certainly who do not understand in general that by those words this or that Sacrament is ministered to them.
Now, that it is troublesome, if we use the vulgar tongue, is clear FIRSTLY, because the intercourse of the Churches is impeded; for Italians, Frenchmen, and Spaniards will not be able to convene in the Churches of the Germans, English, or Polish, nor contrariwise. Which does much harm to the unity, and communication, which ought to exist between the members of the one body. And moreover, Christians would be forced to be without the divine offices outside of their own regions.
SECONDLY, the Sacraments require a certain majesty and reverence, which certainly is better preserved, if we use a tongue which is not vulgar, and common. Indeed, how just it is, that in administering the Sacraments, we use another building, other vestments, other instruments, than the ordinary, and quotidian: thus it seems reasonable, that we use another tongue. Nor yet do we imagine, as Chemnitz thinks, that the Latin tongue is more sacred than the others, but we say that it is more to be venerated, because it is not vulgar.
THIRDLY it is expedient, that the words of the Sacraments be proffered in formal words, and in the same way by all, to avoid the peril of change, or perversion. Now this will be served most readily, if all use the same tongue, and with the greatest difficulty, if they use different ones.
FOURTHLY, if the Sacraments are ministered in the vulgar tongue, a very broad door will be opened to ignorance: for the ministers will be contented, if they know how to read. And thus gradually they will forget the Latin tongue, and thus will not read the Fathers, and hence will not understand the Scriptures.
Objections against ceremonies are resolved.
John Calvin lib. 4. Institut. cap. 10. objects many things against ceremonies, which are to be rebutted in order. The FIRST argument, §.2. The Apostle 1. Corint. 7. did not dare to cast a snare in one thing; nor did he do this for no reason. For he foresaw how great a wound would be inflicted upon consciences, were necessity to be imposed upon them in things, the liberty of which was left by the Lord.
I RESPOND; the Apostle treats in that place of virginal continence; which the Lord had not commanded, but had counseled; and indeed it was just, that the Apostle not make a precept what the Lord wished to be a counsel. But different is the character of other things, regarding which the Lord prescribed nothing in particular. Indeed those can be either commanded or counseled by the Church, as matters themselves require. Wherefore the same Apostle, who refused to command continence, commanded many other things, and besides others 2. Thessal. ult. thus says: And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. And the Apostles Actor. 15. imposed upon the gentiles the burden of abstaining from blood, and things suffocated, and they say that this is necessary; and yet the Lord had left that a free matter.
The SECOND argument, §.8. The Apostle in the epistle to the Coloss. teaches, that the doctrine regarding the true worship of God is not to be sought from men: because the lord has faithfully instituted to the full, how he is to be worshiped. Which he demonstrates thus; in the first chapter he says that in the Gospel is contained all wisdom, by which the man of God is rendered perfect in Christ: in the beginning of the second chapter he says, that all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge are hidden in Christ: then he afterward concludes, that the faithful should beware, lest through vain philosophy they be lead away from the flock of Christ according to the constitutions of men: and in the end of the chapter with still greater trust he condemns all ἐϑελοϑϱησκείας, that is counterfeit worships, which men devise for themselves, or receive from others, and whatever precepts they dare to give from themselves regarding the worship of God.
I respond FIRST, that the epistle to the Colossians contains nothing against the Ecclesiastical laws regarding ceremonies. For as is clear from Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theodoret, Theophylact, and Oecumenius, it was written against Simon Magus, and other heretics of his time, who were urging men, that it was necessary to come to the supreme God by way of certain Angels, and that Christ was not sufficient; and moreover they obtruded upon the Christians ceremonies, partly Jewish, partly heathen. Hence therefore in ca. 1. he treats broadly of the excellence of Christ, and says, that he is the head of all, and above all, and the Angels depend upon him as their author. Then in 2. he admonishes, lest they be deceived through Philosophy, namely that of Plato, and of others similar, which the Simonians and Gnostics were using, and at the same time he accuses them, that they observe the Sabbath, and the new moons, which are Jewish, and have been abrogated by Christ; and that they abstained from certain foods, as being unclean: and that they walked in the religion of Angels, thinking that through them they could ascend to God; all of which are false, and superstitious.
Next I RESPOND to the individual propositions of Calvin. The FIRST is, Christ has instructed us to the full regarding the true worship of God. I RESPOND, that this is true of the general instruction, but not of the particular, as Calvin himself admits below §.30. where he treats of kneeling.
