A Learned Discourse of Justification, Works,and…
AUTHOR: Hooker, Richard
PUBLISHED ON: April 1, 2003

    A Sermon by Richard Hooker
    with Introductory comments by James Kiefer

Richard Hooker (1554?-1600) was possibly the greatest theologian
that England has ever produced. In 1585, he was appointed Master of
the Temple: that is, was assigned to one of the most visible pulpits
in England. Almost immediately, he incurred the suspicions of the
Puritan party. In the course of one of his sermons, he said:  “I
doubt not but God was merciful to save thousands of our fathers
living in popish superstitions, inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly.”
This sentence, which today would be fiercely attacked by those who
thought it arrogant, narrow, and bigoted, was at the time attacked
on opposite grounds. Walter Travers, the afternoon lecturer at the
Temple, said that since the adherents of the Pope did not believe in
justification by faith, they could not be justified by faith, which
meant that they could not be justified at all, which meant that they
were certainly damned, with no exceptions. Hooker, he claimed, had
sold out to the enemy. The sermon given below is Hooker’s reply.

In reading it, remember that, when he argues that the popish errors
do not automatically damn all who hold them, he needs to state
emphatically that he is not himself one who hold such views.

Note also, that he frequently devotes a paragraph to stating the
case for the Puritan position (as represented by Travers) and then
the following paragraph to a rebuttal. The reader must be attentive
to when Hooker is speaking for the prosecution and when for the
defense. Doubtless, when the sermon was delivered “live,” there were
clues in the manner of delivery that are not evident in the written
script. I have taken the liberty of inserting the signposts
[OBJECTION:] and [REPLY:] where I thought they might be helpful.  I
have also included the paragraph numbering (which I think to be
standard) from the Everyman’s edition, and the section titles (which
I do not think to be standard) from the  P E Hughes edition.

The standard edition of Hooker’s writings, edited by John Keble, has
footnotes for most of the quotations, from Scripture and other
sources. Some of these have been reproduced here, but those
interested in his quotations other than from Scripture will want to
consult the Keble notes.

For a general account of the writings and thought of Hooker, see C S
(Oxford U Pres, 1954), especially pages 441-463. (To the reader
anxious to understand the issues of the Reformation, I recommend the
whole work, but especially pages 32-44, 162-165, 177-180, 181-192,

To Lewis’s account of Hooker, one bit of information must be added.
In Lewis’s day there was some doubt about the authenticity of the
last three of the eight books of Hooker’s masterpiece, the LAWS OF
ECCESIASTICAL POLITY. Only the first five were published in Hooker’s
lifetime. Since then, the manuscript of the last three books, in
Hooker’s handwriting, has come to light, and there is accordingly no
scholar (as far as I know) who disputes their genuineness.

And now for Hooker’s sermon.

    *****    *****    *****    *****    *****

        A Learned Discourse of Justification,
            Works, and how the Foundation
                of Faith is Overthrown

                    Richard Hooker

      “The wicked doth compass about the righteous;
        therefore perverse judgment doth proceed.”
                      Habakkuk 1:4

    1> For better manifestation of the prophet’s meaning in this
place we are: first, to consider “the wicked,” of whom he saith that
they “compass about the righteous”; secondly, “the righteous” that
are compassed about by them; and, thirdly, that which is inferred,
“therefore perverse judgment proceedeth.” Touching the first, there
are two kinds of wicked men, of whom in the fifth of the former to
the Corinthians the blessed Apostle speaketh thus: “Do ye not judge
them that are within? But God judgeth them that are without.”[1 Cor
5:12f] There are wicked, therefore, whom the Church may judge, and
there are wicked whom God only judgeth, wicked within and wicked
without the walls of the Church. If within the Church particular
persons, being apparently such, cannot otherwise be reformed, the
rule of apostolical judgment is this: “Separate them from among them
you”;[1 Cor 5:13] if whole assemblies, this: “Separate yourselves
from among them; for what society hath light with darkness?”[2 Cor
6:14] But the wicked whom the prophet meaneth were Babylonians, and
therefore without. For which cause we have heard at large heretofore
in what sort he urgeth God to judge them.

    2> Now concerning the righteous, there neither is nor ever was
any mere natural man absolutely righteous in himself: that is to
say, void of all unrighteousness, of all sin. We dare not except, no
not the blessed Virgin herself, of whom although we say with St.
Augustine, for the honour’s sake which we owe to our Lord and
Saviour Christ, we are not willing, in this cause, to move any
question of his mother; yet forasmuch as the schools of Rome have
made it a question, we must answer with Eusebius Emissenus,[The
quotation that follows has not been traced, but it probably comes
from a treatise or homily wrongly attributed to Eusebius of Emesa.]
who speaketh of her, and to her, to this effect: “Thou didst by
special prerogative nine months together entertain within the closet
of thy flesh the hope of all the ends of the earth, the honour of
the world, the common joy of men. He, from whom all things had their
beginning, hath had his own beginning from thee; of thy body he took
the blood which was to be shed for the life of the world; of thee he
took that which even for thee he paid. The mother of the Redeemer
herself, otherwise than by redemption, is not loosed from the band
of that ancient sin.” If Christ have paid a ransom for all,[1 Tim
2:6] even for her, it followeth that all without exception were
captives. If one have died for all, all were dead, dead in sin;[2
Cor 5:14f; Eph 2:1,5] all sinful, therefore none absolutely
righteous in themselves; but we are absolutely righteous in Christ.
The world then must show a Christian man, otherwise it is not able
to show a man that is perfectly righteous: “Christ is made unto us
wisdom, justice [that is, righteousness], sanctification, and
redemption”[1 Cor 1:30]: wisdom, because he hath revealed his
Father’s will; justice, because he hath offered himself a sacrifice
for sin; sanctification, because he hath given us of his Spirit;
redemption, because he hath appointed a day to vindicate his
children out of the bands of corruption into liberty which is
glorious.[Rom 8:21] How Christ is made wisdom, and how redemption,
it may be declared when occasion serveth; but how Christ is made the
righteousness of men we are now to declare.

    3> There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to
come; and there is a justifying and a sanctifying righteousness
here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world
to come is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified
is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified,
inherent, but not perfect. This openeth a way to the plain
understanding of that grand question, which hangeth yet in
controversy between us and the Church of Rome, about the matter of
justifying righteousness.

    4> First, although they imagine that the mother of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ were, for his honour, and by his special
protection, preserved clean from all sin, yet touching the rest they
teach, as we do, that all have sinned; that infants who did never
actually offend have their natures defiled, destitute of justice,
and averted from God.[See Council of Trent, sess V, decree
concerning original sin. 4] They teach, as we do, that God doth
justify the soul of man alone, without any other coefficient cause
of justice; that, in making man righteous none do work efficiently
with God, but God.[Trent VI,ch 7] They teach, as we do, that unto
justice no man ever attained, but by the merits of Jesus
Christ.[Ibid] They teach, as we do, that although Christ as God be
the efficient, as man the meritorious, cause of our justice, yet in
us also there is something required.[TrentjVI ch 4,5; canons 4,9]
God is the cause of our natural life; in him we live: but he
quickeneth not the body without the soul in the body. Christ hath
merited to make usjust; but as a medicine which is made for health
doth not heal by being made but by being applied, so by the merits
of Christ there can be no justification without the application of
his merits. Thus far we join hands with the Church of Rome.


    5> Wherein then do we disagree? We disagree about the nature of
the very essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our disease;
about the manner of applying it; about the number and the power of
means, which God requireth in us for the effectual applying thereof
to our soul’s comfort.

    When they are required to show what the righteousness is
whereby a Christian man is justified, they answer that it is a
divine spiritual quality, which quality, received into the soul,
doth first make it to be one of them who are born of God; and,
secondly, endue it with power to bring forth such works as they do
that are born of him; even as the soul of man, being joined unto his
body, doth first make him to be in the number of reasonable
creatures, and, secondly, enable him to perform the natural
functions which are proper to his kind; that it maketh the soul
gracious and amiable in the sight of God, in regard whereof it is
termed grace; that by it, through the merit of Christ, we are
delivered as from sin, so from eternal death and condemnation, the
reward of sin. This grace they will have to be applied by infusion,
to the end that, as the body is warm by the heat which is in the
body, so the soul might be righteous by inherent grace; which grace
they make capable of increase; as the body may be more and more
warm, so the soul more and more justified, according as grace shall
be augmented; the augmentation whereof is merited by good works, as
good works are made meritorious by it.[Trent VI, ch 10] Wherefore
the first receipt of grace is in their divinity the first
justification; the second thereof, the second justification.

    As grace may be increased by the merit of good works, so it may
be diminished by the demerit of sins venial; it may be lost by
mortal sin.[Trent VI, chs 14,15] Inasmuch, therefore, as it is
needful in the one case to repair, in the other to recover, the loss
which is made, the infusion of grace hath her sundry after-meals;
for which cause they make many ways to apply the infusion of grace.
It is applied unto infants through baptism, without either faith or
works, and in them it really taketh away original sin and the
punishment due unto it; it is applied unto infidels and wicked men
in their first justification through baptism, without works, yet not
without faith; and it taketh away both sin actual and original,
together with all whatsoever punishment eternal or temporal thereby
deserved. Unto such as have attained the first justification, that
is to say, the first receipt of grace, it is applied further by good
works to the increase of former grace, which is the second
justification. If they work more and more, grace doth more and more
increase, and they are more and more justified.

    To such as have diminished it by venial sins it is applied by
holy water, Ave Marias, crossings, papal salutations, and such like,
which serve for reparations of grace decayed. To such as have lost
it through mortal sin, it is applied by the sacrament (as they term
it) of penance; which sacrament hath force to confer grace anew, yet
in such sort that, being so conferred, it hath not altogether so
much power as at the first. For it only cleanseth out the stain or
guilt of sin committed, and changeth the punishment eternal into a
temporary satisfactory punishment here, if time do serve, if not,
hereafter to be endured, except it be either lightened by masses,
works of charity, pilgrimages, fasts, and such like; or else
shortened by pardon for term, or by plenary pardon quite removed and
taken away.[Trent VI, ch 14]

    This is the mystery of the man of sin. This maze the Church of
Rome doth cause her followers to tread when they ask her the way of
justification. I cannot stand now to unrip this building and to sift
it piece by piece; only I will set up a frame of apostolical
erection by it in a few words, that it may befall Babylon, in
presence of that which God hath builded, as it happened unto Dagon
before the ark.

    6> “Doubtless,” saith the Apostle, “I have counted all things
but loss, and I do judge them to be dung, that I may win Christ, and
be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, but that which
is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God
through faith.[Phil 3:8f] Whether they speak of the first or second
justification, they make the essence of it a divine quality
inherent, they make it righteousness which is in us. If it be in us,
then it is ours, as our souls are ours, though we have them from God
and can hold them no longer than pleaseth him; for if he withdraw
the breath of our nostrils we fall to dust; but the righteousness
wherein we must be found, if we will be justified, is not our own:
therefore we cannot be justified by any inherent quality. Christ
hath merited righteousness for as many as are found in him. In him
God findeth us, if we be faithful, for by faith we are incorporated
into him.

    Then, although in ourselves we be altogether sinful and
unrighteous, yet even the man who in himself is impious, full of
iniquity, full of sin, him being found in Christ through faith, and
having his sin in hatred through repentance, him God beholdeth with
a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh
quite away the punishment due thereunto, by pardoning it, and
accepteth him in Jesus Christ as perfectly righteous, as if he had
fulfilled all that is commanded him in the law: shall I say more
perfectly righteous than if himself had fulfilled the whole law? I
must take heed what I say; but the Apostle saith, “God made him who
knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him.[2 Cor 5:21] Such we are in the sight of
God the Father as is the very Son of God himself. Let it be counted
folly, or phrensy, or fury, or whatsoever. It is our wisdom and our
comfort; we care for no knowledge in the world but this: that man
hath sinned and God hath suffered; that God hath made himself the
sin of men, and that men are made the righteousness of God.

    You see therefore that the Church of Rome, in teaching
justification by inherent grace, doth pervert the truth of Christ,
and that by the hands of his Apostles we have received otherwise
than she teacheth.


