The Myth Of The Papacy

You know by now that Benedict XVI has abdicated the papacy and the college of Cardinals have been preparing to elect a new pope. on Tuesday they are set to begin the process of actually electing a new pope. Over the next few days, news coverage will be intense and, until a pope is elected and if coverage follows the usual pattern, we will likely witness reporters standing outside the Vatican breathlessly saying or implying that this is the way things have been since the 1st century. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. As a matter of history, the papacy is a collection of myths.

Our word “myth” is derived from the Greek word muthos (μυθος). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in English usage, “myth” denotes a

traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces, which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon.

This sense of the word “myth” partly captures what I mean by it here. The papacy is largely the result of a long series of practical and political developments that have been cloaked in the fabric of piety and supernaturalism. In that sense the current papacy invokes a myth involving supernatural explanations of the papacy when there are perfectly natural, historical explanations.

The OED adds a layer of explanation as it begins to list a series of definitions:

a. A widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief; a widely held misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth. Also: something existing only in myth; a fictitious or imaginary person or thing.

This captures exactly what I mean by myth in this context. There is a widespread but untrue story about the papacy. It is partly the result of assumptions but it is partly the result of a grossly anachronistic story told by Romanist apologists.

The historical truth is that the papacy as we know it today did not begin to exist until Leo I, who was Bishop of Rome from 440–61.  In fact, the pope has not always been “the Pope.” There is absolutely no evidence in the Book of Acts that Peter had primacy among the apostles. Indeed, if we consider that Paul rebuked Peter at Antioch for denying the gospel (apparently “Peter” never learns), then the very notion of an unbroken succession of Petrine popes speaking infallibly from from a divinely instituted throne seems most unlikely indeed.

Though it is indeed possible and, depending upon how one reconstructs the patristic histories, even probable that Peter was in Rome, when the apostle Paul wrote to the congregation in Rome he made no mention of Peter, who, on this reconstruction, was in Rome under Claudius 14 years before. Were Peter regarded as primus inter pares (first among equals) then we would expect some recognition of that status but there is none nor do we find any such recognition in the rest of the NT. It’s at least possible that other NT documents were written to the congregation at Rome and yet there is no recognition of Peter’s alleged primacy. He certainly did not assert any such primacy in the two epistles under his name. In the gospel of Mark, likely written as a follow-on to his visit to Rome and closely associated with his ministry, gives not a hint of Petrine primacy.

The case for the papacy in the 2nd century (from 100 AD) is just as weak. There is no evidence in the so-called Apostolic Fathers (a somewhat arbitrary, if illuminating and important collection of texts from the early to mid-2nd century) that they regarded Peter as the first pope. Terrence Smith says, “There is an astonishing lack of of reference to Peter among ecclesiastical authors of the first half of the second century.”1

Robert Eno says,

The evidence (Clement, Hermas, Ignatius) points us in the direction of assuming that in the first century and into the second, that there was not bishop of Rome in the usual sense given to that title. The office of the single mon-episcopos was slowly emerging in the local Christian communities around the Mediterranean world.2

This is what one finds in the Apostolic Fathers. Because Patristic texts have sometimes been translated under what we might call an “Episcopal assumption,” i.e., under the assumption that when a text says “Episcopos” (επισκοπος) it signals a single, centralized regional manager of the church, we are sometimes left with a misimpression. If, however, we read the Apostolic Fathers in context it quickly appears that we cannot read into “episcopos” the later monepiscopal office and authority.

There was a variety of church governments in the second century. There is good evidence for a variety of ecclesiastical structures in the second century. Three offices are mentioned consistently, episcopos, presbyter, and deacon. These are often used in a non-hierachical sense and the plurality of presbyters is not uncommon.

Gradually, however, in the face of the pressure of persecution, through the third century the churches began to gather around pastors in leading cities (Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem) and those pastors began to exert more authority in the organization of the church. The rise of a bishop-centered polity, where a regional pastor exercised authority over local pastors and elders, was a pragmatic, development that modeled itself not on the New Testament pattern but on the prevailing pattern of (Roman) civil government. This, by the way, is yet another reason why Christians need to think carefully, historically, and intelligently about the problem of Christ and culture. When imitate the surrounding culture, when we fail to criticize the influence of the culture in the church, and when we baptize the prevailing culture—under whatever pretense—it has typically not gone well for the church.

The papacy as we know it today is a medieval creature. It did not exist in the first century, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, or even the sixth. It was Damasus I, who served 366–84, who first asserted the title “Pope” (Papa) and there was nothing like the papacy as we know it until Gregory I, who was in office from 590–604. As we will see in the series the power and influence of the papacy grew, gradually, by steps until the early 14th century, when, in 1302, in the papal decree (Unam Sanctam) the papacy asserted its primacy against Philip of France. That was likely the highpoint of genuine papal authority and the beginning of a long, ugly decline.

It seems likely that, if the college of cardinals (a medieval development), elects a pope, it will likely be the cardinal protodeacon who announces “Habemus papam” (“We have a pope”). That announcement is symbolic of the myth of the papacy. Reporters intone about the ancient rituals, about St Peter’s Basilica, as if things have always been this way. It just isn’t so, however. During this week of March-Papal-Madness, I’ll try to add some historical perspective.

Above I began to sketch a way of looking at the papacy that peers through the popular and Romanist myth of the papacy to the historical reality.

The point of this essay is to be suggestive, to alert the reader to the reality that the papacy is a very human, not a divine institution, that developed in response to external and internal stimuli. It wasn’t established by Christ. It doesn’t exist in the Acts of the Apostles. It did not exist in the 2nd or even 3rd centuries. Even when the Bishop (pastor) of Rome begins to be called “pope” that does not mean that he either actually was “pope” or that he was regarded as the universal vicar (representative) of Christ on the earth with authority to speak infallibly for Christ from an episcopal throne. Those are much later notions that cannot be read back into the late Patristic and early medieval periods.

One of the aspects of the development of the papacy that fascinates me is the existence of anti-popes. According to Romanist scholars there have been no fewer than 46 anti-popes in the history of the papacy. Of course that count includes figures that pre-date the actual existence of a “papacy.” One Romanist writer defines an anti-pope thus:

Any person who took the name of pope and exercised or claimed to exercise his functions without canonical foundation.

The definition is as problematic as it is interesting. It is problematic because it fails to recognize that the method of electing popes developed. Gregory I, probably the first Roman Bishop with anything like genuine papal power, was not elected by a college of cardinals. That institution did not develop for centuries. Gregory (Regula Pastoralis), by his own account, thrust into office by popular and priestly acclaim.

A cardinal Bishop is a papal elector. “Cardinal” was originally used adjectivally of any priest permanently attached to a church. Then it became restricted to priests, deacons, and bishops in and around Rome. Cardinal is derived from cardo (hinge, axis). By the 11th century “cardinal” became a noun. In 1059 Nicholas II (contra Henry IV of England), in In Nomine Domine, gave Cardinal Bishops the sole right to elect popes. Cardinal priests and deacons were to give assent. Thus, the process we are witnessing this week is an 11th century process, not an apostolic, patristic, or even early medieval process. It is a high medieval process. Study the history of the Western church and it soon becomes quite clear that the features that distinguish the Roman communion, that make Rome what it is, her claims to primacy, authority, her sacerdotal sacramental ministry, the papacy, and her doctrines—they are largely medieval creatures. The Roman sacramental system was not consolidated until the 4th Lateran Council in 1215. Thus, when the Reformation rejected those innovations they were no farther away chronologically than say Jonathan Edwards is from us. Even after the 4th Lateran, it is Trent, a 16th-century reaction to the Reformation that, as much as anything makes the Roman communion, including the papacy, what it is. In short: the antiquity of Romanism is a myth. It is a medieval and Tridentine creature.

Though we associate the papacy with Rome, it has not always resided in there. From 1305–78, the papacy relocated to Avignon, on the election of Clement V. He needed to stay near France but outside of Rome for fear of violence in Rome. He settled the Papacy in Avignon because it was an imperial city and he was trying to gain the support of France and England to resume the crusades.

As is the case today, the Italians, who regarded the papacy as theirs, were not happy about this move but the papacy remained in Avignon until 1377. The Italians did not take this lying down. They installed Nicholas V from 1328–30 so that briefly, there were two popes, both elected by papal electors. Gregory XI attempted to return the papacy to Rome, if only to reassert papal and Roman control of the peninsula. On Gregory’s death, in 1378, the problem of anti-popes intensified with the election of Urban VI, in Rome. He was so unpopular with the people that the cardinals lied about whom they had elected. He was also unpopular with some of the cardinals because he was said to have a temper and most outrageously, because he accused the cardinals of living ostentatiously. In retaliation, some electors accused him of being insane.

In reaction to his election, some of the papal electors decamped to Avignon, where the papacy had been from 1305–77 and elected Robert of Geneva as Clement VII. Here’s the rub. Clement VII gets the asterisk as the antipope. Why? Romanist historians can’t say. There’s no objective ground for disqualifying him other than that he was not in Rome, but the papacy had been in Avignon for decades and that is not regarded as illegitimate and the one competitor elected in Rome in 1328 gets an asterisk as an antipope so location isn’t definitive. Apparently a pope is antipope if Rome later says he was even if Rome cannot say how or why. Fiat!

There followed a succession of popes and “antipopes” in Rome and Avignon between 1378 and 1409, when things took an even stranger twist. It was then that the Council of Pisa, at which 22 cardinal Bishops were in attendance, elected Alexander V (June 1409–May 1410). Benedict XIII, who had been in Avignon fled Spain. Alexander V was succeeded by John XXIII,

By this time, there had already been multiple successions in both Rome and the Avignon. There had been mutual excommunications and depositions of competing popes by the Council of Pisa. At the Council of Constance (1414–18) John XXIII was arrested, brought back to Constance, and imprisoned until 1419 (but he was later made a Cardinal, so, as they say, “it’s all good”). Benedict XIII (in Spain) were deposed and Gregory XII abdicated. The council then elected Odo Colonna as Martin V on 11 November, 1417, ending the schism. Rome has never pronounced on the canonicity of Urban VI’s election or the legitimacy of Pisa.

One of my students showed me a news story yesterday which described the “ancient” rituals being enacted in the Vatican this week. Competition among competing popes, elected by competing gatherings of cardinal Bishops, is another ancient ritual but not one that will get much coverage this week. Those, however, who are interested in the history of the papacy should know that there was a severe crisis in the papacy in the 14th and 15th centuries that provoked grave doubts among honest, fair-minded Christians in the late medieval period. Indeed, without the gross corruption of the church “in head and members”(Fifth Lateran Council) the Reformation might have been less plausible.

The existence of simultaneous popes in Rome, Avignon, and Pisa also illustrates the grave problem of the very notion of an unbroken Petrine succession. There is no unbroken succession, first because the papacy has not always existed. Second, because there is no biblical or early evidence of Petrine primacy, and third, because the post-Avignon papacy is an orphan who has no idea who his father was in the 14th and 15th century.

UPDATE 13 March 2013

In researching an answer to another question I ran across some interesting stuff. First, on the “Catholic Answers” Forum. There it is asserted that Martin V was not a true pope because he was deposed. Gregory XII is said to have been a true pope because he resigned. So, deposition by a council nullifies a papacy but then they claim that no council can depose a pope. Never mind the fact that Constance decreed that all, including popes, must submit to councils. It’s okay if you find that confusing. It is.

Second, Eamon Duffy’s account of the Avignon crisis attempts to vindicate the Roman popes by trashing the Avignon popes as if the latter were less fit for office than the former. That’s a strange argument to make and not one that will favor the Renaissance papacy at all.

1. Terrence V. Smith, Petrine Controversies in Early Christianity: Attitudes Towards Peter in Christian Writings of the First Two Centuries (Tübingen: Mohr, 1985), 174 cited in Robert Eno, The Rise of the Papcy (Eugene: W & S, 1990), 15.

2. Eno, Ibid, 29.

This essay was originally published in two parts 11-13 March, 2013 at

Who Are The True Catholics?

There are truly important works that have simply been forgotten or unjustly ignored. One of those is William Ames’ Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in defense of the Reformed theology and practice of worship. Another is William Perkins’ 1597 treatise, A Reformed Catholic subtitled Or a Declaration Showing How Near We may Come to the Present Church of Rome in Sundry Points of Religion and Wherein We Must Forever Depart From Them. To this he added, With An Advertisement [a statement calling attention to something] to “All Favorers of the Roman Religion Showing How the Said Religion is Against the Catholic Principles and Grounds of the [English] Catechism.”

William Perkins (1558–1602) is worthy of our attention for a few reasons. First, he was one of the most important English Reformed theologians of the Reformation/post-Reformation periods. The other is John Owen. Arguably Perkins should be on anybody’s short list of Great English Theologians. Second, his teaching was a great influence on the Westminster Assembly, and thus to understand Perkins is to understand our own confession more fully. Third, he articulated Reformed theology at a time when the Reformation was under assault from the Socinians, the Arminians (Remonstrants), and a renewed Romanism. We still face these challenges in our day. We know the Socinians as “The Unitarians” today but they were influential upon many of the followers of Arminius (post-Episcopius) and their methodological influence is still felt in American Evangelical circles. The advocates of Open Theism rely on essentially a Socinian view of God and biblical hermeneutic (approach to reading Scripture). “Biblicism,” i.e., the idea that one is going to read the Bible as if no one has ever read it before, is not only deliberately ignorant and contrary to the Reformation approach to reading Scripture with the church past and present, is essentially a Socinian approach to Scripture that yielded a denial of Christ’s divinity, the Trinity, and the atonement, among other things.

Most Reformed folk who are familiar with Perkins might think of his Golden Chaine, his exposition of the doctrine of predestination, and the criticism he received from Jacob Arminius but Perkins was much more than a theologian of predestination. He was a member of the “Spiritual Brotherhood” at Cambridge. He was a Reformed churchman who understood that theology is not mere theory. He defined it as the “science of living blessedly forever. ” He was as devoted to cultivating true piety as he was to defending true theology. For Perkins the two were inseparable. For more on his life and setting see Paul Schaefer’s The Spiritual Brotherhood, 49–107.

Were the Reformation a boxing match, it appeared in the first half of the sixteenth century that Rome was flat on the canvas. Beginning with Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) in the 1540s, Rome got off the canvas, as it were, and began counter-punching theologically and militarily. Rome would try to recover her geo-political influence and the struggle would not end until the close of the Thirty-Years War (1648). The Jesuits and others proved to be a genuine difficulty for the Reformation. They began to make more sophisticated appeals to tradition and to Scripture that required increased sophistication from the Reformed.

In this essay we cannot survey all that Perkins wrote but we will look at how his soteriology (doctrine of salvation) responded to Rome. Perkins’ argument was that it was the Reformed (and the Reformation doctrine more broadly), not Rome, that was the home of truly catholic (universal), Christian theology.

The Reformed Response To The Roman Counter-Reformation
This treatise is an interesting and useful example of the way the Reformed responded to the Roman response (the “Counter Reformation” or the “Catholic Reformation”). Perkins responded by challenging a central Romanist assumption: that the Roman communion is the “Catholic Church.”

Perkins began his assault on Rome in the dedicatory epistle. [NB: I’ve modernized the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation on C. S. Lewis’ theory that we tend to impute ignorance to older writers when we see variance from our practice.]

RIGHT worshipful, it is a notable policy of the devil, which he has put into the heads of sundry men in this age, to think that our religion, and the religion of the present Church of Rome are all one for substance: and that they may be re-united as (in their opinion) they were before. Writings to this effect are spread abroad in the French tongue, and respected of English Protestants more then is meet, or ought to be. For, let men in show of moderation, pretend the peace and good estate of the Catholic Church as long as they will; this union of the two religions can never be made, more then the union of light and darkness. And this shall appear, if we do but a little consider, how they of the Roman Church have razed the foundation.

For though in words they honor Christ, yet in deed they turn him to a Pseudo-Christ, and an idol of their own brain. They call him our Lord, but with this condition, that the Servant of Servants of this Lord, may change and add to his commandments: having so great power, that he may open and shut heaven to whom he will; and bind the very conscience with his own laws, and consequently be partaker of the spiritual kingdom of Christ.

Again, they call him a Savior, but yet in us: in that he gives this grace unto us, that by our merits, we may partake in the merits of the saints. And they acknowledge, that he died and suffered for us, but with this caveat, that the fault being pardoned, we must satisfy for the temporal punishment, either in this world, or in purgatory. In a word, they make him our Mediator of Intercession unto God: but withal, his Mother must be the Queen of Heaven, and by the right of a Mother command him there.

Thus, in word, they cry Hosanna, but indeed they crucify Christ. Therefore we have good cause to bless the name of God, that hath freed us from the yoke of this Roman bondage, and hath brought us to the true light and liberty of the Gospel. And it should be a great height of unthankfulness in us, not to stand out against the present Church of Rome, but to yield our selves to plots of reconciliation.

To this effect and purpose I have penned this little treatise, which I present to your worship, desiring it might be some token of a thankful mind, for undeserved love. And I crave withal, not only your worshipful (which is more common) but also your learned protection; being well assured, that by skill and art you are able to justify whatsoever I have truly taught. Thus wishing to you and yours the continuance and the increase of faith and good conscience, I take my leave.

Cambridge, June 28. 1597.

Your W. in the Lord,


Notice the issues that Perkins highlighted: the unique authority (and Spirit-wrought) clarity of the Scriptures, its corollary Christian freedom, the uniqueness of Christ’s once-for-all work, and the Roman denial of the assurance of faith that is gift of God to believers as a consequence of the first two.

These are the issues that face us today. Perkins was concerned about a false ecumenism then and we have just as much right to be concerned about it now. As Rome begins its year-long celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II it is well to remember that Vatican II changed none of the doctrines against which the Reformation reacted. The issues remain. The popular, informal role of Mary as mediatrix has become formalized. The Roman doctrine of the necessity of cooperation with grace as part of progressive sanctification unto eventual justification (after purgatory), the mediation of the saints, the authority of the church, all these issues are as divisive today as they were at Trent and Perkins’ re-assertion of the genuine catholicity (university) of the Reformed faith, against the pretension of the Roman Bishop and councils, is as relevant today as the day it was first published.

In his treatise defending the Reformation understanding of Scripture against resurgent Romanism Perkins counted 22 issues between Protestants (his term) and Rome:

  1. Of Free-will.
  2. Of Original sin.
  3. Assurance of salvation.
  4. Justification of a sinner.
  5. Of Merits.
  6. Satisfactions for sin.
  7. Of Traditions.
  8. Of Vows.
  9. Of Images.
  10. Of Real presence.
  11. The sacrifice of the Mass.
  12. Of Fasting.
  13. The state of Perfection.
  14. Worshipping of Saints departed.
  15. Intercession of Saints.
  16. Implicit faith.
  17. Of Purgatory.
  18. Of the Supremacy.
  19. Of the efficacy of the Sacraments.
  20. Of Faith.
  21. Of Repentance.
  22. The sins of the Roman Church

He began he exposition with a decidedly unfriendly quotation from Revelation 18:4:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Go out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues….

His intent, as he went on to make clear, was to identify Rome as the whore of Babylon:

And the whore of Babylon, as by all circumstances may be gathered, is the state or regiment of a people that are the inhabitants of Rome and appertain thereto. This may be proved by the interpretation of the holy Ghost: for in the last verse of the seventeenth Chapter, the woman, that is, the whore of Babylon, is said to be a city which reigns over the kings of the earth: now in the days when Saint John penned this book of Revelation, there was no city in the world that ruled over the kings of the earth but Rome; it then being the seat where the Emperor put in execution his imperial authority. Again, in the seventh verse she is said to sit on a beast having seven heads and ten horns: which seven heads be seven hills, verse 9. whereon the woman sits, and also they be seven kings. Therefore by the whore of Babylon is meant a city standing on seven hills. Now it is well known, not only to learned men in the Church of God, but even to the heathen themselves, that Rome alone is the city built on seven distinct hills….

In response to the charge that to separate from Rome is schism, Perkins replied:

…all those who will be saved, must depart and separate themselves from the faith and religion of this present church of Rome. And whereas they are charged with schism that separate on this manner; the truth is, they are not schismatics that do so, because they have the commandment of God for their warrant: and the party is the schismatic in whom the cause of this separation lies: and that is the Church of Rome, namely, the cup of abomination in the whores hand, which is their heretical and schismatical religion

The Problem Of Sin And Free Will
His first charge against Rome, which he notes is not the principal issue, is that the Roman communion has corrupted the doctrine of sin. It comes under the heading of free will, which he defined thus:

Free-will both by them and us, is taken for a mixed power in the mind and will of man; whereby discerning what is good and what is evil, he doth accordingly choose or refuse the same.

He identified three aspects of free will. Natural, human, and spiritual. The question is whether, after the fall, humans have this power. He began to address this question the same way Augustine began with the Pelagians (and semi-Pelagians!) and the way Thomas Boston would do after Perkins, with the fourfold state of humanity:

Man must be considered in a four-fold estate, as he was created, as he was corrupted, as he is renewed, as he shall be glorified. In the first estate, we ascribe to mans will liberty of nature, in which he could will or not nill [to be unwilling] either good or evil: in the third, liberty of grace: in the last, liberty of glory. All the doubt is of the second estate: and yet therein also we agree

“All the doubt is of the second….” The issue between Rome and Protestants is what are the effects of the fall. How sinful are we? The great attraction of semi-Pelagianism has always been that they avoid to obvious and gross error of the Pelagians, who denied any legal or spiritual connection between Adam and us, formally by affirming our connection with Adam. They affirm that in Adam’s fall sinned we all but they deny what Paul, Augustine, the medieval neo-Augustinians, and the Protestants affirm, namely that the effect of Adam’s sin is extensive and intensive. According to the semi-Pelagians, whether in Rome or out, we’re not that sinful. In this case, they assert that we are not so sinful that we cannot do our part in cooperation with grace, which is said to make it possible.

He distinguished between different aspects of human freedom. On the question of what Luther and Melanchthon called “external freedom,” i.e., the lack of compulsion, there is no disagreement:

Human actions are such as are common to all men good and bad, as to speak, and use reason, the practice of [al]mechanical and liberal arts, and the outward performance of civil and ecclesiastical duties; [such] as to come to [the] church, to speak and preach the word, to reach out the hand to receive the Sacrament, and to lend the ear to listen outwardly to that which is taught. And hither we may refer the outward actions of civil virtues: as namely, justice, temperance, gentleness, and liberality.

The Augustinian and Protestant doctrine of corruption (pravitas) does not teach that humans are as wicked as they could be. In the providence of God, by which the Spirit restrains evil, humans are capable of civil, outward, virtues.

Protestants agree with Rome that when fallen humans sin they do so without compulsion.

[I]n these we likewise join with the Papists, and teach, that in sins or evil actions man have freedom of will.

On Free Will And Regeneration
Perkins says that we Protestants even agree with Rome, in part on a second part of spiritual willing.

We likewise in part join with the Church of Rome, and say, that in the first conversion of a sinner, man’s free-will concurs with Gods grace, as a fellow or co-worker in some sort. For in the conversion of a sinner three things are required: the Word, God’s spirit, and man’s will, for man’s will is not passive in all and every respect, but has an action in the best conversion and change of the soul. When any man is converted, this work of God is not done by compulsion, but he is converted willingly: and at the very time when he is converted, by Gods grace he wills his conversion.

The point of discussion is what we now call “regeneration,” not sanctification as much as the moment of awakening from death to life. He quoted Augustine to the effect that when God gives quickening grace he also gives “a desire and will” simultaneously. We will freely but we do so with a renewed, Spirit-given, will. When he gives faith the Spirit gives a new will causing the will to “desire faith and to willingly receive the gift of believing….” So, even in regeneration we do not act under compulsion because, as Perkins noted, “no man can receive grace utterly against his will, considering [that] will constrained is no will.”

On free will, the difference between confessional Protestants and Rome is the effect of the fall.

The Papists say, mans will concurs and works with Gods graces in the first conversion of a sinner, by itself, and by it own natural power: and is only helped by the Holy Ghost. We say, that mans will works with grace in the first conversion: yet not of it self, but by grace. Or thus: They say, will has a natural cooperation: we deny it, and say it has cooperation only by grace, being in itself not active but passive, willing well only as it is moved by grace, whereby it must first be acted and moved, before it can act or will.

The difference between Rome and Protestants is illustrated by the different analogies we use. They use the analogy of a prisons and prisoners, who are said to be bound and weak, who are “but living in part” i.e., “not wholly dead” and therefore “yet has ability to stir….” On this image, if the warden [the Holy Spirit] “and do but untie his bands, and reach him his hand of grace, then can [the prisoner] stand of himself, and will his own salvation, or any thing else that is good.”

We Protestants, however, use a different image to describe the human condition after the fall: death. Perkins wrote that we must describe the prisoner as he actually is, “even stark dead” and “one that lies rotten in the grave, not having any ability or power to move or stir: and therefore he cannot so much as desire to do any thing that is truly good of himself” who is utterly dependent upon the Spirit, who

must first come and put a new soul into him, even the spirit of grace to quicken and revive him: and then being thus revived, the will begins to will good things at the very same time, when God by his spirit first infuses grace.

This is, as Perkins wrote, “the true difference between us and the Church of Rome in this point of free will.” The issue is not whether we sinned in Adam but whether, as Perkins put it, “after baptism…how far forth it remains after baptism.” In other words, after baptism, how sinful are we. This is important because, as he wrote, “hereupon depend many points of Popery.”

The Reformed and Romanists agree that after baptism “natural corruption” is abolished but we disagree as to what extent. For Perkins there were three things in original sin:

  1. The punishment (the first and second death)
  2. Guiltiness (the binding up of the creature unto punishment)
  3. The fault (offending of God)

Under the third heading he addressed our guilt in Adam, the corruption of the heart, i.e., a natural inclination and proclivity to “any thing that is evil or against the law of God.”