The SECOND is: The Apostle teaches, that doctrine regarding the true worship of God is not to be sought from men. I RESPOND; he teaches that it is not to be sought from men, who teach contrary to Christ, as were the Philosophers, and Simoniacs, but it is well to be sought from men, who build upon Christ, and teach, according to his rule and doctrine, in particular that which he indicated only in general. For he himself says, Luc. 10. Who hears you, hears me.
The THIRD is: The Apostle condemns any human, and voluntary worship. I RESPOND, that in Paul here, that worship is called human, and voluntary, which is merely human, and invented by one’s own cleverness, that is, which is not conformed to the faith, and the principles of the doctrine of Christ, but those which are taught by the Church, are not merely human, since they are instituted with the inspiration of God. Whence 1. Cor. 14. after Paul had instituted various rites in the Church regarding the order of prophesying, and of speaking, and that women keep silent, regarding which the Lord had commanded nothing expressly, the Apostle subjoins: If any be a Prophet, or spiritual, let him know the things that I write to you, that they are the commandments of the Lord, where he calls them the commandments of the Lord, because they were given by his inspiration, and thus he wishes them to be known by the spiritual. For if they had been express commandments of the Lord, there would have been no need of the spirit in order to know them.
The THIRD argument, §.9. The Apostle Gal. 5. does not suffer in any way that the consciences of the faithful be driven into slavery. It is not permitted, therefore, to institute ceremonies which oblige in conscience.
I RESPOND, Paul speaks of the Jewish slavery, by which they had been slaves under the ancient law, but not of any obedience to law whatsoever. For elsewhere the same Apostle, Rom. 13. teaches, that the power is to be obeyed: Not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. Where IT SHOULD BE NOTED, that the old law is called the law of slavery, not because it obliged in conscience; (for that is common to any true law) but because it was most difficult, and laborious, and had not grace annexed with it, that would be able to be fulfilled out of love for justice: wherefore either it was not fulfilled, or it was fulfilled out of fear of punishment (for indeed, if any fulfilled it out of love for justice, which sort the Patriarchs and Prophets and many others undeniably were; they had that not from the law, but from the grace of the new Testament) and in this way it oppressed, and burdened, after the manner of a most heavy yoke. And the Apostle deters the Galatians from this yoke. For since they wished to be circumcised, they fell away from the grace of Christ, and at the same time obliged themselves to observe the whole law: which was to return utterly to the state of the old testament. And so Calvin treats the Scriptures with the worst sort of faith, when he twists them from the true sense to sanction his own heresy.
The FOURTH argument, §.10. The Lord Matth. 15. reprehends the traditions of men, and Isaias 29. does the same. In vain do they worship me with the commandments of men.
I RESPOND, that in this tenth paragraph there are many most shameless lies, which would never be able to be washed away with all the soap of Geneva: such as, that Catholics prohibit marriage, and grant harlots: that they judge it more gravely, if anyone should corrupt his tongue with a small taste of meat on Friday, than if he should defile the whole body every day with whoring, etc. But to the places of Scripture, which are also asserted throughout by Philip, Brentius, Chemnitz, and others, I say that the Lord is accustomed to reprehend three things in the Judaic ceremonies. FIRSTLY, that some are opposed to the commandments of God; as were those in Matth. 15. and Marc. 7. that children give to the Priests, what were necessary for the parents. SECONDLY, that many of the Jewish traditions of the Pharisees were vain, and entirely useless, such as to wash the hands such a great number of times. And these two kinds of ceremonies the Lord calls commandments of men, because they have naught but what is human. THIRDLY, that they observe some others which are good, and useful, but they sin in the mode, constituting in them the summit of religion, and making them greater than the divine commandments; and of these the Lord speaks in Matth. 23., nor does he call those human traditions, but he says: These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone. Now the Christian ceremonies approved by the Church, are not of the first, or of the second sort: nor have the adversaries hitherto presented arguments for proving the contrary, but only lies. And if there are amongst Catholics ones more uneducated, who make the ceremonies to be greater than the weightier commandments, we think that they ought to be corrected. Indeed we do not approve whatever men do, otherwise we would approve many sins: but we approve that which they ought to do according to the sound doctrine of the Church.