    Now concerning the righteousness of sanctification, we deny it
not to be inherent; we grant that, unless we work, we have it not;
only we distinguish it as a thing in nature different from the
righteousness of justification: we are righteous the one way by the
faith of Abraham, the other way, except we do the works of Abraham,
we are not righteous. Of the one, St. Paul, “To him that worketh
not, but believeth, faith is counted for righteousness.[Rom 4:5] Of
the other, St. John, “He is righteous who worketh righteousness.[1
Jn 3:7] Of the one, St. Paul doth prove by Abraham’s example that we
have it of faith without works.[Rom 4] Of the other, St. James by
Abraham’s example, that by works we have it, and not only by
faith.[Jas 2:18ff] St. Paul doth plainly sever these two parts of
Christian righteousness one from the other; for in the sixth to the
Romans he writeth, “Being freed from sin and made servants of God,
ye have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life.[Rom
6:22] “Ye are made free from sin and made servants unto God”; this
is the righteousness of justification; “Ye have your fruit in
holiness”: this is the righteousness of sanctification. By the one
we are interested in the right of inheriting; by the other we are
brought to the actual possessing of eternal bliss, and so the end is
everlasting life.

    7> The prophet Habakkuk doth here [Hab 1:4] term the Jews
“righteous men,” not only because being justified by faith they were
free from sin, but also because they had their measure of fruit in
holiness. According to whose example of charitable judgment, which
leaveth it to God to discern what men are, and speaketh of them
according to that which they do profess themselves to be, although
they be not holy whom men do think, but whom God doth know indeed to
be such; yet let every Christian man know that in Christian equity
he standeth bound so to think and speak of his brethren as of men
that have a measure in the fruit of holiness and a right unto the
titles wherewith God, in token of special favour and mercy,
vouchsafeth to honour his chosen servants. So we see the Apostles of
our Saviour Christ do use everywhere the name of saints: so the
prophet the name of righteous. But let us all endeavour to be such
as we desire to be termed: “Godly names do not justify godless men,”
saith Salvianus. We are but upbraided when we are honoured with
names and titles whereunto our lives and manners are not suitable.

    If we have indeed our fruit in holiness, notwithstanding we
must note that the more we abound therein the more need we have to
crave that we may be strengthened and supported. Our very virtues
may be snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all occasions to
work our ruin hath ever found it harder to overthrow a humble sinner
than a proud saint. There is no man’s case so dangerous as his, whom
Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him
pure and blameless in the sight of God. If we could say, “we are not
guilty of anything at all in our own consciences” (we know ourselves
far from this innocency, we cannot say we know nothing by ourselves,
but if we could) should we therefore plead not guilty in the
presence of our Judge that sees further into our hearts than we
ourselves are able to see? If our hands did never offer violence to
our brethren, a bloody thought doth prove us murderers before
him.[Cf Mt 5:21f] If we had never opened our mouths to utter any
scandalous, offensive, or hurtful word, the cry of our secret
cogitations is heard in the ears of God. If we did not commit the
evils which we do daily and hourly, either in deeds, words, or
thoughts, yet in the good things which we do how many defects are
there intermingled!

    God, in that which is done, respecteth specially the mind and
intention of the doer. Cut off then all those things wherein we have
regarded our own glory, those things which we do to please men or to
satisfy our own liking, those things which we do with any by-respect
[that is, with any secondary or ulterior motive], not sincerely and
purely for the love of God, and a small score will serve for the
number of our righteous deeds. Let the holiest and best thing that
we do be considered: we are never better affected unto God than when
we pray; yet when we pray how are our affections many times
distracted! How little reverence do we show to the grand majesty of
that God unto whom we speak! How little remorse of our own miseries!
How little taste of the sweet influence of his tender mercy do we
feel! Are we not as unwilling many times to begin, and as glad to
make an end, as if God in saying “Call upon me” had set us a very
burdensome task?

    It may seem somewhat extreme which I shall speak; therefore let
every man judge of it even as his own heart shall tell him, and no
otherwise. I will but only make a demand: if God should yield to us,
not as unto Abraham, if fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, or if ten
good persons could be found in a city, for their sakes that city
should not be destroyed;[Gen 18:23ff] but if God should make us an
offer thus large: “Search all the generations of men since the fall
of your father Adam, find one man that hath done any one action
which hath passed from him pure, without any stain or blemish at
all, and for that one man’s one-only action neither man nor angel
shall feel the torments which are prepared for both” — do you think
that this ransom, to deliver men and angels, would be found among
the sons of men? The best things we do have somewhat in them to be
pardoned. How then can we do anything meritorious and worthy to be

    Indeed, God doth liberally promise whatsoever appertaineth to a
blessed life unto as many as sincerely keep his law, though they be
not able exactly to keep it. Wherefore we acknowledge a dutiful
necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of well doing
we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect
righteousness of the law. The little fruit which we have in
holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no
confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it,
we dare not call God to a reckoning, as if we had him in our
debt-books. Our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with
our infirmities, to pardon our offences.

    8> But the people of whom the prophet speaketh, were they all,
or were the most part of them, such as had care to walk uprightly?
Did they thirst after righteousness? Did they wish, did they long
with the righteous prophet, “O that our ways were made so direct
that we might keep thy statutes”? [Ps 119:5] Did they lament with
the righteous apostle, “Miserable men, the good which we wish and
purpose, and strive to do, we cannot”? [Rom 7:19,24] No, the words
of other prophets concerning this people do show the contrary. How
grievously doth Isaiah mourn over them: “Ah sinful nation, people
laden with iniquity, wicked seed, corrupt children”! [Is 1:4] All
which notwithstanding, so wide are the bowels of his compassion
enlarged that he denieth us not, no not when we are laden with
iniquity, leave to commune familiarly with him, liberty to crave and
entreat that what plagues soever we have deserved we may not be in
worse case than unbelievers, that we may not be hemmed in by pagans
and infidels. Jerusalem is a sinful polluted city; but Jerusalem
compared with Babylon is righteous. And shall the righteous be
overborne, shall they be compassed about by the wicked? But the
prophet doth not only complain, “Lord, how cometh it to pass that
thou handlest us so hardly over whom thy name is called, and bearest
with heathen nations that despise thee?” No, he breaketh out through
extremity of grief and inferreth thus violently: This proceeding is
perverse; the righteous are thus handled, “therefore perverse
judgment doth proceed. [Hab 1:1-4; Ps 79; 106:41ff]


    9> Which illation [that is, inference] containeth many things
whereof it were much better both for you to hear and me to speak, if
necessity did not draw me to another task. Paul and Barnabas being
requested to preach the same things again which once they had
preached,[Acts 13:42] thought it their duties to satisfy the godly
desires of men sincerely affected towards the truth. Nor may it seem
burdensome to me, or for you unprofitable, that I follow their
example, the like occasion unto theirs being offered me. When we had
last the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews in our hands, and of
that epistle these words, “In these last days he hath spoken unto us
by his Son”;[Heb 1:2] after we had thence collected the nature of
the visible Church of Christ, and had defined it to be a community
of men sanctified through the profession of that truth which God
hath taught the world by his Son; and had declared that the scope of
Christian doctrine is the comfort of them whose hearts are
overcharged with the burden of sin; and had proved that the doctrine
professed in the Church of Rome doth bereave men of comfort, both in
their lives and at their deaths; the conclusion in the end whereunto
we came was this: “The Church of Rome being in faith so corrupted as
she is, and refusing to be reformed as she doth, we are to sever
ourselves from her. The example of our fathers may not retain us in
communion and fellowship with that church, under hope that we, so
continuing, might be saved as well as they. God, I doubt not, was
merciful to save thousands of them, though they lived in popish
superstitions, inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly; but the truth is
now laid open before our eyes.” The former part of this last
sentence, namely, these words. “I doubt not but God was merciful to
save thousands of our fathers living In poplsh superstitions
inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly” — this sentence I beseech you
to mark, and to sift it with the strict severity of austere
judgment, that if it be found as gold it may stand, suitable to the
precious foundation whereupon it was then laid; for I protest that
if it be hay or stubble mine own hand shall set fire to it. [Cf 1
Cor 3:11ff] Two questions have risen by occasion of the speech
before alleged: the one, whether our fathers, infected with popish
errors and superstitions, might be saved; the other, whether their
ignorance be a reasonable inducement to make us think that they
might. We are therefore to examine first what possibility, and then
what probability, there is that God might be merciful unto so many
of our fathers.

    10> [OBJECTION:] So many of our fathers living in popish
superstitions, yet by the mercy of God to be saved? No, this could
not be: God hath spoken by his angel from heaven unto his people
concerning Babylon (by Babylon we understand the Church of Rome),
“Go out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and
that ye receive not of her plagues. [Rev 18:4] For answer whereunto,
first, I do not take these words to be meant only of temporal
plagues, of the corporal death, sorrow, famine, and fire whereunto
God in his wrath hath condemned Babylon; and that to save his chosen
people from these plagues he saith, “Go out”; and with like intent,
as in the Gospel, speaking of Jerusalem’s desolation he saith, “Let
them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains, and them who are in
the midst thereof depart out”;[Mt 24:15ff; Mk 13:14ff; Lk 21:21ff]
or as in former times unto Lot, “Arise, take thy wife and thy
daughters who are here, lest thou be destroyed in the punishment of
the city”; [Gen 19:15] but forasmuch as here it is said, “Go out of
Babylon that ye be not partakers of her sins, and by consequence of
her plagues,” plagues eternal being due to the sins of Babylon, no
doubt their everlasting destruction, who are partakers herein, is
either principally meant or necessarily implied in this sentence.
How then was it possible for so many of our fathers to be saved,
since they were so far from departing out of Babylon that they took
her for their mother and in her bosom yielded up the ghost?

    11> [REPLY:] First, the plagues being threatened unto them that
are partakers in the sins of Babylon; we can define nothing
concerning our fathers out of this sentence, unless we show what the
sins of Babylon be, and who they be that are such partakers in them
that their everlasting plagues are inevitable. The sins which may be
common both to them of the Church of Rome and to others departed
thence must be severed from this question. He who saith, “Depart out
of Babylon lest ye be partakers of her sins”, showeth plainly that
he meaneth such sins as, except we separate ourselves, we have no
power in the world to avoid; such impieties as by law they have
established, and whereunto all that are among them either do indeed
assent or else are by powerable means forced in show and in
appearance to subject themselves: as, for example, in the Church of
Rome it is maintained that the same credit and reverence which we
give to the Scriptures of God ought also to be given to unwritten
verities; that the pope is supreme head ministerial over the
universal Church militant; that the bread in the eucharist is
transubstantiated into Christ; that it is to be adored, and to be
offered up unto God as a sacrifice propitiatory for quick and dead;
that images are to be worshipped, saints to be called upon as
intercessors, and such like.

    Now, because some heresies do concern things only believed; as
transubstantiating of sacramental elements in the eucharist; some
concern things which are practised also and put in ure [usage], as
adoration of the elements transubstantiated, we must note that the
practice of that is sometimes received whereof the doctrine which
teacheth it is not heretically maintained. They are all partakers in
the maintenance of heresies who by word or deed allow them, knowing
them, although not knowing them to be heresies; as also they, and
that most dangerously of all others, who, knowing heresy to be
heresy, do notwithstanding, in worldly respects, make semblance of
allowing that which in heart and in judgment they condemn. But
heresy is heretically maintained by such as obstinately hold it
after wholesome admonition. Of the last sort, as also of the next
before, I make no doubt but that their condemnation, without actual
repentance, is inevitable. Lest any man therefore should think that
in speaking of our fathers I speak indifferently of them all, Iet my
words, I beseech you, be well noted: “I doubt not but God was
merciful to save thousands of our fathers”; which thing I will now
by God’s assistance set more plainly before your eyes.

    12> Many are partakers of the error who are not of the heresy
of the Church of Rome. The people, following the conduct of their
guides, and observing as they did exactly that which was prescribed
them, thought they did God good service, when indeed they did
dishonor him. This was their error. But the heresies of the Church
of Rome, their dogmatical positions opposite unto Christian truth,
what one man among ten thousand did ever understand? Of them who
understand Roman heresies, and allow them, all are not alike
partakers in the action of allowing. Some allow them as the first
founders and establishers of them, which crime toucheth none but
their popes and councils. The people are clear and free from this.
Of them who maintain popish heresy not as authors, but receivers of
it from others, all maintain it not as masters. In this are not the
people partakers neither, but only their predicants and their
schoolmen [preachers and teachers]. Of them who have been partakers
in the sin of teaching popish heresy there is also a difference; for
they have not all been teachers of all popish heresies. “Put a
difference,” saith St. Jude; “have compassion upon some.” [Jude 22]
Shall we lap up all in one condition? Shall we cast them all
headlong? Shall we plunge them all in that infernal and ever-flaming
lake — them who have been partakers in the error of Babylon
together with them within the heresy — them who have been the
authors of heresy with them that by terror and violence have been
forced to receive it — them who have taught it with them whose
simplicity hath by sleights and conveyances of false teachers been
seduced to believe it — them who have been partakers in one with
them who have been partakers in many — them who in many with them
who in all?

