« AnteriorContinuar »
"eth not the sword in vain, for he is the "minister of God, an avenger to execute "wrath upon him that doeth evil3."
Under this sanction of the sword not being borne in vain, it is a principle of the Church, that " the laws of the realm may "punish Christian men with death for "heinous and grievous offencesb," some of which are rendered capital by the law of Moses, of which the penal provisions ought not to be inconsiderately or unnecessarily multiplied. "It is lawful also for "Christian men, at the command of the "magistrate, to wear weapons and serve in '.' the wars0," those scourges of an avenging God, which no inspired prophet has proscribed. "While we confess that vain and "rash swearing is forbidden by our Lord "Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle; so "we judge that Christian religion doth not "prohibit but that a man may swear when "the magistrate requireth, in a cause of "faith and charity, so it be done according "to the prophets teaching, in judgment, "justice, and truthd." Our Lord himself complied with the adjuration of the highpriest6; and the only oaths which he or his Apostle interdictedf, were the irrelevant swearing of idle conversation. Private property is reserved by our Church to the proprietor; and " the riches and goods of ►" Christians are not common, as touching "the right, title, and possession of the same "... Notwithstanding every man ought, of '* such things as he possesseth, liberally to "give alms to the poor according to his "ability6." This is agreeable to the apostolic rule, that every man should give "as God hath prospered him\" " as good "stewards of the manifold grace or bounty "of God5."
* Rom. xiii. 4. b Art. XXXVII. <= Ibid.
III. Such is the faith, such are the mo*ral laws, and such the political maxims which the Church of England maintains, deriving them from the Scriptures of truth. Jn her views of ecclesiastical polity she observes the same rule; and, in the several
d Art. XXXIX. e Matt. xxvi. 63. f Matt. v.
34—37. James v. 12. 6 Art. XXXVIII. h 1 Cor. xvi. 2. '1 Pet. iv. 10.
Articles in which she discourses of the authority of the Church, she is scrupulously jealous of having scriptural warrant for her positions.
1. It is her definition, that "the visible "Church of Christ is a congregation of "faithful men, in the which the pure word "of God is preached, and the sacraments be "duly administered, according to Christ's "ordinance, in all those things that of "necessity are requisite to the sameV With an acknowledgment of the actual errancy of particular Churches, she maintains, that "the Church hath power to "decree rites and ceremonies, and autho"rity in controversies of faith; and yet it "is not lawful for the Church to ordain "any thing that is contrary to God's word "written; neither may it so expound one "place of Scripture, that it be repugnant "to another. Wherefore, although the "Church be a witness and a keeper of "holy Writ, yet as it ought not to decree "any thing against the same, so besides
t Art. XIX.
"the same ought it not to enforce any "thing to be believed for necessity of sal"vation1." So strong is her conviction of the errancy of man, and of the only paramount authority of the Scriptures, that in describing the powers of General Councils, which " may not be gathered together •" without the authority and will of princes: "and when they be gathered together, "forasmuch as they be an assembly of "men, whereof all be not governed with "the Spirit and word of God, they may "err, and sometimes have erred, even in "things pertaining to God:" she again determines that "things ordained by them "as necessary to salvation have neither "strength nor authority, unless it may be "declared that they be taken out of holy "Scripture1"."
This authority which is claimed to the Church, in dependence upon the Scriptures, is recommended* by the precedent, in which the first controversy of faith was referred to the Apostles, who decided what "seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to "them1'." The regulation of rites and ceremonies has the advantage of the same example; for not only did the Apostle declare what he ordained " in all churches0," and that he would "set other things in "order" when he camep, but the churches actually appealed to his judgment upon these occasions9. Our Church, in a more formal discourse of ceremonies prefixed to the Liturgy, declares, that there are some, ** which, although they have been devised "by man, yet it is thought good to reserve "them still, as well for a decent order in "the Church, for the which they were first *' devised, as because they pertain to edifi"cation, whereunto all things done in the "Church, as the Apostle teacheth, ought "to be referred. And although the keep'* ing or omitting of a ceremony, in itself "considered, is but a small thing, yet the "wilful and contemptuous transgression "and breaking of a common order and
'Art. XX. m Art. XXI.