The FIFTH argument, §.12. The Romanists partly have taken example for themselves from the derangements of the Gentiles, and partly, after the manner of apes, have blindly imitated the ancient Jewish rites, which no more pertain to us, than do sheep offerings. I RESPOND FIRST, that the same argument was made by the Manicheans, according to Augustine lib. 20. contra Faust. cap. 4. and by Vigilantius, as seen in Jerome in lib. contra Vigilantium, as regards the imitation of the Gentiles. And so Calvin ought to have known, from what ancestors he descended. I say SECONDLY, that if the argument accomplished anything, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper would also have to be done away with; for even the Gentiles used Baptism, when they initiated their own into the sacred things of Mithras; and they also celebrated the Sacrament of bread, as Tertullian relates in libro de præscriptionibus. The Jews also most frequently used expiations by means of water, nor did they lack the bread of offering. I say THIRDLY, that it should be no wonder, if our ceremonies have some similitude with the Judaic ceremonies; for those were the figures of our things, as we read in 1. Corinth. 10. For the same reason, there ought to be no wonder, if our ceremonies sometimes are similar to the rites of the Gentiles. For the devil, who has ever wished to be like unto God, has attempted to imitate the Jewish rites instituted by God, as Tertullian notes in the place cited, which rites we have said were figures of our own. I say FOURTHLY, that although in the external symbol there is some similitude between our rites, and those of the Gentiles, and Jews; yet absolutely speaking, the difference is very great. For external actions take their species from the end, and the intention. The rites of the Gentiles were done for the worship of Demons: ours are done to worship the true God, thus there is as much between theirs and ours, as there is between the sacred and the sacrilege; between piety, and impiety; and between God and the devil. For the sacrifices of the Gentiles and the Jews were also the same, and yet those were idolatrous, and these pious, and religious. And in this way Jerome responds to Vigilantius, and Augustine to the Manicheans in the places cited. Now the Judaic rites were good, but they foretold the Christ to come, and ours are likewise good, but are different from those, because they are partly in remembrance of things past, partly for signifying the glory to come.
The SIXTH argument, §.13. is drawn from the epistle of Augustine 119. cap. 19, where he laments, that some have so burdened the Church with a multitude of ceremonies, that the condition of the Jews is more tolerable. I RESPOND, that AUGUSTINE speaks of the ceremonies, which private men, and most of all women, imposed upon themselves. For the same Augustine, speaking in the same place regarding unnecessary ceremonies, says thus: All such things, which neither are contained in the authorities of the holy scriptures, nor found established in the Councils of Bishops, nor confirmed by the consuetude of the universal Church, but vary innumerably with the diverse mores of diverse places, I judge ought to be pruned away.
The SEVENTH argument §.4. God wished this to be the difference between us and the Jews, that he taught them as children through sensible signs, and us as men, more simply, without such signs. This is clear from cap. 4 Ioannis, where the Lord says: The hour cometh, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit, and truth. And Gal. 4. the Apostle compares the Jews to children living under a tutor. Chemnitz makes the same argument, pag. 166, where he says, that shadows, and figures are proper to the old Testament, but we in the new law are admonished by the word of God, not shadows. Brentius has similar things in the confessio Wirtembergensis, cap. ultim. which is about ceremonies. I RESPOND, that the difference between Jews and Christians, as regards ceremonies, can be understood in two ways. IN ONE WAY, that they had external ceremonies only, and we have only the light of the word, and spiritual and simple truth. And this is what the words of the adversaries seem to mean, and especially those of Chemnitz, but it is manifestly false. For the Jews, besides the ceremonies, had also the light of the word; whence is that Psalm. 118. Thy word is a lamp to my feet. Nor did God require from them external worship only, but internal also. For in Isai. 29. God reprehends the Jews when he says: This people honors me with their mouth, but their heart is far from me. And on the contrary, Christians, besides the light of the word, have also sensible Sacraments, which are shadows, and figures of things past, and to come. And just as the external, and sensible Sacraments are not repugnant to the new testament, as is known, thus neither are other ceremonies repugnant. Indeed the Christian Church, although it dwells in great light in respect of the synagogue, yet dwells in shadow in respect of the heavenly Jerusalem. For we walk through faith, which is obscure, and not through sight. IN ANOTHER WAY, that difference can be understood thus, that the Judaic worship, inasmuch as Judaic, that is, of the old Testament, was principally external, and corporeal; the Christian worship, that is, of the new Testament, is principally internal, and spiritual. And this is most true. For internal, and spiritual worship proceeds from the spirit of faith and charity, which spirit is the very grace of the new Testament, and in no way can it be had from the old law. Whence Paul 2. Corin. 3. calls the old Testament the letter, and the new he calls the spirit. And Ioan. 1. the former is called the law, the latter grace. Finally in Ioann. 4. the words In spirit, and truth signify (as Chrysostom, Cyril, and Euthymius expound) that the Christian worship is in spirit, as opposed to the Judaic, which was corporeal, and is in truth, as opposed to the same Judaic worship, which consisted in shadows, and figures. Although Theophylact, and Blessed Thomas do not badly interpret it in their commentaries on that same place: In spirit they oppose to the Judaic worship, which was corporeal; the words In truth they oppose to the worship of the Samaritans, which was mixed with falsehood, and error. Whence a little before the Lord had said: Neither on this mountain, that is, Garizim, where the Samaritans adored: Nor in Jerusalem shall you adore the Father, as if to say: You shall hereafter worship God neither with the false worship of the Samaritans, nor with the Jewish worship, which is chiefly corporeal, but with the Christian worship, which will be in spirit, and truth, that is, spiritual, and pure from all error.
