Some of those Iewes also that were Christians, doe fal and are authours of the Heresie of
Iudaizing. 2. They referre the matter to Councel: 7. Wherein after great disputation, Peter striking
the stroke, 12. and other confirming his sentence with miracles, 13. and with Scriptures: 22. the
Apostles and Priests doe write and command in the name of the Holy Ghost what is to be done. 30. And
the faithful thereby are straightwaies quieted in mind. 36. After which, Paul and Barnabas thinking
to goe againe their aboue said circuit together, are by occasion of Marke parted, to the greater
increase of the Church.
1. AND certaine comming downe from Iewrie, taught the Brethren: That Gala. 5,2. vnles you be circumcised according to the manner of Moyses, you can not be saued.
2. No litle sedition therfore being risen to Paul and Barnabas against them, they Appointed.
The way to end dissension in religion, is to commit it to a Councel.
We learne by this example, what is to be done when any controuersie ariseth in religion between the teachers or other Christian people. We see it is not enough to contend by allegations of Scriptures or other proofes seeming to make for either part: for so of contentious part-taking there should be no end, but the more writing, wrestling, striuing there were, euery one for his owne fansie, cloking it with the title of Gods word and Scripture, the more Schismes, Sectes, and diuisions would fal: as we see specially in the restles Heresies of our time. Whose fautors admitting no iudges, stand to no trial of mortal men, to no tribunal of Pope, Councels, Bishops, Synodes, but ech man to his owne phantastical spirit, his owne sense of Scriptures, and his owne wilful obdurate rebellion against Gods Church and his Superiours in the same. But here we see S. Paul and Barnabas, men that were Apostles and ful of the Spirit of God, & the other parties, though neuer so much partial to the ceremonies of their Law by their former long vse and education therein, yet not to stand stifly to their owne opinion on either side, but to condescend to referre the whole controuersie and the determination thereof to the Apostles, Priests or Ancients of Hierusalem, that is to say, to commit the matter to be tried by the Heads and Bishops, and their determination in Councel. This is Gods holy and wise prouidence among other iudgements in his Church, to keepe the Christian people in truth & vnitie, and to condemne sectes and false teachers and troublers of the Church. By which iudgements and order, whosoeuer wil not or dare not be tried in al their doctrine and doings, they shew themselues to mistrust their ownw cause, and to flye from the light, & ordinance of God. without which order of appeasing al differences in faith and constructions of the Scriptures, the Church had beene more defectual and insufficient, then any Commonwealth or Societie of men in the world: none of which euer wanteth good meanes to decide al discordes and dissension arising among the subiects & citizens of the same. appointed that Paul and Barnabas should goe vp, & certaine others of 'them,' the rest, to the Apostles and πρεσβυτέρους. Priests vnto Hierusalem, vpon this question.
3. They therfore being brought on their way be the Church, passed through Phœnice & Samaria, reporting the conuersion of the Gentiles: and they made great ioy to al the Brethren.
4. And when they were come to Hierusalem, they were receiued of the Church and of the Apostles and πρεσβυτέρων. Ancients, Ancients here, & often in this chapter, are the same that Priestes vers. 2. as S. Hiero. taketh it also 1. Pet. 5. &c., the Greeke approueth, being alwaies one, πρεσβυτέρου, Priests Hiero. in 1. ad Tit. & 4. ad Galat. declaring whatsoeuer God had done with them.
5. And there arose certaine of the heresie of the Pharisees that beleeued, saying, That they must be circumcised; commanded also to keepe the law of Moyses.
6. And the Apostles and Ancients.
Of what persons a Councel consisteth.
The Heresies of our Protestants which would haue al men to giue voice, or to be present in Councels, and of others that would haue none but the holy or elect to be admitted, are refuted by this example, where we see none but Apostles & Priests or Ancients assembled to dispute of the matter though many deuout people were in the citie the same time. Neither did euer any other in the Ancient Councels of the Church assemble to debate and define the matter, but such, though many other for other causes be euer present. Secular men or women, be their guifts neuer so great, can not be iudges in causes of faith and religion. *If any thing, saith God, be hard and doubtful, thou shalt come to the Priests of the Leuitical stocke, and thou shalt follow their sentence. Againe, **The lippes of the Priest shal keepe knowledge, and the Law thou shalt require of his mouth. Againe, ***Aske the Law of the Priest. Much more must we referre al to our Bishops and Pastours, whom God hath placed in the regiment of the Church with much larger priuiledge, then euer he did the old Priests ouer the Synagogue: To whom it is said, aHe that despiseth you, despiseth me.
A general Councel representeth the whole Church.
And it is to be noted that the Bishops so gathered in Councel, represent the whole Church, haue the authoritie of the whole Church, & the Spirit of God to protect them from errour, as the whole Church: SS. Paul and Barnabas come hither for the definition of the whole Church. bThe sentence of a plenarie or general Councel (saith S. Augustine) is the consent of the whole Church. And so it must needes be in the Church, because the Magistrates, Senate, Councel or deputies of al common wealthes, represent the whole body: and to haue it otherwise (as the Churches Rebels wish) were to bring al to hel and horrour, and themselues to be perpetually, by the seditious and popular persons, vpholden against Law, reason, and religion, in their wickednes.
bli. 1. c. 18. de bapt. Apostles and Ancients Assembled.