    13> Notwithstanding I grant that, although the condemnation of
one be more tolerable than of another, yet from the man that
laboureth at the plough to him that sitteth in the Vatican, to all
partakers in the sins of Babylon, our fathers, though they did but
erroneously practise that which their guides did heretically teach,
to all without exception plagues worldly were due. The pit is
ordinarily the end as well of the guided as the guide in blindness.
But woe worth the hour wherein we were born, except we might
persuade ourselves better things, things that accompany men’s
salvation, [Heb 6:9] even where we know that worse and such as
accompany condemnation are due. Then must we show some way how
possibly they might escape.


    What way is there for sinners to escape the judgment of God but
only by appealing unto the seat of his saving mercy? Which mercy we
do not with Origen extend unto devils and damned spirits. God hath
mercy upon thousands, but there be thousands also who be hardened.
Christ hath therefore set the bounds; he hath fixed the limits of
his saving mercy within the compass of these two terms. In the third
of St. John’s Gospel, mercy is restrained to believers. “God sent
not his Son to condemn the world, but that the world through his
might be saved. He that believeth shall not be condemned; he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he believeth not in the
Son of God.” [Jn 3:17f] In the second of the Revelation, mercy is
restrained to the penitent; for of Jezebel and her sectaries thus he
speaketh: “I gave her space to repent and she repented not. Behold,
I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit fornication with
her into great affliction, except they repent them of their works;
and I will kill her children with death.” [Rev 2:21-23] Our hope
therefore of the fathers is vain if they were altogether faithless
and impenitent.

    14> They be not all faithless that are either weak in assenting
to the truth or stiff in maintaining things any way opposite to the
truth of Christian doctrine. But as many as hold the foundation
which is precious, although they hold it but weakly and as it were
by a slender thread, although they frame many base and unsuitable
things upon it, things that cannot abide the trial of the fire, yet
shall they pass the fiery trial and be saved, who indeed have
builded themselves upon the rock which is the foundation of the
Church. [See 1 Cor 3:10-15] If then our fathers did not hold the
foundation of faith, there is no doubt but they were faithless. If
many of them held it, then is there herein no impediment but that
many of them might be saved. Then let us see what the foundation of
faith is, and whether we may think that thousands of our fathers
living in popish superstitions did notwithstanding hold the

    15> If THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH do import the general ground
whereupon we rest when we do believe, the writings of the
Evangelists and Apostles are the foundation of Christian faith: “We
believe it because we read it,” saith St. Jerome. [ADVERSUS
HELVIDIUM, 21] O that the Church of Rome did as soundly interpret
those fundamental writings whereupon we build our faith as she doth
willingly hold and embrace them!

    16> But if the name FOUNDATION do note the principal thing
which is believed, then is that the foundation of our faith which
St. Paul hath unto Timothy: “God manifested in the flesh, justified
in the spirit, etc.”;[1 Tim 3:16] that of Nathanael: “Thou art the
Son of the living God, thou art the king of Israel” [Jn 1:49]; that
of the inhabitants of Samaria: “This is Christ, the Saviour of the
world.” [Jn 4:42] He that directly denieth this doth utterly raze
the very foundation of our faith. I have proved heretofore that,
although the Church of Rome hath played the harlot worse than ever
did Israel, yet are they not, as now the synagogue of the Jews which
plainly denieth Christ Jesus, [Rev 2:9; 3:9] quite and clean
excluded from the new covenant. But as Samaria compared with
Jerusalem is termed AHOLAH, a church or tabernacle of her own,
contrariwise Jerusalem AHOLIBAH, the resting place of the Lord [see
Ezek 23]; so whatsoever we term the Church of Rome when we compare
her to reformed churches, still we put a difference, as then between
Babylon and Samaria, so now between Rome and heathenish assemblies.
Which opinion I must and will recall; I must grant, and will, that
the Church of Rome together with all her children is clean excluded:
there is no difference in the world between our fathers and
Saracens, Turks, or Painims, if they did directly deny Christ
crucified for the salvation of the world.

    17> But how many millions of them are known so to have ended
their mortal lives that the drawing of their breath hath ceased with
the uttering of this faith: “Christ my Saviour, my Redeemer Jesus!”
And shall we say that such did not hold the foundation of Christian

    [OBJECTION:] Answer is made that this they might unfeignedly
confess, and yet be far enough from salvation. For behold, saith the
Apost!e, “1, Paul, say unto you that if ye be circumcised Christ
shall profit you nothing.” [Gal 5:2] Christ, in the work of man’s
salvation, is alone: the Galatians were cast away by joining
circumcision and other rites of the law with Christ. The Church of
Rome doth teach her children to join other things likewise with him;
therefore their faith, their belief, doth not profit them anything
at all.

    It is true, they do indeed join other things with Christ; but
how? Not in the work of redemption itself, which they grant that
Christ alone hath performed sufficiently for the salvation of the
whole world; but in the application of this inestimable treasure,
that it may be effectual to their salvation, how demurely soever
they confess that they seek remission of sins no otherwise than by
the blood of Christ, using humbly the means appointed by him to
apply the benefit of his holy blood, they teach, indeed, so many
things pernicious to the Christian faith, in setting down the means
whereof they speak, that the very foundation of faith which they
hold is thereby plainly overthrown, and the force of the blood of
Jesus Christ extinguished. We may therefore dispute with them, press
them, urge them even with as dangerous sequels as the Apostle doth
the Galatians.

    [REPLY:] But I demand, if some of those Galatians, heartily
embracing the Gospel of Christ, sincere and sound in faith, this
only error excepted, had ended their lives before they were ever
taught how perilous an opinion they held, shall we think that the
damage of this error did so overweigh the benefit of their faith
that the mercy of God, his mercy, might not save them? I grant that
they overthrew the very foundation of faith by consequent. Doth not
that so likewise which the Lutheran churches do at this day so
stiffly and so fiercely maintain? [perhaps the necessity of
auricular confession?] For mine own part, I dare not hereupon deny
the possibility of their salvation who have been the chiefest
instruments of ours, albeit they carried to their grave a persuasion
so greatly repugnant to the truth.  Forasmuch therefore as it may be
said of the Church of Rome, “She hath yet a little strength,[Rev
3:8] she doth not directly deny the foundation of Christianity,” I
may, I trust without offense, persuade myself that thousands of our
fathers in former times, living and dying within her walls, have
found mercy at the hands of God.

    18> [OBJECTION:] What, although they repented not of their
errors? [REPLY:] God forbid that I should open my mouth to gainsay
that which Christ himself hath spoken: “Except ye repent, ye shall
all perish.” [Lk 13:3] And if they did not repent they perished. But
withal note that we have the benefit of a double repentence. The
least sin which we commit in deed, work, or thought is death,
without repentance. Yet how many things do escape us in every of
these which we do not know, how many which we do not observe to be
sins! And without the knowledge, without the observation of sin
there is no actual repentance. It cannot then be chosen but that for
as many as hold the foundation, and have all known sin and error in
hatred, the blessing of repentance for unknown sins and errors is
obtained at the hands of God through the gracious mediation of
Christ Jesus, for such suitors as cry with the prophet David, “Purge
me, O Lord, from my secret sins.” [Ps 19:12]

    19> [OBJECTION:] But we wash a wall of loam; we labour in vain;
all this is nothing: it doth not prove, it cannot justify, that
which we go about to maintain. Infidels and heathen men are not so
godless but that they may, no doubt, cry God mercy, and desire in
general to have their sins forgiven them. To such as deny the
foundation of faith there can be no salvation, according to the
ordinary course which God doth use in saving men, without a
particular repentance of that error. The Galatians, thinking that
except they were circumcised they could not be saved, overthrew the
foundation of faith directly. Therefore if any of them did die so
persuaded, whether before or after they were told of their error,
their case is dreadful, there is no way with them but one, death and
condemnation.  For the Apostle speaketh nothing of men departed, but
saith generally of all: “If ye be circumcised Christ shall profit
you nothing. Ye are abolished from Christ, whosoever are justified
by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” [Gal 5:2:4] Of them in the
Church of Rome the reason is the same. For whom Antichrist hath
seduced, concerning them did not St. Paul speak long before, that
“because they received not the love of the truth that they might be
saved, therefore would God send them strong delusions to believe
lies, that all they might be damned who believed not the truth but
had pleasure in unrighteousness”? [2 Thess 2:10-12] And St. John:
“All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose
names are not written in the Book of Life.” [Rev 13:8] Indeed many
of them in former times, as their books and writings do yet show,
held the foundation, to wit, salvation by Christ alone, and
therefore might be saved. For God hath always had a Church among
them who firmly kept his saving truth. As for such as hold with the
Church of Rome that we cannot be saved by Christ alone without
works, they do not only by a circle of consequence, but directly,
deny the foundation of faith; they hold it not, not so much as by a
slender thread.


    20> [REPLY:] This, to my remembrance, being all that hath been
as yet opposed with any countenance or show of reason, I hope, if
this be answered, the cause in question is at an end. Concerning
general repentance, therefore: what? a murderer, a blasphemer, an
unclean person, a Turk, a Jew, any sinner to escape the wrath of God
by a general “God forgive me”? Truly, it never came within my heart
that a general repentance doth serve for all sins or for all
sinners: it serveth only for the common oversights of our sinful
life, and for faults which either we do not mark, or do not know
that they are faults. Our fathers were actually penitent for sins
wherein they knew they displeased God, or else they come not within
the compass of my first speech. Again, that otherwise they could not
be saved than holding the foundation of Christian faith, we have not
only affirmed but proved. Why is it not then confessed that
thousands of our fathers, although they lived in popish
superstitions, might yet, by the mercy of God, be saved? FIRST, if
they had directly denied the very foundation of Christianity,
without repenting them particularly of that sin, he who saith there
could be no salvation for them, according to the ordinary course
which God doth use in saving men, granteth plainly, or at the
leastwise closely insinuateth, that an extraordinary privilege of
mercy might deliver their souls from hell; which is more than I
required. SECONDLY, if the foundation be denied, it is denied by
force of some heresy which the Church of Rome maintaineth. But how
many were there amongst our fathers who, being seduced by the common
error of that church, never knew the meaning of her heresies! So
that if all popish heretics did perish, thousands of them who lived
in popish superstitions might be saved.

    THIRDLY, seeing all that held popish heresies did not hold all
the heresies of the pope, why might not thousands who were infected
with other leaven live and die unsoured by this, and so be saved?
FOURTHLY, if they all had held this heresy, many there were that
held it no doubt only in a general form of words, which a favourable
interpreter might expound in a sense differing far enough from the
poisoned conceit of heresy; as, for example: did they hold that we
cannot be saved by Christ without works? We ourselves do, I think,
all say as much, with this construction, salvation being taken as in
that sentence, “With the heart man believes unto justification and
with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Rom 10:10]
Except infants, and men cut off upon the point of their conversion,
of the rest none shall see God but such as seek peace and holiness,
though not as a cause of their salvation, yet as a way through which
they must walk that will be saved. Did they hold that without works
we are not justified? Take justification so that it may also imply
sanctification, and St. James doth say as much; for except there be
an ambiguity in some term, St. Paul and St. James do contradict each
other, which cannot be. Now, there is no ambiguity in the name
either of faith or of works, both being meant by them both in one
and the same sense. Finding therefore that justification is spoken
of by St. Paul without implying sanctification when he proveth that
a man is justified by faith without works; finding likewise that
justification doth sometimes imply sanctification also with it; I
suppose nothing more sound than so to interpret St. James as
speaking not in that sense, but in this.