Yet it SHOULD BE OBSERVED, that although the Jewish worship, as being of the old Testament, had been corporeal, yet it was not pleasing to God without the spiritual, and thus God sought from them also a spiritual worship, as we have shown from Isaias 29. But those who furnished this, did it not from the old Testament, but from the new; to which they already then began to belong. Just as it is also known, that fear is proper to the old Testament, and love to the new: and yet God desired from the Jews, that they love from their whole heart, and truly the saints of that time did so, not from the power of the old Testament, but from the grace of the new. In like manner, although the Christian worship is principally spiritual, yet it cannot be without what is corporeal in this pilgrimage, and thus it admits the Sacraments, and other ceremonies, which are of service to spiritual worship.
The EIGHTH argument, §.15. Whatever works have to commend them, this they have entirely from the consideration of obedience, which [obedience] alone God considers, as is testified through the Prophet: I have not commanded regarding sacrifices, and victims, but only that by listening, you hear my voice. Ierem. 7. and 1. Reg. 11. Does the Lord desire sacrifice, and not rather, that the voice of the Lord be obeyed? the ceremonies, therefore, which God has not instituted, are not pleasing to him, nor can they be meritorious. He confirms his argument in the same place, that our ceremonies not only are not meritorious, but not useful, since they are hardly understood by anybody. I RESPOND; the antecedent is false, and contrary to the clearest Scriptures. For the sacrifice of Abel was pleasing to God, Hebr. 11. which yet God had not commanded. And 1. Corinth. 7. He that does not marry, does better. And in the same place regarding the widow. More blessed shall she be, if she so remain. and yet in the same place he asserts that it is not a precept, not to marry, even saying so twice. And 1. Corinth. 9. he contends that it was permitted to him to live from the goods of those, to whom he preached, and yet he inclined rather to live from his own labor, that he might have a greater recompense; for this is signified by those words: It is good for me to die, rather than that any man should make my glory void. Moreover, those Scriptures place obedience before sacrifices. But it is not therefore permitted to conclude; Therefore sacrifices which are not commanded merit nothing, so long as they be offered with faith, and devotion: since the contrary is clear from the Scriptures, as we have already shown. To the confirmation I RESPOND, that the ceremonies of the Church are easily understood at least in general, as is clear, if one runs through the ceremonies taken up from person, place, time, and things. And if some ceremonies are not understood by all, such as the multitude of vestments in the Mass, and of signs, yet they do not lack usefulness even amongst the most uneducated, since without doubt they endear veneration for sacred things. Certainly the Jews hardly understood them completely, and yet they did not accept them in vain.