According to Perkins, for the regenerate, in baptism, “the punishment of original sin is taken away” because “There is no condemnation (saith the Apostle) to them that be in Jesus Christ, Rom. 8. 1.”

Working backward, guilt is also taken away in the regenerate (i.e., those given new life). He cautioned that this is true of the person regenerate but not of the “sin in the person.” His clear intent was to restrict these benefits to the regenerate and he did not attribute the power of regeneration (new life) to the sacrament of baptism. In effect he was saying that Baptism was the sign and seal to the regenerate of what is promised in the gospel. He continued to explain that the corruption of sin remains until death.

Where he differ with Rome, however, concerns “the manner, and the measure of the abolishment of this sin.” Rome teaches, he argued, that, in baptism, original sin is “taken away” so completely that “it ceases to be a sin properly” so that it is now, after baptism, only a “want, a defect, a weakness” which leaves the potential of sin “like tinder” that is ready to burst into flames. They take this position in order to make it possible for them to “uphold some gross opinions of theirs namely, that a man in this life may fulfill the law of God: and do good works void of sin: that he may stand righteous at the bar of God’s judgement by them.”

In contrast, the Reformed teach that though “original sin be taken away in the regenerate” nevertheless it remains in them after baptism not only as “a want and weakness” but “as sin….”

He appealed to Romans 7:17. Sin, not mere want or weakness, dwells in baptized believers. Further, baptized infants “die the bodily death before they come to the years of discretion.” If baptism removes original sin in the way Rome claims there would be no cause of death them. Third, concupiscence (sinful desire) remains after baptism (Galatians 5:17 and (James 1:14). Finally, under this heading, Perkins appealed to Augustine (Epistle 29), where he argued that in baptism the reigning power of sin is broken but not that there is no sin whatever.

Perkins concluded this section by addressing four objections the essence of which has to do with defining sin. According to Perkins, Rome is Pelagianizing. Rome’s account of sin does not match the biblical doctrine of sin and it doesn’t square with Augustine’s (mature) doctrine of sin against the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians. Rome is implicitly perfectionist. Once again, according to Rome, in Adam we are sinful but we are not so sinful (depraved) that we cannot do our part, cooperate with grace unto sanctification and thence to justification.

Assurance Of Salvation
Perkins’ third point against Rome concerned the assurance of salvation. According to Perkins, the Protestants and Rome agree that:

  1. A man in this life may be certain of salvation; and the same thing does the Church of Rome teach and hold (William Perkins, A Reformed Catholic 562).
  2. A man is to put a certain trust [“affiance”] in God’s mercy in Christ for the salvation of his soul
  3. Assurance of salvation in our hearts is joined doubting; and there is no man so assured of his salvation, but he at sometime doubts
  4. A man may be certain of the salvation of men, or of the Church by Catholic faith: and so say we.
  5. A man by faith may be assured of his own salvation through extraordinary revelation, as Abraham and others were, and so do we.

The disagreements between the Reformed faith and Rome on assurance are quite substantial. Perkins wrote,

We hold that a man may be certain of his salvation in his own conscience even in this life, and that by ordinary and special faith. They hold that a man is certain of his salvation only by hope: both of us hold a certainty, we by faith, they by hope (ibid, 563).

There have been some Reformed writers who made assurance a second blessing. There are some who continue to teach that assurance may be had only by a special work of the Spirit. This is closer to the Roman dogma than to the confessional Reformed faith. According to Roman dogma, assurance is only “only probable.” Further, by contrast we “hold and avouch that our certainty by true faith is infallible.”

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), which had been widely used in Latin and English by the time Perkins wrote, confessed that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. The first question began with “trust” (German) or “consolation” (Latin). Our comfort, trust, consolation is that we belong to Christ. It’s not that might belong or we belong if we meet a test. Our comfort is that we cannot be separated from Christ.

According to the Heidelberg Catechism, true faith is “a certain knowledge and a hearty trust” (following the German text). The Latin text, with which Perkins was certainly familiar defined faith as not only knowledge (notitia) “by which we firmly assent to all things, which God works in us by his Word, but also a certain trust (certa fiducia) kindled (accensa) in my heart by the Holy Spirit through the gospel….” In fact, the catechism refers to certainty no fewer than nine times.

Perkins summarized the difference between Rome and the Reformed thus:

our confidence comes from certain and ordinary faith: theirs from hope, ministering (as they say) but a conjectural certainty.

He anticipates three objections from Rome:

  1. Where there is no word, there is no faith, for these two are relatives: but there is no word of God, saying, Cornelius believe thou, Peter believe thou, and thou shalt be saved (ibid);
  2. It is no article of the Creed, that a man must believe his own salvation: and therefore no man is bound thereto
  3. We are taught to pray for the pardon of our sins day by day, Mat. 6 12. and all this were needless, if we could be assured of pardon in this life.

Perkins replied:

It is true. God does not speak to men particularly, “Believe and you shall be saved. But yet does he that which is answerable hereunto, in that he gives a general promise, with a commandment to apply the same: and has ordained the holy ministry of the word to apply the same to the persons of the hearers in his own name: and that is as much as if the Lord himself should speak to men particularly. To speak more plainly: in the Scripture the promises of salvation be indefinitely propounded: it does not say any where, “If John will believe, he shall be saved;” or “if Peter will believe, he shall be saved;” but “whosoever believes shall be saved.” Now then comes the minister of the word, who standing in the room of God, and in the stead of Christ himself, takes the indefinite promises of the Gospel, and lays them to the hearts of every particular man: and this in effect is as much as if Christ himself should say, “Cornelius believe thou, and thou shalt be saved: Peter believe thou, and thou shalt be saved.”

These promises are not for “hypocrites, heretics, and unrepentant persons.” They are presumptuous, not believing. “Nevertheless it is true in all the elect having the spirit of grace, and prayer: for when God in the ministry of the word being his own ordinance….” When the offer of the gospel comes, they believe by divine grace.

Rome Does Not Understand The Creed

for in that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, every article implies in it this particular faith. And in the first article, “I believe in God,” are three things contained: the first, to believe that there is a God, the second, to believe the same God to be my God, the third, to put my confidence in him for my salvation: and so much contain the other articles, which are concerning God.

Finally, to the objection that we cannot have assurance since that denies the fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer that asks for the forgiveness of sins:

The fourth petition must be understood not so much of our old debts or sins, as of our present and new sins: for as we go on from day to day, so we add sin to sin: and for the pardon of them must we humble our selves and pray. I answer again, that we pray for the pardon of our sins; not because we have no assurance thereof, but because assurance is weak and small: we grow on from grace to grace in Christ, as children do to mans estate by little and little (ibid, 564).

According to Perkins “true faith” is “both an infallible assurance, and a particular assurance of the remission of sins, and of life everlasting.” True faith is not simply a categorical faith that certain things are true of believers but a particular faith, i.e., that things are true of one’s self. He appealed to Matthew 14:31, our Lord’s rebuke of the disciples’ unbelief. To doubt is not to believe. To believe is to trust. As Perkins says, “to be certain and to give assurance is of the nature of faith.” He also quoted Romans 4:20, 22. Abraham, he reminds us, “did not doubt” God’s promise but believed. The “property of faith is to apprehend and apply the promise, and the thing promised, Christ with his benefits” John 1:12).

The very act of communion presupposes a personal, particular assurance:

[H]e sets forth his best hearers, as eaters of his body and drinkers of his blood; and…he intends to prove this conclusion, that to eat his body and to drink his blood, and to believe in him, are all one. Now then, if Christ be as food, and if to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, be to believe in him, then must there be a proportion between eating and believing (ibid, 564).

Perkins also argued the “Holy Ghost particularly testifies to us our adoption, the remission of our sins, and the salvation of our soul. Therefore we may and must particularly and certainly by faith believe the same” (ibid, 565). Rome says that the Spirit does witness to us about our adoption but they reduce it to a “bare sense” or mere “comfortable feeling of God’s love and favor” but it is weak “and oftentimes deceitful.”

Law And Gospel
By definition, the command to pray presupposes faith. One cannot ask anything of God unless he believes that God has made a promise. Part of the Roman problem is that they do not distinguish the law and the gospel:

God in the Gospel commands us to believe the pardon of our own sins, and life everlasting; and therefore we must believe thus much, and may be assured thereof. This proposition is plain by the distinction of the commandments of the law, and of the Gospel, The commandments of the law show us what we must do, but minister no power to perform the thing to be done; but the doctrine and commandments of the Gospel do otherwise, and therefore they are called spirit and life: God with the commandment giving grace that the thing prescribed may be done. Now this is a commandment of the Gospel, to believe remission of sins, for it was the substance of Christ’s ministry, repent and believe the Gospel.

Since Rome makes all of Scripture a species of law (old law or new law) they see no free promise in Scripture. It’s worth noting how naturally Perkins turns to this distinction. It was a basic part of his hermeneutic (way of interpreting Scripture) and a quite uncontroversial piece of mental furniture.

Again, the gospel is not believed in general but in particular. It’s more than a vague hope. When Rome speaks of “hope” she makes it essentially uncertainty. Biblically, hope is certainty. “For the property of true and lively hope is never to make a man ashamed, Romans 5:5.” Rome objects that we can never be sure of our own disposition (to which we we come in the next post the series) and Perkins agrees. We cannot be certain of our disposition but we can be certain of God’s toward us and we may be, on the basis of his gracious promise in Christ revealed in his Holy Word.

The Formal And Material Principles Of The Reformation
In theological terms, there were two principles of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation: the formal principle and the material principle. The first, the formal principle, was the doctrine that Scripture is the sole, unique, and infallible authority for Christian faith and life. The second, the material principle, was the pan-Protestant consensus that sinners are justified, i.e., accepted by God as righteous, solely on the basis of righteousness or merit Christ earned for his people and imputed to them and received by faith that rests and trusts in Christ and his finished work.

In his fourth point, Perkins turned his attention to the material principle of the Reformation, the “justification of a sinner.” He first summarizes the Protestant position and then the Roman view indicating where we disagree. We get a glimpse into the significance of this section (and the heat with which it was composed) when he added, “wherein we are to stand against them, even to death.”

He began with “four rules:”

Rule I. That justification is an action of God, whereby he absolves a sinner, and accepts him to life everlasting for the righteousness and merit of Christ.
Rule II. That justification stands in two things: first, in the remission of sins by the merit of Christ his death: secondly, in the imputation of Christ his righteousness; which is another action of God whereby he accounts and esteems that righteousness which is in Christ, as the righteousness of that sinner which believes in him. By Christ his righteousness we are to understand two things, first, his sufferings specially in his death and passion, secondly, his obedience in fulfilling the law: both which go together: for Christ in suffering obedience and obeying suffered. And the very shedding of his blood to which our salvation is ascribed, must not only be considered as it is passive, that is, a suffering; but also as it is active, that is, an obedience, in which he showed his exceeding love both to his Father and us, and thus fulfilled the law for us. This point if some had well thought on, they would not have placed all justification in remission of sins as they do.

A word of explanation is in order here. Under this point Perkins not only gave a brief account of the Protestant doctrine of justification but articulated it in light of developments after Calvin, one of which was the denial by the Lutheran theologian Kargius and the Reformed theologian Piscator (and others) of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience. To do this they first made a chronological distinction between the obedience Christ owed for himself, which he accomplished in order to qualify himself to be the Savior of sinners by his death. His passion, or “suffering” then, they argued is that part of Christ’s obedience intended to be substitutionary.The majority of the Reformed theologians, however, rejected the chronological distinction in Christ’s work. They taught that his “whole obedience” (to use the language that was proposed at the Westminster Assembly but rejected in favor of “perfect obedience” in order to satisfy the minority who opposed IAO) was both active and passive. This is why Perkins says that Christ suffered while he obeyed and he obeyed while he suffered. For more on this see the chapter on the imputation of active obedience in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

Rule III. That justification is from Gods mere mercy and grace, procured only by the merit of Christ.
Rule IV. That a man is justified by faith alone; because faith is that alone instrument created in the heart by the holy Ghost, whereby a sinner lays hold of Christ his righteousness, and applies the same unto himself. There is neither hope, nor love, nor any other grace of God within man, that can do this but faith alone.
In contrast, Perkins wrote, the Roman communion teaches that before justification there must be a “preparation” which is worked partly by the Holy Spirit and partly by the “power of natural free will” by which a man disposes himself or a “habitus” is created in him toward future justification.

When Rome says “faith” they mean “a general knowledge” or an intellectual apprehension of one’s sins, “a fear of hell, hope of salvation, love of God, repentance and the like….” When we have attained to these things they are said by Rome to be “fully disposed” to their justification. In short, for Rome, justification is the process, the result of sanctification or grace and cooperation with grace.

For Rome, justification is not God’s declaration that we are righteous on account of what Christ has done for us but a recognition of the righteousness that has been wrought in us by grace and cooperation with grace.

To effect this, two things are required: first, the pardon of sin, which is one part of the first justification: secondly, the infusion of inward righteousness, whereby the heart is purged and sanctified, and this habit [disposition] of righteousness stands specially in hope and charity.

This is the first justification. According to Rome there is a second, when a “just man is made better and more just: and this, say they, may proceed from works of grace: because he which is righteous by the first justification, can bring forth good works: by the merit whereof he is able to make himself more just and righteous: and yet they grant that the first justification comes only of Gods mercy by the merit of Christ.”

The great difference between the Protestants and Rome is the “cause” or ground of justification with God. We say: “Nothing but the righteousness of Christ, which consists partly in his sufferings and partly in his active obedience in fulfilling the rigor of the law.” Rome grants that “in justification sin is pardoned by the merits of Christ, and that none can be justified without remission of sins” and they concede that “the righteousness whereby a man is made righteous before God, comes from Christ” alone. Further, the “most learned among them” teach that Christ’s satisfaction and merit is “imputed to every sinner” who believes and we agree.

The “very point of difference”is that we say that Christ made satisfaction for us and Rome says

The thing…that makes us righteous before God, and causes us to be accepted to life everlasting, is remission of sins, and the habit of inward righteousness; or charity with the fruits thereof.

Perkins hastened to add that we believe in a “habit of righteousness.” We call it sanctification and it is the “most excellent gift of God” but it not the ground of justification but rather the fruit of justification.

William Perkins illustrates the Reformed contention that Rome, by embracing the very error rejected at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), by effectively turning its back on Augustine, by rejecting the biblical doctrines of sin, grace, free will, regeneration, and the biblical distinction between law and gospel, removed itself from true catholicity. Perkins thought that catholicity was a significant category. He valued universality. In other words, he did not consider the Reformed a mere sect nor the Reformation a sectarian movement. In that he might be thought to have answered critics of the Reformation such as Hillaire Belloc, who classified the Reformation as one of the great heresies in the history of the church.

Ursinus Contra Intercession By Saints

Obj. 1. The saints, on account of their virtues, are to be honored with the worship either of adoration (λατρεια) or of veneration (δουλεια). But it is not in the former sense that they are to be worshipped; because this form of worship is due to God alone, inasmuch as it attributes to him universal power, providence and dominion, which can be ascribed to God alone. Therefore veneration is due to the saints, or such worship as that which we ascribe to them for their holiness.

Ans. We deny the consequence; because the major proposition is incomplete; for besides the worship of adoration and veneration, which is the distinction here made, there is another kind of veneration, such as is proper to the saints, which is the acknowledgment and celebration of the faith, holiness and gifts for which they were distinguished, obedience to the doctrine which they taught, and an imitation of their lives and piety, concerning which Augustin says: p 543 “They are to be honored by imitation, but not by adoration.” This veneration is due to the saints, and we have no desire to take it from them, whether living or dead; but, on the other hand, willingly attribute it to them according to the command of the Apostle: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Heb. 13:7.) Wo also deny the minor proposition; because the distinction which they make between the worship of adoration and veneration is of no force, inasmuch as these are not different forms of worship, but one and the same; neither do they belong to the saints, or to any creature, but to God alone, because he knows and hears in all places and at all times the thoughts, the groans and desires of those who call upon him, and relieves their necessities. No one but God can hear those who call upon him. Therefore this honor must be ascribed to him alone, because he hears them that pray. This honor belongs also to Christ, because it is on account of his merits and intercession that God grants unto us the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and all other good things. Hence this honor cannot be transferred to the saints without manifest sacrilege and idolatry, whether it be under the name of adoration, or veneration, or whatever name it may be. This distinction, too, which they make, is of no account, since the words are used indifferently in the original to signify the same thing, both in the Scriptures and in profane writers. Concerning God it is said (Matt. 4:10), “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Here the Greek word λατζευσεις is used. And in Matt. 6:25, it is said, “He cannot serve God and Mammon;” in which place the word δουλευειν is used. Which word is also used in the following places, where it is said, “Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God.” “They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thes. 1:9. Rom. 16:18.) Paul also every where calls himself the servant of God (δουθ ον θεου). In the Greek text, “servile or slavish work is every where termed λατζευτον. Suidas writes that λατζευειν means the same thing as to serve for wages. Valla shows that this same word signifies to serve man as well as to serve God, adducing a passage from Xenophon, where a man says that he is ready to risk his life, sooner than his wife should be made to serve. And the wife, on the other hand, says that she would rather lose her life, than that her husband should serve, where the word δουθ υη on is used. Hence these words upon which the Papists base the above distinction do not differ, but express one and the same thing.

Obj. 2. We ought to honor those whom God honors. God honors the saints: “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 19:28.) Therefore they are to be honored by us.

Ans. We admit the argument, in as far as it has respect to the honor which God attributes to the saints. In this, however, invocation is never included. God himself says, “I am the Lord: that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Is. 42:8.)

Obj. 3. The hearing of our secret sighs and groans, which belongs to God by nature, is through grace communicated to the saints. Therefore they are to be invoked.

Ans. We deny the antecedent: for God does not communicate those properties by which he desires to be distinguished from creatures; such as immensity, omnipotence, infinite wisdom, seeing and knowing the heart, hearing prayer, etc.—these are properties which God p 544 communicates to no creature, neither by nature nor by grace.” “For thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Chron. 6:30.)

Obj. 4. God has communicated to the saints the power of working miracles, which is, nevertheless, a property belonging to himself alone. Therefore, he communicates to the saints at least some of the properties by which he is distinguished from creatures, so that they may have a knowledge of the thoughts and desires of those who pray unto them.

Ans. 1. The consequence which is here drawn is of no force; for it does not follow, even though it were true (which we do not admit) that God had communicated some of his properties to the saints, and that the hearing of prayer is included amongst them, if the Scriptures do not teach the fact.

Ans. 2. Nor is the reason which is assigned of any force, that the saints have a knowledge of the desires of those who invoke them, because they have been endowed with the gift of working miracles. For the power of working miracles is not transfused into the saints; nor do they perform these miracles by their own power, but merely as ministers. Hence, the saints are said to do these things in a figurative sense, when God employs them as ministers, and joins the working of a miracle, as the sign of his presence, power and will.

Obj. 5. Some prophets seemed to know the thoughts and counsels of other men: so Ahijah knew the thoughts of the wife of Jeroboam; Elisha knew the thoughts of the king of Syria; Peter knew the thoughts of Ananias and Sapphira, &c. (1 Kings 14:6. 2 Kings 6:12. Acts 5:3.) Therefore, God has communicated to the saints a knowledge of the hearts of men.

Ans. 1. Examples that are few in number and of an extraordinary character do not constitute a general rule.

Ans. 2. These persons knew these things by the gift of prophecy with which they were endowed; and yet they did not know them always, but only at that time, when the good of the church required it: nor was it by any power lodged within them, by which they were enabled to know the heart, but by a divine revelation; nor did they know all things, but only such as God was pleased to reveal to them. Hence, it does not appear that the saints, after death, are also endowed with the gift of prophecy, since there is no need of it in eternal life.

Obj. 6. The angels in heaven rejoice over the repentance of sinners. (Luke 15:10.) Therefore, they know when men exercise true penitence, and must also have a knowledge of the desires of those who call upon them in prayer.

Ans A cause that is inferred from an effect which may result from other causes, is not of much force or consequence. For it is not necessary that the angels should know the repentance of the sinner by looking into the heart, inasmuch as they may know it either from the effects and signs which accompany it, or from a divine revelation.

Obj. 7. The soul of the rich man when in hell saw Abraham in heaven, and addressed prayer to him, whom Abraham also heard. The rich man likewise knew the state and condition of his five brethren who were still on earth. Therefore, the saints in heaven see and know the desires and condition of those who are upon the earth, and are to be invoked.

Ans. No doctrine can be established from allegories and parables. That that, now, is an allegory, by which Christ desired to express the thoughts, torments and condition of the ungodly who are suffering punishment, is evident from this, that it possesses all the parts of a parable. Hence, it establishes nothing in favor of the invocation of the saints. And even though all these things had been done as they are represented, yet they prove nothing as it p 545 respects the doctrine of the invocation of the saints, since Abraham is said to have known these things by speech, and not because he had a knowledge of the secret thoughts of the heart.

Obj. 8. Christ knows all things, according to his human nature. Therefore, the saints also have a knowledge of all things.

Ans. The examples are not the same. Christ’s human understanding perceives and knows, and his bodily eyes and ears hear and see all things which he, according to his human nature, desires to perceive, either with his mind or external senses, on account of its personal union with the divine nature which reveals these things, or on account of his office as mediator. But it cannot be proven from the Scriptures that all things are revealed to the angels and saints, which are made known to the human understanding of Christ, by his Divinity.

Obj. 9. The images of all things are reflected, or appear in the vision and face of the Trinity. The holy angels and blessed men who have departed this life see the face of the Deity, as it is said, “In heaven the angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:10.) Therefore they, in this way, see and know all that we do, suffer, think, &c.

Ans. 1. The major proposition is uncertain, and cannot be proven from the Scriptures.

Ans. 2. Nor can the minor be established; for id is said, “No man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18.)

Ans. 3. Although the angels and saints in heaven have a clear knowledge of God, yet we are not to suppose that they naturally know all things, which are in God. For if this were the case their knowledge would be infinite, or in other words, it would be equal to the knowledge of God, which is absurd, and contrary to the testimony of Scripture, which declares that the angels are ignorant of the day of judgment. God reveals to every one, both in heaven and on earth, as much as he will according to his own good pleasure.

Obj. 10. The friendship and intercourse of the saints with God and Christ is so great, that it is not possible that a revelation of those things which we ask at their hands should be withheld from them.

Ans. That consequence which is drawn from an insufficient cause, is of no force. For this friendship and intercourse will continue, although God does not reveal to the saints as much as they desire, but merely those things which it is profitable for them to know, for his glory and for their own happiness.

Obj. 11. Christ is the mediator of redemption; the saints are mediators of intercession. Therefore there is nothing detracted from Christ, if the saints are invoked as intercessors, and as those who plead with God in our behalf.

Ans. We deny the distinction that is here made; because the Scriptures teach that Christ is the only mediator, and that he has not only redeemed us by once offering himself for us upon the cross, but that he also continually appears before the Father, and makes intercesssion for us. (See Heb. 5:7, 9; 7:27. John 19:9. Rom. 8:34. Heb. 9:24. 1 John: 2.)

Obj. 12. Christ alone is mediator by virtue of his own merit and inter cession; the samts are mediators and intercessors by virtue of the merit and intercession of Christ: that is, their intercessions with God in our behalf avail for the sake of the merit and intercession of Christ. There fore that which is peculiar to Christ is not transferred to the saints.

Ans. Those who make intercession in this way, detract from the honor of Christ (p. 546) as much as in the former case, which will appear by making in the antecedent a full enumeration of the ways in which the honor of Christ is transferred to others; for not only those who by their own virtue, but even those who, by the virtue of Christ, are said to merit for us from God those good things promised for the sake of Christ’s merits alone, are substituted in the place of Christ. And again: if the prayers of the saints are pleasing to God, and heard on account of the merit and intercession of Christ, they cannot please God, nor obtain anything for us by their own holiness and merits, as the Papists teach; for he who stands in need of a mediator and intercessor, cannot appear as an intercessor for others, although he may pray for others. Hence our adversaries overthrow, by their own argument, the doctrine which they vainly attempt to establish.

Obj. 13. Those who pray for us in heaven are to be invoked. The saints offer prayers in our behalf in heaven. Therefore they are to be addressed in prayer.

Ans. There is here an error in taking that as a cause which is none; for the mere fact that any one prays for another is not a sufficient reason why we should address prayer to him. We readily grant that the saints in heaven do ardently desire the salvation of the church militant, and that their prayers are heard according to the counsels of God; but that the saints know the misfortunes and business of every one in particular, and that they hear the prayers which may be addressed to them, we deny.

Obj. 14. God said, Jer. 15:1: “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be towards this people.” Therefore the saints stand before God, and make intercession for us.

Ans. 1. But even though we were to grant the whole argument, yet it does not, therefore, follow, as we have already shown, that we ought to pray unto them.

Ans. 2. The language which is here quoted is figurative. It introduces the dead, and represents them praying, as though they were living; so that the sense is, if Moses and Samuel were yet living, and would pray for this wicked people, as they prayed for them and were heard when they lived upon earth, yet they could not obtain grace and pardon for them. There is a similar passage found in Ez. 14:4, which must be explained in like manner.

Obj. 15. The Lord said through Isaiah: “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (2 Kings 19:34.) Therefore God confers benefits upon men upon the earth, for the sake of the merits and intercessions of David, and of other saints after death.

Ans. But it was not in respect to the merits of David, but in respect to the promise of the Messiah, who was to be born from the house of David, that God promised to protect and defend the city referred to. And if any one should object, and say that the deliverance of the city of David from the assault of the Assyrians might have been effected without the benefit and promise of the Messiah, and was therefore promised on account of the merits of David: we reply that they err who imagine that the benefits of Christ extend merely to those things or promises, upon the performance of which the promises made to David with reference to the Messiah could only be preserved, and receive their fulfillment. For all the benefits of God, including those that are temporal as well as those that are spiritual—those that were granted before the coming of the Messiah as well as those which have been granted since—those without which the p 547 promise of the Messiah could, as well as those without which it could not be fulfilled, are all conferred upon the church for the sake of Christ. “For the promises of God in him [Christ] are yea, and in him, Amen.” (2 Cor. 1:20.)