    21> We have already showed that there are two kinds of
Christian righteousness: the one without us, which we have by
imputation; the other in us, which consisteth of faith, hope,
charity, and other Christian virtues; and St. James doth prove that
Abraham had not only the one, because the thing he believed was
imputed unto him for righteousness, but also the other, because he
offered up his son.  God giveth us both the one justice
[righteousness] and the other:  the one by accepting us for
righteous in Christ; the other by working Christian righteousness in
us. The proper and most immediate efficient cause in us of this
latter is the spirit of adoption which we have received into our
hearts. [Rom 8:15f] That whereof it consisteth, whereof it is really
and formally made, are those infused virtues proper and particular
unto saints, which the Spirit, in that very moment when first it is
given of God, bringeth with it.  The effects thereof are such
actions as the Apostle doth call the fruits, the works, the
operations of the Spirit [see Gal 5:22; 1 Cor 12:6,11, KJV]; the
difference of which operations, from the root whereof they spring,
maketh it needful to put two kinds likewise of sanctifying
righteousness, habitual and actual: habitual, that holiness
wherewith our souls are inwardly endued the same instant when first
we begin to be temples of the Holy Ghost;[1 Cor 3:16f; 6:19] actual,
that holiness which afterward beautifieth all the parts and actions
of our life, the holiness for which Enoch, Job, Zachary, Elizabeth,
and other saints are in Scriptures so highly commended [see Gen
5:24; Heb 11:5; Job 1:8; Lk 1:5f].

      If here it be demanded which of these we do first receive, I
answer that the Spirit, the virtues of the Spirit, the habitual
justice which is ingrafted, the external justice of Christ Jesus
which is imputed, these we receive all at one and the same time.
Whensoever we have any of these we have all; they go together. Yet
since no man is justified except he believe, and no man believeth
except he have faith, and no man hath faith unless he have received
the Spirit of adoption, forasmuch as these do necessarily infer
justification, but justification doth of necessity presuppose them;
we must needs hold that imputed righteousness, in dignity being the
chiefest, is notwithstanding in order the last of all these [belief,
faith, adoption], but actual righteousness, which is the
righteousness of good works, succeedeth all, followeth after all,
both in order and in time. Which thing being attentively marked
showeth plainly how the faith of true believers cannot be divorced
from hope and love; how faith is a part of sanctification, and yet
unto sanctification necessary; how faith is perfected by good works,
and yet no works of ours good without faith; finally, how our
fathers might hold, we are justified by faith alone, and yet hold
truly that without good works we are not justified. Did they think
that men do merit rewards in heaven by the works they perform on
earth? The ancient fathers use meriting for obtaining, and in that
sense they of Wittenberg have in their Confession: “We teach that
good works commanded of God are necessarily to be done, and that by
the free kindness of God they merit their certain rewards.
[Confession of Wuerttemberg, ch 7] Others therefore, speaking as our
fathers did, and we taking their speech in a sound meaning, as we
may take our fathers’, and ought, forasmuch as their meaning is
doubtful and charity doth always interpret doubtful things
favourably, what should induce us to think that rather the damage of
the worse construction did light upon them all than that the
blessing of the better was granted unto thousands?

    FIFTHLY, if in the worst construction that can be made they had
all embraced it living, might not many of them dying utterly
renounce it? Howsoever men, when they sit at ease, do vainly tickle
their own hearts with the wanton conceit of I know not what
proportionable correspondence between their merits and their
rewards, which, in the trance of their high speculations, they dream
that God hath measured, weighed, and laid up, as it were, in bundles
for them; notwithstanding we see by daily experience, in a number
even of them, that when the hour of death approacheth, when they
secretly hear themselves summoned forthwith to appear and stand at
the bar of that Judge whose brightness causeth the eyes of angels
themselves to dazzle, all those idle imaginations do then begin to
hide their faces. To name merits then is to lay their souls upon the
rack; the memory of their own deeds is loathsome unto them; they
forsake all things wherein they have put any trust and confidence:
no staff to lean upon, no ease, no rest, no comfort then, but only
in Christ Jesus.

    22> Wherefore if this proposition were true, “To hold in such
wise as the Church of Rome doth that we cannot be saved by Christ
alone without works is directly to deny the foundation of faith” —
I say that if this proposition were true, nevertheless so many ways
I have showed whereby we may hope that thousands of our fathers
living in popish superstitions might be saved. But what if it be not
true?  What if neither that of the Galatians concerning circumcision
nor this of the Church of Rome about works be any direct denial of
the foundation, as it is affirmed that both are? I need not wade so
far as to discuss this controversy, the matter which first was
brought into question being so cleared, as I hope it is. Howbeit,
because I desire that the truth even in this also may receive light,
I will do mine endeavour to set down somewhat more plainly, first,
the foundation of faith, what it is; secondly, what it is directly
to deny the foundation; thirdly, whether they whom God hath chosen
to be heirs of life may fall so far as directly to deny it;
fourthly, whether the Galatians did so by admitting the error about
circumcision and the law; last of all, whether the Church of Rome,
for this one opinion of works, may be thought to do the like, and
thereupon to be no more a Christian Church than are the assemblies
of Turks or Jews.

    23> This word FOUNDATION being figuratively used hath always
reference to somewhat which resembleth a material building, as both
the doctrine of Christianity and the community of Christians do. By
the masters of civil policy nothing is so much inculcated as that
commonwealths are founded upon laws; for that a multitude cannot be
compacted into one body otherwise than by a common acceptation of
laws, whereby they are to be kept in order. The ground of all civil
laws is this: No man ought to be hurt or injured by another. Take
away this persuasion and you take away all laws; take away laws, and
what shall become of commonwealths? So it is in our spiritual
Christian community: I do not now mean that body mystical whereof
Christ is the only head, that building undiscernible by mortal eyes
wherein Christ is the chief cornerstone [Eph 1:22f; 2:20-22; 4:15f;
1 Pet 2:4ff]; but I speak of the visible church, the foundation
whereof is the doctrine of the prophets and apostles professed.[Eph
2:20] The mark whereunto their doctrine tendeth is pointed at in
those words of Peter unto Christ, “Thou has the words of eternal
life” [Jn 6:69]; in those of Paul to Timothy, “The Holy Scriptures
are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” [Tim 3:15]

    It is the demand of nature itself: “What shall we do to have
eternal life?” [Cf Lk 10:25; Acts 16:30] The desire of immortality
and of the knowledge of that whereby it may be attained is so
natural unto all men that even they who are not persuaded that they
shall, do notwithstanding wish that they might, know a way how to
see no end of life. And because natural means are not able still to
resist the force of death, there is no people in the earth so savage
which hath not devised some supernatural help or other to fly unto
for aid and succour in extremities against the enemies of their
lives. A longing therefore to be saved, without understanding the
true way how, hath been the cause of all the superstitions in the
world. O that the miserable estate of others, who wander in darkness
and wot not whither they go, could give us understanding hearts
worthily to esteem the riches of the mercies of God towards us,
before whose eyes the doors of the kingdom of heaven are set wide
open! Should we not offer violence unto it? [Mt 11:12] It offereth
violence to us, and we gather strength to withstand it.


    But I am besides my purpose when I fall to bewail the cold
affection which we bear towards that whereby we should be saved, my
purpose being only to set down what the ground of salvation is. The
doctrine of the Gospel proposeth salvation as the end, and doth it
not teach the way of attaining thereunto? Yes, the damsel possessed
with a spirit of divination spake the truth: “These men are the
servants of the most high God who show unto us the way of salvation”
[Acts 16:17] — “a new and living way which Christ hath prepared for
us through the veil, that is, his flesh,” [Heb 10:20] salvation
purchased by the death of Christ. By this foundation the children of
God, before the time of the written law, were distinguished from the
sons of men. The reverend patriarchs both professed it living and
spake expressly of it in the hour of their death.[Heb 11:4-22] It
comforted Job in the midst of grief. [Job 19:23-27] It was
afterwards likewise the anchor-hold of all the righteous in Israel,
from the writing of the law to the time of grace; every prophet
maketh mention of it.[Lk 1:70; 24:25f,44-47] It was so famously
spoken of about the time when the coming of Christ to accomplish the
promises, which were made long before, drew near, that the sound
thereof was heard even amongst the Gentiles. [cf Lk 1:28-32] When he
was come, as many as were his acknowledged that he was their
salvation; he, that long-expected hope of Israel; he, that “seed in
whom all the nations of the world should be blessed.”[Gen 22:18; Gal
3:16] So that now his name is a name of ruin, a name of death and
condemnation, unto such as dream of a new Messiah, to as many as
look for salvation by any other than by him: “For amongst men there
is given no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” [Acts
4:12] Thus much St. Mark doth intimate by that which he putteth in
the very front of his book, making his entrance with these words:
“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” His
doctrine he termeth the Gospel because it teacheth salvation; the
Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God because it teacheth salvation
by him.

    This is then the foundation whereupon the frame of the Gospel
is erected; that very Jesus whom the Virgin conceived of the Holy
Ghost, whom Simeon embraced in his arms,[Lk 1:34f; 2:25ff] whom
Pilate condemned, whom the Jews crucified, whom the Apostles
preached, he is Christ, the Lord, the only Saviour of the world:
“other foundation can no man lay. [1 Cor 3:11] Thus I have briefly
opened that principle in Christianity which we call the foundation
of our faith. It followeth now that I declare unto you what it is
directly to overthrow it. This will better appear if first we
understand what it is to hold the foundation of faith.

    24> There are who defend that many of the Gentiles who never
heard the name of Christ held the foundation of Christianity: and
why?  They acknowledged many of them the providence of God, his
infinite wisdom, strength, and power, his goodness and his mercy
towards the children of men; that God hath judgment in store for the
wicked, but for the righteous that seek him rewards, etc. In this
which they confessed that lieth covered which we believe; in the
rudiments of their knowledge concerning God the foundation of our
faith concerning Christ lieth secretly wrapped up and is virtually
contained: therefore they hold the foundation of faith, though they
never heard it. Might we not with as good colour of reason defend
that every ploughman hath all the sciences wherein philosphers have
excelled? For no man is ignorant of the first principles which do
virtually contain whatsoever by natural means either is or can be
known. Yea, might we not with as good reason affirm that a man may
put three mighty oaks wheresoever three acorns may be put? For
virtually an acorn is an oak. To avoid such paradoxes, we teach
plainly that to hold the foundation is in express terms to
acknowledge it.

    25> Now, because the foundation is an affirmative proposition,
they all overthrow it who deny it; they directly overthrow it who
deny it directly; and they overthrow it by consequent, or
indirectly, who hold any one assertion whatsoever whereupon the
direct denial thereof may be necessarily concluded. What is the
question between the Gentiles and us but this: whether salvation be
by Christ? What between the Jews and us but this: whether by this
Jesus whom we call Christ, yea or no? This to be the main point
whereupon Christianity standeth, it is clear by that one sentence of
Festus concerning Paul’s accusers: “They brought no crime of such
things as I supposed, but had certain questions against him of their
own superstition, and of one Jesus who was dead, whom Paul affirmed
to be alive.”[Acts 25:18f] Where we see that Jesus, dead and raised
for the salvation of the world, is by Jews denied, despised by a
Gentile, and by a Christian apostle maintained. The fathers
therefore in the primitive Church when they wrote — Tertullian, the
book which he calleth APOLOGETICUS; Minucius Felix, the book which
he entitleth OCTAVIUS; Arnobius, his seven books against the
Gentiles; Chrysostom, his orations against the Jews; Eusebius, his
ten books of evangelical demonstration — they stood in defence of
Christianity against them by whom the foundation thereof was
directly denied. But the writings of the fathers against Novatians,
Pelagians, and other heretics of the like note, refel [refute]
positions whereby the foundation of Christian faith was overthrown
by consequent only. In the former sort of writings the foundation is
proved; in the latter it is alleged as a proof, which to men that
had been known directly to deny it must needs have seemed a very
beggarly kind of disputing. All infidels therefore deny the
foundation of faith directly. By consequent, many a Christian man,
yea whole Christian churches, have denied it and do deny it at this
present day. Christian churches denying the foundation of
Christianity? Not directly, for then they cease to be Christian
churches; but by consequent, in respect whereof we condemn them as
erroneous, although for holding the foundation we do and must hold
them Christian.

    26> We see what it is to hold the foundation; what directly and
what by consequent to deny it. The next thing which followeth is
whether they whom God hath chosen to obtain the glory of our Lord
Jesus Christ may, being once effectually called, and through faith
truly justified, afterwards fall so far as directly to deny the
foundation which their hearts have before embraced with joy and
comfort in the Holy Ghost, for such is the faith which indeed doth
justify. Devils know the same things which we believe [see Jas
2:19], and the minds of the most ungodly may be fully persuaded of
the truth, which knowledge in the one and persuasion in the other is
sometimes termed faith, but equivocally, being indeed no such faith
as that whereby a Christian man is justified. It is the spirit of
adoption which worketh faith in us, in them not. The things which we
believe are by us apprehended not only as true but also as good, and
that to us: as good, they are not by them apprehended; as true, they

    Whereupon followeth a third difference: the Christian man the
more he increaseth in faith the more his joy and comfort aboundeth;
but they, the more sure they are of the truth, the more they quake
and tremble at it. This begetteth another effect, wherein the hearts
of the one sort have a different disposition from the other. “I am
not ignorant,” saith Minucius, “that there are too many who, being
conscious what they are to look for, do rather wish that they might
than think that they shall cease to be when they cease to live;
because they hold it better that death should consume them unto
nothing than God receive them unto punishment.” [Minucius Felix,
OCTAVIUS, 34] So it is in other articles of faith, whereof wicked
men think, no doubt, many times they are too true. On the contrary
side, to the other there is no grief nor torment greater than to
feel their persuasion weak in things whereof, when they are
persuaded, they reap such comfort and joy of spirit; such is the
faith whereby we are justified — such, I mean, in respect of the
quality. For touching the principal object of faith, longer than it
holdeth that foundation whereof we have spoken it neither
justifieth, nor is, but ceaseth to be faith when it ceaseth to
believe that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of the world.

