We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How many Covenants?

One. Renewed.

John Jewel:

Questionless, there can nothing be more spitefully spoken against the religion of God than to accuse it of novelty, as a new come up matter. For as there can be no change in God Himself, so ought there to be no change in His religion.

Yet, nevertheless, we wot not by what means, but we have ever seen it come so to pass from the first beginning of all, that as often as God did give but some light, and did open His truth unto men, though the truth were not only of greatest antiquity, but also from everlasting; yet of wicked men and of the adversaries was it called new-fangled and of late devised. That ungracious and bloodthirsty Haman, when he sought to procure the king Assuerus’ displeasure against the Jews, this was his accusation to him: “Thou hast here (saith he) a kind of people that useth certain new laws of their own, but stiff-necked and rebellious against all thy laws.” When Paul also began first to preach and expound the Gospel at Athens he was called a tidings-bringer of new gods, as much to say as of a new religion; “for” (said the Athenians) “may we not know of thee what new doctrine this is?” Celsus likewise, when he of set purpose wrote against Christ, to the end he might more scornfully scoff out the Gospel by the name of novelty: “What!” saith he, “hath God after so many ages now at last and so late bethought Himself?” Eusebius also writeth that Christian religion from the beginning for very spite was called νεα και ξενη, that is to say, new and strange. After like sort, these men condemn all our matters as strange and new; but they will have their own, whatsoever they are, to be praised as things of long continuance. Doing much like to the enchanters and sorcerers now-a-days, which working with devils, use to say they have their books and all their holy and hid mysteries from Athanasius, Cyprian, Moses, Abel, Adam, and from the archangel Raphael; because that their cunning, coming from such patrons and founders, might be judged the more high and holy. After the same fashion these men, because they would have their own religion, which they themselves, and that not long since, have brought forth into the world, to be the more easily and rather accepted of foolish persons, or of such as cast little whereabouts they or other do go, they are wont to say they had it from Augustine, Hierom, Chrysostom, from the Apostles, and from Christ Himself.

Full well know they that nothing is more in the people’s favour, or better liketh the common sort, than these names. But how if the things, which these men are so desirous to have seem new, be found of greatest antiquity? Contrariwise, how if all the things well-nigh which they so greatly set out with the name of antiquity, having been well and thoroughly examined, be at length found to be but new, and devised of very late? Soothly to say, no man that hath a true and right consideration would think the Jews’ laws and ceremonies to be new, for all Haman’s accusation. For they were graven in very ancient tables of most antiquity. And although many did take Christ to have swerved from Abraham and the old fathers, and to have brought in a certain new religion in His own Name, yet answered He them directly, “If ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me also,” for My doctrine is not so new as you make it: for Moses, an author of greatest antiquity, and one to whom ye give all honour, “hath spoken of Me.” Paul likewise, though the Gospel of Jesus Christ be of many counted to be but new, yet hath it (saith he) the testimony most old both of the law and Prophets. As for our doctrine which we may rightly call Christ’s catholic doctrine, it is so far off from new that God, who is above all most ancient, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath left the same unto us in the Gospel, in the Prophets’ and Apostles’ works, being monuments of greatest age. So that no man can now think our doctrine to be new, unless the same think either the Prophets’ faith, or the Gospel, or else Christ Himself to be new.

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises.

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