Obj. 16. Jacob said of the sons of Joseph, “Let my name be on them, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac.” (Gen. 48:16.) Therefore it is lawful to call upon the saints who have departed this life.

Ans. This is to misunderstand the figure of speech which is here employed, which is a Hebrew phrase, meaning not adoration, but an adoption of the children of Joseph; so that the sense is, Let them be called after my name, or let them take their name from me: that is, let them be called my sons, and not my grand-children. The phrase is similar to that found in Isaiah 4:1, where it is said: “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, Let us be called by thy name:” that is, let us be called thy wives.

Obj. 17. Eliphaz says to Job, chapter 5, v. 1, Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn.” Therefore Job is commanded to implore help from some one of the saints.

Ans. This passage is evidently at war with the doctrine of the invocation of the saints: for it affirms that the angels so far excel men in purity, that they will not make answer, or appear when addressed or invoked by men.

Obj. 18. Christ says, Matt. 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it, unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Therefore the invocation of the saints is an honor, which is showed to Christ himself.

Ans. Christ does not speak of the invocation of the saints; but of the duty of love which it becomes us to perform towards the afflicted members of his church in this life. The passage, therefore, furnishes no proof in favor of the invocation of the saints.

Obj. 19. “The Angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah against which thou hast indignation these three score and ten years?” (Zech. 1:2.) Therefore the angels pray for men in their times of need and distress, and so are to be prayed unto.

Ans. 1. But this passage furnishes no proof that all the angels know the wants and afflictions of all men. The calamities of the Jews were manifest not only to the sight of angels, but also to men.

Ans. 2. We deny the consequence which is here drawn from the angels to the saints who have departed this life: for the care and defence of the church, in this world, has been committed to the angels. They are, therefore, conversant with the things of this world, and see our wants and necessities, which the saints do not, inasmuch as this charge is not committed to their care.

Ans. 3. The consequence which is here drawn, that we must pray unto the angels, because they pray for us, is in like manner, of no force, as we have already shown.

Obj. 20. Judus Maccabeus saw in a vision the High Priest, Onias, and Jeremiah the prophet, praying for the people. (2 Mac. 15:14.) Therefore the saints who have departed this life pray for us, and are to be invoked.

Ans. No doctrine can be established by the authority of an apocryphal book. We also deny the consequence which is here deduced; for not every one that prays for us, is to be prayed to by us.

Obj. 21. Baruch says, “Hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites.” p 548 (Bar 3:4.) Therefore the saints pray for us, and are to be invoked.

Ans. We may return the same answer to this objection that we did to the preceding one, that an apocryphal book proves nothing. There is also a misunderstanding of the figure of speech here used; for those who are called the dead Israelites are not such as had departed this life, but such as were living and calling upon God, but who, on account of their calamities, were similar to those who were dead.

Obj. 22. It is not permitted to come into the presence of a prince without the intercession of some one. Therefore much less can we come into the presence of God, without some one to appear before him as our intercessor.

Ans. We grant the whole argument; for without Christ, the mediator, no one can have access to God, as Christ himself says, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6.) Ambrose very appropriately and forcibly answers the above objection in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, where he thus writes: “Some men are wont to use a miserable excuse, saying that we obtain access to God through his righteous saints in the same way in which any one comes into the presence of a prince, which is through his attendants. Well: is any one so mad and unmindful of his own safety, as to transfer the honor of the King to any of his attendants, since those who have been found to do this, have been condemned as guilty of treason. And yet these persons suppose that those are not guilty of treason against God, who transfer the honor of his name to creatures, and forsaking their Lord, worship their fellow servants, as if this accomplished any thing in the way of assisting them in the service of God. We come into the presence of a king through his nobles and attendants, because he is a man as we are, and does not know to whom he ought to entrust the affairs of his kingdom. But as it respects God, from whom nothing is concealed, and who knows the merits of all, we need no one to secure us an access to him, but a devout mind. For wherever such an one speaks, he will answer nothing,” &c. Chrysostrom writes. “The Canaanitish woman did not ask of James, nor did she beseech John, nor did she go to Peter, nor did she come to the whole corps of the Apostles, nor did she seek any Mediator: but instead of all these, she took re pentance for her companion, which repentance supplied the place of an advocate, and in this way she went to the chief fountain. So much concerning the sixth virtue comprehended in this commandment, which virtue we have defined as invocation, or calling upon God.

Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G. W. Williard (Cincinnati, OH: Elm Street Printing Company, 1888), 542–48. Formatting modified for this post.

Chronology Of the Medieval And Reformation Church

Drafted c. 1995. Revised 2007

1100 c. b. Peter Lombard (1160). Magister Sententiae).

1155-58 Lombard publishes Sententiarum libri quatuor

1200 c. Albertus Magnus (d.1280)

1215 Fourth Lateran Council

c. 1225 b. Thomas at Aquino (d. 1274)

1231 Heidelberg becomes capitol of Palatinate

1239 Thomas studies in Naples.

1240-42 Thomas studies with Albertus Magnus.

1244 Thomas becomes a Domincan Friar.

1252 Thomas joins the faculty of Theology as Magister in Paris.

1255 The Faculty of Arts in the University of Paris makes the study of Aristotle compulsory.

1261 William of Muerbecker makes a new translation of Aristotle from Greek.

1263-65 c. b. Duns Scotus Johannes just over the border in Scotland (d.1308).

1274 d. Thomas Aquinas

1285 c. b. in Surrey, William of Ockham (Occam) Venerabilis Inceptor

1291 Duns Scotus ordained in Northampton

1298-1301 Duns Scotus teaches in the Faculty of Theology in Oxford

1302 Boniface VIII issues Unam Sanctam

1308 d. John Duns Scotus in Cologne.

1327 Ockham charges Pope John XXII with heresy.

1328 c. (d..1384), John Wycliffe is born in Yorkshire.

Ockham is excommunicated and forced to flee from Pope John XXII to the protection of Louis of Bavaria to 1347.

1331 Ockham expelled from the Franciscans.

b. Geert (Gerard) de Groot (1340-84) founder of the Brethren of the Common Life.

1341 Petrarch is made poet laureate in Rome.

1347 d. William of Ockham in Bavaria.

1348 First University founded at Prague

1349 d. Thomas Bradwardine

d. Robert Holcot

1353 Boccaccio’s Decameron.

1358 d. Gregory of Rimini

1365 University of Vienna founded

1372 b. Jan Hus (1372-1415)

1378-1417 Papal schism at Avignon

1374 Conversion of Geert de Groot, foundation of the Brethren of the Common Life

1380 b. Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) most famous member of the Brethren of the Common Life, author of Imitatio Christi.

1384 d. John Wycliffe

d. Geert Groot, founder of the Brethren of the Common Life.

1386 Heidelberg University organized

1388 University of Cologne organized

1392 University of Eurfurt founded

1396 (d.) Marsilius of Ingehen, associated with the introduction of Nominalism to the University of Heidelberg.

1400 b.Nicolas of Cusa (c.1400-1464)

1406 (d. 1457) Lorenzo Valla.

1409 University of Leipzig founded.

1414-19 Council of Constance ending the Papal Schism

1420 Pierre d’ Ailly d.

b. circa. Gabriel Biel (d. 1495)

1425 University of Louvain founded

1429 d. Jean Gerson

1433 b. Alexander Hegius (von Heek), German humanist.

1437 Council of Basle

1440 Lorenzo Valla’s On the True Good.

1441 Thomas a’ Kempis (Van Kempen) publishes Imitatio Christi the primary example of the Devotio moderna.

1453 Fall of Constantinople: increased migration westward of Greek speaking scholars and their MSS.

1454 circa. First printing press at Mainz

1455 b. c. Jacques de d’Etaples (LeFevre/Faber Stapulensis d. 1536), French humanist and precursor to the Reformation (c.1455-1536)

Johannes Reuchlin (d. 1522), German humanist and Hebrew scholar and great uncle to Philip Melanchthon.

1450 Pope Nicholas V founds the Vatican Library.

1452-1519 Leonardo daVinci

1456 Johann Gutenberg publishes Latin Bible.

1460 b. Johannes von Staupitz (d. 1524 ).

Pius II issues Execrabilis on 18 Jan. forbidding those who resist papal commands to appeal to a council.

1460 University of Basle founded.

1463 b. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola (d. 1494), Italian humanist.

1466 b. [d. 1536 d. Erasmus]

b. [1466-1540] Guillame Bude, French legal humanist.

1469 b. (d. 1527) Niccolo Machiavelli

1470 (d. 1519) Johann Tetzel.

1471 Sixtus IV (d. 1484) reigns, who extended plenary indulgences to the dead.

Thomas Wolsey (d. 1530)

1474 Condemnation of Via Moderna at Paris. Those sympathetic to the Via Moderna migrate to Germany.

1475-1564 Michelangelo

1477 War breaks out between France and the Hapsburgs.

1480 Karlstadt (aka Andreas Bodenstein, (c.1480-1541)

1481 b. Balthasar Hubmaier (d. 1528)

Decree against Via Moderna rescinded.

1482 (d. 1531) Johann Oecolampadius (a supporter of Zwingli) is born

1483 b. (prob.) Martin Luther (d. 1546). This is the date calculated by Philipp Melanchthon.

b. Gasparo Contarini (d. 1542), leader of the Augustinians at the Council of Trent. Early in his career he attended the Diet of Worms and wrote critically of Luther. By 1541 in Epistola De Iustificatione he moves formally closer to the Protestant position and was considered by some Roman Catholics to have capitulated. In truth, however, he continued to posit intrinsic, Spirit-wrought sanctity as the principal ground of justification and imputation as an augmenting ground.

1484 (d. 1531) Huldrych Zwingli born at Wildhaus, in NE Switzerland.

Gabriel Biel appointed to the chair at Tubingen.

1485 (d. 1555 )Hugh Latimer.

Henry (Tudor) VII to 1509.

d. Rudolph Agricola.

1486 Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man.

Wendelin Steinbach (d. 1519) follows G. Biel at Tubingen until 1517.

1489 (d. 1565) William Farel is born.

Thomas Muntzer (1489-1525).

Thomas Cranmer to 1556.

1490 Albertus Pighius (d. 1542).

(c.1490-1553) Francois Rabelais, French Humanist.

1491 b. (d. 1551) Martin Bucer.

Ignatius of Loyola. b.1491 (d.1556).

J. Froben starts printing at Basle.

1492-1503 Pope Alexander VI reigns (Rodrigo de Borgia). Alexander openly kept a mistress, tried to assure his son, Cesare’s ascension to papacy, which only failed because he died of syphilis!

Christobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) discovers the New World.

1493 (d. 1573) Philippist Johann Pfeffinger who proposed synergy in salvation contra Gnesio-Lutherans.

1493-1519 Maximillian I reigns.

1494 b. (d..1536) William Tyndale

1497 (d. 1563) Wolfgang Musculus (Muslin).

Staupitz arrives at Tubingen.

b. [d.1560] Philip Melanchthon

1498 Zwingli begins study at the University of Vienna.

b. Andreas Osiander (d. 1552) Lutheran, participant in the Marburg Colloquy and the Diet of Augsburg.

1499 b. (d. 1560) John a’ Lasco (Laski)

Johann Brenz (d. 1570) Lutheran controversialist who opposed Calvin and Beza and others over the Eucharist.

1500-1524 There are eighteen major “peasant revolts” in Swabia, Thuringuria and Austria. Most of them are suppressed by the Swabian League.

b.Peter (Pietro) Martyr Vermigli (1500-1562).

1501 Luther matriculates in the University of Eufurt.

1502 (d.1546) Luther takes his B.A. from the University of Eurfurt.

Elector Frederick of Saxony founds the University of Wittenberg.

1503 Erasmus publishes his Enchiridion.

22 Sept -18 Oct Pius III reigns.

Julius II reigns to 1513. Julius allowed Henry VIII to marry Catherine of Arragon and began charging general indulgences to pay for the Sistine Chapel.

1504 Henry Bullinger, Swiss successor to Zwingli born.

b. Matthew Parker, Abp of Canterbury (1504-75).

1505 Lorenzo Valla’s Annotationes published.

Pico Mirandola publishes commentary on the Psalter.

Luther receives his M.A. and enters the Augustinian monastery at Eurfurt as a result of his vow to St. Anne.

Erasmus publishes Valla’s Annotations on the New Testament.

1506 Reuchlin publishes the first major modern Hebrew grammar.

Publication of the Amerbach edition Opera Omnia Augustini.

1507 Luther becomes a priest.

1508 Luther transferred to the University of Wittenberg where he lectures in moral philosophy.

1509 (d.1564) John Calvin born at Noyon (France).

Henry VIII (d.1547) born.

Erasmus publishes, In Praise of Folly (Enconium Moriae).

Luther obtains Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree. To 1511 Luther teaches at the University of Eurfurt.

Melanchthon enters Heidelberg University.

1510 Joachim Westphal, Lutheran critic of Calvin, particularly on the supper.

Luther goes to Rome to 1511.

1511 Michael Servetus (1511-1553).

11 June, Melanchthon receives his B.A. from the University of Heidelberg.

1512 Fifth Lateran Council meets to 1517.

d’ Etaples publishes his commentary on Romans.

Luther receives his Th.D and visits Rome (January/February).

Luther begins lecturing on the Bible at Wittenberg.

His application for an M.A. rejected by Heidelberg (because of his youthful appearance), Melanchthon arrives at Tubingen to take his Master’s degree.

1513 Pope Leo X (Giovanni de Medic) reigns to 1521.

Luther lectures on the Psalms at Wittenberg to 1515.

(c.1513-1572) John Knox.

Machiavelli publishes The Prince.

1514 Erasmus settles in Basle to 1529.

Miles Coverall ordained.

25 January, Melanchthon completes his M.A. Tubingen and begins a four year stint as Privatdocent lecturing on the Classics and publishing translations.

1515 (d.1576) 14 February Frederick III Elector of the Palatinate born at Pfalz-Simmern of the house of Wittelsbach.

Francois I rules France until 1547.

Luther lectures on Romans to 1516.

Sept. Defeat of the Swiss Confederation at the Battle of Marignano which announces that it will enter into no more foreign alliances.

Tyndale receives his MA at Oxford.

Peter Ramus (Pierre de la Ramee; 1515-72).

1516 (d.1590) Jerome Zanchi(us) born in Italy.

Erasmus publishes the first edition of his Novum Instrumentum Omne

Mary Tudor b. (d.1558).

Luther lectures on Galatians to 1517.

Luther and Karlstadt clash over the interpretation of Augustine.

Concordat of Bologna is reached giving Francois I effective control over the French Church.

G. Farel joins the reforming circle of Jacques Lefevre/d’Etaples in the court of the Bishop of Meaux.

1517 26 April, Karlstadt defends 151 Augustinian theses

October 31, All Saints Eve, Luther proposes ninety-five thesesat Wittenberg.

Luther Lectures on Hebrews.

Staupitz publishes Libellus de exsecutione aeternae praedestinationis

1518 March, Karlstadt reforms the theological curriculum at Wittenberg.

April, Luther attends Heidelberg Disputations.

Oct-Nov Luther appears before Cajetan at Augsburg.

Zwingli called to Zurich as Luetpriest.

Melanchthon publishes Rudiements of the Greek Language.

25 August, he arrives at the newly created University of Wittenberg.

29 August Melanchthon delivers his inaugural address De corrigendis adolescentiae studiis.

1519 Zwingli begins public preaching at the Grossmunster, Zurich.

Theodore Beza (d.1605), is born.

Charles V, elected German Emperor reigns to 1555.

27 June – 8 July, Luther and Melanchthon attend Leipzig Disputation vs. Eck.

Melanchthon begins and completes B.D. at the University of Wittenberg.

Luther condemned by the University of Cologne, 30 Aug.

Luther condemned by the University of Louvain, 7 November.

Edmund Grindal (1519-83).

Crato of Crafftheim b. 20 Nov. (d.1585/86)

1520 b. (d.1575) Matthias Flacius Illyricus, leader of the Gnesio-Lutheran faction at the Magdeburg School.

Luther condemned by the University of Paris, 15 April.

Pope Leo gives Luther sixty days to recant in Exsurge Domine, 15 June. Luther responds with a bonfire of the papal decrees and canon law.

Luther publishes On Christian Liberty; The Babylonian Captivity of the Church; Address to the Christian Nobility.

b. Suleiman I (d.1566) ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

Zurich city council issues a mandate requiring all preaching to be based on Scripture.

1521 Luther defends himself at Diet of Worms (27 January to 25 May). 18 April he gives the famous speech.

While he is gone, Zwilling and Karlstadt persuaded the Wittenberg Augustinians to burn all their images and mutilate their stone statues. The City Council promised to abolish all images and altars, save three, to “avoid idolatry”.

The Edict of Worms is issued on 26 May. Luther is excommunicated. and placed under Imperial ban and sequestered in Wartburg. When he returns to Wittenburg, Luther partly reverses this Karlstadt’s reforms and established a more tolerant attitude toward the images.

The First Italian War begins between Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation) and François I. The war for control of Northern Italy (Milan, Naples), lasting to 1526, essentially provides time for Luther to gather support after the Edict is issued. It effectively prevents prosecution of Luther. From 1521 to 1531 Germany is effectively governed by the Second Imperial Governing Council in the absence of Charles V.

April 19, Bucer is released from his monastic vows.

Melanchthon publishes the first edition of the Loci Communes.

Calvin goes up to college (Montaigu) a stronghold of the Via Moderna.

1522 Guido De Bres, born in Belgium.

Jan – Sept 1523 Hadrian VI.

Bucer marries and is excommunicated.

b. Martin Chemnitz (d.1586) Lutheran theologian who responded to the Canons and Decrees of Trent.

Breaking of the Lenten fast at Zurich, defended by Zwingli on the basis of Sola Scriptura.

Luther publishes his German language New Testament, September.

b. Martin Micronius (1522-1559)

1523 Zwingli publishes his 67 Articles in Zurich, 29 January. These articles were prepared for the First Zurich Disputation against the Roman Church before the magistrate. Zwingli’s theses won the day, and secured one of the first major Swiss cantons for the Reformation. The Zwinglian preaching produces an orderly removal of images under the direction of the City Council.

June 24, Zwingli publishes On Divine and Human Righteousness.

The Second Zurich disputation on the mass and images in the Church, 26-8, October.

d. Thomas Muntzer (?)

1523-34 Clement VII (Guilio de Medici) reigns.

Calvin matriculates in the University of Paris where he studies the Arts and Philosophy.

Bucer settles in Strasbourg, where his father is a citizen, and begins lecturing in the home of Matthew Zell.

O.T. scholar, Wolfgang Capito declares himself for the reformation.

1524 Erasmus begins conflict with Luther over freedom of the will.

The Ansbach Recommendations are the first Protestant confession.

Battle of Novara, 30 April. Zurich city council issues decree permitting removal of icons, 15 June.

German peasant wars reach their apex.

d. Johannes Staupitz

b. (d.1590) François Hotman

1525 Tyndale’s N.T. is printed at Cologne and Worms.

Friedrich III (1525-76).

Anabaptism breaks out in Zurich, first re-baptisms in January.

Zwingli publishes his Commentary on True and False Religion.

Zurich abolishes the mass.

Twelve articles of Memmingen set forth the grievances of the German peasantry.

Thomas Muntzer executed, 27 May with fifty-three others.

13 June Luther secretly marries Katharina von Bora, a former nun and follows with a public ceremony 27 June.

Luther publishes De Servo Arbitrio.

Guillame Farel publishes his Summary and Brief Description of All that is Necessary for Every Christian to Have Confidence in God and Help His Neighbor in 42 articles, in Basle.

1526 First German Reformed Congregation organized at Emden.

Charles V concludes the Peace of Madrid with Francois I of France ending the First Italian War.

Suleiman I defeats King Ludwig of Hungary, capturing a third of Hungary. The Hapsburgs have another war to fight, this time in the east.

Reichstag (Diet) convened at Speyer.

1527 Henry VIII sues for divorce from Catherine of Arragon.

The Second Italian War (François I, Henry VIII and Clement VII, allied against the Hapsburgs) until 1529. Charles sacks Rome this year.

Schleitheim Confession published, February.

d. Niccolo Machiavelli

1528 The Ten Theses of Bern are produced after a disputation between Zwingli and Eck which begins in 1526, accepting the reformation.

d. Balthasar Hubmaier

Calvin moves to Orleans and Bourges to read Law.

Patrick Hamilton martyred (b. 1504)

Charles V authorizes the death penalty for Anabaptists.

1529 Second Diet/Reichstag of Speyer ends toleration of Lutheranism in Catholic districts, 21 February.

Marburg Colloquy

Luther produces Larger and Smaller catechisms.

The Schwabach Articles drafted, the product of negotiations between Nuremberg and Saxony.

Luther, Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, Johann Brenz take the as yet unpublished Schwabach Articles to the Marburg Colloquy (1-3 October) to meet with Zwingli, Oecolampius, Bucer and Heidio. The meeting produces the 14 Marburg Articles. Article 15, on the Eucharist, failed agreement. Agreement might have made a Swiss-South German union possible against the Hapsburgs.

Catherine of Arragon appeals to Rome contra Henry VIII.

Henry replaces Wolsey with Thomas More. Wolsey failed to secure a divorce for him.

The Peace of Barcelona is concluded between Charles V and Pope Clement VII in June. The Peace of Cambrai is brokered in August by Francois’ mother an Charles’ V’s aunt [hence it is known as the ‘Ladies’ Peace’] between Charles V and François I preventing Charles from putting into effect the Edict of Worms.

Suleiman I attacks Vienna in September and October. Trouble at home forces him to withdraw.

[c.1529/30 – d. 1596] Jean Bodin, French political philosopher.

1530 The Reichstag meets at Augsburg. Confessio Augustana [Articles 1-21 are the Schwabach Articles and 22-28 are the Torgau Articles] is presented by Melanchthon.

The Tetrapolitan Confession is presented and published.

Zwingli presents the Confession of Faith to the German Emperor Charles V, to be considered at Diet at Augsburg, but like the Tetrapolitan, it failed to gain a hearing.

Pope Clement VII crowns Charles V Emperor in Bologna.

d. Cardinal Wolsey

Peter Viret and William Farel lead a reformed coup of Strasbourg.

John Whitgift (1530-1604).

1531 Zwingli publishes an Exposition of the Christian Faith to King Francis I of Francis.

Melanchthon produces his Apology for the Augsburg in response to the Roman Catholic Confutatio.

11 October, Zwingli dies in the second battle of Kappel.

Calvin returns to Paris to study theology.

The Schmalkald League is formed 27 February, by the signatories to the Confessio Augustana, Saxony, Hesse, Anhalt, Brandenburg, in protest to the proposed coronation of Ferdinand as ‘King of the Romans’. The league unites Lutherans and Zwinglians as well as princes from the north and south to become one of the first strong anti-Hapsburg elements in Germany.

1532 Calvin publishes his commentary on De Clementia.

Charles introduces the Religious Peace of Nuremberg to assure Protestant princes that no proceedings would be taken against them for religious reasons at the Imperial Cameral Tribunal. The Nuremberg Standstill effectively kills the Edict of Worms (1521).

Thomas Cranmer marries Margaret Osiander.

1533 Henry secretly marries Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth Tudor is born.

Thomas Cranmer is made Archbishop of Canterbury.

Calvin and Nicholas Cop with other Protestants flee from Paris after Nicholas Cop gives a “Lutheran” (i.e., evangelical) rectorial sermon.

Osiander issues his catechism.

b. [d.1592] Michel de Montaigne, French humanist.

1534 Oecolampadius publishes the First Confession of Basle.

Affair of the Placards provokes Francois I against the evangelicals, 18 October.

18 July Zacharias Ursinus (Beer/Baer) is born at Breslau (d. 6 March 1583).

1534-1549 Pope Paul III.

British parliament passes a law to prohibit appeals to Rome, also acts of supremacy, submission and of succession.

May, Calvin returns to Noyon to renounce his benefices and later in the year publishes Psychopannychia.

Martin Bucer issues his catechism.

Luther’s draft translation of the Bible is finished.

December, Bucer, Melanchthon, Bullinger attend a secret colloquy on the Lord’s Supper at Constance attempting to resolve differences. Bullinger’s formula that Christ is present and eaten “by faith” is accepted. Bucer submits ten articles which are also accepted.

Anabaptists taker over the city of Munster.

A. Osiander becomes Professor of Theology at Koenigsburg

1535 d.Thomas More.

Calvin begins, in Basle, his first draft of the Institutes.

Coverdale’s first translation appears.

Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603).

Bucer recalled to Augsburg where he confesses that in the Supper the “true body and the true blood are distributed, given and received in order to strengthen our faith.” Luther accepts this revision.

Geneva declares itself a republic.

b.Thomas Cartwright (d.1603) a student in Heidelberg and English Presbyterian-Puritan divine.

Osiander publishes De Iustificatione rejecting imputed righteousness for infusion.

1536 b. Caspar Olevian (von Olewig) at Trier

The Second Confession of Basle or The First Helvetic Confession is published.

On his way to Strasbourg to study Calvin is forced through Geneva by the war, July.

The Lausanne Articles of 1536 are published, October.

First Genevan Confession published.

First Edition of Calvin’s Institutes published.

Calvin prepares and publishes a brief catechism in French.

27 March, H. Bullinger, Bucer, Capito, Myconius, present to the General Council of the Swiss Churches the First Helvetic Confession.

Bucer, Melanchthon, Capito and Luther reach the Wittenberg Accord, 25 May and celebrate the Supper together. Key issue of manducatio indignorum is resolved by substituting “unworthy” for “unfaithful.” Apparently, Bucer and the Lutherans each placed different their own interpretations on the word. Significantly, Luther is willing to sign it and reach an understanding with the South Germans. However Luther does not see the Helvetic Confession until 27 May. The Zwinglians will not be moved and the sharp division over hoc est corpus meum re-emerges.