    The cause of life spiritual in us is Christ, not carnally or
corporally inhabiting, but dwelling in the soul of man, as a thing
which (when the mind apprehendeth it) is said to inhabit and possess
the mind. The mind conceiveth Christ by hearing the doctrine of
Christianity. As the light of nature doth cause the mind to
apprehend those truths which are merely rational, so that saving
truth, which is far above the reach of human reason, cannot
otherwise than by the Spirit of the Almighty be conceived. All these
are implied wheresoever any one of them is mentioned as the cause of
spiritual life. Wherefore when we read that “the Spirit is our
life,” [Rom 8:10, KJV] or “the Word our life,” [Phil 2:16; 1 Jn 1:1]
or “Christ our Iife,” [Col 3:4] we are in every one of these to
understand that our life is Christ, by the hearing of the Gospel
apprehended as a Saviour, and assented unto by the power of the Holy
Ghost. The first intellectual conceit [concept] and comprehension of
Christ so embraced St. Peter calleth the seed whereof we be new
born. [1 Pet 1:23] Our first embracing of Christ is our first
reviving from the state of death and condemnation. [Eph 2:1-6] “He
that hath the Son hath life,” saith St. John, “and he that hath not
the Son of God hath not life.” [1 Jn 5:12] If therefore he who once
hath the Son may cease to have the Son, though it be but a moment,
he ceaseth for that moment to have life. But the life of them who
live by the Son of God is everlasting, not only for that it shall be
everlasting in the world to come, but because, as “Christ being
raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more power over
him,” [Rom 6:9] so the justified man, being alive to God in Jesus
Christ our Lord, by whom he hath life, liveth always. [Rom 6:11]


    I might, if I had not otherwhere largely done it already, show
by sundry manifest and clear proofs how the motions and operations
of life are sometimes so undiscernible and secret, that they seem
stone-dead who notwithstanding are still alive unto God in Christ.

    For as long as that abideth in us which animateth, quickeneth,
and giveth life, so long we live; and we know that the cause of our
life abideth in us for ever. If Christ, the fountain of life, may
flit and leave the habitation where once he dwelleth, what shall
become of his promise, “I am with you to the world’s end”? [Mt
28:20] If the seed of God, which containeth Christ, may be first
conceived and then cast out, how doth St. Peter term it immortal? [1
Pet 1:23] How doth St. John affirm it abideth? [1 Jn 3:9] If the
Spirit, which is given to cherish and preserve the seed of life, may
be given and taken away, how is it the earnest of our inheritance
until redemption, [Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:22] how doth it continue with
us for ever?” [Jn 14:16f] If therefore the man who is once just by
faith shall live by faith and live for ever, it followeth that he
who once doth believe the foundation must needs believe the
foundation for ever. If he believe it for ever, how can he ever
directly deny it? Faith holding the direct affirmation, the direct
negation, so long as faith continueth, is excluded.

    But ye will say that, as he who today is holy may tomorrow
forsake his holiness and become impure, as a friend may change his
mind and become an enemy, as hope may wither, so faith may die in
the heart of man, the Spirit may be quenched, [1 Thess 5:19] grace
may be extinguished, they who believe may be quite turned away from
the truth. The case is clear, long experience hath made this
manifest, it needs no proof.

    I grant that we are apt, prone, and ready to forsake God; but
is God as ready to forsake us? Our minds are changeable; is his so
likewise? Whom God hath justified hath not Christ assured that it is
his Father’s will to give them a kingdom? [Lk 12:32] Which kingdom,
notwithstanding, shall not otherwise be given them than “if they
continue grounded and established in the faith and be not moved away
from the hope of the Gospel”, [Col 1:23] “if they abide in love and
holiness.”[1 Tim 2:15] Our Saviour therefore, when he spake of the
sheep effectually called and truly gathered into his fold, “I give
unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall
any pluck them out of my hand,” [Jn 10:28] in promising to save
them, promised, no doubt, to preserve them in that without which
there can be no salvation, as also from that whereby salvation is
irremediably lost. Every error in things appertaining to God is
repugnant unto faith; every fearful cogitation, unto hope; unto
love, every straggling inordinate desire; unto holiness, every
blemish whereby either the inward thoughts of our minds or the
outward actions of our lives are stained. But heresy, such as that
of Ebion, Cerinthus, and others, against whom the Apostles were
forced to bend themselves, both by word and also by writing; that
repining discouragement of heart which tempteth God, whereof we have
Israel in the desert for a pattern; [1 Cor 10:6ff; Heb 3:7ff]
coldness, such as that in the angel of Ephesus; [Rev 2:4] foul sins
known to be expressly against the first or the second table of the
law, such as Noah, Manasses, David, Solomon, and Peter committed:
these are each in their kind so opposite to the former virtues that
they leave no place for salvation without an actual repentance. But
infidelity, extreme despair, hatred of God and all godliness,
obduration in sin, cannot stand where there is the least spark of
faith, hope, love, or sanctity, even as cold in the lowest degree
cannot be where heat in the first degree is found.

    Whereupon I conclude that, although in the first kind no man
liveth that sinneth not, and in, the second, as perfect as any do
live may sin, yet since the man who is born of God hath a promise
that in him the seed of God shall abide, [1 Jn 3:9] which seed is a
sure preservative against the sins of the third suit, greater and
clearer assurance we cannot have of anything than of this, that from
such sins God shall preserve the righteous, as the apple of his eye,
for ever. [Dt 32:10; Ps 17:80] Directly we deny the foundation of
faith, is plain infidelity. Where faith is entered, there infidelity
is for ever excluded. Therefore by him who hath once sincerely
believed in Christ the foundation of Christian faith can never be
directly denied. Did not Peter [Mt 26:69ff], did not Marcellinus
[see Keble, p 519], did not many others both directly deny Christ
after they had believed and again believe after they had denied? No
doubt, as they may confess in word whose condemnation nevertheless
is their not believing (for example we have Judas), so likewise they
may believe in heart whose condemnation, without repentance, is
their not confessing. Although therefore Peter and the rest, for
whose faith Christ had prayed that it might not fail,[Lk 22:31f] did
not by denial sin the sin of infidelity, which is an inward
abnegation of Christ (for if they had done this their faith had
clearly failed); yet, because they sinned notoriously and
grievously, committing that which they knew to be so expressly
forbidden by the law, which saith, thou shalt worship the Lord thy
God and him only shalt thou serve, [Dt 6:13; Mt 4:10] necessary it
was that he who purposed to save their souls should, as he did,
touch their hearts with true unfeigned repentance, that his mercy
might restore them again to life whom sin had made the children of
death and condemnation.

    Touching this point, therefore, I hope I may safely set it down
that if the justified err, as he may, and never come to understand
his error, God doth save him through general repentance; but if he
fall into heresy, he calleth him either at one time or other by
actual repentance; but from infidelity, which is an inward direct
denial of the foundation, preserveth him by special providence for
ever. Whereby we may easily know what to think of those Galatians
whose hearts were so possessed with love of the truth that, if it
had been possible, they would have plucked out their very eyes to
bestow upon their teachers. [Gal 4:15] It is true that they were
afterwards greatly changed, both in persuasion and affection, so
that the Galatians, when St. Paul wrote unto them, were not now the
Galatians which they had been in former times, for that through
error they wandered, although they were his sheep. [Gal 1:6] I do
not deny, but I should deny that they were his sheep, if I should
grant that through error they perished. It was a perilous opinion
which they held, in them who held it only as an error, because it
overthroweth the foundation by consequent. But in them who
obstinately maintained it I cannot think it less than a damnable


    We must therefore put a difference between them who err of
ignorance, retaining nevertheless a mind desirous to be instructed
in the truth, and them who, after the truth is laid open, persist in
stubborn defence of their blindness. Heretical defenders, froward
and stiffnecked teachers of circumcision, the blessed Apostle
calleth dogs. [Phil 3:2] Silly men, that were seduced to think they
taught the truth, he pitieth, he taketh up in his arms, he lovingly
embraceth, he kisseth, and with more than fatherly tenderness doth
so temper, qualify, and correct the speech he useth towards them,
that a man cannot easily discern whether did most abound, the love
which he bare to their godly affection or the grief which the danger
of their opinion bred him. Their opinion was dangerous; was not so
likewise theirs who thought that the kingdom of Christ should be
earthly? was not theirs who thought that the Gospel should be
preached only to the Jews? What more opposite to prophetical
doctrine concerning the coming of Christ than the one, concerning
the Catholic Church than the other? Yet they who had these fancies,
even when they had them, were not the worst men in the world. The
heresy of freewill was a millstone about the Pelagians’ neck: shall
we therefore give sentence of death inevitable against all those
fathers in the Greek church who, being mispersuaded, died in the
error of freewill?

    Of those Galatians, therefore, who first were justified, and
then deceived, as I can see no cause why as many as died before
admonition might not by mercy be saved, even in error, so I make no
doubt but as many as lived till they were admonished found the mercy
of God effectual in converting them from their error, lest any one
that is Christ’s should perish. Of this, as I take it, there is no
controversy. Only against the salvation of them who died, though
before admonition, yet in error, it is objected that their opinion
was a very plain direct denial of the foundation. If Paul and
Barnabas had been so persuaded, they would haply have used their
terms otherwise, speaking of the masters themselves who did first
set that error abroach, “certain of the sect of the Pharisees who
believed.” [Acts 15:5] What difference was there between these
Pharisees and others from whom by a special description they are
distinguished but this: they who came to Antioch teaching the
necessity of circumcision were Christians, the other, enemies of
Christianity? Why then should these be termed so distinctly
believers, if they did directly deny the foundation of our belief,
besides which there was none other thing that made the rest to be

    We need go no further than St. Paul’s very reasoning against
them for proof of this matter: “Seeing ye know God, or rather are
known of God, how turn you again unto impotent rudiments? The law
engendereth servants, her children are in bondage. They who are
begotten by the Gospel are free. Brethren, we are not children of
the servant, but of the free woman, and will ye yet be under the
law?” [Gal 4:9, 21ff,31] That they thought it unto salvation
necessary for the Church of Christ to observe days and months and
times and years, to keep the ceremonies and the sacraments of the
law, this was their error. [Gal 4:10f] Yet he who condemneth their
error confesseth, notwithstanding, that they knew God and were known
of him; he taketh not the honour from them to be termed sons
begotten of the immortal seed of the Gospel. Let the heaviest words
which he useth be weighed; consider the drift of these dreadful
conclusions: “If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;
as many as are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” [Gal
5:2,4] It had been to no purpose in the world so to urge them had
not the Apostle been persuaded that at the hearing of such sequels,
“no benefit by Christ,” “a defection from grace,” their hearts would
tremble and quake within them; and why? because they knew that in
Christ, in grace, their salvation lay, which is a plain direct
acknowledgement of the foundation.