The NINTH argument, §.17. Does not this law, once spoken to the Church, remain eternal? What I command to you, this shall you observe, to do it. You shall not add anything, nor omit anything. And proverb. 30. You shall not add to the word of God, nor remove from it, lest perhaps you accuse yourself, and be found a liar. I RESPOND; The Lord does not in these places prohibit any addition. For whether by the word are meant the sacred books, or the moral, or judicial, or ceremonial precepts, we shall always find that addition was made. Were not all the other sacred books, as much historical as prophetic, and the whole new Testament, written after Deuteronomy, where that prohibition of addition to the words of the Lord is found? Likewise there are many moral precepts in the Prophets, and in the books of Solomon, which seem to be added to the Pentateuch: and David added the judicial precept, that they who fought in war, and they who attended to the baggage, would divide equally the spoils in war, 1. Regum 30. The Jews afterward also added ceremonial laws of new feast days, Esther 9. Iudith ultim. and 1. Machabæor. 4. The Lord, therefore, prohibited addition which corrupts: and it is the same: You shall not add, nor omit, as if to say: Observe irreproachably, and perfectly what I command to you. This is clear from the reason which is rendered, Proverbior. 30. Lest perhaps you accuse yourself, and be found a liar. For he cannot be called a liar, and forger, who institutes a new ceremony, so long as that offers no impediment to the ceremonies of God; but he is called a liar and a forger, who corrupts the words, or precepts of God. Now this corruption can come about in two ways. IN ONE way, if anyone adds something to, or removes something from, the very words or precepts of God, whither they are corrupted; as if someone were to offer bread without wine in the Sacrifices of Christ, or bread, wine, and honey. IN ANOTHER way, if anyone were to pass off as the word of God a book which is not Canonical, or as a Sacrament some ceremony invented by him; or contrariwise, if he were to remove a book truly Canonical, or a true Sacrament from the number of the Holy books, or Sacraments: which sin the heretics commit, when they deny that many sacred books are Canonical, and remove five Sacraments from the number of the Sacraments. We see the same in the corruption of monies: for they are called forgers, who either corrupt the monies themselves, by adding tin to the silver, or by diminishing the silver itself: or who obtrude monies coined by themselves for the money of the Prince. But they find none of these in the ceremonies of the Church.
The TENTH argument, §.23. Calvin draws from three examples of divine Scripture, 4. Reg. 17. Those who inhabited Samaria are said to have been torn apart by wild beasts, because they worshiped God with new ceremonies, which God had not instituted, 4. Regum 16. Achaz is reprehended, because he set a new altar in the temple, which could have seemed good for the ornament of the temple: And yet we see, says Calvin, that the spirit detests that audacity, for no reason other than that the inventions of men in the worship of God, are impure corruptions. 4 Regum 21. This circumstance, Calvin says, aggravated the crime of Manasses, that he had raised up a new altar in Jerusalem.
I RESPOND, that in these examples Calvin uses bad faith, as he is wont to do. For in 4. Reg. 17. those Samaritans are not accused of worshiping God with new ceremonies, but because at the outset they did not fear God, nor worship him, that is, they were Gentiles, and did not know the law of God, but then, having learned the law of God, they began to worship God and their idols at the same time. And in 4. Regum 16. Achaz is reprehended, not because he built up a new altar in the temple, but because he had commanded that a new altar be built in the temple of the Lord, according to the similitude of the altar of idols, which was in Damascus, and because he removed the altar of the Lord from its place, in order to establish that idolatrous altar in the highest place. Finally, in 4. Regum 21. Manasses not only placed a new altar in the temple, but an altar where sacrifice would be made to idols. For thus the scripture says: He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the temple of the Lord. And later: He set also an idol of the grove, which he had made, in the temple of the Lord. Elsewise it would have been no crime, to erect a new altar in the temple of the Lord. For in 3. Regum 8. we read, that Solomon commanded that the middle part of the court be sanctified for offering holocausts, because the brazen altar, on which they should have been offered, was not capable of so great a multitude of victims: for Solomon at that time offered twenty-two thousands of oxen, and one hundred twenty thousands of sheep. And thus from Calvin. Melanchthon treats the Scriptures with similar faith. For in the Apologia Confess. Augustanæ, art. 15. besides other things, he proffers these arguments. FIRSTLY Ezech. 20. Walk not in the statutes of your fathers: Therefore it is not permitted to institute new worships without the mandate of God. But Ezechiel speaks of the idolatrous fathers: for elsewhere the Scripture says, Prov. 22. Pass not beyond the ancient bounds which thy fathers have set. Likewise Philip argues SECONDLY: If it is permitted to men to institute worships; now the worships of all the nations shall have to be approved, and those also which Jeroboam instituted. Admirable indeed! truly, just as if it is permitted to make an unjust law, if it is permitted to make a new law. THIRDLY he adds, Dan. ca. 11. He signifies that human worships will be the very form of the Antichrist. For thus he says: He shall worship the God Moazim in his place, and a God, whom their Fathers knew not. And this is a splendid argument, as if to worship the true God with a new worship, is the same as to worship a new God, that is, a false and fictitious God.