Cranmer convinces Henry of the Ten Articles.

Anne Boleyn is Beheaded.


d.Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples (Faber Stapulensis)

1537 Luther draws up the Schmalkaldic Articles for the Diet of Schmalkalden. Melanchthon adds Tractatus De Poteste Papae refuting the historical claims of the papacy but also saying that for the sake of peace in Christendom he would not object to the human power of the Pope over his Bishops if he (the Pope) did not object to the gospel. Both the Articles and the Tractatus were approved. The papal nuncio was rejected by the Protestant princes on the principle of judicial independence from the pope.

Henry marries Jane Seymour who dies giving birth to Edward. Marries Catherine Howard who died as did Anne.

A general council is called for Mantua, but not held due to political and military difficulties. Later re-convened at Trent, 1545.

21 October Frederick III marries Maria of Brandenburg-Anspach.

1538 Calvin refuses the Lord’s Supper to prominent Genevans and is forced to leave Geneva, and he flees to Strasbourg where he pastors a French speaking church until 1541.

1539 Bucer helps the syphilitic Philip (Landgraf) of Hesse, who was trapped in a loveless contracted marriage, make a secret bigamous marriage to a lady in waiting in his court. Luther and Melanchthon give approve by granting a private dispensation. Their fear is that the Landgraf will seek a dispensation from the pope if they don’t cooperate. It was later discovered the Landgraf also had a mistress, under which conditions Luther would not have cooperated, had he known. Unfortunately, his advice after the marriage was to cover it up with a “big, strong lie.”

Coverdale revises Matthew’s Great Bible and takes his doctorate at Tubingen.

Luther publishes Against the Antinomians contra Agricola.

Second edition of the Institutes is published.

First edition of Luther’s Works appears.

1540 Philip issues his privately revised edition of (the Variata) of the Augsburg Confession. The Edition of 1530 says, “the body and blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed…” (Vere adsint, et distribuantur) Whereas the Variata says that “with bread and wine are truly exhibited the body and blood of Christ…” (quod cum pane et vino vere exhibeantur corpus et sanguinis Christi vescentibus in coena domini).

d. Thomas Cromwell.

Henry married Anne of Cleves.

Conference of Hagenau June -July, called by Charles V to discuss points of disagreement between Rome and Protestants. Calvin attends with the Strasbourg theologians, Melanchthon is ill. The conference fails to reach any accords.

Disputation of Worms, a colloquy arranged to reunite Protestants and Catholics in Germany. The Protestant side is represented by P. Melanchthon and Catholics by J. Eck. Beginning 25 November, the colloquy ends in January 1541 with an agreement over the nature of original sin, but the colloquy ended in view of the upcoming Reichstag at (Regensburg) Ratisbon. Calvin is present.

Calvin marries the widow Idelette de Bure.

The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) founded.

Calvin publishes his Reply to Sadoleto and his Commentary on Romans.

b. Sir Francis Drake (d. 1596)

d. G. Bude

1541 Calvin publishes a second, larger, revision of the French Catechism of 1536/7. It was translated into Latin in 1545, German 1556. Comparison with the Heidelberg, shows a good deal of similarity.

April 27 to May 22 Diet of Regensburg (Ratisbon) convened by Charles V. J. Eck, Julius Pflug (1549-1564), Johann Gropper (1503-59) with Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542) meet Melanchthon, Bucer and Pistorious (1503-83). Agreement is reached on justification (Calvin, who attended, was amazed at Catholic capitulation here. He felt the article was unclear in places) in May but they fail to reach agreement on the Eucharist, absolution, penance and the papacy. Both Luther and the Roman Curia rejected the draft compromises reached. The agreement on justification was a chimera.

Calvin returns to Geneva in September.

Calvin publishes first French edition of the Institutes.

1542 John a’ Lasco [1499-1560]](Laski, pronounced Waski from i.e., from the west) serves as Pastor to GRC at Emden until 1549. Laski organizes what may have been the first Coetus in the Palatinate of 200 Ministers who met weekly for forty years.

R. Bellarmine: (d.1621).

Mary Stuart ascends, in her minority, in Scotland.

1543 Melchior Hoffmann d.

The threat from the Moslem empire is so grave that Schmalkald League offers aid to the hated Hapsburgs.

1544 November 1544 The Council of Trent is convened

The Imperial Diet meets at Speyer. Charles requests help against the French and Suleiman I. The Protestants agree on the condition that “Christian reformation” will be discussed at a future “general, Christian and free council.” The pope accuses Charles of overstepping his competence and Calvin, ironically, writes in his defense.

Charles leads a campaign into France winning concessions. The Peace of Crepy signed in 14 September. On 19 September he concluded a secret treaty with the Turks. Charles is now in a position to move against the Protestant princes.

1545 Zurich Confession of Faith published.
Slaughter begins of the Waldensian (Vaudois) communities of the Luberon in Provence.

Imperial Diet of Worms meets and although he is promised by the pope military and financial support, Charles decides to hold another religious conference. War against the Protestants is postponed.

Elector Frederick II receives communion in two kinds and petitions for admission to the Schmalkald League and was refused.

John Fielde (1545-88).

Andrew Melville (1545-1622)

First session of the Council of Trent opens, 13 December.

1546 Luther dies in Eisleben, 18 February.

January Frederick II introduces the Reformation to the Palatinate with the first German Mass in Heidelberg. Masses without communicants end. Devotion and reservation of the Sacrament forbidden. Easter, he receives communion in two kinds.

The evangelical reformer George Wishart, burned in Scotland.

The Schmalkalkic War erupts. Frederick III governs Anspach for his brother–in-law who has joined the Emperor’s armies against the Princes.

Luther releases the final version of his Bible translation after revision with the help of a committee (consisting of Melanchthon, Cruciger, Bugenhagen, Jonas, Aurogallus [a Hebraist] and Roer [Secretary]).

Melanchthon refuses invitation to Heidelberg University.

Fourth Session of the Council of Trent 8 April.

b. Tycho Brahe (d.1601).

1547 Edward VI ascends the English throne as a ten year old. Edward was well tutored in the classics was able to translate Cicero’s De Philosophia into Greek and could read Aristotle’s Ethics in Greek! Edward supported the reformation with the help of Cranmer and the Duke of Northumberland.

P.M. Vermigli becomes the Regius Professor of Theology, Oxford until the Marian exile in 1553.

Schmalkaldic Princes are defeated.

1548 (to 1549) Consensus Tigurinus signed at Zurich.

April, Charles V having crushed the evangelical forces, imposes the Interim at the armed Diet of Augsburg. In the Palatinate, communion in two kinds is retained and married clergy.

Miles Coverdale abandons his order.

d. Mattheus Zell, a co-worker with Wolfgang Capito in Strasbourg.

1549 Cranmer issues the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

Martin Bucer is called to Cambridge as Regius Professor of Divinity.

P. M. Vermigli made Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford.

1550 Ursinus begins seven years study with Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg. He will study and travel with Melanchthon until 1557.

Olevianus goes to Paris, Orleans and Bourges to study law to 1557.

1550-1555 Julius III (Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte).

Marian persecution begins.

Pamphlet is published at Magdeburg justifying the Protestant doctrine of resistance.

Peter Dathenus flees the Lowland persecutions for Edwardian England.

1551 Bucer dies at Cambridge

In the ‘Bishop’s Wars [1551-1552] Charles V’s power is broken.

1552 Joachim Westphal, begins attacks on both Calvin and the Consensus Tigurinus over the Lord’s Supper.

1553 Cranmer issues the Forty
Two Articles.

Edward VI dies.

Bloody Mary Tudor reigns in England until 1557. and drives the Reformed and Protestant to the Netherlands and elsewhere.

John Laski and 175 Reformed brethren, driven from England under Mary, are denied entrance in several countries, eventually settling in East Friesland.

November, Cranmer is tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer are arrested and taken to Oxford where they appear before a commission to be investigated for heresy.

Jerome Zanchius succeeds Peter Martyr at Strasbourg as Professor of Theology. He is later able to obtain suppression of Hesshius’ attack against the Heidelberg Reformers and Frederick III on the Supper, and was attacked as a defector from the Augsburg Confession.

Servetus killed by the decree of the City Council in Geneva.

b. Josias Nichols (d.1639)

d. Rabelais.

1554 A catechism is prepared at Emden by John a’ Lasco, following the model of Calvin’s catechisms.

Osiander is condemned at the Naumberg Assembly for confusing justification for union with Christ.

Mary Tudor marries Philip II of Spain.

March, Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer and taken to the Bocardo, Oxford to await trial for heresy. 14 April, they dispute at St. Mary’s. 20 April all three were individually told to recant.

Count Simon of Lippe (1554-1613) one of the Calvinist Counts. Lippe is north of Hesse-Kassel and south of Braunschweig-Kalenberg.

Richard Hooker (1554-1600).

(d.1586) Sir Philip Sidney, English diplomat and poet who served Queen Elizabeth’s efforts to establish a Protestant League.

Summer, English refugees form a congregation in Frankfurt. Autumn, they call John Knox as pastor. A conflict between Presbyterians and Anglicans soon erupts. Knox, Whittingham et al appeal to Calvin regarding the Anglican service.

Knox publishes, Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England.

1555 The Peace of Augsburg is established which will last until the Thirty Years War (1618).

The peace is a result of an assault of the princes upon the Emperor, and resulted in recognition of two religious groups, the Roman Catholic Church and adherents of the Augsburg Confession. The question will arise in the Palatinate, are the Reformed to be considered adherents to the Augsburg Confession? The “High” (Gnesio) Lutherans said absolutely not. Frederick seems to have held to the Augsburg after conversion to Evangelical Protestantism.

Charles V abdicates his throne. Replaced in 1556 by Ferdinand I.

9 April – 1 May Marcellus II.

23 May to 1559 Paul IV (Giampietro Carafa)

From now until 1559 there is an explosion of new Calvinist churches in France, centering South and west of Paris.

Early in the year until 1558 Mary and Archbishop Reginald Pole begins trying Protestants as heretics.

September, Cranmer is tried in St. Mary the Virgin before Papal Commissioners. Two days later the proceedings are sent to Rome. Cranmer has eighty days to appeal.

16 October Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley are tried for heresy, convicted and burned at the stake on Broad Street in Oxford.

Between 1555-62 Geneva sends eighty-eight pastors from the Company of Pastors to France as missionaries.

4 February John Rogers, editor of Matthew’s Bible, becomes the first Marian Martyr, burned at the stake at Smithfield.

b. Robert Rollock (d.1598/99).

Martin Micronius ordains Peter Dathenus to the Reformed ministry in Frankfurt.

Knox forced from Frankfurt to Geneva. In October he is followed by fifteen English families.

1556 Ferdinand I begins rule (to 1564) Holy Roman Empire.

21 March Thomas Cranmer burns at the stake on Broad Street in Oxford.

Olevianus in boating accident with Herman Louis at Bourges France.

Otto Henry introduces a Protestant church order including superintendents.

Frederick II receives communion in a Protestant service on the Sunday before his death. Otto Heinrich, in ill health, succeeds from 1556-59. Otto encourages Reformation, abolishing the Mass and Catholic ceremonies in the Palatinate and is the Protestant leader at the Imperial Diet of 1556-57.

As heir to the Palatinate Frederick III takes up residence in Amberg as governor of the Upper Palatinate.

Beza publishes an annotated translation of Greek Testament.

The English congregation in Geneva adopts The Book of Order.

1557 Ursinus makes a study tour of Europe with Melanchthon, attending the Colloquy of Worms and including Geneva, where he receives all of Calvin’s works.

Ursinus returns to Wittenberg but receives a call to Breslau to teach at Elizabeth College until 1559.

Melanchthon heads the reorganization of Heidelberg University as an Evangelical University under Otto Henry.

Calvin responds to Westphal.

1558 Melanchthon, without a knowledge of Tilemann Hesshusen’s’ (Hesshius/Heshusius) character, recommends him for the Chair of Theology at Heidelberg.

Electors officially accept abdication of Charles V and accession of Ferdinand I.

At the death of Mary Tudor, Anne Boleyn daughter Elizabeth I ascends and reigns to 1603.

Mary Stuart abdicates to James VI and is executed in Scotland.

d. Charles V

b. Dudley Fenner (d.1587)

12 June, Elizabeth, Frederick III’s oldest daughter marries John Frederick, Duke of Saxony.

Zacharias Ursinus gives his inaugural lecture at the Elizabeth Gymnasium in Breslau, An Exhortation to the Study of Christian Doctrine.

1559 Frederick III accedes to the Electorship in the Palatinate.

John Knox returns to Scotland from Geneva.

Olevian returns to Treves to teach.

Calvin publishes final Latin edition of the Institutes.

The first National Synod of the French Reformed Church is held, embracing four hundred thousand followers, and would hold twenty-nine national Synods to 1659 at Loudun after which it was banned by Louis XIV in 1660.

Henri II dies, leading to domination of the French court by the anti-Protestant Guise family.

Genevan academy founded.

The Gallican Confession of Faith is published.

1559-65 Pius IV (Giovanni Angelo Medici)

Count Johann VI of Nassau Dillenberg (1559-1606).

British Parliament passes the Elizabethan Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity and restores an edited version of Edward VI’s 1552 Prayer Book.

Elizabeth makes Matthew Parker the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Elizabethan settlement is enacted.

d. Johann Gropper.

Ursinus publishes Theses on the Doctrine of the Sacraments at Breslau which led to his dismissal.

1560 Philip Melanchthon in Wittenberg. Ursinus goes to Zurich a second time and studies with Peter Martyr.

John a’ Lasco dies in Poland.

Frederick III ransoms Olevianus from prison in Treves (for preaching the gospel against state orders) to come to Heidelberg.

3-8 June Heidelberg Disputation of the question, is Hoc est corpus meum literal or metaphysical? H. Alting reports that Frederick said that the “Lutherans won in force and repartee, and the Reformed in simplicity and modest defense of the truth.”

Frederick orders the simplification of calendar and ornaments in Palatinate churches and imposes the Augustana Variata as the standard of discipline on the Palatinate. Those who are unable to subscribe (gnesio-Lutheran pastors) are forced to leave.

The Scottish Reformation Parliament meets and adopts the Scots Confession of Faith.

Jacobus Arminius (Jakob Hermandszoon; 1560-1609).

The Conspiracy of Amboise (by French Calvinist pastors to kidnap Francis II) fails.

Final French edition of Calvin’s Institutes is published.

Musculus publishes his Loci Communes.

1561 20 January to 8 February Protestant princes meet at Naumberg to bring Frederick ‘back from his errors.’ Frederick signs the Invariata of 1531 with the proviso that it was further explained in the Variata (1540). Civil war was thus prevented.

Guido de’Bres publishes the Belgic confession.

Frederick III orders the Roman Altars, baptismal fonts, pictures, removed from the churches and establishes the use of plain white bread in communion.

Philip of Hesse and Freidrich III attempt to have their adherence to the Augustana Variata accepted as falling within the terms of the Peace of Augsburg.

1562 Frederick orders a committee including Ursinus (age 28) and Olevian (age 26) to begin the Heidelberg Catechism. The Synod at Heidelberg (probably) adopted a draft of the Catechism.

Edict of January touches off the First (French) War of Religion. Seventy four Protestants killed while attending a sermon near Vassy.

d. Peter Martyr Vermigli

Ursinus publishes Catechisis Minor.

25 August Ursinus receives Doctorate from the University of Heidelberg, replaces Olevianus as Professor of Dogmatic Theology and gives his inaugural address on September 1.

1563 19 January The Heidelberg Catechism is approved and Johann Mayer prints the first edition in Latin and German.

The Canons of the Council of Trent are promulgated.

19 March, Peace of Amboise is signed.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Acts and Monuments) appears in English.

The Anglican Church adopts the Thirty Nine Articles.

d. Seripando.

1564 Calvin dies in Geneva, 27 May.

Maximillian II succeeds Ferdinand I (to 1576).

Additional standards of church discipline are added for the Palatinate church council, the Kirchenrat.

Edmund Grindal becomes Archbishop of Canterbury.

b. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

b. William Shakespeare (d. 1616)

The Scottish General Assembly adopts the Genevan (English congregation) Book of Order as Book of Common Order.

1565 M. Chemnitz begins publishing Examen concilii Tridentini (1565-73) against Trent.

1566 25 March Frederick III addresses Diet at Augsburg defending his Protestantism gaining quasi-legal status for Calvinism in the Empire.

The Belgic Confession is adopted by Synod at Antwerp.

The Second Helvetic Confession is published by Henry Bullinger.

The Bilden storm, a wave of iconoclasm sweeps over the Low Countries.

Pius V (St.; Michele Gislieri) to 1572.

1567 The Duke of Alva, with the cooperation of the House of Savoy, marches on the Netherlands to crackdown on all forms of religious deviation in the Netherlands.

Guido de Bres hanged in Belgium for his faith.

Mary Stuart is defeated at Carberry Hill in June, imprisoned, and abdicates in July to the Protestant Lord James Stewart.

The Second War of Religion begins in France with the Conspiracy of Meaux.

Thomas Aquinas is made the fifth Doctor Ecclesiae


1568 The battle over Ecclesiology begins and Dr. Thomas Erastus (Zwinglian) advances 75 theses.

A Synod at Wesel adopts the Belgic Confession.

June-August Beza and Bullinger cooperate in a failed attempt to raise Swiss troops for the Third War of Religion (1568-70).

1569 d. Miles Coverdale.

Thomas Cartwright serves briefly as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity (to 1570) during which time he proposes reformed style Presbyteries or Classes.

1570 The Palatinate Kirchenrat supplements the previous order for church discipline.

Thomas Cartwright is forced to Geneva.

August, the Peace of St. Germain is signed ending the Third War of Religion.

1571 A Synod at Emden adopts the Belgic Confession.

Beza serves as President of the Synod of La Rochelle.

b. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).

1572 24 August, the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny under the supervision of the Duke of Guise sparks the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres in France, killing approximately 30,000 Huguenots.

Gregory XIII (Ugo Boncompagni) -1585.

d. John Knox.

John Field begins a pamphlet campaign for Presbyterian church government in England.

The revolt of the northern provinces begins which will lead to the creation of an independent Dutch republic.

1573 The Swabian Concord toward Lutheran (Philippist and Gnesio-Lutheran) unity.

François Hotman publishes Franco-Gallia.

1574 Elector Augustus of Saxony suppresses forcefully four allegedly ‘crypto-Calvinist’ Philippists touching off a wave of violent anti-Calvinist sentiment among German Lutherans.

A national Synod at Dordtrecht adopts the Belgic Confession.

Francois Hotman publishes Francogllia, expounding a theory of resistance to unjust rulers.

Beza publishes De Jure Magistratuum (Du droit de magistrats)

Andrew Melville is recruited from Geneva to become the head of Glasgow University. Melville leads the Erastian forces in Scotland until his exile.

1575 d. H. Bullinger.

The Swabian-Saxon Concord is signed and also the Maulbronn Formula.

Leiden University founded

1576 26 October d. Frederick III.

Louis (Ludwig), son of Frederick, ascends and re-places Lutheranism in the Palatinate, only Lutheran books to be sold and read. Olevianus preaches against him and is jailed then exiled to Nassau-Dillenberg.

John Casmir returns from leading an army in support of the Huguenots.

Ursinus and Tossanus (court preacher) are deposed by Louis VI and with six hundred pastors and teachers flee the Palatinate to Neustadt. In Heidelberg they are replaced by gnesio-Lutherans.

14 October d. Maximillian II who is succeeded by the sometimes insane Rudolf II (to 1612).

The Torgau Book amalgamates Lutheran accords.

P.M. Vermigli’s Loci Communes published posthumously.

b. William Ames (d.1633).

Bodin publishes Six livre de la Republique.

1577 September, an international Reformed conference meets in Frankfurt, in anticipation of the Formula of Concord. Participants try to draw up a common confession for the Reformed Churches of Europe and arrange to send a delegation to the German Lutheran princes urging them not to adopt the Formula of Concord.

Lutheran form of Concord compiled in Bergen, near Magdeburg.

1580 25 June 25 Liber Concordiae signed by the electors Saxony, Brandenburg and Palatinate. The Elector Augustus of Saxony publishes the Liber Concordiae.

Michel de Montaigne publishes his Essays.

Drake navigates the globe.

1581 English Parliament outlaws Roman Catholicism

A General Assembly in Nassau-Dillenberg adopts the Palatine Church order and the Heidelberg Catechism.

b. James Ussher (d.1656)

Zacharias Ursinus publishes his Admonitio, a reply to the Book of Concord.

1582 Calendar changes

Julian calendar abandoned in favor fo the Gregorian calendar.

General Synod established using Palatinate Order of Worship of 1563 and Heidelberg Catechism.

b. Johann Gerhard (Lutheran orthodox theologian (d. 1637)

d. Theresa of Avila

d.Pierre Boquin. Boquin had made an attempt to reconcile the Augustana Variata to Calvinism at the Heidelberg Disputation in 1560.

1583 A company of actors stages Christopher Marlowe’s play, The Massacre at Paris rehearsing the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres.

John Whitgift becomes Elizabeth’s third Archbishop of Canterbury.

b. Simon Episcopius (d. 1643)

b. Hugo Grotius (d. 1645)

J H Alting (d. 1644)

b. Hendrick Alting, the first historian of the Heidelberg Reformation (d.1644).

d. Zacharias Ursinus

1584 Count Johann of Nassau and Wittgenstein establishes Johannea University in Herborn headed by Olevianus and including Johannes Piscator. Olevianus teaches Dogmatics from his Epitome of Calvin’s Institutes

1585 Edict of Nantes is revoked.

Sixtus V (Felice Peretti) succeeds Gregory XIII as Pope to 1590.

Beza publishes his Greek NT. Added to it the Vulgate and his own translation. Makes Codex Bezae.

Colloquy of Montbeliard.

Sir Walter Raleigh sends expedition to Roanoke Island, off N. Carolina.

England enters 80 Years War

Louis Cappel (d. 1658)

b. John Cotton (d.1652)

Olevianus publishes De Substantia.

1586 Johann VI converts the five Counts of the Wetterau, whose lands are included in the Herborn Synod.

Colloquy of Montbeliard.Christian I of Saxony, under the influence of Philippist Nikolas Krell, openly encourages Calvinism, suspending his allegiance to the Formula of Concord.

Mary Queen of Scots makes Philip II her heir

b. Thomas Hooker (d.1647)

d. Lucas Cranach (painter)

d. Martin Chemnitz (b. 1522)

d.Sir Philip Sidney

1587 Mary (Queen of Scots) Stuart is executed in London on Queen Elizabeth’s order after participating in a plot against Elizabeth.

d. Caspar Olevianus

d. Dudley Fenner (b.1558)

d. John Foxe (b.1516)

1588 Duke of Guise enters Paris, forcing Henri III to flee the city.

Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Guise murdered at the orders of King Henry III. The people, however, revolted against the move and Parlement acted against him and he fled (again) to join Henri III of Navarre.

Spanish Armada defeated by England.

17 March, d. Dathenus

b. J H Alsted (d.1638)

b. E. Pascal (d.1651)

b. Thomas Hobbes (d. 1679)

1589 King Henry III assasinated.

French political intrigue and violence escalates

b. G. Voetius (d.1676)

1590 d. Girolamo Zanchi.

Anne of Denmark becomes Queen of Scotland

Urban VII succeeds Sixtus V for 12 days.

Gregory XIV succeeds Urban VII

d. Francois Hotman

1591 Dutch military forces are gradually gaining territory in the NL from the Spanish.

Innocent IX succeeds Gregory XIV.

b. Anne Hutchinson (b.1643)

D. David Blondel (d. 1655) – Fr. Prot. theologian

1592 d. Count Johann Casmir.

Clement VIII succeeds Innocent IX

Henri of Navarre converts to Catholicism in order to take the throne to become Henri IV.

Landgraf Moritz, the “Learned” of Lower Hesse becomes a Calvinist. He rules until 1627.

b. Johannes Amos Comenius (d. 1670). Comenius, a Bohemian Brethren, (Moravian) studied at Herborn and Heidelberg where he was influenced by millenarianism.

d. Michel de Montaigne

1593 d. Christopher Marlowe (b. 1564)

1594 Nikolas Krell tried for heresy after the death of Christian I of Saxony.

Henry IV crowned King of France

Richard Hooker publishes the first part of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity defending the Elizabethan settlement.

1595 The Lambeth Articles are drafted and completed. The articles were compiled under a committee under Archbishop Whitgift to defend double predestination. They were not formally authorized.

Romeo and Juliet first performed

1596 Ukranian Church renounces the authority of the pope

Plague hits parts of Europe

b. Rene Descartes (d. 1650)

b. Frederick V, Elector Palatine (d. 1632)

b. Moises Amyraut (d. 1664)

d. Sir Francis Drake (b. 1540)

1597 d. Peter Canisius (b. 1521) influential Jesuit

1598 Edict of Nantes formally ends the French Wars of Religion

Peace of Vervins ends the war between France and Spain

d. Philip II of Spain (b. 1526)

b. Oliver Cromwell (d. 1658)

d. Edmund Spenser (b. 1552)

d. Robert Rollock (b. 1555)

1600 b. Friedrich Spanheim (d. 1649)

b. Edward Calamy (d. 1666)

b. Charles I (d. 1649)

b. Samuel Rutherford (d. 1660)

d. Richard Hooker (b. 1554)

The Avignon Papacy






Clement V









Nicholas V* [1328–30]



Benedict XII




Clement VI




Innocent VI




Urban V




Gregory XI




Clement VII*

Urban VI




Boniface IX



Benedict XIII*





Innocent VII




Gregory XII









Alexander V*










Benedict XIII flees to Barcelona


XXIII flees to Freiburg, arrested, returned to Constance
and deposed

Gregory XII deposed


Benedict XIII deposed

Martin V

Calvin’s Antidote to the Council of Trent on Justification (1547)

The doctrine of man’s Justification would be easily explained, did not the false opinions by which the minds of men are preoccupied, spread darkness over the clear light. The principal cause of obscurity, however, is, that we are with the greatest difficulty induced to leave the glory of righteousness entire to God alone. For we always desire to be somewhat, and such is our folly, we even think we are. As this pride was innate in man from the first, so it opened a door for Satan to imbue them with many impious and vicious conceits with which we have this day to contend. And in all ages there have been sophists exercising their pen in extolling human righteousness, as they knew it would be popular. When by the singular kindness of God, the impiety of Pelagius was repudiated with the common consent of the ancient Church, they no longer dared to talk so pertly of human merit. They, however, devised a middle way, by which they might not give God the whole in justification, and yet give something.