    Lest I should herein seem to hold that which no one godly and
learned hath done, let these words be considered, which import as
much as I affirm: “Surely those brethren who, in St. Paul’s time,
thought that God did lay a necessity upon them to make choice of
days and meats spake as they believed, and could not but in words
condemn that liberty which they supposed to be brought in against
the authority of divine Scripture. Otherwise it had been needless
for St. Paul to admonish them not to condemn such as eat without
scrupulosity whatsoever was set before them. This error, if ye weigh
what it is of itself, did at once overthrow all Scripture whereby we
are taught salvation by faith in Christ, all that ever the prophets
did foretell, all that ever the Apostles did preach of Christ. It
drew with it the denial of Christ entirely, insomuch that St. Paul
complaineth that his labour was lost upon the Galatians, unto whom
this error was obtruded, affirming that Christ, if so be they were
circumcised, should not profit them anything at all. Yet so far was
St. Paul from striking their names out of Christ’s book that he
commanded others to entertain them, to accept them with singular
humanity, to use them like brethren. He knew men’s imbecility, he
had a feeling of our blindness who are mortal men how great it is,
and being sure that they are the sons of God whosoever he endued
with his fear would not have them counted enemies of that whereunto
they could not as yet frame themselves to be friends, but did even
of a very religious affection to the truth unwittingly reject and
resist the truth. They acknowledged Christ to be their only and
their perfect Saviour, but saw not how repugnant their believing the
necessity of Mosaical ceremonies was to their faith in Jesus
Christ.” [preceding quotation from Bucer, DE UNITATE ECCLESIAE

    Hereunto reply is made that if they had not directly denied the
foundation they might have been saved; but saved they could not be;
therefore their opinion was, not only by consequent, but directly, a
denial of the foundation. When the question was about the
possibility of their salvation, their denying of the foundation was
brought for proof that they could not be saved: now that the
question is about their denial, the impossibility of their salvation
is alleged to prove they denied the foundation. Is there nothing
which excludeth men from salvation but only the foundation of faith
denied? I should have thought that, beside this, many other things
are death except they be actually repented of, as indeed this
opinion of theirs was death unto as many as, being given to
understand that to cleave thereunto was to fall from Christ, did
notwithstanding cleave unto it. But of this enough. Wherefore I come
to the last question: whether the doctrine of the Church of Rome
concerning the necessity of works unto salvation be a direct denial
of the foundation of our faith.


    27> I seek not to obtrude upon you any private opinions of mine
own. The best learned in our profession are of this judgment, that
all the heresies and corruptions of the Church of Rome do not prove
her to deny the foundation directly. If they did, they should prove
her simply to be no Christian Church. “But I suppose,” saith one,
“that in the papacy some church remaineth, a church crazed
[cracked], or, if you will, broken quite in pieces, forlorn,
misshapen, yet some church.” His reason is this: “Antichrist must
sit in the temple of God.” [John Calvin, Letter to Laelius Socinus,
9 Dec 1549, (Brunswick: C A Achwetschke, 1875), Epistola 1324, OPERA
QUAE SUPERSUNT OMNIA, vol 13, col 487; cf INST IV, ii, 11f] Lest any
man should think such sentences as this to be true only in regard of
them whom that church is supposed to have kept by the special
providence of God, as it were in the secret corners of his bosom,
free from infection and as sound in the faith as, we trust, by his
mercy we ourselves are, I permit it to your wise considerations
whether it be not more likely that, as phrensy, though itself take
away the use of reason, doth notwithstanding prove them reasonable
creatures who have it, because none can be frantic but they, so
antichristianity, being the bane and plain overthrow of
Christianity, may nevertheless argue the church wherein Antichrist
sitteth to be Christian. Neither have I ever hitherto heard or read
any one word alleged of force to warrant that God doth otherwise
than, so as hath been in the next two questions before declared,
bind himself to keep his elect from worshipping the beast and from
receiving his mark in their foreheads; [Rev 13:16; 14:9] but he hath
preserved and will preserve them from receiving any deadly wound at
the hands of the man of sin, whose deceit hath prevailed over none
to death but only such as never loved the truth and such as took
pleasure in unrighteousness. They, in all ages, whose hearts have
delighted in the principal truth and whose souls have thirsted after
righteousness, if they received the mark of error, even erring and
dangerously erring, the mercy of God might save them; if they
received the mark of heresy, the same mercy did, I doubt not,
convert them .

    How far Romish heresies may prevail over God’s elect, how many
God hath kept from falling into them, how many have been converted
from them, is not the question now in hand; for if heaven had not
received any one of that coat for these thousand years it may still
be true that the doctrine which at this day they do profess doth not
directly deny the foundation and so prove them to be no Christian
Church. One I have alleged [Calvin] whose words, in my ears, sound
that way. Shall I add another whose speech is plainer? “I deny her
not the name of a church”, saith another, “no more than to a man the
name of a man as long as he liveth, what sickness soever he hath.”
His reason is this: “Salvation in Jesus Christ, which is the mark
joineth the Head with the body, Jesus Christ with his church, it is
so cut off by man’s merits, by the merits of saints, by the pope’s
pardons, and such other wickedness that the life of the Church
holdeth by a very little thread”; [Phillipe de Mornay du Plessis,
TRACTATUS DE ECCLESSIA, Geneva, 1585, ch 2, pp 32f] yet still the
life of the Church holdeth. A third hath these words: “I acknowledge
the church of Rome, even at this present day, for a church of
Christ, such a church as Israel under Jeroboam, yet a church”. His
reason is this: “Every man seeth, except he willingly hoodwink
himself, that as always so now the church of Rome holdeth firmly and
steadfastly the doctrine of truth concerning God and the person of
our Lord Jesus Christ, and baptizeth in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost, confesseth and avoucheth Christ for the
only Redeemer of the world and the Judge that shall sit upon quick
and dead, receiving true believers into endless joy, faithless and
godless men being cast with Satan and his angels into flames
unquenchable”. [Zanchius, DE RELIGIONE CHRISTIANA, Preface]

    28> I may, and will rein the question shorter than they do. Let
the pope take down his top and captivate no more men’s souls by his
papal jurisdiction; let him no longer count himself lord paramount
over the princes of the earth, no longer use kings as his tenants
paravaile [NOTE: Just as a lord paramount is one who has no lord
above him, so a tenant paravaile is one who has no tenant below him
— thus they are opposites, as vale and mount are opposites]; let
his stately senate submit their necks to the yoke of Christ and
cease to dye their garments, like Edom, in blood; let them, from the
highest to the lowest, hate and foresake their idolatry, abjure all
their errors and heresies wherewith they have perverted the truth;
let them strip their church till they have no polluted rag but this
one about her: “By Christ alone, without works, we cannot be saved.”
It is enough for me if I show that the holding of this one thing
doth not prove the foundation of faith directly denied in the Church
of Rome.

    29> Works are an addition to the foundation. Be it so, what
then?  The foundation is not subverted by every kind of addition.
Simply to add unto those fundamental words is not to “mingle wine
with puddle, heaven with earth, things polluted with the sanctified
blood of Christ: of which crime indict them who attribute those
operations, in whole or in part, to any creature which in the work
of our salvation are wholly peculiar unto Christ; and if I open my
mouth to speak in their defence, if I hold my peace and plead not
against them as long as breath is in my body, let me be guilty of
all the dishonour that ever hath been done to the Son of God. But
the more dreadful a thing it is to deny salvation by Christ alone,
the more slow and fearful I am, except it be too manifest, to lay a
thing so grievous unto any man’s charge. Let us beware lest, if we
make too many ways of denying Christ, we scarce leave any way for
ourselves truly and soundly to confess him. Salvation only by Christ
is the true foundation whereupon indeed Christianity standeth. But
what if I say, “Ye cannot be saved only by Christ without this
addition:  Christ believed in heart, confessed with mouth, obeyed in
life and conversation”? Because I add, do I therefore deny that
which directly I did affirm? There may be an additament of
explication which overthroweth not but proveth and concludeth the
proposition whereunto it is annexed. He that saith Peter was a chief
apostle doth prove that Peter was an apostle. [cf Gal 2:9] He who
saith our salvation is of the Lord, through sanctification of the
Spirit and faith of the truth [cf 2 Thess 2:13], proveth that our
salvation is of the Lord. But if that which is added be such a
privation as taketh away the very essence of that whereunto it is
adjoined, then by sequel it overthroweth. In like sort, he that
should say, “Our election is of grace for our works’ sake,” should
then grant in sound of words, but indeed by consequent deny, that
our election is of grace; for the grace which electeth us is no
grace if it elect us for our works’ sake.

    30> Now whereas the Church of Rome addeth works, we must note,
further, that the adding works is not like the adding of
circumcision unto Christ. Christ came not to abrogate and take away
good works: he did, to change circumcision; for we see that in place
thereof he hath substituted holy baptism. To say, “Ye cannot be
saved by Christ except ye be circumcised”, is to add a thing
excluded, a thing not only not necessary to be kept, but necessary
not to be kept by them that will be saved. On the other side, to
say, “Ye cannot be saved bv Christ without works,” is to add things
not only not excluded, but commanded, as being in place and in their
kind necessary, and therefore subordinated unto Christ, even by
Christ himself, by whom the web of salvation is spun: “Except your
righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Mt 5:20] They were
rigorous exacters of things not utterly to be neglected and left
undone, washings and tithings, etc. [cf Mt 23:23-26] As they were in
these things, so must we be in judgment and the love of God. Christ,
in works ceremonial, giveth more liberty, in moral, much less, than
they did. [cf Mt 5:21ff] Works of righteousness therefore are not so
repugnantly added in the one proposition as in the other
circumcision is.


    31> But we say our salvation is by Christ alone; therefore
howsoever or whatsoever we add unto Christ in the matter of
salvation we overthrow Christ. Our case were very hard if this
argument, so universally meant as it is proposed, were sound and
good. We ourselves do not teach Christ alone, excluding our own
faith, unto justification, Christ alone, excluding our own works,
unto sanctification, Christ alone, excluding the one or the other as
unnecessary unto salvation. It is a childish cavil wherewith in the
matter of justification our adversaries do so greatly please
themselves, exclaiming that we tread all Christian virtues under our
feet and require nothing in Christians but faith, because we teach
that faith alone justifieth; whereas by this speech we never meant
to exclude either hope and charity from being always joined as
inseparable mates with faith in the man that is justified, or works
from being added as necessary duties, required at the hands of every
justified man, but to show that faith is the only hand which putteth
on Christ unto justification, and Christ the only garment which,
being so put on, covereth the shame of our defiled natures, hideth
the imperfections of our works, preserveth us blameless in the sight
of God, before whom otherwise the very weakness of our faith were
cause sufficient to make us culpable, yea, to shut us out from the
kingdom of heaven, where nothing that is not absolute can enter.

    That our dealing with them be not childish as theirs with us
when we hear of salvation by Christ alone, considering that [“alone”
is an] exclusive particle, we are to note what it doth exclude, and
where. If I say, “Such a judge only ought to determine such a
cause,” all things incident unto the determination thereof besides
the person of the judge, as laws, depositions, evidences, etc., are
not hereby excluded; persons are, yet not from witnessing herein or
assisting, but only from determining and giving sentence. How then
is our salvation wrought by Christ alone? Is it our meaning that
nothing is requisite to man’s salvation but Christ to save, and he
to be saved quietly without any more to do? No, we acknowledge no
such foundation. As we have received, so we teach that besides the
bare and naked work wherein Christ, without any other associate,
finished all the parts of our redemption and purchased salvation
himself alone, for conveyance of this eminent blessing unto us many
things are required, as to be known and chosen of God before the
foundation of the world, in the world to be called, justified,
sanctified, after we have left the world to be received into glory:
Christ in every one of these hath something which he worketh alone.
Through him, according to the eternal purpose of God before the
foundation of the world, born, crucified, buried, raised, etc., we
were in a gracious acceptation known unto God long before we were
seen of men: God knew us, loved us, was kind towards us in Christ
Jesus; in him we were elected to be heirs of life. [cf Eph 1:3ff]

    Thus far God through Christ hath wrought in such sort alone
that ourselves are mere patients, working no more than dead and
senseless matter, wood or stone or iron, doth in the artificer’s
hand, no more than the clay when the potter appointeth it to be
framed for an honourable use; nay, not so much. For the matter
whereupon the craftsman worketh he chooseth, being moved by the
fitness which is in it to serve his turn; in us no such thing.
Touching the rest, that which is laid for the foundation of our
faith importeth, further, that by him we be called, that we have
redemption, remission of sins through his blood, health by his
stripes, justice by him; that he doth sanctify his Church and make
it glorious to himself; that entrance into joy shall be given us by
him; yea, all things by him alone. Howbeit, not so by him alone as
if in us, to our vocation, the hearing of the Gospel; in our
justification, faith; to our sanctification, the fruits of the
Spirit; to our entrance into rest, perseverance in hope, in faith,
in holiness, were not necessary,

    32> Then what is the fault of the Church of Rome? Not that she
requireth works at their hands that will be saved, but that she
attributeth unto works a power of satisfying God for sin, and a
virtue to merit both grace here and in heaven glory. That this
overthroweth the foundation of faith I grant willingly; that it is a
direct denial thereof I utterly deny. What it is to hold and what
directly to deny the foundation of faith I have already opened.
Apply it particularly to this cause, and there needs no more ado.
The thing which is handled, if the form under which it is handled be
added thereunto, it showeth the foundation of any doctrine
whatsoever. Christ is the matter whereof the doctrine of the Gospel
treateth, and it treateth of Christ as of a Saviour. Salvation
therefore by Christ is the foundation of Christianity. As for works,
they are a thing subordinate, no otherwise necessary than because
our sanctification cannot be accomplished without them. The doctrine
concerning them is a thing builded upon the foundation; therefore
the doctrine which addeth unto them power of satisfying or of
meriting addeth unto a thing subordinated, builded upon the
foundation, not to the very foundation itself. Yet is the foundation
consequently by this addition overthrown, forasmuch as out of this
addition it may negatively be concluded, he who maketh any work good
and acceptable in the sight of God to proceed from the natural
freedom of our will, he who giveth unto any good work of ours the
force of satisfying the wrath of God for sin, the power of meriting
either earthly or heavenly rewards, he who holdeth works going
before our vocation in congruity to merit our vocation, works
following our first to merit our second justification and by
condignity our last reward in the kingdom of heaven, pulleth up the
doctrine of faith by the roots; for out of every of these the plain
direct denial thereof may be necessarily concluded. Nor this only,
but what other heresy is there which doth not raze the very
foundation of faith by consequent?