This is the moderation which the venerable Fathers adopt to correct the errors on Justification, which, they say, have arisen in our day. Such indeed is their mode of prefacing, that at the outset they breathe nothing but Christ; but when they come to the subject, far are they from leaving him what is his own. Nay, their definition at length contains nothing else than the trite dogma of the schools: that men are justified partly by the grace of God and partly by their own works; thus only showing themselves somewhat more modest than Pelagius was.

This will easily be shown to be the fact. For under the second head, where they treat of Original Sin, they declare that free-will, though impaired in its powers and biased, is not however extinguished. I will not dispute about a name, but since they contend that liberty has by no means been extinguished, they certainly understand that the human will has still some power left to choose good. For where death is not, there is at least some portion of life. They themselves remove all ambiguity when they call it impaired and biased. Therefore, if we believe them, Original Sin has weakened us, so that the defect of our will is not pravity but weakness. For if the will were wholly depraved, its health would not only be impaired but lost until it were renewed. The latter, however, is uniformly the doctrine of Scripture. To omit innumerable passages where Paul discourses on the nature of the human race, he does not charge free-will with weakness, but declares all men to be useless, alienated from God, and enslaved to the tyranny of sin; so much so, that he says they are unfit to think a good thought. ( Romans 3:12; 2 Corinthians 3:5.) We do not however deny, that a will, though bad, remains in man. For the fall of Adam did not take away the will, but made it a slave where it was free. It is not only prone to sin, but is made subject to sin. Of this subject we shall again speak by and by.

The third and fourth heads I do not touch. Towards the end of the fifth head they affirm that no transference to a state of grace takes place without Baptism, or a wish for it. Would it not have been better to say, that by the word and sacraments Christ is communicated, or, if they prefer so to speak, applied to us, than to make mention of baptism alone? But they have been pleased to exclude infants from the kingdom of God, who have been snatched away before they could be offered for baptism. As if nothing were meant when it is said that the children of believers are born holy. ( 1 Corinthians 7:14.) Nay, on what ground do we admit them to baptism unless that they are the heirs of promise? For did not the promise of life apply to them it would be a profanation of baptism to give it to them. But if God has adopted them into his kingdom, how great injustice is done to his promise, as if it were not of itself sufficient for their salvation! A contrary opinion, I admit, has prevailed, but it is unjust to bury the truth of God under any human error, however ancient. The salvation of infants is included in the promise in which God declares to believers that he will be a God to them and to their seed. In this way he declared, that those deriving descent from Abraham were born to him. ( Genesis 17:7) In virtue of this promise they are admitted to baptism, because they are considered members of the Church. Their salvation, therefore, has not its commencement in baptism, but being already founded on the word, is sealed by baptism. But these definition-mongers thrust forward the passage, “Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit.” ( John 3:3.) First, assuming with them that water means baptism, who will concede to them that it moreover means a wish to receive baptism? But were I to say that the passage has a different meaning, and were I following some ancient expositors to take the term water for mortification, they would not, I presume, be so bitter as therefore to judge me heretical. I interpret it, however, as added by way of epithet to express the nature and power of the Spirit. Nor can they make out that water here means baptism, any more than that fire means some sacrament, when it is said, “In the Holy Spirit and fire.” ( Matthew 3:11.) See on what grounds they arrogate to themselves supreme authority in interpreting Scripture!

In the sixth head, they assert that we are prepared by the grace of God for receiving Justification, but they assign to this grace the office of exciting and assisting, we ourselves freely co-operating; in other words, we are here treated with the inanities which the sophists are wont to babble in the schools. But I ask, Is it the same thing to excite a will, and aid it when in itself weak, as to form a new heart in man, so as to make him willing? Let them answer, then, whether creating a new heart, and making a heart of flesh out of a heart of stone, (both of which the Scripture declares that God does in us,) is nothing else than to supply what is wanting to a weak will. But if they are not moved by these passages, let them say whether he who makes us to be willing simply assists the will. Paul claims the whole work for God; they ascribe nothing to him but a little help. But for what do they join man as an associate with God? Because man, though he might repudiate it, freely accepts the grace of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. How greatly do they detract from the work of God as described by the Prophet! — “I will put my law,” says he, “in your hearts, and make you to walk in my precepts.” Jeremiah 32:39; Ezekiel 36:27; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16.

Is this the doctrine delivered by Augustine, when he says, “Men labor to find in our will some good thing of our own not given us of God; what they can find I know not?” (Aug. Lib. de Precator. Merit. et Remiss. 2.) Indeed, as he elsewhere says, “Were man left to his own will to remain under the help of God if he chooses, while God does not make him willing, among temptations so numerous and so great, the will would succumb from its own weakness. Succor, therefore, has been brought to the weakness of the human will by divine grace acting irresistibly and inseparably, that thus the will however weak might not fail.” (Aug. de Corruptione et Gratia,) But the Neptunian fathers, in a new smithy, forge what was unknown to Augustine, viz., that the reception of grace is not of God, inasmuch as it is by the free movement of our own will we assent to God calling. This is repugnant to Scripture, which makes God the author of a good will. It is one thing for the will to be moved by God to obey if it pleases, and another for it to be formed to be good. Moreover, God promises not to act so that we may be able to will well, but to make us will well. Nay, he goes farther when he says, “I will make you to walk;” as was carefully observed by Augustine. The same thing is affirmed by Paul when he teaches, that, “it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The hallucination of these Fathers is in dreaming that we are offered a movement which leaves us an intermediate choice, while they never think of that effectual working by which the heart of man is renewed from pravity to rectitude. But this effectual working of the Holy Spirit is described in the thirty-second chapter of Jeremiah, where he thus speaks in the name of God, “I will put the fear of my name into their hearts, that they decline not from my commandments.” In short, their error lies in making no distinction between the grace of Regeneration, which now comes to the succor of our wretchedness, and the first; grace which had been given to Adam. This Augustine carefully expounds. “Through Christ the Mediator,” he says, “God makes those who were wicked to be good for ever after. The first man had not that grace by which he could never wish to be bad; for the help given him was of that nature that he might abandon it when he would, and remain in it if he would, but it was not such as to make him willing. The grace of the second Adam is more powerful. It makes us will, will so strongly and love so ardently, that by the will of the spirit we overcome the will of the flesh lusting against it.” A little farther on he says, “Through this grace of God in receiving good and persevering therein, there is in us a power not only to be able to do what we will, but to will what we are able.” (Aug. Lib. ad Bonif. 2, c. 8.) Although the subject is too long to be despatched thus briefly, I feel confident that my statement, though short, will suffice with readers of sense to refute these fancies.

But they pretend that they have also the support of Scripture. For when it is said, “Turn thou me, O Lord, and I shall be turned,” ( Jeremiah 31:18,) they infer that there is a preventing grace given to men: and, on the other hand, out of the words, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,” they extract the power of free-will. I am aware that Augustine uses this distinction, but it is in a very different sense: For he distinctly declares, and that in numerous passages, that the grace of God so works in us as to make us willing or unwilling, whence he concludes that man does no good thing which God does not do in him. (Aug. Lib. ad Bonif. 3, c. 8.) What then, you will ask, does Augustine mean when he speaks of the freedom of the will? Just what he so often repeats, that men are not forced by the grace of God against their will, but ruled voluntarily, so as to obey and follow of their own accord, and this because their will from being bad is turned to good. Hence he says, “We therefore will, but God works in us also to will. We work, but God causes us also to work.” Again, “The good which we possess not without our own will we should never possess unless he worked in us also to will.” Again, “It is certain that we will when we are willing, but he makes us to be willing. It is certain that we do when we do, but he makes us to do by affording most effectual strength to the will.” (Aug. Lib. 2:de Bon. Persev. cap. 13; Lib. 2:23, de Graf. et Liber. Arbit.) The whole may be thus summed up — Their error consists in sharing the work between God and ourselves, so as to transfer to ourselves the obedience of a pious will in assenting to divine grace, whereas this is the proper work of God himself.

But they insist on the words of the Prophet, that in requiring conversion from us he addresses free-will, which he would do in vain (that is, in their opinion) unless free-will were something. I admit that expressions of this kind would be absurd if there were not some will in man, but I do not therefore concede that the free faculty of obeying may be thence inferred. Those venerable Fathers must be the merest of novices if they form their estimate of what man is able to do from the commandments given him, seeing that God requires of us what is above our strength for the very purpose of convincing us of our imbecility, and divesting us of all pride. Let us remember, therefore, that will in man is one thing, and the free choice of good and evil another: for freedom of choice having been taken away after the fall of the first man, will alone was left; but so completely captive under the tyranny of sin, that it is only inclined to evil.

Moreover, not to dwell longer here, I say that the doctrine here delivered by the Fathers of Trent is at open war with our Savior’s words, “Whosoever hath heard of the Father, cometh unto me.” ( John 6:45.) For as Augustine wisely observes, it hence follows, that no man hears and learns of God without at the same time believing on Christ; and that the motion of the Holy Spirit is so efficacious that it always begets faith. They, on the contrary, place it in the option of man to listen to the inspiration of God, if he will! It is impossible to reconcile the two things— that all who have learned of God believe in Christ, and that the inspiration of God is not effectual and complete unless men of themselves assent to it. We have the Son of God, who is never at variance with himself, for the author of the former. To whom shall we ascribe the latter, which is utterly contrary to it, but to the father of lies?

After treating, under the seventh head, of The Mode of Preparation, so frigidly that every one but a savories Papist must feel ashamed of such senselessness, they at length, under the eighth head, when they come to define, set out with cautioning us against supposing that the justification of man consists in faith alone. The verbal question is, What is Justification? They deny that it is merely the forgiveness of sins, and insist that it includes both renovation and sanctification. Let us see whether this is true. Paul’s words are, “David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven.” ( Romans 4:6; Psalm 32:1.) If, from this passage of David, Paul duly extracts a definition of gratuitous righteousness, it follows that it consists in the forgiveness of sins. Paul interprets thus — David calls him righteous to whom God imputeth righteousness by not imputing sin, and the same Apostle, without appealing to the testimony of another, elsewhere says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses.” Immediately after, he adds, “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:19.) Can anything be clearer than that we are regarded as righteous in the sight of God, because our sins have been expiated by Christ, and no longer hold us under liability?

There is no room for the vulgar quibble that Paul is speaking of the beginning of Justification; for in both places he is showing, not how men who had hitherto been unbelievers begin to be righteous, but how they retain the righteousness which they have once procured during the whole course of life; for David speaks of himself after he had been adopted among the children of God; and Paul asserts that this is the perpetual message which is daily heard in the Church. In the same sense also he says, “Moses describeth the righteousness of the law, that he who doeth these things shall live in them, ( Leviticus 18:5;) but the righteousness of faith thus speaketh, He that believeth,” etc. ( Romans 10:5). We thus see that the righteousness of faith, which by no means consists of works, is opposed to the righteousness of the law, which so consists. The words have the same meaning as those which, as Luke tells us, Paul used to the people of Antioch, “By this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and every one who believeth in him is justified from all the things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” ( Acts 13:38.) For justification is added to forgiveness of sins by way of interpretation, and without doubt means acquittal. It is denied to the works of the law; and that it may be gratuitous, it is said to be obtained by faith. What! can the justification of the publican have any other meaning ( Luke 17) than the imputation of righteousness, when he was freely accepted of God? And since the dispute is concerning the propriety of a word, when Christ is declared by Paul to be our righteousness and sanctification, a distinction is certainly drawn between these two things, though the Fathers of Trent confound them. For if there is a twofold grace, inasmuch as Christ both justifies and sanctifies us, righteousness does not include under it renovation of life. When it is said, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? — It is God that justifieth” — it is impossible to understand anything else than gratuitous acceptance.

I would be unwilling to dispute about a word, did not the whole case depend upon it. But when they say that a man is justified, when he is again formed for the obedience of God, they subvert the whole argument of Paul, “If righteousness is by the law, faith is nullified, and the promise abolished.” ( Romans 4:14.) For he means, that not an individual among mankind will be found in whom the promise of salvation may be accomplished, if it involves the condition of innocence; and that faith, if it is propped up by works, will instantly fall. This is true; because, so long as we look at what we are in ourselves, we must tremble in the sight of God, so far from having a firm and unshaken confidence of eternal life. I speak of the regenerate; for how far from righteousness is that newness of life which is begun here below?

It is not to be denied, however, that the two things, Justification and Sanctification, are constantly conjoined and cohere; but from this it is erroneously inferred that they are one and the same. For example: — The light of the sun, though never unaccompanied with heat, is not to be considered heat. Where is the man so undiscerning as not to distinguish the one from the other? We acknowledge, then, that as soon as any one is justified, renewal also necessarily follows: and there is no dispute as to whether or not Christ sanctifies all whom he justifies. It were to rend the gospel, and divide Christ himself, to attempt to separate the righteousness which we obtain by faith from repentance.

The whole dispute is as to The Cause of Justification. The Fathers of Trent pretend that it is twofold, as if we were justified partly by forgiveness of sins and partly by spiritual regeneration; or, to express their view in other words, as if our righteousness were composed partly of imputation, partly of quality. I maintain that it is one, and simple, and is wholly included in the gratuitous acceptance of God. I besides hold that it is without us, because we are righteous in Christ only. Let them produce evidence from Scripture, if they have any, to convince us of their doctrine. I, while I have the whole Scripture supporting me, will now be satisfied with this one reason, viz., that when mention is made of the righteousness of works, the law and the gospel place it in the perfect obedience of the law; and as that nowhere appears, they leave us no alternative but to flee to Christ alone, that we may be regarded as righteous in him, not being so in ourselves. Will they produce to us one passage which declares that begun newness of life is approved by God as righteousness either in whole or in part? But if they are devoid of authority, why may we not be permitted to repudiate the figment of partial justification which they here obtrude?

Moreover, how frivolous and nugatory the division of causes enumerated by them is, I omit to show, except that I neither can nor ought to let pass the very great absurdity of calling Baptism alone the instrumental cause. What then will become of the gospel? Will it not even be allowed to occupy the smallest corner? But baptism is the sacrament of faith. Who denies it? Yet, when all has been said, it must still be granted me that it is nothing else than an appendage of the gospel. They, therefore, act preposterously in assigning it the first place, and act just as any one who should call a mason’s trowel the instrumental cause of a house! Unquestionably, whosoever postponing the gospel enumerates baptism among the causes of salvation, by so doing gives proof that he knows not what baptism is, what its force, its office, or its use. What else I wish to say of the formal cause will be said on the tenth Canon. Here I wish only to advert to what belongs to the present place. For they again affirm that we are truly righteous, and not merely counted so. I, on the contrary, while I admit that we are never received into the favor of God without being at the same time regenerated to holiness of life, contend that it is false to say that any part of righteousness (justification) consists in quality, or in the habit which resides in us, and that we are righteous (justified) only by gratuitous acceptance. For when the Apostle teaches that “by the obedience of one many were made righteous,” ( Romans 6:19) he sufficiently shows, if I mistake not, that the righteousness wanting in ourselves is borrowed elsewhere. And in the first chapter to the Ephesians, where he says that we are adopted to the predestination of sons of God, that we might be accepted in the Beloved, he comprehends the whole of our righteousness. For however small the portion attributed to our work, to that extent faith will waver, and our whole salvation be endangered. Wherefore, let us learn with the Apostle to lay aside our own righteousness, which is of the law, as a noxious impediment, that we may lay hold of that which is of the faith of Jesus Christ. ( Philippians 3:9.) Of what nature this is we have abundantly shown; and Paul intimates in a single sentence in the third chapter to the Galatians, that the righteousness of the law, because it consists of works, has no congruity with the righteousness of faith.

But what can you do with men like these? For after they have enumerated many causes of Justification, forgetting that they were treating of the cause of justification, they infer that righteousness partly consists of works, because no man is reconciled to God by Christ without the Spirit of regeneration. How gross the delusion! It is just as if they were to say, that forgiveness of sins cannot be dissevered from repentance, and therefore repentance is a part of it. The only point in dispute is, how we are deemed righteous in the sight of God, and where our faith, by which alone we obtain righteousness, ought to seek it? Though they should repeat a thousand times, that we cannot share in the merit of Christ’s passion, without being at the same time regenerated by his Spirit, they will not make it cease to be a fundamental principle; that God is propitious to us because he was appeased by the death of Christ; and that we are counted righteous in his sight, because by that sacrifice our transgressions were expiated. “We have propitiation,” says Paul, “through faith in the blood of Christ.” ( Romans 3:25; 5:11.) In fine, when the cause is inquired into, of what use is it to obtrude an inseparable accident? Let them cease then to sport with trifles, or trifle with quibbles such as — man receives faith, and along with it hope and love; therefore it is not faith alone that justifies. Because if eyes are given us, and along with them ears and feet and hands, we cannot therefore say that we either hear with our feet or walk with our hands, or handle with our eyes. Of the erroneous application of a passage of Paul I shall speak elsewhere.

Next follows their approbation of the worse than worthless distinction between an informal and a formed Faith. The venerable Fathers, indeed, are ashamed to use the very terms, but while they stammer out that man is not united to Christ by faith alone, unless hope and charity are added, they are certainly dreaming of that faith, devoid of charity, which is commonly called by the sophists informal. They thus betray their gross incapacity. For if the doctrine of Paul is true, that “Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,” ( Ephesians 3:17) they can no more separate faith from charity than Christ from his Spirit. If “our hearts are purified by faith,” as Peter affirms, ( Acts 15:9,) if “whosoever believeth hath eternal life,” as our Savior so often declares, ( John 3:16; 5:24; 6:40; 20:31,) if the inheritance of eternal life is obtained by faith, ( Romans 5:14,) faith is something very different from all forms of dead persuasion. They deny that we are made living members of Christ by faith. How much better Augustine, who calls faith the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body? (Aug. in Joan. c. 11,) although Augustine is not so much the authority to be quoted here as Paul, who acknowledges that he lives by the faith of Christ. ( Galatians 2:20.) They should perhaps be pardoned this error, because they talk about faith as they might do of fabulous islands, (for who among them knows by the slightest experience what faith is?) were it not that they drag the miserable world along with them in the same ignorance to destruction!

Let us remember that the nature of Faith is to be estimated from Christ. For that which God offers to us in Christ we receive only by faith. Hence, whatever Christ is to us is transferred to faith, which makes us capable of receiving both Christ and all his blessings. There would be no truth in the words of John, that faith is the victory by which we overcome the world, ( 1 John 5:4,) did it not ingraft us into Christ, ( John 16:33,) who is the only conqueror of the world. It is worth while to remark their stupidity. When they quote the passage of Paul, “Faith which worketh by love,” ( Galatians 5:6) they do not see that they are cutting their own throats. For if love is the fruit and effect of faith, who sees not that the informal faith which they have fabricated is a vain figment? It is very odd for the daughter thus to kill the mother! But I must remind my readers that that passage is irrelevantly introduced into a question about Justification, since Paul is not there considering in what respect faith or charity avails to justify a man, but what is Christian perfection; as when he elsewhere says, “If a man be in Christ he is a new creature.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:17)

It were long and troublesome to note every blunder, but there is one too important to be omitted. They add, “that when catechumens ask faith from the Church, the answer is, “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.'” ( Matthew 19:17.) Wo to their catechumens, if so hard a condition is laid upon them! For what else is this but to lay them under an eternal curse, since they acknowledge with Paul, that all are under the curse who are subject to the law? ( Galatians 3:10.) But they have the authority of Christ! I wish they would observe to what intent Christ thus spake. This can only be ascertained from the context, and the character of the persons. He to whom Christ replies had asked, What must I do to have eternal life? Assuredly, whosoever wishes to merit life by works, has a rule prescribed to him by the law, “This do, and thou shalt live.” But attention must be paid to the object of this as intimated by Paul, viz., that man experiencing his powers, or rather convinced of his powerlessness, may lay aside his pride, and flee all naked to Christ. There is no room for the righteousness of faith until we have discovered that it is in vain that salvation is promised us by the law. But that which the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God performed by his own Son, by expiating our sins through the sacrifice of his death, so that his righteousness is fulfilled in us. But so preposterous are the Fathers of Trent, that while it is the office of Moses to lead us by the hand to Christ, ( Galatians 3:24,) they lead us away from the grace of Christ to Moses.

Lest they should not be liberal enough in preaching up the powers of man, they again repeat, under this head, that the Spirit of God acts in us according to the proper disposedness and co-operation of each. What disposedness, pray, will the Spirit of God find in stony hearts? Are they not ashamed to feign a disposedness, when the Spirit himself uniformly declares in Scripture that all things are contrary? For the commencement of grace is to make those willing who were unwilling, and therefore repugnant; so that faith, as well in its beginnings as its increase, even to its final perfection, is the gift of God; and the preparation for receiving grace is the free election of God, as Augustine says, (Lib. 1:de Praedest., Sanct. c. 9-11.) And the words of Paul are clear, “God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, according as he hath chosen us in Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.” ( Ephesians 1:3.) By these words he certainly restrains us, while receiving so great a blessing from God, from glorying in the decision of our will, as Augustine again says. (Ibid. c. 8.) This which man ought to receive as at the hands of God, is he to oppose to him as a merit of his own? For whence is there a first disposition, unless because we are the sheep of Christ! And who dare presume so far as to say he makes himself a sheep? Accordingly, when Luke speaks of effectual calling, he tells us that not those who were disposed of themselves, but those who were pre-ordained to eternal life, believed. ( Acts 13:48.) And Paul acquaints us whence a right disposition is, when he teaches that the good works in which we walk were prepared by God. ( Ephesians 2:10.) Let us hear Augustine, whose doctrine is very different, rather than those babblers. “After the fall of man,” he says, (Lib. 2: de Bono Persev., c. 9,) “God was pleased that man’s approach to him should be the effect only of his grace, and that man’s not withdrawing from him should also be the effect only of his grace.” For it is he himself who promises that he will give us a heart that we may understand, and ears that we may hear. Wherefore it is His grace alone which makes the difference, as Paul reminds us. Let me conclude by again using the words of Augustine, “The human will obtains not grace by freedom, but freedom by grace, and in order that it may persevere, delectable perpetuity and insuperable fortitude,” (Lib. de Corrupt. et Grat. c. 8.)

In the ninth chapter, while they desire to show some signs of modesty, they rather betray their effrontery. Seeing that the doctrine of Scripture was obviously repugnant to their decrees, they, to prevent this from being suspected, first explain what it is for a man to be justified by faith, saying, that faith is the beginning of salvation, and the foundation of justification. As if they had disentangled themselves by this solution, they immediately fly off to another — that the Apostle teaches that we are justified freely, because all the things which precede justification, whether faith or works, do not merit it. Did they think they are engaged in a serious matter, would they perform it as giddily as if they were playing at see-saw? I say nothing of their disregard of the judgments of mankind, as if they had expected to put out the eyes of all by such a sacred dogma as this — Faith justifies, since it begins justification. First, this comment is repugnant to common sense. For what can be more childish than to restrict the whole effect to the mere act of beginning?

But let us see for a little whether the words of Paul allow themselves to be so easily wrested. “The gospel,” he says, ( Romans 1:16) “is the, power of God to every one believing unto salvation; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” Who sees not that here the beginning and the end are alike included? Were it otherwise, it would have been said, from “faith to works,” as they would finish what faith begins. To the same effect is the testimony of Habakkuk, “The just shall live by fairly.” ( Habakkuk 2:4.) This would be improperly said did not faith perpetuate life. In the person of Abraham the chief mirror of justification is held forth. Let us see, then, at what time faith is declared to have been imputed to him for righteousness. ( Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6.) He was certainly not a novice, but having left his country, had for several years followed the Lord, so that he was no common exemplar of holiness and all virtue. Faith therefore does not open up an access to him to righteousness, in order that his justification may afterwards be completed elsewhere. And Paul at length concludes that we stand in the grace which we have obtained by faith. ( Romans 5:2.) As far as a fixed and immovable station is from a transient passage, so far are they in this dogma of theirs from the meaning of Paul. To collect all the passages of Scripture were tedious and superfluous. From these few, I presume, it is already super-abundantly clear, that the completion, not less than the commencement of justification, must be ascribed to faith.

The second branch is, that Justification is said by Paul to be gratuitous, because no merit precedes it. What then? When Paul also exclaims that all glorying of the flesh is excluded by the law of faith, is he looking only to the merits of past life, and does he not rather remind us that men justified by faith have nothing in which they can glory to the very end of life? For when he asserts after David that righteousness is imputed without works, he declares what is the perpetual state of believers. ( Romans 3:27; 4: 2.) In like manner David exclaims, that himself and all the other children of God are blessed by the remission of sins, not for one day, but for the whole of life. ( Psalm 32:1.) Nor does Peter, in the Acts, speak of the justification of a single day, when he says, “We believe that through the grace of Jesus Christ we are saved, as did also our fathers.” ( Acts 15:11.) The question under discussion was, whether observance of the law was to be exacted of the Gentiles. He says it ought not, because there is no other salvation in the Christian Church than through the grace of Christ, and there never was any other. ( Acts 4:12.) And justly; for, as Paul says, the promise will not be secure unless it depends on the grace of God and on faith. ( Romans 4:16.) Will they pretend that he is here, too, speaking of preceding merits? Nay, he declares that the greatest saints can have no assurance of salvation, unless it repose on the grace of Christ. He therefore abolishes faith who does not retain his as the only righteousness, which exists even until death.