    Howbeit, we make a difference of heresies, accounting them in
the next degree to infidelity which directly deny any one thing to
be which is expressly acknowledged in the articles of our belief;
for out of any one article so denied the denial of the very
foundation itself is straightway inferred. As, for example, if a man
should say, “There is no Catholic Church,” it followeth immediately
hereupon that this Jesus whom we call the Saviour is not the Saviour
of the world; because all the prophets bear witness that the true
Messias should “show a light unto the Gentiles,” [Lk 2:32; Acts
26:23] that is to say, gather such a church as is catholic, not
restrained any longer unto one circumcised nation. In a second rank
we place them out of whose positions the denial of any of the
foresaid articles may be with like facility concluded. Such are they
who have denied either the divinity of Christ, with Ebion, or with
Marcion his humanity, an example whereof may be that of Cassianus
defending the incarnation of the Son of God against Nestorius bishop
of Antioch [a slip for Constantinople], who held that the Virgin,
when she brought forth Christ, did not bring forth the Son of God
but a sole and mere man; [NOTE: Many scholars now doubt that
Nestorius did indeed teach the heresy which has been named after
him] out of which heresy the denial of the articles of the Christian
faith he deduceth thus:

    If thou dost deny our Lord Jesus Christ to be God, in
    denying the Son thou canst not choose but deny the Father;
    for, according to the voice of the Father himself, “He that
    hath not the Son hath not the Father.” [see 1 Jn 2:23]
    Wherefore denying him that is begotten thou deniest him who
    doth beget. Again, denying the Son of God to have been born
    in the flesh, how canst thou believe him to have suffered?
    Believing not his passion, what remaineth but that thou deny
    his resurrection? For we believe him not raised, except we
    first believe him dead; neither can the reason of his rising
    from the dead stand without the faith of his death going
    before. The denial of his death and passion inferreth the
    denial of his rising from the depth.  Whereupon it followeth
    that thou also deny his ascension into heaven: the Apostle
    affirming that “he who ascended did first descend.” [Eph
    4:9] So that, as much as lieth in thee, our Lord Jesus
    Christ hath neither risen from the depth, nor is ascended
    into heaven, nor sitteth at the right hand of God the
    Father, neither shall he come at the day of final account,
    which is looked for, nor shall judge the quick and dead. And
    darest thou yet set foot in the church? Canst thou think
    thyself a bishop when thou hast denied all those things
    whereby thou didst obtain a bishoply calling? [John Cassian,

    Nestorius confessed all the articles of the creed, but his
opinion did imply the denial of every part of his confession.
Heresies there are of a third part, such as the Church of Rome
maintaineth, which, being removed by a greater distance from the
foundation, although indeed they overthrow it, yet because of that
weakness which the philosopher noteth in men’s capacities when he
saith that the common sort cannot see things which follow in reason,
when they follow, as it were, afar off by many deductions; therefore
the repugnancy between such heresy and the foundation is not so
quickly nor so easily found but that an heretic of this sooner than
of the former kind may directly grant, and consequently nevertheless
deny, the foundation of faith.

    33> If reason be suspected, trial will show that the Church of
Rome doth no otherwise by teaching the doctrine she doth teach
concerning works. Offer them the very fundamental words, and what
one man is there that will refuse to subscribe unto them? Can they
directly grant and deny directly one and the selfsame thing? Our own
proceedings in disputing against their works satisfactory and
meritorious do show not only that they hold, but that we acknowledge
them to hold, the foundation notwithstanding their opinion. For are
not these our arguments against them: “Christ alone hath satisfied
and appeased his Father’s wrath; Christ hath merited salvation
alone”? We should do fondly to use such disputes, neither could we
think to prevail by them, if that whereupon we ground were a thing
which we know they do not hold, which we are assured they will not
grant. Their very answers to all such reasons as are in this
controversy brought against them will not permit us to doubt whether
they hold the foundation or no. Can any man who hath read their
books concerning this matter be ignorant how they draw all thelr
answers unto these heads?
          That the remission of all our sins, the pardon of all
    whatsoever punishments thereby deserved, the rewards which
    God hath laid up in heaven, are by the blood of our Lord
    Jesus Christ purchased and obtained sufficiently for all
    men; but for no man effectually for his benefit in
    particular, except the blood of Christ be applied
    particularly unto him by such means as God hath appointed it
    to work by.
          That those means of themselves being dead things, only
    the blood of Christ is that which putteth life, force, and
    efficacy in them to work, and to be available, each in his
    kind, to our salvation.
          Finally, that grace being purchased for us by the blood
    of Christ, and freely without any merit or desert at the
    first bestowed upon us, the good things which we do, after
    grace received, are made satisfactory and meritorious.

Some of their sentences to this effect I must allege for mine own
warrant. If we desire to hear foreign judgments, we find in one this

    He that would reckon how many the virtues and merits of our
    Saviour Jesus Christ have been might likewise understand how
    many the benefits have been that are come unto us by him,
    forasmuch as men are made partakers of them all by the means
    of his passion: by him is given unto us remission of our
    sins, grace, glory, liberty, praise, peace, salvation,
    redemption, justification, justice, sanctification,
    sacraments, merits, doctrine, and all other things which we
    had, and were behoveful for our salvation. [Lewis of

In another we have these oppositions and answers made unto them:

    All grace is given by Christ Jesus. True; but not except
    Christ Jesus be applied. He is the propitiation for our
    sins; by his stripes we are healed; he hath offered up
    himself for us: all this is true, but apply it. [cf 1 Jn
    2:2; Is 53:5; 1 Pet 2:24; Heb 7:27; 9:14; 10:12] We put all
    satisfaction in the blood of Jesus Christ; but we hold that
    the means which Christ hath appointed for us in this case to
    apply it are our penal works. [Francis Panigarola]

    Our countrymen in Rheims [a gathering-place for Roman Catholic
expatriates from England, and the site of a Jesuit seminary for the
training of English priests] make the like answer, that they seek
salvation no other way than by the blood of Christ, and that humbly
they do use prayers, fasting, alms, faith, charity, sacrifice,
sacraments, priests, only as the means appointed by Christ, to apply
the benefit of his holy blood unto them: touching our good works,
that in their own natures they are not meritorious nor answerable
unto the joys of heaven; it cometh by the grace of Christ, and not
of the work itself, that we have by well-doing a right to heaven and
deserve it worthily.

    If any men think that I seek to varnish their opinions, to set
the better foot of a lame cause foremost, let him know that since I
began throughly to understand their meaning I have found their
halting in this doctrine greater than perhaps it seemeth to them who
know not the deepness of Satan, as the blessed Divine speaketh. [Rev
2:24] For, although this be proof sufficient, that they do not deny
directly the foundation of faith, yet, if there were no other leaven
in the whole lump of their doctrine but this, this were sufficient
to prove that their doctrine is not agreeable with the foundation of
Christian faith. The Pelagians, being over-great friends unto
nature, made themselves enemies unto grace, for all their confessing
that men have their souls and all the faculties thereof, their wills
and the ability of their wills, from God. And is not the Church of
Rome still an adversary unto Christ’s merits, because of her
acknowledging that we have received the power of meriting by the
blood of Christ? Sir Thomas More setteth down the odds between us
and the Church of Rome in the matter of works thus:

    Like as we grant them that no good work of man is rewardable
    in heaven of his own nature, but through the goodness of
    God, that list to set so high a price upon so poor a thing,
    and that this price God setteth through Christ’s passion,
    and for that also they be his own works with us (for good
    works to God-ward worketh no man, without God work in him);
    and as we grant them also that no man may be proud of his
    works for his own imperfect working; and for that in all
    that man may do he can do no good, but is a servant
    unprofitable and doth but his bare duty; as we, I say, grant
    unto them these things, so this one thing or twain do they
    grant us again, that men are bound to work good works if
    they have time and power, and that whoso worketh in true
    faith most shall be most rewarded; but then set they thereto
    that all his rewards shall be given him for his faith alone,
    and nothing for his works at all, because his faith is the
    thing, they say, and forceth him to work well. [Thomas More,

I see by this of Sir Thomas More how easy it is for men of great
capacity and judgment to mistake things written or spoken, as well
on one side as on another. Their doctrine, as he thought, maketh the
works of man rewardable in the world to come through the mere
goodness of God, whom it pleaseth to set so high a price upon so
poor a thing; and ours, that a man doth receive that eternal and
high reward, not for his works, but for his faith’s sake by which he
worketh; whereas in truth our doctrine is no other than that which
we have learned at the feet of Christ: namely, that God doth justify
the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for
his worthiness who is believed; God rewardeth abundantly everyone
who worketh, yet not for any meritorious dignity which is, or can
be, in the work, but through his mere mercy, by whose commandment he
worketh. Contrariwise, their doctrine is that, as pure water of
itself hath no savour, but if it pass through a sweet pipe it taketh
a pleasant smell of the pipe through which it passeth, so also,
before grace received, our works do neither satisfy nor merit; yet
after, they do both the one and the other. Every virtuous action
hath then power in such sort to satisfy that if we ourselves commit
no mortal sin, no heinous crime, whereupon to spend this treasure of
satisfaction in our own behalf, it turneth to the benefit of other
men’s release on whom it shall please the steward of the house of
God to bestow it; so that we may satisfy for ourselves and for
others, but merit only for ourselves. In meriting, our actions do
work with two hands: with the one they get their morning stipend,
the increase of grace; with the other their evening hire, the
everlasting crown of glory. Indeed, they teach that our good works
do not these things as they come from us, but as they come from
grace in us; which grace in us is another thing in their divinity
than is the mere goodness of God’s mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.
[perhaps based on a passage in Panigarola; see also Trent, VI, chs

    34> If it were not a strong deluding spirit which hath
possesion of their hearts, were it possible but that they should see
how plainly they do herein gainsay the very ground of apostolic
faith? Is this that salvation by grace whereof so plentiful mention
is made in the sacred Scriptures of God? Was this their meaning who
first taught the world to look for salvation only by Christ? By
grace, the Apostle saith, and by grace in such sort as a gift, a
thing that cometh not of ourselves, not of our works, lest any man
should boast and say, “I have wrought out mine own salvation.” [Eph
2:8f; NOTE that the injunction of Phil 2:12, “work out your own
salvation,” is not an exhortation to save oneself by one’s works,
but a challenge to put one’s salvation to work.] By grace they
confess; but by grace in such sort that as many as wear the diadem
of bliss, they wear nothing but what they have won. The Apostle, as
if he had foreseen how the Church of Rome would abuse the world in
time by ambiguous terms, to declare in what sense the name of grace
must be taken, when we make it the cause of our salvation, saith,
“He saved us according to his mercy”; [Tit 3:5] which mercy,
although it exclude not the washing of our new birth, the renewing
of our hearts by the Holy Ghost, the means, the virtues, the duties
which God requireth at their hands who shall be saved, yet it is so
repugnant unto merits that to say we are saved for the worthiness of
anything which is ours is to deny we are saved by grace. Grace
bestoweth freely, and therefore justly requireth the glory of that
which is bestowed.  We deny the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we
imbase, disannul, annihilate the benefit of his bitter passion, if
we rest in those proud imaginations that life everlasting is
deservedly ours, that we merit it, and that we are worthy of it.