We are justified freely, they say, because no works which precede justification merit it. But when Paul takes away all ground of glorying from Abraham, on the ground that faith was imputed to him for righteousness, he immediately subjoins by way of proof — where works are, there a due reward is paid, whereas what is given to faith is gratuitous. Let us observe that he is, speaking of the holy Patriarch. Paul affirms, that at the time when he renounced the world to devote himself entirely to God, he was not justified by any works. If these spurious Fathers object, that it was then only he began to be justified, the quibble is plainly refuted by the context of the Sacred History. He had for many years exercised himself in daily prayer to God, and he had constantly followed the call of God, wherein was contained the promise of eternal life. Must they not therefore be thrice blind who see no gratuitous righteousness of God, except in the very vestibule, and think that the merit of works pervades the edifice? But it is proper to attend to the gloss by which they attempt to cloak this gross impiety, viz., that in this way they satisfy the Apostle’s sentiment, “If it be of grace, then it is no more of works.” ( Romans 11:5) But Paul ascribes it to Divine grace that a remnant is left, and that they are miraculously preserved by God from the danger of eternal destruction, even unto the end. Far, therefore, is he from restricting it to so small a portion, i.e., to the beginning alone.

It was indeed an absurd dream, but they are still more grossly absurd when they give it as their opinion, that none of all the things which precede Justification, whether faith or works, merit it. What works antecedent to Justification are they here imagining? What kind of order is this in which the fruit is antecedent in time to the root? In one word, that pious readers may understand how great progress has been made in securing purity of doctrine, the monks dunned into the ears of the reverend Fathers, whose part was to nod assent, this old song, that good works which precede justification are not meritorious of eternal salvation, but preparatory only. If any works precede faith, they should also be taken into account. But there is no merit, because there are no works; for if men inquire into their works, they will find only evil works.

Posterity will scarcely believe that the Papacy had fallen into such a stupor as to imagine the possibility of any work antecedent to justification, even though they denied it to be meritorious of so great a blessing! For what can come from man until he is born again by the Spirit of God? Very different is the reasoning of Paul. He exhorts the Ephesians to remember ( Ephesians 2) that they were saved by grace, not by themselves nor by their own works. He subjoins a proof, not the one which these insane Fathers use, that no works which precede suffice, but the one which I have adduced, that we are possessed of no works but those which God hath prepared, because we are his workmanship created unto a holy and pious life. Faith, moreover, precedes justification, but in such a sense, that in respect of God, it follows. What they say of faith might perhaps hold true, were faith itself, which puts us in possession of righteousness, our own. But seeing that it too is the free gift of God, the exception which they introduce is superfluous. Scripture, indeed, removes all doubt on another ground, when it opposes faith to works, to prevent its being classed among merits. Faith brings nothing of our own to God, but receives what God spontaneously offers us. Hence it is that faith, however imperfect, nevertheless possesses a perfect righteousness, because it has respect to nothing but the gratuitous goodness of God.

In the tenth chapter, they inveigh against what they call The Vain Confidence of Heretics. This consists, according to their definition, in our holding it as certain that our sins are forgiven, and resting in this certainty. But if such certainty makes heretics, where will be the happiness which David extols? ( Psalm 32) Nay, where will be the peace of which Paul discourses in the fifth chapter to the Romans, if we rest in anything but the good-will of God? How, moreover, have we God propitious, but just because he enters not into judgment with us? They acknowledge that sins are never forgiven for Christ’s sake, except freely, but leaving it in suspense to whom and when they are forgiven, they rob all consciences of calm placid confidence. Where, then, is that boldness of which Paul elsewhere speaks, ( Ephesians 3:12,) that access with confidence to the Father through faith in Christ? Not contented with the term confidence, he furnishes us with boldness, which is certainly something more than certainty. And what shall we say to his own occasional use of the term certainty? ( Romans 8:37.) This certainty he founds upon nothing but a mere persuasion of the free love of God. Nay, they overthrow all true prayer to God, when they keep pious minds suspended by fear which alone shuts the door of access against us. “He who doubts,” says James, ( James 1:6) “is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind.” Let not such think that they shall obtain anything of the Lord. “Let him who would pray effectually not doubt.” Attend to the antithesis between faith and doubt, plainly intimating that faith is. destroyed as soon as certainty is taken away.

But that the whole of their theology may be more manifest to my readers, let them weigh the words which follow under the same head. It ought not to be asserted, they say, that those who have been truly justified ought to entertain an unhesitating doubt that they are justified. If it be so, let them teach how plhrofori>a (full assurance) can be reconciled with doubt. For Paul makes it the perpetual attendant of faith. I say nothing as to their laying down as a kind of axiom what Paul regards as a monstrous absurdity. “If the inheritance is by the law,” he says, ( Romans 4:14,) “faith is made void.” He argues that there will be no certainty of faith if it depends on human works — a dependence which he hesitates not to pronounce most absurd. And justly; seeing he immediately infers from it that the promise also is abolished.

I am ashamed to debate the matter, as if it were doubtful, with men who call themselves Christians. The doctrine of Scripture is clear. “We know,” says John, ( 1 John 4:6,) “that we are the children of God.” And he afterwards explains whence this knowledge arises, viz., from the Spirit which he hath given us. In like manner Paul, too, reminds us, ( 1 Corinthians 2:12) “That we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us of God.” Elsewhere it is said still more explicitly, “We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” ( Romans 8:15.) Hence that access with confidence and boldness which we mentioned a little ago. And, indeed, they are ignorant of the whole nature of faith who mingle doubt with it. Were Paul in doubt, he would not exult over death, and write as he does in the eighth of the Romans, when he boasts of being so certain of the love of God that nothing can turn him from the persuasion. This is clear from his words. And he assigns the cause, “Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.” By this he intimates that our conscience, resting in the testimony of the Holy Spirit, boldly glories in the presence of God, in the hope of eternal life. But it is not strange that this certainty, which the Spirit of God seals on the hearts of the godly, is unknown to sophists. Our Savior foretold that so it would be. “Not the world, but you alone in whom he abideth, will know him.” ( John 14:17.) It is not strange that those who, having discarded the foundation of faith, lean rather on their works, should waver to and fro. For it is a most true saying of Augustine, (in Psalm 88,) “As the promise is sure, not according to our merits, but according to his grace, no man ought to speak with trepidation of that of which he cannot doubt.”

They think, however, that they ingeniously obviate all objections when they recommend a general persuasion of the grace of Christ. They prohibit any doubt as to the efficacy of Christ’s death. But where do they wish it to be placed In the air, so as to be only in confused imagination. For they allow none to apply grace to themselves with the firm assurance of faith, as if we had to no purpose received such promises as these, “Behold your king cometh;” “Ye are the heirs of promise;” “The Father is pleased in thee;” “The righteousness of God is unto all and upon all them that believe.” ( Matthew 21:5; Zechariah 9:9; Acts 2:39; Luke 12:32; Romans 3:22.) Surely, if they admit that by faith we apprehend what God offers to us, Christ is not set before me and others, merely that we may believe him to have been the Redeemer of Abraham, but that every one may appropriate the salvation which he procured. And how improper is it to assert that “no man can know with certainty of faith that he has obtained the grace of God.” Paul and John recognize none as the children of God but those who know it. Of what knowledge can we understand them to speak, but that which they have learned by the teaching of the Holy Spirit? Admirably says Bernard, (Sermon 5 in Dedicat. Temp.,) “Faith must here come to our aid; here truth must lend us succor; that that which lies hid in the heart of the Father respecting us may be revealed by the Spirit, or the Spirit may persuade our hearts that we are the children of God; and persuade by calling and justifying us freely by faith.” But if Paul, when he exhorts the Corinthians to prove themselves whether they be in the faith, ( 2 Corinthians 13:5,) pronounces all reprobate who do not know Christ dwelling in them, why should I hesitate to pronounce them twice reprobate, who, not allowing the Church to enter on any such proof, abolish all certainty concerning the grace of God?

Under the eleventh, head, when they describe Increase of Righteousness, they not only confound the free imputation of righteousness with the merit of works, but almost exterminate it. Their words are, “Believers increase in righteousness by good works, through the observance of the commandments of God and the Church, and are thence more justified.” They ought at least to use the exception of Augustine. (De Civit. 19 c. 27.) “The righteousness of believers, while they live in the world, consists more in the forgiveness of sins than the perfection of virtues.” He teaches that no dependence at all is to be placed on righteousness of works, which he names with contempt. For he declares that the only hope of all the godly who groan under the weakness of the flesh is, that they have a mediator, Christ Jesus, who is the propitiation for their sins. (Lib. ad Bonif., 5 c. 5.) On the contrary, the Fathers of Trent; or rather the hireling monks, who, as a kind of Latin pipers, compose for them whatever tune they please, doing their utmost to call their disciples away from the view of grace, blind them by a false confidence in works. We, indeed, willingly acknowledge, that believers ought to make daily increase in good works, and that the good works wherewith they are adorned by God, are sometimes distinguished by the name of righteousness. But since the whole value of works is derived from no other fountain than that of gratuitous acceptance, how absurd were it to make the former overthrow the latter! Why do they not remember what they learned when boys at school, that what is subordinate is not contrary? I say that it is owing to free imputation that we are considered righteous before God; I say that from this also another benefit proceeds, viz., that our works have the name of righteousness, though they are far from having the reality of righteousness. In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. Therefore, it is necessary that the righteousness of faith alone so precede in order, and be so pre-eminent in degree, that nothing can go before it or obscure it.

Hence it is a most iniquitous perversion to substitute some kind of meritorious for a gratuitous righteousness, as if God after justifying us once freely in a single moment, left us to procure righteousness for ourselves by the observance of the law during the whole of life. As to the observance of the Divine Commandments, they must, whether they will or not, confess this much, that all mortals are very far from accomplishing it perfectly. Let them now answer, and say whether any part of it whatever be righteousness, or a part of righteousness? They will strenuously maintain the latter. But it is repugnant to Scripture, which gives this honor to none but perfect obedience. “The man who doeth these things shall live in them;” “Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” ( Galatians 3:10.) Again, “He who fails in one point is guilty of all.” ( James 2:10.) There is no man who does not acknowledge, without one word from me, that we are all subject to the curse while we keep halting at the observance of the law, and that righteousness, since works cannot procure it, must be borrowed from some other quarter of the commandments of the Church, which they mix up with those of God, we shall speak elsewhere. My readers, however, must be informed in passing, that no kind of impiety is here omitted. Who can excuse their profanity in not hesitating to claim a power of justifying for their own inventions? Never did even Pelagius attempt this. He attempted to fascinate miserable men by the impious persuasion that they could, by the observance of the Divine law, acquire righteousness for themselves; but. to attribute this merit to human laws never entered his mind. It is execrable blasphemy against God for any mortal to give way to such presumption as to award eternal life to the observance of his own traditions.

But whither shall I turn? It is a Sacred Council that speaks, and it cannot err in the interpretation of Scripture. And they have passages of Scripture, the first out of Ecclesiasticus, “Fear not to be justified even until death.” I believe there is one way of getting myself out of the difficulty. Let my readers look at the passage, and they will find that the worthy Fathers have impudently corrupted it; for the writer says, “Be not forbidden, i.e., prevented until death,” although it ought rather to be rendered defer not; for this the Greek word means. He is inveighing against the slothfulness of those who put off their conversion to God. What was thus spoken of the commencement, these religious Fathers, not only in gross ignorance, but open malice, apply to progress. In the passage of James there is more plausibility. ( James 2:24.) But any one who has read our writings knows well enough that James gives them no support, inasmuch as he uses justification to signify, not the cause of righteousness, but the proof of it. This plainly appears from the context. But they become more ridiculous when they infer that a man is justified by good works because the Church prays for increase of faith, hope, and charity. Who, if he is not too old to be a child, is not frightened at this thunder?

Under the twelfth head they renew the old anathema: Let none say that the Commandments of God are impossible to be observed by a justified man. It serves no purpose to dispute about the term impossible. It is enough for me, and should be enough for all who are pious, and not at all contentious, that no man ever lived who satisfied the law of God, and that none ever can be found. What! shall we accuse the Holy Spirit of falsehood, when he charges all men with the guilt of transgression, not those of our age only, but all who shall ever exist to the end of the world? “There is not a man upon earth,” saith Solomon, “who sinneth not.” ( 1 Kings 8:46.) And David had said, “In thy sight shall no man living be justified.” ( Psalm 143:2.) If it be possible to find any one who can fulfill the law, let the Holy Spirit retract. But far from us be the devilish pride of making the eternal Author of truth a liar. Nay, even Paul’s argument would fail: “It is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law. Therefore, whosoever are under the law are under curse.” ( Galatians 3:10.) It will be easy to object, that the law can be fulfilled. But the Apostle assumes as an acknowledged principle what these men stigmatize with anathema. Accordingly in another place, when deploring the bondage in which himself, in common with all saints, was held, he could find no other remedy than that of being freed from the body. ( Romans 7:24.)

The Pelagians annoyed Augustine with the same quibble. He admits that God may, if he pleases, raise men to this pitch of perfection, but that he never had, and never would, because the Scriptures teach otherwise. I go farther, and assert, that what the Scriptures declare never shall be, is impossible; although, if we are to debate about a word, the very thing was expressed by Peter, ( Acts 15.) when he spoke of the yoke of the law as that which none of their fathers could bear. It is an error to suppose that this refers only to ceremonies: for what so very arduous was there in ceremonies as to make all human strength fail under the burden of them? He undoubtedly means that all mankind from the beginning were, and still are, unequal to the observance of the law, and that therefore nothing remains but to flee to the grace of Christ, which, loosing us from the yoke of the law, keeps us as it were under free custody. And it is to be observed that he is speaking of the regenerate, lest the Fathers of Trent quibble, and say that he spoke of the weakness of the flesh when the assistance of the Spirit is wanting. For he affirms that prophets and patriarchs, and pious kings, however aided by the Spirit of God, were unable to bear the yoke of the law, and declares, without ambiguity, that the observance of the law was impossible.

But they also produce Scripture as a witness on the other side: for John says, that “his commandments are not grievous.” ( 1 John 5:3.) I admit it, provided you exclude not the doctrine of the remission of sins, which he places before all the commandments. If it be not grievous to perform the law, you will find me several men without sin to make God a liar; as is said also by John. ( 1 John 1:8.) But these fools consider not that the facility of which John speaks depends on this, that the saints have a remedy in readiness to supply their defects — they flee for pardon. Hence, too, it is that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden light, because the saints feel an alacrity in their liberty while they feel themselves no longer under the law. Paul applies to them this best stimulus of exhortation. ( Romans 6:12.) And David also teaches, “With thee is forgiveness, that thou mayest be feared.” ( Psalm 130:4.) Take that hope of pardon from me, and the least commandment of the law will be a heavier load than AEtna. But what is this to idle monks, who have here touched with the little finger that observance of the commandments of the facility of which they so confidently prattle. Nay, they openly betray their irreligion by this one dogma. How? This admirable Apostle laments that he is held captive from inability to obey the law as is meet, and he cries out that the disease cannot be cured till death cure it. ( Romans 7:23.) These sturdy doctors superdiously smile, and sing out that such complaints are causeless, because Christ’s burden is light. They afterwards add, “The disciples of Christ love him, and those who love him do his commandments.” ( John 14:23.) This is all true. But where is the perfect love of Christ — love, I mean, with the whole heart, and mind, and strength? There only where the flesh lusteth not against the spirit, and therefore not in the world at all. The disciples of Christ love him with sincere and earnest affection of heart, and according to the measure of their love keep his commandments. But how small is this compared with that strict perfection in which there is no deficiency?

Let readers of sense now attend to the consistency of the dicta of these Fathers. After boldly asserting that the Law can be fulfilled by believers, they admit that even the most holy sometimes fall into light and daily sins. First I ask, whether there be any sin, however light, that is not inconsistent with the observance of the law? For what vicious thought will creep into the mind of man if it be wholly occupied with the love of God? The law is not satisfied unless God is loved with the whole heart. That men do not therefore cease to be righteous I admit. But why so, but just because they are blessed to whom sin is not imputed? If they insist on 117 Hence, too, it is that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden light, because the saints feel an alacrity in their liberty while they feel themselves no longer under the law. Paul applies to them this best stimulus of exhortation. ( Romans 6:12.) And David also teaches, “With thee is forgiveness, that thou mayest be feared.” ( Psalm 130:4.) Take that hope of pardon from me, and the least commandment of the law will be a heavier load than AEtna. But what is this to idle monks, who have here touched with the little finger that observance of the commandments of the facility of which they so confidently prattle. Nay, they openly betray their irreligion by this one dogma. How? This admirable Apostle laments that he is held captive from inability to obey the law as is meet, and he cries out that the disease cannot be cured till death cure it. ( Romans 7:23.) These sturdy doctors superdiously smile, and sing out that such complaints are causeless, because Christ’s burden is light. They afterwards add, “The disciples of Christ love him, and those who love him do his commandments.” ( John 14:23.) This is all true. But where is the perfect love of Christ — love, I mean, with the whole heart, and mind, and strength? There only where the flesh lusteth not against the spirit, and therefore not in the world at all. The disciples of Christ love him with sincere and earnest affection of heart, and according to the measure of their love keep his commandments. But how small is this compared with that strict perfection in which there is no deficiency? Let readers of sense now attend to the consistency of the dicta of these Fathers. After boldly asserting that the Law can be fulfilled by believers, they admit that even the most holy sometimes fall into light and daily sins. First I ask, whether there be any sin, however light, that is not inconsistent with the observance of the law? For what vicious thought will creep into the mind of man if it be wholly occupied with the love of God? The law is not satisfied unless God is loved with the whole heart. That men do not therefore cease to be righteous I admit. But why so, but just because they are blessed to whom sin is not imputed? If they insist on being righteous by works, on which their consciences can repose in the sight of God, they, in the first place, subvert faith, and do an insufferable wrong to the grace of God; and, in the second place, they bring no support to their impious doctrine as to possible observance of the law. If they consider what they call lighter lapses as nothing, the dreadful sentence of the Supreme Judge thunders forth, “He who shall despise one of these least commandments shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Although I should like to know what sins they call light, (for so they speak by way of extenuation,) and why they say that the righteous fall into them sometimes rather than constantly, or ever and anon; for scarcely a moment passes in which we do not contract some new guilt. In their eyes all kinds of concupiscence which prompt us to evil are light sins, and also all kinds of temptations which urge us to blasphemy against God. Be this as it may, they are here placed in a manifest dilemma.

What afterwards follows under the same head is no more applicable than if one were to attempt to prove from the movement of the feet that the hands do not feel. They gather some exhortations to a pious life. What, pray, will they force out of these except what may be learned a hundred times better, and with very different effect, from our writings and discourses, and even daily conversation, viz., that “we are not called to uncleanness but to holiness,” that “the mercy of God hath appeared, that denying the lusts of the flesh, we may live piously and holily in the world,” that “we have risen with Christ to set our affections on things above:” ( 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Titus 2:11; Colossians 3:12.) But they seem to think they have done some great thing when they infer that it is in vain for those who are unwilling to be partakers of the sufferings of Christ, to glory in the heavenly inheritance. How much better we explain the matter let our readers judge. There is one difference, however: we teach that we are to share in the sufferings of Christ in order that we may attain to the fellowship of his blessed resurrection; ( Romans 8:17;) we do not separate Christ from himself. They erroneously infer what does not at all follow — that men by suffering merit eternal life, and that part of their righteousness consisting therein, they do not depend entirely on the grace of God.

But they are still more absurd in their conclusion. For they infer that all are enemies to the Christian religion who teach that the righteous sin in every good work, at least venially. I should like to know what logic taught them to draw such an inference as this: “So run that you may obtain the reward” ergo, In the good works of saints there is nothing that deserves blame. Must not men be thrice stupid when such fellows can persuade them that such follies proceeded from the Holy Spirit? But, passing this absurdity, let us look at the substance.

They must of necessity admit that works are to be judged from the internal affection of mind from which they emanate, and the end at which they aim, rather than from the external mask under which they appear to men: for God looketh on the heart, as was said to Samuel, and his eyes behold the truth, as Jeremiah reminds us. It is too plain, however, that we are never animated and actuated by a perfect love to God in obeying His just commands. Various passions withdraw us from our course, so that we scarcely walk when God enjoins us to hasten on with the greatest speed; we are scarcely lukewarm when we ought to be all ardor. Though from self-deception we are not sensible of this defect, God sees and judges: in his sight the stars are dim, and the sun shineth not. In short, the seventh chapter of the Romans disposes of this controversy. There Paul, in his own person and that of all the godly, confesses that he is far from perfection, even when his will is at its best. Wherefore let a man flatter himself as he may, the best work that ever was, if brought by God to judgment, will be found stained by some blemish. But these works are approved by God. Who denies it? We only maintain that they cannot please without pardon. But what is it that God pardons except sin? Hence it follows that there is nothing so very censurable in saying, that all good works whatever, if judged with strict rigor, are more deserving of eternal damnation than of the reward of life; for wherever sin, in however slight a degree, is found, no man of sound judgment will deny that there too the materials of death are found. Owing, however, to the boundless mercy of God, works have a recompense in heaven, though, they not only merited nothing of the kind, but would have the reward of eternal death were not the impurity with which they are otherwise defiled wiped away by Christ. I have moreover shown in many places how absurd the reasoning is which infers dignity or merit from the use of the term reward. The reason is obvious. The very recompense which the sophists assert to be founded on merit, depends on gratuitous acceptance.

Under the thirteenth head. if they only did what the title professes, I would give them my subscription. But since, while professing to obviate rashness and presumption, they make it their whole study to efface from the minds of the pious all confidence in their election, I am forced to oppose them, because they are plainly opposed by Scripture. For to what end does Paul discourse at such length in the first chapter to the Ephesians, on the eternal election of God, unless to persuade them that they were chosen by it unto eternal life? And there is no need of conjecture; for he repeatedly enjoins the Ephesians to hold it fixed in their minds, that they have been called and made partakers of the gospel, because they were elected in Christ before the foundation of the world. Likewise in the eighth chapter to the Romans, he expressly conjoins the doctrine of election with the assurance of faith.

I acknowledge, indeed, and we are all careful to teach, that nothing is more pernicious than to inquire into the secret council of God, with the view of thereby obtaining a knowledge of our election — that this is a whirlpool in which we shall be swallowed up stud lost. But seeing that our Heavenly Father holds forth in Christ a mirror of our eternal adoption, no man truly holds what has been given us by Christ save he who feels assured that Christ himself has been given him by the Father, that he may not perish. What! are the following passages mere verbiage? “The Father who has placed us under the protection and faith of his Son is greater than all.” “The Son will not allow anything to be lost.” ( John 6:39; 10:28.) These things are said that all who are the sons of God may trust in such a guardian of their salvation, and feel safe in the midst of danger; nay, when beset with infinite perils, may trust that their salvation is secure because in the hand of God.

But they affirm, that it is impossible to know whom God has chosen except by special revelation. I admit it. And, accordingly, Paul says that we have not received the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us of God. The gift he elsewhere interprets as meaning the adoption, by which we are classed among his children, and which he holds to be so certain that we may with loud voice glory in it. But I am not unaware of what they intend by special revelation. I, however, mean that which our Heavenly Father specially deigns to bestow on his own children. Nor is this any fancy of my own. The words of Paul are well known, “Those things which are hidden from human sense God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit, who also searcheth the deepest things of God.” Again, “Who hath known the mind of God, or who hath been his counselor? But we have the mind of Christ.”

On the whole, then, we see that what the venerable Fathers call rash and damnable presumption, is nothing but that holy confidence in our adoption revealed unto us by Christ, to which God everywhere encourages his people. Under the fourteenth head they prohibit any one from feeling absolutely certain that God will bestow upon him the gift of Final Perseverance, and yet they do not disapprove of entertaining the strongest hope of it in God. But let them first show us by what kind of cement they can glue together things so opposed to each other as the strongest hope and a doubtful expectation. For certainly, he whose expectation of eternal life is not founded on absolute certainty, must be agitated by various, doubts. This is not the kind of hope which Paul describes, when he says that he is certainly persuaded that neither life nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, will dissolve the love with which God embraces him in Christ. He would not speak thus did not the certainty of Christian hope reach beyond the last hour of life. And what language do the promises speak? The Spirit not only declares that the just lives by faith, but that he shall live. ( Habakkuk 2:4.) Thus far must hope reach. Paul even shows this when ]he describes hope as patiently waiting for things which are yet concealed.

But, it may be said, they do not take away hope, but only absolute certainty. What! is there any expression of doubt or uncertainty when Paul boldly asserts that a crown of righteousness is laid up for him? ( 1 Timothy 4:8.) Is there anything conditional in the words, when he declares that an earnest of our adoption has been given us, so that we can dare with loud voice to call God our Father? They take refuge in the frivolous quibble out of which I have already driven them, viz., that Paul had this by special revelation. But he claims nothing so special for himself as not to share it with all believers, when in their name as much as his own, he boldly exults over death and life, the present and the future. Nor does John claim for himself alone that knowledge in which he glories, when he says, “We know that we shall be like God, for we shall see him as he is.” ( 1 John 3:2.) Nor Paul, when he says, “We glory in hope of the glory of God;” and again, “We know that when this earthly tabernacle falls, a mansion is prepared for us in heaven.” ( Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians 5:1.)