    35> Howbeit, considering how many virtuous and just men, how
many saints, how many martyrs, how many of the ancient fathers of
the Church have had their sundry perilous opinions — and among
sundry of their opinions this, that they hoped to make God some part
of amends for their sins by the voluntary punishments which they
laid upon themselves: because by a consequent it may follow hereupon
that they were injurious unto Christ, shall we therefore make such
deadly epitaphs and set them upon their graves: “They denied the
foundation of faith directly, they are damned, there is no salvation
for them”? St. Augustine hath said, “Errare possum, haereticus esse
nolo.” [I may be mistaken, but I have not the will to be heretical.]
And except we put a difference between them that err and them that
obstinately persist in error, how is it possible that ever any man
should hope to be saved?

    Surely, in this case, I have no respect of any person alive or
dead. Give me a man, of what estate or condition soever, yea, a
cardinal or a pope, whom at the extreme point of his life affliction
hath made to know himself, whose heart God hath touched with true
sorrow for all his sins, and filled with love toward the Gospel of
Christ, whose eyes are opened to see the truth, and his mouth to
renounce all heresy and error any way opposite thereunto, this one
opinion of merits excepted, which he thinketh God will require at
his hands, and because he wanteth, therefore trembleth and is
discouraged: “It may be I am forgetful or unskilful, not furnished
with things new and old, as a wise and learned scribe should be,”
[Mt 13:52] nor able to allege that whereunto, if it were alleged, he
doth bear a mind most willing to yield, and so to be recalled as
well from this as from other errors — and shall I think, because of
this only error, that such a man toucheth not so much as the hem of
Christ’s garment? If he do, wherefore should not I have hope that
virtue may proceed from Christ to save him? Because his error doth
by consequent overthrow his faith shall I therefore cast him off as
one who hath utterly cast of Christ, one who holdeth not so much as
by a slender thread? No, I will not be afraid to say unto a cardinal
or to a pope in this plight, “Be of good comfort, we have to do with
a merciful God, ready to make the best of that little which we hold
well, and not with a captious sophister who gathereth the worst out
of everything wherein we err.” Is there any reason that I should be
suspected, or you offended, for this speech?

    Let all affection [that is, sentiment or predisposition] be
laid aside; let the matter be indifferently considered. Is it a
dangerous thing to imagine that such men may find mercy? The hour
may come when we shall think it a blessed thing to hear that if our
sins were as the sins of the pope and cardinals the bowels of the
mercy of God are larger. I do not propose unto you a pope with the
neck of an emperor under his foot, a cardinal riding his horse to
the bridle in the blood of saints, but a pope or a cardinal
sorrowful, penitent, disrobed, stripped, not only of usurped power,
but also delivered and recalled from error and Antichrist, converted
and lying prostrate at the feet of Christ; and shall I think that
Christ will spurn him? Shall I cross and gainsay the merciful
promises of God generally made unto penitent sinners by opposing the
name of a pope or a cardinal? What difference is there between a
pope and cardinal, and a John a Style, in this case? If we think it
impossible for them, after they be once come within that rank, to be
afterwards touched with any such remorse, let that be granted. The
Apostle saith, “If I or an angel from heaven preach unto you,” etc.
[Gal 1:8] Let it be as likely that St. Paul or an angel from heaven
should preach heresy as that a pope or a cardinal should be brought
so far forth to acknowledge the truth; yet if a pope or a cardinal
should, what could we find in their persons why they might not be
saved? It is not their persons, you will say, but the error wherein
I suppose them to die which excludeth them from hope of mercy: the
opinion of merits doth take away all possibility of salvation from
them. What, although they hold it only as an error; although they
hold the truth soundly and sincerely in all other parts of Christian
faith; although they have in some measure all the virtues and graces
of the Spirit, all other tokens of God’s elect children in them;
although they be far from having any proud presumptuous opinion that
they shall be saved for the worthiness of their deeds; although the
only thing which troubleth and molesteth them be but a little too
much dejection, somewhat too great a fear, rising from an erroneous
conceit [conception] that God will require a worthiness in them
which they are grieved to find wanting in themselves; although they
be not obstinate in this persuasion; although they be willing and
would be glad to forsake it, if any one reason were brought to
disprove it; although the only let [hindrance] why they do not
forsake it ere they die be the ignorance of the means whereby it
might be disproved; although the cause why the ignorance in this
point is not removed be the want of knowledge in such as should be
able, and are not, to remove it? Let me die if ever it be proved
that simply an error doth exclude a pope or a cardinal, in such a
case, utterly from hope of life. Surely, I must confess unto you, if
it be an error to think that God may be merciful to save men even
when they err, my greatest comfort is my error: were it not for the
love I bear unto this error, I would neither wish to speak nor to

    36> Wherefore, to resume that mother-sentence, whereof I little
thought that so much trouble would have grown, “I doubt not but God
was merciful to save thousands of our fathers living in popish
superstitions, inasmuch as they sinned ignorantly”: alas, what
bloody matter is there contained in this sentence that it should be
an occasion of so many hard censures! Did I say that “thousands of
our fathers might be saved”? I have showed which way it cannot be
denied. Did I say, “I doubt it not but they were saved”? I see no
impiety in this persuasion, though I had no reason in the world for
it. Did I say. “Their ignorance doth make me hope they did find
mercy and so were saved”? What doth hinder salvation but sin? Sins
are not equal; and ignorance, though it do not make sin to be no
sin, yet, seeing it did make their sin the less, why should it not
make our hope concerning their life the greater? We pity the most,
and I doubt not but God hath most compassion over, them that sin for
want of understanding. As much is confessed by sundry others, almost
in the selfsame words which I have used. It is but only my ill hap
that the same sentences which favour verity in other men’s books
should seem to bolster heresy when they are once by me recited. [cf
the opinion of Calvin, cited above] If I be deceived in this point,
not they but the blessed Apostle hath deceived me. What I said of
others, the same he saith of himself: “I obtained mercy, for I did
it ignorantly.” [1 Tim 1:13] Construe his words, and ye cannot
misconstrue mine. I speak no otherwise, I meant no otherwise.

    37> Thus have I brought the question concerning our fathers at
the length unto an end; of whose estate, upon so fit an occasion as
was offered me, handling the weighty causes of separation between
the Church of Rome and us, and the weak motives which commonly are
brought to retain men in that society, amongst which motives the
example of our fathers deceased is one; although I saw it convenient
to utter that sentence which I did, to the end that all men might
thereby understand how untruly we are said to condemn as many as
have been before us otherwise persuaded than we ourselves are; yet
more than one sentence I did not think it expedient to utter,
judging it a great deal meeter for us to have regard to our own
estate than to sift over curiously what is become of other men; and
fearing lest that such questions as this, if voluntarily they should
be too far waded in, might seem worthy of that rebuke which our
Saviour thought needful in a case not unlike: “What is this unto
thee?” [Jn 21:22] When as I was forced, much besides mine
expectation, to render a reason of my speech, I could not but yield
at the call of others to proceed as duty bound me for the fuller
satisfaction of men’s minds. Wherein I have walked, as with
reverence, so with fear: with reverence in regard of our fathers who
lived in former times; not without fear, considering them that are

    38> I am not ignorant how ready men are to feed and soothe up
themselves in evil. Shall I (will the man say that loveth the
present world more than he loveth Christ), shall I incur the high
displeasure of the mightiest upon earth, shall I hazard my goods,
endanger my estate, put my life in jeopardy, rather than yield to
that which so many of my fathers have embraced, and yet found favour
in the sight of God? “Curse Meroz, saith the Lord, curse her
inhabitants because they help not the Lord, they help him not
against the mighty.” [Jud 5:23] If I should not only not help the
Lord against the mighty, but help to strengthen them that are mighty
against the Lord, worthily might I fall under the burden of that
curse, worthy I were to bear my own judgment. But if the doctrine
which I teach be a flower gathered in the garden of the Lord, a part
of the saving truth of the Gospel, from whence notwithstanding
poisoned creatures do suck venom, I can but wish it were otherwise
and content myself with the lot that hath befallen me, the rather
because it hath not befallen me alone. St. Paul did preach a truth,
and a comfortable truth, when he taught that the greater our misery
is in respect of our iniquities the readier is the mercy of our God
for our release, if we seek unto him; the more we have sinned, the
more praise and glory and honour unto him that pardoneth our sin.

    But mark what lewd collections were made hereupon by some: “Why
then am I condemned for a sinner?” And, saith the Apostle, “as we
are blamed and as some affirm that we say, why do we not evil that
good may come of it?” [Rom 3:7f] He was accused to teach that which
ill-disposed men did gather by his teaching, though it were clean
not only beside but also against his meaning. The Apostle addeth:
“Their condemnation who thus do is just.” I am not hasty to apply
sentences of condemnation: I wish from my heart their conversion,
whosoever are thus perversely affected. For I must needs say, their
case is fearful, their estate dangerous, who harden themselves,
presuming on the mercy of God towards others. It is true that God is
merciful, but let us beware of presumptuous sins. [Ps 19:13] God
delivered Jonah from the bottom of the sea: will you therefore cast
yourselves headlong from the tops of rocks and say in your hearts,
“God shall deliver us”? [cf Mt 4:5-7] He pitieth the blind that
would gladly see; but will God pity him that may see and hardeneth
himself in blindness? No; Christ hath spoken too much unto you for
you to claim the privilege of your fathers.

    39> As for us that have handled this cause concerning the
condition of our fathers, whether it be this thing or any other
which we bring unto you, the counsel is good which the wise man
giveth: “Stand thou fast in thy sure understanding, in the way and
knowledge of the Lord, and have but one manner of word, and follow
the word of peace and righteousness.” [Ecclus 5:10] As a loose tooth
is a great grief unto him that eateth, so doth a wavering and
unstable word, in speech that tendeth to instruction, offend. “Shall
a wise man speak words of the wind,” saith Eliphaz — light,
inconstant, unstable words? [Job 15:2] Surely the wisest may speak
words of the wind:  such is the untoward constitution of our nature
that we neither do so perfectly understand the way and knowledge of
the Lord, nor so steadfastly embrace it when it is understood, nor
so graciously utter it when it is embraced, nor so peaceably
maintain it when it is uttered, but that the best of us are
overtaken sometimes through blindness, sometimes through hastiness,
sometimes through impatience, sometimes through other passions of
the mind, whereunto (God doth know) we are too subject.

    We must therefore be contented both to pardon others and to
crave that others may pardon us for such things. Let no man who
speaketh as a man think himself (whilst he liveth) always freed from
scapes and oversights in his speech. The things themselves which I
have spoken unto you I hope are sound, howsoever they have seemed
otherwise unto some, at whose hands if I have, in that respect,
received injury, I willingly forget it; although, in truth,
considering the benefit which I have reaped by this necessary search
of truth, I rather incline unto that of the Apostle, “They have not
injured me at all.” [2 Cor 2:5,10] I have cause to wish, and I do
wish them as many blessings in the kingdom of heaven as they have
forced me to utter words and syllables in this cause, wherein I
could not be more sparing in speech than I have been. “It becometh
no man,” saith St. Jerome, “to be patient in the crime of heresy.”
[that is, “patient when under suspicion of heresy.” Jerome, AGAINST
Patient, as I take it, we should be always, though the crime of
heresy were intended; but silent in a thing of so great consequence
I could not, beloved, I durst not be; especially the love which I
bear to the truth in Christ Jesus being hereby somewhat called in
question. Whereof I beseech them, in the meekness of Christ, [2 Cor
10:1] that have been the first original cause, to consider that a
watchman may cry “An enemy!” when indeed a friend cometh. In which
case, as I deem such a watchman to be more worthy to be loved for
his care than misliked for his error, so I have judged it my own
part in this case, as much as in me lieth, to take away all
suspicion of any unfriendly intent or meaning against the truth,
from which, God doth know, my heart is free.

    40> Now to you, beloved, who have heard these things I will use
no other words of admonition than those which are offered me by St.
James: “My brethren, have not this faith of our glorious Lord Jesus
Christ in respect of persons.” [Jas 2:1] Ye are now to learn that,
as of itself it is not hurtful, so neither should it be to any man
scandalous and offensive, in doubtful cases, to hear the different
judgment of men. Be it that Cephas hath one interpretation and
Apollos hath another, that Paul is of this mind and Barnabas of
that; if this offend you, the fault is yours. Carry peaceable minds,
and ye may have comfort by this variety.

    Now the God of peace give you peaceable minds and turn it to
your everlasting comfort!

Doc Viewed 9697 times

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.