They make a gloss of what is said in the tenth chapter of First Corinthians, “Let him who standeth take heed lest he fall.” Of this there is a twofold solution. Paul there only checks carnal arrogance, which has nothing to do with the assurance of hope; nor does he address believers only, but all of the Gentiles who had assumed the name of Christ, among whom there might be many puffed up with vain confidence. For the comparison which is there made between Jews and Gentiles, is not confined to the elect only, but comprehends all who belonged to the Church by name. I will be satisfied, however, with this one reply, as it is quite sufficient, viz., that the fear enjoined is not that which in the smallest degree impairs the certainty of faith or hope, but only that which keeps us solicitous in the fear of God. The regenerate are not yet in glory, but only in the hope of glory, and much of the contest still remains. Hence did they infer that torpor must be shaken off, and no overweening security indulged, there is no man of sense who would not subscribe to them. But when they employ the passage as a battering-ram to shake the firmness of our hope, and drive us headlong, their conduct is on no account to be tolerated. In qualifying Paul’s sentiment, and making it mean that the work of salvation which God has begun will be perfected in us only if we are not wanting to his grace, they act very ignorantly, not observing that one part of grace consists in having God present with us so as to prevent our being wanting to his grace. This doctrine ought not to give occasion to sloth; it ought only to make them recognize what they have received of God, and what they expect from him. I could like, if I durst, to pass many things without affixing a stigma to them. But what can I do? There is scarcely one line which does not contain some notable error or give indications of dishonest dealing. On the fifteenth head, where they treat of recovery after the fall, they say that Jerome gave an appropriate definition of repentance, when he called it the second plank after shipwreck. Were I disposed to criticize the dictum of Jerome, I would ask why he calls it the second plank, and not the third or fourth? for how few are there who do not during life make more than one shipwreck. Nay: what man was ever found whom the grace of God has not rescued from daily shipwrecks? But I have no business with Jerome at present.

The Fathers of Trent do not treat of Repentance, but of the Sacrament of Penitence, which they pretend to have been instituted by Christ. When? When he said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit; whose sins ye remit, they shall be remitted. ( John 20:22.) First, because Christ gave the Apostles this authority, is it therefore a sacrament? Where is the sign? where the form? Secondly, who knows not that this office was assigned to the Apostles that they might perform it towards strangers? How asinine the Fathers must be to allow the absurd trifling of a dreaming monk thus to pass without opposition! Christ confirms the testimony which the Apostles were to bear to the world concerning the remission of sins. Such is the message which is conveyed by the gospel, and that, too, ‘Lo those who are not yet chosen into the Church. Some babbler among the monks who rule the Council having never perhaps looked at the passage, certainly never pondered it, read out his own commentary that there a formula is prescribed by which those who had fallen after baptism were to be restored to a state of grace. The stupid Fathers nodded assent. The passage itself, however, proclaims that it was Shamelessly wrested. They infer that the penitence of a Christian man after a lapse, is very different from baptismal penitence: as if Christ had only referred to one species, and not expressly required, as the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke informs us, that repentance as well as remission of sins should be preached in his name. They go farther, and say, that this Penitence with which they trifle consists not only in contrition of heart, but the confession of the mouth and the satisfaction of works: although not to appear unmerciful, they mitigate the rigor of their law when they allow themselves to be appeased by a wish to confess. Why should I begin a long discussion here? The point is the remission of sins: which is the knowledge of salvation. (Luke 1:77.) God promises it to us free in the blood, of Christ: of auricular confession he says not a word. These new lawgivers tie down forgiveness to a formula of confession, contrary to the command of God, and assert that it is redeemed by satisfaction. What will remain for miserable consciences, if they are forced to abandon the word of God and acquiesce in the decrees of men?

I am desirous to be assured of my salvation. I am shown in the word of God a simple way, which will lead me straight to the entire and tranquil possession of this great boon. I will say no more. Men come and lay hands on me, and tie me down to a necessity of confession from which Christ frees me. They lay upon me the burden of satisfaction, ordering me to provide at my own hand that which Christ shows me is to be sought from his blood alone. Can I long doubt what it is expedient to do? Nay, away with all hesitation, when attempts are made to lead us away from the only author of our salvation. Search as they may, not a syllable will be found by which Christ orders us to confess our sins into a human ear. All the promises relating to the remission of sins make not the smallest mention of such a thing. The law was wholly unknown to the Apostles. Throughout the Eastern Church it was scarcely ever used. Nay, the observance was everywhere free for more than a thousand years, till Innocent III., with a few of his horned crew, entangled the Christian people in this net, which the Fathers of Trent would now make fast;. What I say is abundantly testified by ancient history. Our books are filled with proofs. None of them are unknown to those who dictated this famous formula to the Council; and yet so impudent are they, that they would persuade us by one word that the door of salvation is closed, and can only be opened by the key of a fictitious confession. But who will grant them a license to restrict the promises of Christ, by imposing any condition they please?

I do not say at present how cruel an executioner to torture and excruciate consciences is that law of Innocent which they anew promulgate; how many it has driven headlong to despair; what a narcotic of hypocrisy it has been to lull others asleep; how many monstrous iniquities have sprung from it! Nay, let us even imagine, as they themselves falsely give out, that some advantage flows from it: it is nothing to the purpose. The question is asked, How are those who have fallen from divine grace restored to it? Scripture everywhere shows the method, but makes no reference to confession, which was long afterwards coined in human brains. What effrontery! to preclude access to the hope of obtaining pardon, unless the confession which they have been pleased to prescribe precedes. The question relates to repentance. Its whole force and nature are so frequently, so copiously, so clearly depicted by the Holy Spirit in the law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, that no doctrine is more lucidly explained. Of confession, such as they pretend, there is throughout a profound silence. Who, then, will believe them ‘when they affirm that no repentance is genuine without that appendage, nay, unless it be included in it? It is enough for me to know the two following things — first, that they devise a Repentance altogether different from that which is recommended to us in Scripture; and secondly, that they enact a condition for obtaining the remission of sins, from which he, to whom alone the power of remitting belongs, wished us to be free. The latter is just as if they were forbidding God to promise salvation without their permission, or at least were opposing his performance of the promise of salvation which he has given. For they do not permit him to pardon our sins, unless it be on the condition of our performing an observance which they alone make binding.

With regard to Satisfaction, they think they make a subtle distinction when they collect the dregs of the vile comments of the sophists, — that not eternal punishment, indeed, but temporal, is to be compensated by satisfaction. Who knew not that such was the prattle of the sophists? And yet, when they pretend that eternal punishment, together with guilt, is remitted to us by confession, or the wish to confess, what else do they mean than that we merit by works what God promises to give freely? But let us now see the force of the distinction. When the Prophets mention the gratuitous remission of sins, it is true they usually refer to its other effect, viz., that God would be appeased, and no longer avenge the sins of his people or visit them with his rod. Whoever is moderately versed in Scripture will acknowledge the strict accuracy of my statement, that the punishments which we deserved are mitigated, loosed, in fine, abolished, because God pardons us, not for any merit of our own, as if he were appeased by compensation, but because he is moved solely by his own mercy. The Babylonish captivity was a temporal punishment. Its termination in seventy years, when the Israelites deserved it much longer, God ascribes to his own free mercy. Whenever the chastisements which God had threatened are withdrawn, it is uniformly represented as the result of gratuitous reconciliation. It is certainly a relaxation of temporal punishment which God promises in these words, “Not on your account will I do it, but for my name’s sake.” And Isaiah, when he states, that the satisfaction or price of our peace was laid upon Christ, reminds us that we have not only been freed from punishment by his interposition, but that he bore on our account all the pains by which God is wont to avenge or chastise our sins, in order that we may, however unworthy, enjoy all the blessings of the present life also. ( Isaiah 48:9; 53:5.) But God nevertheless still chastises believers. I admit it. But to what end? Is it that he, by inflicting punishment, may pay what is due to himself and his own justice? Not at all; but that he may humble them, by striking them with a dread of his anger, that he may produce in them an earnest feeling of repentance, and render them more cautious in future. But there are means by which they may avert these punishments; I mean, when they anticipate them of their own accord, there is no reason why God should as it were drag them violently. When is there occasion for the rod but just when voluntary correction is wanting? Accordingly, the Apostle tells us that those who shall have judged themselves shall not be judged by the Lord. ( 1 Corinthians 11:31.)

But how preposterous to infer satisfaction from this? The greater part of believers have, by prayer, warded off the chastisement to which they had made themselves liable. Nay, even Ahab, when he humbles himself spontaneously, feels the hand of God fall lighter upon him. ( 1 Kings 21:29.) The deprecatory petitions which the saints employed are the most decisive witnesses to gratuitous satisfaction. But these Fathers, it seems, adduce nothing which they cannot prove by passages of Scripture; for Paul teaches, that the sorrow which is agreeable to God worketh: repentance unto salvation not to be repented of. ( 2 Corinthians 7:10.) What! does Paul here call us back to satisfaction? I hear no word of it. They are dishonestly deluding us. They do so still more in what follows, when they tell us that John must be understood to refer to the same penitence in saying, “Repent, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” ( Luke 3:8.) But whom did John address in these terms? Was it not persons who offered themselves for baptism while not yet imbued with the faith of Christ? Somewhat different from this, and yet not less absurd, is their quotation from the second chapter of the Revelations, “Remember whence thou art fallen, and first do works;” whereas the proper reading is, “do the first works,” or the former works. The writer exhorts the Ephesians to return to their former state of life. With what face is this stretched to satisfaction? When they so pertly called black white, did they think there would be no eyes to detect their fraud? Lysander once said to deputies who had spoken in a meeting of allies more imperiously than they ought, that they had need of a city which would be very indulgent to them. These masters would need a herd of oxen if they wish to have an audience which they can persuade to believe what they please. Let them go and boast of being guided immediately by the Holy Spirit, while they are palpable falsifiers of holy writ.

To sum up the whole — Though believers ought to be constantly thinking of Repentance, these Holy Fathers imagine it to be an indescribable something of rare occurrence — though Scripture declares repentance to be a renewal of the whole man — though it points out its very source, fear excited by a true sense of the Divine judgment — though it enumerates its parts, self-denial, which consists in a hatred of sin and dissatisfaction with our own depravity, and renewal of life or regeneration of the spirit, which is nothing else than the restoration of the Divine image — though it carefully marks its effects, and explicitly defines its whole nature, — the venerable Fathers produce nothing but the flimsy inanities by which the doctrine of repentance has been corrupted under the Papacy. What was said by ecclesiastical writers concerning external discipline, which referred to the formal profession of repentance, they ignorantly wrest to the spiritual renovation which formed the subject of their discourse. Not to be tedious in reviewing each point, let any one compare their lucubrations with our writings, and he will find and acknowledge that they have turned light into darkness.

I have hitherto endeavored to censure without accusing; and impartial readers will observe, that I censure nothing unless compelled to do so. But there is not a sentence which does not extort more of it from me than I could wish. Of this nature is the assertion under the sixteenth head, that the grace of Justification is lost, not only by unbelief, but by any mortal sin. If they meant that we are ejected from the possession (enjoyment) of this great blessing by an evil conscience, I would not at all gainsay them, I mean as far as regards ourselves. For although God does not cast us off, yet an evil conscience is such a separation from him as excludes us from the enjoyment of a lively and justifying knowledge of his paternal love towards us. But they are preposterous, first, in recognizing no sin as mortal that is not gross and palpable:, whereas most inward sins wound the mind more grievously and even fatally; and, secondly, in not perceiving how a good conscience is the inseparable attendant of faith. Were it not so, how could it be said that our hearts are purified, by faith, that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, that it is the victory by which we overcome the world, the shield for repelling the assaults of the devil, and that we are kept by faith through the power of God unto salvation? ( Acts 15:9; Ephesians 3:17; 1 John 5:4; Ephesians 6:16; 1 Peter 5:9; 1:5.) There is no doubt, therefore, that faith is overwhelmed and buried in a man whenever he has been overcome by any temptation so as to abandon the fear of God. For the Spirit of holiness cannot be separated from faith any more than can Christ himself. I do not assert, however, that when we forsake the fear of the Lord faith is altogether extinguished in us. But as the fear of God is oppressed by depraved lusts, so I say that faith is stifled, and for the time exerts its power no more than if it were in a manner dead. The holy Fathers craftily endeavor to burrow out a hole in which they may hide their impious dogma, that we are not justified by faith alone. Not succeeding in this they attempt another method.

We come now to the last head, which treats of The Merit of Works. Here there is no dispute between us as to the necessity of exhorting ‘believers to good works, and even stimulating them by holding forth a reward. What then? First, I differ from them in this, that they make eternal life the reward; for if God rewards works with eternal life, they will immediately make out that faith itself is the reward which is paid, whereas Scripture uniformly proclaims that it is the inheritance which falls to us by no other right than that of free adoption. But there is still greater ground for contradicting, when they are not ashamed to affirm that nothing is to prevent believers from satisfying the Law, at least in a degree proportioned to the present state, and meriting eternal life. Where then will be the blessedness of which David speaks, ( Psalm 32,) and without which we are all thrice wretched? Wo to those miserable men who perceive not that he who has come nearest to perfection has not yet advanced half-way! All who have their conscience exercised feel the strict truth of Augustine’s sentiment, “The righteousness of saints in this life consists more in the forgiveness of sins than the perfection of virtues.” (Lib. de Civit. Dei, 19 c. 27.) Still more accurate is another passage which I quoted, that; “so long as they groan under the infirmity of the flesh, the only hope left them is, that they have a mediator in Christ by whom they are reconciled to God.” (Lib. ad Bon., 3. c. 5.)

It is not strange, however, that addle-pated monks who, having never experienced any struggle of conscience, and who, moreover, being intoxicated with ambition, or surfeiting and drunkenness, only desire to raise themselves in the estimation of their idol, should thus prate of the perfection of the Law. With the same confidence do they talk of a heaven for hire, while they themselves meanwhile continue engrossed with the present hire, after which they are always gaping. But in vain do they attempt to dazzle eyes not wholly blind with those fair colors which they afterwards employ when they prohibit any one from glorying or confiding in works, because they are the gifts of God. Not to mention that what they now confess to be gifts of God, they previously claimed in a greater degree for human ability, there are three errors in their decree which are not to be tolerated. Though they mention incidentally that the good works of the pious are meritorious by the merit of Christ, they omit the most necessary part, viz., that there is no work untainted with impurity, until it be washed away by the blood of Christ. Nay rather, they annex a false dignity to works, as if they could please without pardon. There is, indeed, a speciousness in the gloss that they all flow from the Spirit of Christ. But where will the absolute power of the Holy Spirit be found? Is it not distributed to every one in measure? ( 1 Corinthians 12:11.) They ought, therefore, to have observed, that it is always mixed with dross of ours which taints its purity. But while our inherent depravity renders every kind of work which proceeds from us vicious in the sight of God, the only thing left for our works is to recover the grace which they have not in themselves, by a gratuitous acceptance. This is done when works acknowledged to have no value in themselves borrow, and, as it were, beg their value from Christ.

It is, indeed, a gross and impious delusion, not to acknowledge that every work which proceeds from us has only one way of obtaining acceptance, viz., when all that was vicious in it is pardoned by paternal indulgence. Another delusion almost similar to this is their not reflecting, that even if we should have merited anything by any one work, the whole of the merit, be it what it may, is lost by contrary transgression. “He who offends in one point is guilty of all.” ( James 2:10) What reward do you promise yourself when nothing is produced but liability to eternal death They are also in error when they do not flee to the only remedy, and assuming that there is some good thing in them, ask God of his goodness, to regard it with favor, by not imputing the evil things which far exceed it both in weight and number.

The third error, however, is by far the worst, I mean their making assurance of salvation depend on the view of works. At one time, indeed, they prohibit us from trusting in ourselves, but when they again tell us to look to our works that we may have a sure hope of salvation, what grounds of hope, can we find in them? Do they not plainly place our whole trust in ourselves? Accordingly, they add a clause which is fit only for such a doctrine. It is, that in this life we carry on a warfare of doubtful issue, and cannot attain certainty, until God render to every one according to his works. By this they overthrow all confidence in our faith, or to use Paul’s expression, make faith itself void. ( Romans 4:14.) But Paul declares that he is not justified, because he is not conscious of anything in himself. ( 1 Corinthians 4:4.) This is true, and therefore, in order that our possession of righteousness may be stable and tranquil, our part is to omit all mention of works, and beseech our Judge not to enter into judgment with us. ( Psalm 143:2.) We reach the haven of security only when God lays aside the character of Judge, and exhibits himself to us as a Father.

And yet those swinish men are not ashamed to thunder out a cruel denunciation to terrify the simple, that no man is capable of receiving righteousness who does not firmly adhere to whatever they prescribe. What! has a new method of Justification lately appeared? Or rather, as salvation is one, do we not all come to it by one way? What will become of the Prophets and Apostles who gave no heed to such masters? Therefore, paying no regard to the Council of Trent, let us hold that fixed faith which the Prophets and Apostles, by the Spirit of Christ, delivered to us, knowing whence we have learned it. But the venerable Fathers, as if to make it impossible for any man to doubt that they are of the number of those whose mouth, as David exclaims, ( Psalm 4:7) is full of cursing and bitterness, proceed, with truculent bluster, to send forth almost as many anathemas as there are individuals among them, and give these the plausible and honorable name of Canons! Yet that I may not seem to act maliciously, as if I had forgotten the moderation I have hitherto observed, I willingly subscribe to the three first. To the rest I will affix brief censures.

To Canons 1, 2, and 3:, I say, Amen.


This was answered above, when I explained how Free-will assents to God calling and exciting it. We certainly obey God with our will, but it is with a will which he has formed in us. Those, therefore, who ascribe any proper movement to free-will, apart from the grace of God, do nothing else than rend the Holy Spirit. Paul declares, not that a faculty of willing is given to us, but that the will itself is formed in us, ( Philippians 2:13,) so that from none else but God is the assent or obedience of a right will. He acts within, holds our hearts, moves our hearts, and draws us by the inclinations which he has produced in us. So says Augustine. (Lib. de Corrupt. et Grat., c. 14.) What preparation can there be in a heart of iron, ‘until by a wondrous change it begins to be a heart of flesh? This, as the Prophet declares, is entirely the work of God. The will of man will, indeed, dissent from God, so long as it continues contrary, but when it has been framed for obedience, the danger of dissenting is removed. But that the efficacy of divine grace is such, that all opposition is beaten down, and we who were unwilling are made obedient, it is not we who assent, but the Lord by the Prophet, when he promises that lie will make us to walk in his precepts; and Christ also, when he says, “Whosoever hath heard of my Father cometh unto me.” ( John 6:45.)


Let us not raise a quarrel about a word. But as by Free-will they understand a faculty of choice perfectly free and unbiassed to either side:, those who affirm that this is merely to use a name without a substance, have the authority of Christ when he says, that they are free whom the Son makes free, and that all others are the slaves of sin. Freedom and slavery are certainly contrary to each other. As to the term itself, let them hear Augustine, who maintains that the human will is not free so long as it is subject to passions which vanquish and enthral it. (Epist. 144, ad Anastas.) Elsewhere he says, “The will being vanquished by the depravity into which it has fallen, nature is without freedom.” (Hom. 3, in Joann.) Again, “Man making a bad use of free-will lost both himself and it.” Again, “Man received great powers of free-will when he was created, but lost them by sinning. Foolish men consider not that in the term freewill freedom is implied. But if they are the slaves of sin, why do they boast of free-will? For of whom a man is overcome, to the same is he bound a slave.” Nay, in another place he openly derides the name. “The will,” says he, “is free, not freed — free to righteousness, the slave of sin! Why, then, do they so much inflame miserable men by reminding them of their slavery, but just that they might learn to flee to the deliverer?” (Aug. de Perfect. Justit. Lib. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 3; De Spiritu et Litera, c. 30; De Corrupt. et Grat., c. 13.)


As I abhor paradox, I readily repudiate the saying that the treachery of Judas is as properly the work of God as the calling of Paul. But they never will convince any man that God only acts permissively in the wicked, except it be one who is ignorant of the whole doctrine of Scripture. When it is said that the reprobate are set apart to execute the work of God; that his are the snares, swords, and axes which are directed by his hand; that his hiss arouses them to execute what his hand and counsel have decreed; that Christ was slain ‘by the Jews by the determinate counsel of God, ( Isaiah 10:5; Ezekiel 17:20; 32:2; Psalm 17:13; Acts 2:4, 23) the words are too strong to be evaded by the subterfuge of permission. Augustine interprets better. After quoting the passages of Scripture in which the Father is said to have delivered up the Son, and Christ to have delivered himself, he immediately adds, “What;, then, did Judas do but sin?” Nor can he be justly blamed for saying elsewhere, that “God worketh in the hearts of men to incline their wills as he pleaseth, whether to good, of his mercy, or to evil, according to their deservings, and that by his judgment, sometimes open, sometimes hidden, but always just;” for he immediately adds the qualification, that “the malice is not his.” (De Verb. Dom. Serm. 63.) In like manner he had said a little before, “He does not command the wicked by ordering, in which case obedience would be laudable, but by his secret and just judgment he bends their will, already bad by their own depravity, to this misdeed or that.” (Aug. de Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 21.) For there is nothing here but what the Scriptures teach almost in the same words when they speak of inclining and turning, hardening and doing.


Assuredly a bad tree can only produce bad fruit. But who will be so shameless as to deny that we are bad trees until we are ingrafted into Christ? Therefore, if any good fruit is praised in man, let the root of it be sought in faith, as Augustine admonishes, (in Psalm 31 Sermon 1.) There God so often declares that he regards not the outward appearance, but looketh on the heart. This is said expressly by Jeremiah. ( Jeremiah 5.) But what can be the cleanness or sincerity of a heart which Peter tells us is purified only by faith? ( Acts 15:9.) Admirably, therefore, does Augustine say to Boniface, “Our religion distinguishes the just from the unjust, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith, without which the works which seem good turn to sin.” He adds, “Therefore unbelievers sin in whatever they do, because they do not refer their doings to a lawful end.” (Lit. ad Bonif., Lib. 3, c. 5.) He treats copiously of the same subject in his tract against Julian. Hence, also, in another place he describes theirs as a wandering course, inasmuch as the more active they are, the farther they are carried from the goal, and. the more therefore their condition becomes hopeless. At last he concludes, that “it is better to limp in the course than keep running out of it.” (Praef. in Psalm 31.) And what more would we, have? Let them anathematize the Apostle, who declares that without faith it is impossible to please God! ( Hebrews 11:6.) Let them anathematize Christ and Paul, who declare that all unbelievers are dead, and are raised from death by the gospel! ( John 5; Ephesians 2:1.)


I answer: AMEN. Nor do I think that the thing ever came into any man’s mind. For being such as is described by them, it comprehends true repentance and is conjoined with faith. On the subject of the servile fear of hell, which to some degree restrains unbelievers from rushing with such furious and headlong impetus into wicked courses, we are of the same sentiments as Augustine, whose words are, (Ad. Anast. Ep. 144,) “What man is found innocent before God, who, if fear were withdrawn, would do what God forbids? He is guilty in his will by wishing to do what cannot lawfully be done. As far as he is concerned, he would rather that there was no justice prohibiting and punishing sin. And hence, if he would rather that there was no justice, who can doubt that he would take it away if he could? How then is he righteous who is such an enemy to righteousness, that if power were given him he would take it away when commanding, and not bear it when threatening or judging? He, therefore, is the enemy of righteousness who does not sin, because he is afraid of punishment. And, indeed, when all the progress made is that the sinner curbed by terror murmurs against God, who can deny that by such contumacy he aggravates his sin?”


This Canon is very far from being canonical; for it joins things which are utterly at variance. They imagine that a man is justified by faith without any movement of his own will, as if it were not with the heart that a man believeth unto righteousness. Between them and us there is this difference, that they persuade themselves that the movement comes from the man himself, whereas we maintain that faith is voluntary, because God draws our wills to himself. Add, that when we say a man is justified by faith alone, we do not fancy a faith devoid of charity, but we mean that faith alone is the cause of justification.


Could these anathemas take effect, all who are not versed in the sophistical art would pay dearly for their simplicity. They formerly asserted in their decrees that the righteousness of God was the only formal cause of Justification; now they anathematize those who say that we are formally righteous by the obedience of Christ. But it is in another sense. I see it or scent it. But how few are there who will not be misled by the ambiguity? Although it may be that having met with the sentiment somewhere and not understood it, they boldly condemn it. For as it were impious to say that the righteousness of Christ is only an exemplar or type to us, so if any one were to teach that we are righteous formally, i.e., not by quality but by imputation, meaning that our righteousness is in relation merely, there would be nothing worthy of censure. The adverb formally is used in both senses.


I wish the reader to understand that as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. ( Galatians 5:6; Romans 3:22.) It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light. Wherefore we do not separate the whole grace of regeneration from faith, but claim the power and faculty of justifying entirely for faith, as we ought. And yet it is not us that these Tridentine Fathers anathematize so much as Paul, to whom we owe the definition that the righteousness of man consists in the forgiveness of sins. The words are in the fourth chapter to the Romans, “David speaketh of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven.” ( Psalm 32:1) We see that in Paul’s view blessedness and righteousness mean the same thing. And where does he place both but solely in the remission of sins? His meaning is the same as in the fifth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses.” For he immediately explains how that reconciliation comes to us: “We are ambassadors beseeching you as in the name of Christ. He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him.” See how being reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Christ, we both are accounted and are righteous in him. But why quote one passage after another, while this is the doctrine uniformly inculcated by Prophets and Apostles?

It is worth while to observe how dexterously they accommodate Scripture to their purpose. They say that the love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit must not be excluded. Thus they corrupt one passage by another. The context shows that Paul does not there speak of our own love, but of the paternal love of God toward us; for he holds it forth as ground of consolation in all circumstances of adversity, that the Spirit suggests proof of the divine benevolence towards us. This swinish herd, on the contrary, twist it to mean, that we are not ashamed of hoping because we love God. And the moment they have given utterance to the words they insist on being regarded as oracles! With similar perversion they make justifying grace a habit, and deny that it proceeds from the free favor of God. The words of Scripture are clear as day against them. For when Paul says, that to believers reward is imputed not as of debt but of grace; and again, that the inheritance is of faith that it may be of grace, ( Romans 4:4,) how is it possible in expounding it to give it any other meaning than that of free favor? What else is meant by a purpose of grace? One of the most striking passages is the first chapter to the Ephesians, where, going on word by word, he tells us that the Father hath made us acceptable to himself in the Son.


The venerable Fathers will not allow Justifying Faith to be defined as the confidence with which we embrace the mercy of God as forgiving sin for Christ’s sake. But it pleases the Holy Spirit, who thus speaks by the mouth of Paul, “We are justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption which is in Christ, whom God hath appointed a propitiation through faith in his blood for the remission of sins which are past.” ( Romans 3:24.) Nor is it possible to give a different exposition to what he afterwards says, viz., that “being justified by faith we have peace with God.” ( Romans 5:1.) How so, but just that our consciences are never at ease until they rest in the mercy of God? This he distinctly expresses immediately after, when he adds the reason, that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as being the witness of our free adoption, and not the witness only, but also the earnest and seal. Again, “We have boldness and access with confidence through faith in him.” For the same reason he calls the gospel, rather than the law, “the doctrine of faith.” He moreover declares, that the gospel is “the message of reconciliation.”


That, however, is Paul’s meaning when he concludes, that if Faith is made void the promise is abolished. ( Romans 4:14.) That too is the meaning of the term plhrofori>a which Paul also sometimes uses. Accordingly he regards the eyes of our mind as not duly enlightened unless we perceive what is the hope of our inheritance. It is also sufficiently obvious from the above passages, that faith is not right unless we dare with tranquil minds to sist ourselves into the divine presence. For, as Bernard admirably expresses it, (Super Cantic. Sermon 16 c. 3, 10,) “If conscience is troubled, it will not be troubled out of measure, because it will remember the words of our Lord. Therein the infirm have firm rest and security.” To the same effect are the words of Zechariah, “Each one will come to his own vine, and dwell safely under his own fig-tree, when the iniquity of the land shall have been forgiven.”


I see not why they should condemn the same thing twice, unless it be they were afraid that their first thunderbolt had fallen scatheless! But; though they should fulminate a hundred times they will not be able to prevail in the least degree against this clear truth of God. Christ says, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” This sentence the horned Fathers abominate, whenever any one teaches that acquittal is completed by faith alone. And yet the pious reader ought to remember that we do not exclude repentance, which is altogether necessary, but mention faith only when the inquiry relates to the cause of acquittal. And justly do we so. For how can any one begin truly to fear God unless he is persuaded that God is propitious to him? And whence this persuasion but from confidence in acquittal?


It is indeed true that to pry too minutely into this matter is hurtful, and therefore to be avoided; but that knowledge of Predestination which Paul[recommends dreads neither the stern trident of Neptune, nor all the blasts of AEolus, nor the thunders of the Cyclops, nor any violence of tempests. For he wishes the Ephesians to know and be assured that they have been made partakers of heavenly grace in Christ, as they had been chosen in him before the foundation of the world. ( Ephesians 1:4.) Thus therefore it becomes all believers to be assured of their election, that they may learn to behold it in Christ as in a mirror. Nor is it to no purpose that Christ animates his followers by this consoling reflection — that not one of those whom the Father hath given him shall perish. ( John 6:39.) What else, good Sirs, is a certain knowledge of our Predestination than that testimony of adoption which Scripture makes common to all the godly?


That I may not be forced often to repeat the same thing, what they here condemn is nothing else than what I have previously shown to have been delivered by the same oracles of the Holy Spirit.


The words of Luke are, “All who had been pre-ordained to life believed.” ( Acts 13:48.) He intimates whence it was that in one audience such a difference existed that some believed, and others persisted in their obstinacy. In like manner Paul asserts, that those are called whom God has previously chosen. ( Romans 8:29.) Are not also the reprobate called? Not effectually. For there is this difference in the calling of God, that he invites all indiscriminately by his word, whereas he inwardly calls the elect alone, as Christ says, “All that the Father hath given me will come to me.” ( John 6:37.) In short, if any man is ignorant that the Spirit of regeneration is given to none but the regenerate, I know not what part of Scripture he holds.


Were Regeneration perfected in this life the observance of the law would be possible. But seeing that believers as long as they live here only perceive the goal at a distance, and with much difficulty keep panting towards it, where is the perfection of obedience, of which those men dream, to be found? But there is no wonder that they prate so boldly of things they know not. War is pleasant to those who never tried it.




While no sane man will strike off the yoke of God from the shoulders of believers, as if they behooved not to keep his Commandments, it must still be understood that assurance of salvation by no means depends on the observance of them. For the words of Paul always hold true, that the difference between the Law and the Gospel lies in this, that the latter does not like the former promise life under the condition of works, but from faith. What can be clearer than the antithesis — “The righteousness of the law is in this wise, The man who doeth these things shall live in them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh thus, Whoso believeth,” etc. ( Romans 10:5.) To the same effect is this other passage, “If the inheritance were of the law, faith would be made void and the promise abolished. Therefore it is of faith that in respect of grace the promise might be sure to every one that believeth.” ( Romans 4:14.) As to ecclesiastical laws, they must themselves see to them: we acknowledge one Legislator, to whom it belongs to deliver the rule of life, as from him we have life.


No one says so. The Fathers, therefore, are anathematizing their own figments, unless perhaps they are offended because we deny that Christ as a lawgiver delivered new laws to the world. That he did so they imagined foolishly. Neither did Moses testify in vain that the Law which he had brought was the way of life and death, ( Deuteronomy 30:19;) and again, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” nor in vain do the Prophets and Apostles, whenever they discourse of the true and entire perfection of righteousness, call us back to the law; nor in vain did Christ reply to the Pharisee, “If thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments.” ( Matthew 19:17; Luke 18:20.) Accordingly, when Paul charges the law with weakness, he does not place the defect in its teaching, as if it could not bestow life but in our flesh. ( Romans 7:8.)




We condemn those who affirm that a man once justified cannot sin, and likewise those who deny that the truly justified ever fall: those in like manner who assert that a man regenerated by the Spirit of God is able to abstain even from the least sins. These are the delirious dreams of fanatics, who either with devilish arrogance deceive, or with hypocrisy fascinate the minds of men, or plot to lead them to the precipice of despair. As to the special privilege of the Virgin Mary, when they produce the celestial diploma we shall believe what they say: for to what do they here give the name of the Church, but just to the Council of Clermont? Augustine was certainly a member of the Church, and though he in one passage chooses, in order to avoid obloquy, rather to be silent respecting the blessed Virgin, he uniformly, without making her an exception, describes the Whole race of Adam as involved in sin. Nay, he even almost in distinct terms classes her among sinners, when writing to Marcellinus, he says, They err greatly who hold that any of the saints except Christ require not to use this prayer, “Forgive us our debts.” In so doing, they by no means please the saints whom they laud. Chrysostom and Ambrose, who suspect her of having been tempted by ambition, were members of the Church. All these things I mention for no other end but to let my readers understand that there is no figment so nugatory as not to be classed by these blockheads among the Articles of Faith.


That God visits the good works of the godly with reward, and to former adds new and ampler grace, we deny not. But whosoever asserts that works have the effect of increasing justification, understands neither what is the meaning of justification nor its cause. That we are regarded as righteous when we are accepted by God, has already been proved. From this acceptance, too, works derive whatever grace they had.


Solomon is correct when he says that “the ways of a man seem right in his own eyes, but God weigheth the heart.” ( Proverbs 16:2.) For how comes it that the horned men of Trent pour forth this execration, but just because they try things by the false balance of their own opinion, not by the weights of God? In the judgment of God nothing is genuine and good, save what flows from perfect love to Him. If the heart of man is never reformed so far in this life, as not to labor under many defects, and to be distracted by various passions, and often fielded by worldly allurements, works must of necessity carry some taint along with them. There is no work, therefore, which is not sin, unless it acquires a value in consequence of a gratuitous estimate.


Such boldness is not strange in men who have never felt any serious fear of the Divine judgment. Let them, if they will, expect eternal life for their good works; only let us on the authority of Paul hope for it from the grace of God. But it may be said that in thus speaking of grace they do not overthrow it. Although they leave the name of grace to a certain extent, yet so long as consciences in seeking out the cause of salvation look around for works, wo to them! If they waver with trepidation, they have fallen from the certainty of faith: and wo again if they dare to promise themselves any certainty, for they are inflated with devilish presumption! Let the saying of Paul then stand fast — that “the inheritance is not of the law but of faith, that the promise according to grace may be sure to every one that believeth.” ( Romans 4:14.)


As we acknowledge and feel that every sin, inasmuch as it is condemned by the law of God, is mortal, so the Holy Spirit teaches that all sins flow from unbelief, or, at least, from deficiency of faith. Eternal death is indeed the curse which God denounces against adulterers, thieves, and false witnesses; but wherever faith reigns it expels all sin, and so averts the Divine anger in the same way in which one extinguishes a fire by withdrawing the fuel.


I deny not that, even during the most grievous lapses, some seed of Faith remains, though in a smothered state. However small it is, I admit that it partakes of the nature of true faith: I add, living faith, since otherwise no fruit could come from it. But since it does not appear for a time, nor exhibit itself by the usual signs, it is, in respect of our sense, as if it were dead. But nothing of this kind entered the minds of the Fathers or their dictatorial monks. All they wished was to establish their absurd dogma of an informal and a formal faith. Hence they maintain that faith to be true which is manifestly dead; as if faith could be the life of the soul, (as Augustine, in accordance with the uniform doctrine of Scripture, elegantly terms it,)and yet not be itself alive. To the same purpose they contend that men are Christians though they have no charity, and anathematize those who think otherwise; in other words, according to them, we anathematize the Holy Spirit if we deride a false profession of Christianity, and set it at naught. Paul pronounced them no Israelites who were not truly the children of Abraham. He moreover defines true Christianity as consisting in “the putting off of the old man;” and he declares that God is denied by those “who do not live godly.”


The first article, along with its author, Novatus, we also execrate. As to the second, if the lapsed can only be reinstated in grace by the Sacrament of Penance, what will become of Peter, who, after his dreadful fall, had no access to the remedy which they require as of absolute necessity? Nay, what will become of the tens of thousands in those ages which know nothing of that Auricular Confession which they now represent as the gate of salvation? As to their glorying in the teaching of Christ and his Apostles, their effrontery is extreme, seeing it is clear, from their own historians, that for four hundred years there was no law on the subject of Confession. Therefore, if they would obtain credit for their wicked figments, it will be necessary for them not only to exterminate all the monuments of antiquity, but also to deprive mankind of all sense and judgment!


They think that, after the guilt is remitted, the liability. to punishment remains, But Scripture everywhere describes, as the fruit of forgiven guilt, that God withdraws his chastisements, and, forgetting his wrath and revenge, blesses us. And when David proclaims those blessed “to whom the Lord imputeth not sin,” he not only refers to the remission of guilt, but speaks chiefly of punishment. And what, pray, will be the end or limit, should God begin to exact punishment for sins which are both in number infinite and in weight so heavy, that the hundredth part would sink us to the lowest hell? It is easy indeed for Fathers intoxicated with devilish presumption to call for temporal punishment. To them scarcely anything short of murder is a sin; whoredom is a trivial mistake — the foulest lusts praiseworthy trials of virtue, a hidden wound of the conscience, a mere bagatelle. But to us, who, after long examination, feeling as it were confused and overwhelmed, are forced at length to break out into these words with David, “Who can understand his errors?” the mode of escape is not so easy. Still we deny not, that sometimes after the guilt is forgiven, God chastises us, but it is in the way of admonition and correction — not vengeance. Their idea that punishment is exacted by the justice of God is therefore a profane fiction. All are not punished in the same way, nor in proportion to their faults; but just according as God knows the application of the rod to be necessary, in order that each, under the training of discipline, may act more wisely in future. The Fathers, however, here. demonstrate what industrious architects they are. Out of one little word they construct a labyrinth composed of a thousand labyrinths. The abyss which they say swallowed up all souls must surely be of immense extent. We see indeed that all the riches of the world are engulfed in it! They ought at least to have spent a little more labor in the construction. There is no mention of Purgatory at all in any part of Scripture. But, as Augustine says, (Ep. 157, ad Optat.,) when a matter naturally obscure cannot be comprehended by us, and Scripture does not come distinctly to our aid, human conjecture is presumptuous in giving any decision. What then must our conclusion be, but that these men act presumptuously in daring, out of their own brains, to make a fabric of that which has no foundation in the word of God? unless, perhaps, they would have us to receive their device of Purgatory as a kind of vaticination vented by ventriloquism; for there is nothing which serves so well to fill their bellies! But what of this? Purgatory cannot stand without destroying the whole truth of Scripture. The demonstration of this would be long, but it is clearly given in our writings. In short, when satisfactions are overthrown, Purgatory of necessity tumbles along with them.


I acknowledge that he who is truly justified will not forget that a reward is laid up for him, but be incited by it as the best stimulus to well-doing. And yet he will not look to this alone; for seeing that God requires an ingenuous obedience from his children, he will not only repudiate slavish observance of this description, but utterly reject it. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, in every part of Scripture, as well as in those words which he puts into the mouth of Paul in the first chapter of the Ephesians, assigns a very different motive to a pious and holy life.


By what right or in what sense the Good Works which the Spirit of Christ performs in us are called ours, Augustine briefly teaches when the draws an analogy from the Lord’s Prayer: saying, that the bread which we there ask is called “ours” on no other ground than simply that it is given to us. Accordingly, as the same writer elsewhere teaches, no man will embrace the gifts of Christ till he has forgotten his own merits. He sometimes gives the reason: because, what is called merit is naught else but the free gift of God. Let us therefore allow these Fathers to bawl out, that by separating merit from grace:, we are wickedly lacerating what is truly one. He who has learned from our former observations wherein it is that the merit of works consists, will not be greatly dismayed art the sound of the present anathema.


A very ingenious caution! no man is to see what every man sees! They almost go the length of making void both the glory of God and the grace of Christ. Meanwhile they hurl a dire execration at any one who presumes to think that they derogate in any respect from either. It is just as if a man were to murder another in the open market-place before the eyes of the public, and yet prohibit any one from believing that the murder thus manifest to all has been really committed. Moreover, the rats here turn informers against themselves, by holding out an anathema in terrorem against all who shall dare to perceive the impiety of which they themselves are conscious.

Recursos Reformados

Calvin and Trent on the Causes of Justification





The glory of God and
and Jesus Christ eternal life
The glory of divine
justice and goodness
The mercy of God
The mercy of God
Merits of Christ’s
satisfaction and passion

Christ with his blood

The distributed
justice of God infused in us to sanctification


Sources: John Calvin, Commentary on Romans, ed.
D. W. Torrance and T. F. Torrance, trans. Ross Mackenzie (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961), 75; The Canons and Decrees of the
Council of Trent
, Session Six, chapter 7 in P. Schaff,
The Creeds of Christendom
3 vol. (Grand Rapids: Baker, repr.
1983), 2:94-97.


Bibliography on Roman Catholicism

Select Annotated Bibliography of Modern Literature
(updated February 2013) 

Note: Some of the literature included here is academic and some of it is popular, controversial, and apologetic in nature. Inclusion of a volume in this bibliography does not consistitute an endorsement.

Armstrong, John, (ed.) Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us. Chicago: Moody, 1994.

Beilby, James K., and Paul R. Eddy (eds.) Justification: Five Views. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011.

Boettner, L. Roman Catholicism. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962.[Note: This volume is included a example of the way in which some conservative Reformed writers addressed Roman Catholicism in the first half of the 20th century. It has been criticized as inaccurate]

Berkouwer, G. C. Recent Developments in Roman Catholic Thought. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958.

Creighton, Mandell. A History of the Papacy During the Period of the: Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge university press, 2012.

Cleenewerck, Laurent. His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism Between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Washington DC: Euclid University Press, 2007.

De Chirico, Leonardo. Evangelical Theological Perspectives on post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. Religions and Discourse, vol. 19. New York: Peter Lang, 2003.

Duffy, Eamon. Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006

Faggioli, Massimo. Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning. New York: Paulist Press, 2012.

Fesko, J. V. Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing. 2008.

Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451. 4th edition. San Francisco: St Ignatius Press.

Kelly, J. N. D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

King, David T. and William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources Inc., 2001.

MacArthur, John, and Don Kistler. eds. Justification by Faith Alone: Affirming the Doctrine by Which the Church and the Individual Stands or Falls. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. [NB: Doctrinal concerns have been raised about the Armstrong essay].

Kistler, Don. ed. Sola Scriptura!: The Protestant Position on the Bible. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995.

Kruger, Michael. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

Lampe, Peter, and Marshall D. Johnson. From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the first two centuries. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

McCarthy, James G. The Gospel According to Rome. Eugene, Or: Harvest House, 1995. [NB: This volume denies infant baptism]

Noll, Mark A. and Carolyn Nystrom. Is the Reformation Over: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005. [Note: This volume has been criticized as misrepresenting the nature of the differences between Rome and confessing Protestants]

Norwich, John Julius. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy. New York: Random House, 2011.

O’Malley, John W. A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publ, 2011.

Powell, Mark E. Papal Infallibility: A Protestant Evaluation of an Ecumenical Issue. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009.

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Riddle of Roman Catholicism. New York: Abingdon, 1959.

Sessa, Kristina. The Formation of Papal Authority in Late Antique Italy: Roman Bishops and the Domestic Sphere. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Sproul, R. C. Are We Together?: A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism. Orlando, Fla: Reformation Trust Pub, 2012.

Stroll, Mary. Popes and Antipopes: The Politics of Eleventh Century Church Reform. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Svendsen, Eric D. Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority. Amityville, N.Y.: Calvary Press, 2002.

Svendsen, Eric D. Who Is My Mother?: The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism. Amityville, N.Y.: Calvary Press, 2001.

Wells, David F. Revolution in Rome. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973.

Zachman, Randall C., ed. John Calvin and Roman Catholicism: Critique and Engagement, Then and Now. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

Historic Protestant Critiques of Rome

Calvin, John An Admonition, Showing the Advantages which Christendom Might Derive From an Inventory of Relics (PDF includes the letter to Sadoleto, Reply the Theology Faculty of Paris, and the Antidote to Trent]

Calvin, John Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote (1547)

Calvin, John et al, A Reformation Debate: John Calvin & Jacopo Sadoleto

Chemnitz, Martin, Examination of the Council of Tent (1565–73). The Latin text is available here.

Luther, Martin, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

Luther, Martin, The Freedom of the Christian Man

Luther, Martin, The Bondage of the Will

Perkins, William, Catholicus reformatus (Hanover, 1608). English translation: A Reformed Catholicke (1597).

Roman Symbols and Conciliar Documents

Abbott, W. M., (ed.) The Documents of Vatican II. Guild Press, 1966.

Canones et Decreta Concilii Tridentini (Leipzig, 1860).

Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H. J. Schroeder (Rockford, 1978).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edn (Vatican: Libreria editrice, 1997).

H. Denzinger, ed. Enchiridion Symbolorum, 30th edn (Freibourg: Herder, 1960).

—— The sources of Catholic Dogma. trans. Roy J. Deferrari (St. Louis, Herder [1957]

Tanner, Norman P. The Church in Council: Conciliar Movements, Religious Practice, and the Papacy from Nicaea to Vatican II. London: I.B. Tauris, 2011.


What Richard John Neuhaus Means to Me

A number of evangelical and socially conservative blogs and publications are marking the death (not “passing” but that’s another post) yesterday of Richard John Neuhaus at age 72. It is not remarkable that social conservatives are weeping today. After a career as a social liberal, Neuhaus began to move to the right, after Roe v. Wade (1973), and became one of the leading lights of American conservatism. It is or should be remarkable, however, how attached evangelicals became to RJN.

Educated as a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister at Concordia Theological Seminary, in 1990 Neuhaus converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained to the Roman priesthood in 1991 by John Cardinal O’ Connor. I realize that, in an age of utter ecclesiastical and theological latitudinarianism what I am about to say may seem (even though it is not) narrow and even bigoted, but the fact, however, that RJN apostatized from the Protestant confession, especially from the doctrine that,

Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that our righteousness before God is [this very thing], that God forgives us our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following, that He presents and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ’s obedience, on account of which righteousness we are received into grace by God, and regarded as righteous (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Art. III; emphasis added)

should temper evangelical celebrations of his life and work. After all, from RJN’s own testimony, he heartily embraced the official Roman dogma that, when we appear before God, it will not be on the basis of Christ’s work for us and imputed to us and received by faith (trust, resting, receiving) alone, but on the basis of the Spirit’s work in us and our cooperation with that grace. According to the Reformation confession, the Roman doctrine of justification through grace and cooperation with grace was tantamount to the anti-Pauline doctrine of justification by works.

These are categorically two different doctrines concerning the single most important thing in the world and, unlike the evangelicals, RJN understood that. In seminary RJN was taught the gospel and, by confessional Protestant lights, he abandoned it. According to the Word of God as confessed by the Reformation churches, upon his conversion to Rome, RJN embraced what Paul called “another gospel.” RJN swapped Luther’s Small Catechism for Rome’s very large catechism and the latter is quite clear about the doctrine of justification.

Before one becomes indignant about any supposed bigotry, I hasten to remind our evangelical mourners that, as a Roman priest, RJN also embraced the anathemas promulgated at Trent (1547) against the very doctrine of justification that is the proper definition of “evangelical.”

One might, however, say to oneself, “Listen one, okay, RJN poped. He identified with the social program of the Romanist social conservatives (as distinct from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, which has been socially left of center for decades), but he was confused and he kept his theology to himself and worked with the poor and oppressed. Leave him alone.” Some of this is certainly true but some of it is not. He did not keep his newfound theology to himself. Just as he became a celebrated Roman convert he not only engaged socially conservative evangelicals, he hornswoggled them of their most important treasure: the gospel of justification by the free, unmerited, undeserved, unconditional divine favor alone, on the basis of Christ’s active and passive obedience imputed to sinners alone and received through resting and trusting in Christ and his finished work for sinners alone.

Maybe it was not really hornswoggling? After all he did it with willing collaborators such as Chuck Colson and J. I. Packer in the negotiations to produce the first two “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” statements. I think hornswoggling involves the pointy end of a sword and Colson and Packer brought their evangelical booty to Black John’s pirate ship and handed it over without so much as an “avast ye maties.” Call me a “neo-Reformed zealot” but as odd as it might seem in 2009, back in 1994 there was a little bit of shock and even outrage and counter-statements and agreements over Colson’s and Packer’s equivocation and capitulation on justification.

What does RJN mean to me? If the evangelicals actually valued the confession of the gospel that used to make one a proper evangelical, then RJN’s death would be noted as a significant event, a personal loss to those who knew him, and a loss to soc-con movements but it is more than that to “the evangelicals.” The evangelical reaction to RJN’s death signals that what matters to “the evangelicals” is not “the evangel” but social-cultural influence and power.

Finally, according to the Reformation, in distinction from Rome, grace does not “perfect” nature. It renews it. Nature does not become grace and grace does not become nature. The two natures of Jesus are and remain inseparably united but distinct. The corollary to the Protestant axiom on nature and grace is that there, in this world are two spheres in which God administers his sovereignty, an ecclesiastical sphere (the church) and a civil, common, creational sphere, we do not need to cut theological deals to cooperate with Father Neuhaus or an imam or the president of the Mormon Church in civil, common, creational, social matters. In social, civil matters we need only to relate to one another on the basis of creational law and as creatures made in the divine image.

Since the early 1990s many evangelicals have demonstrated that they neither love nor understand fundamental Protestant and genuinely evangelical doctrine. What they love is religious experience and social influence. For these reasons the process of theological erosion, which came to the surface 15 years ago, has continued apace and today the evangelicals seem less aware of it than they were then and the way evangelicals have embraced RJN is a signal of that decline.

Whence the Reformation Solas?

I get this question with some frequency, usually around Reformation Day. Here is a preliminary answer:

The ideas were present from the earliest stage of the Reformation, but the actual phrases developed over time. The earliest phrases were sola gratia (by grace alone) and sola fide and sola scriptura. These are easily found in early 16th century protestant texts.

Sola Gratia

Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, before he radicalized, used the expression sola gratia repeatedly in his 1519 disputation.

Martin Bucer used it in his 1536 commentary on the Gospels and again in a 1545 tract. The Italian Reformer, Peter Martyr Vermiligi used it in his 1558 lectures on Romans. Wolfgang Musculus used it in his lectures on Galatians and Ephesians (1561). Caspar Olevianus used it in his lectures on Romans (1579).

Calvin defended the notion and used the phrase, in Institutes 2.3.11. He was arguing against the Roman notion of “cooperating grace” in justification. See also 3.11.5; 3.14.5; 3.24.12.

Sola Fide

Luther used it famously in his translation of Galatians 3. He also used it in his lectures on Galatians. (His defense of inserting “allein” is below). In 1521, Melanchthon used it in his Loci Communes (Common Places, his systematics text) exactly as we do today.

Karlstadt used sola fide also in 1519 in his disputation. The significance of this is that he was certainly reflecting, at this point, what Luther and Melanchthon were saying. The phrase is also found in the work of Francois Lambert (1524); Johannes Oecolampadius (1524, 1534), Martin Bucer (1527, 1534, 1536, 1545), Heinrich Bullinger (1534, 1557), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1549) and in Calvin (Institutes 3.3.1; 3.11.1; 1.11.19; 3.14.17 etc). It is also found, of course, in the Augsburg Confession Art. 6.

The Latin text of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) uses the expression sola fide in Q. 60 on justification.

Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura is certainly a sixteenth-century phrase. The expression itself occurs among the Reformed as early as 1526 and Bucer used it in 1536. Calvin used it in Institutes 3.17.8.

Solo Christo and Soli Deo Gloria

I do not know the original dates for the phrases, solo Christo (i.e. “in Christ alone”) and soli Deo gloria (to God alone be the glory) but my guess is that their origins are probably a little later. Jim Renihan suggested that they might be traceable to Merle D’Aubigne. That seems like a good possibility but one which I’ve not investigated yet.