The first Councel at Hierusalem.
A Councel was called to discusse the matter which Councel was the more easily gathered, because the Christian Bishops and countries were not yet so many, but that the principal Gouernours of the Church being not farre dispersed, and as many learned men as were necessarie, might be in Hierusalem or easily called thither. And it was not a Prouincial Councel or Synode only, but a general Councel, consisting of the cheefe Apostles & Bishops that then were, though the number was nothing so great as afterward vsed to assemble, when the Church was spred into al Nations. assembled to consider of this word.
7. And when there was made a See the Annot. vers. 28. toward the end. great disputation, Peter rising vp.
Peter Head of the Councel, & his Successours after him.
S. Peter as the Head of the Church speaketh first, as his Successours haue euer had, not only in their personal presence, but in their absence by their Legates and Substitutes, the cheefe voice in al Councels general, none euer receiued into authoritie & credite in the Church without their Confirmation. And therefore the Councels of the Arians and of other Heretikes, were they neuer so great, wanting the Popes assent, assistance, or confirmation, did shamfully erre, as Ariminense for the Arians, and Ephesinum secundum for the Nestorians, & such like condemned Assemblies. Peter rising vp said to them: Men Brethren, you know that Act. 10,20. of old daies God among vs Chose, that by my mouth.
Peters preeminence both toward Iewes & Gentils.
Though Paul were called and appointed specially to be the Apostle of the Gentils, yet that was S. Peters special priuiledge by Gods owne choise, that the first Gentils should be called by his mouth, and that he first should vtter to the Church that truth of the admission of the Gentils himself, for that he was Christes Vicar, being notwithstanding (as his Maister was) *Minister Circumcisionis, that is, Apostle of the Iewes; Christ deferring al preeminence vnto him in that point also.
*Rom. 15,8. Gala. 2,7. chose, that by my mouth the Gentils should heare the word of the Ghospel, and beleeue.
8. And God which knowest the hartes, gaue testimonie, Act. 10,45. giuing vnto them the Holy Ghost as wel as to vs,
9. and hath put no difference between vs and them, By that faith which worketh by charitie. For a dead faith can not purifie the hart of man. See chap. 16,31. by faith purifying their hartes.
10. Now therfore why tempt you God, to put a yoke vpon the necks of the Disciples, which neither our Fathers nor we haue been able to beare?
11. But by greace of our Lord Iesvs Christ we beleeue to be saued, in like manner as they also.
12. And al the multitude held their peace: and they heard Barnabas and Paul telling what great signes and wonders God had done among the Gentils by them.
13. And after they held their peace, Iames.
S. Iames and the rest follow S. Peters sentence.
S. Iames because he was an Apostle and also Bishop of Hierusalem, gaue his sentence next, for the speach interposed of SS. Paul & Barnabas, was but for their better information in the decision of the matter, & for confirmation of S. Peters sentenc; though they being Apostles, & Bishops, had voices in the Councel also; as many moe had, though their sentences be not here reported. And where S. Iames in his speach saith, I iudge, it is not meant that he gaue the principal definitiue sentence: for he (as al the rest) followed and allowed the sentence of S. Peter, as it is plaine in the text, the whole assembly for reuerence of his person & approbation of his sentence, holding their peace. *Al the multitude (saith S. Hierom) held their peace, and into his sentence Iames the Apostle & al the Priests did passe together.
The principal question.
For though S. Iames did particularise certaine points incident to the question debated, as of eating strangled meates &c. yet the proper controuersie for which the Councel assembled, was, Whether the Gentils conuerted were bound to obserue the Law of Moyses: & it was concluded that they were not bound, nor ought not to be charged with Moyses Law or the Sacraments & ceremonies of the same.
This is the substance and principal purpose of this Councels decree, which doth bind for euer; and *Peter (saith S. Hierom in the same place) was Prince or Authour of this decree the matter of fornication & Idolothytes being but incident to the question, or resolution; & the forbidding of eating strangled & bloud, but a temporal prohibition, which by the consent of the Church or otherwise afterward was abrogated; the Church of God hauing the true sense of difference of times, places, & persons, when and how farre such things are to be obserued, and when not.
How later Councels alter the former.
And in such things as these, and in other like which according to circumstances require alteration, it is, that S. Augustine saith, li. 2. de Bapt. c. 3. to 7. The former general or plenarie Councels may be amended by the later.
*Hiero. to. 2. ep. 89. ad August. c. 2. Iames answered, saying: Men Brethren, heare me.
14. Simon hath told how God first visited to take of the Gentils a people to his name.
15. And to this accord the wordes of the Prophets, as it is written:
16. Amos 9,11. After these things I wil returne, and wil reedifie the tabernacle of Dauid which was fallen, and the ruines thereof I wil reedifie, and set it vp:
17. that the residue of men may seeke after the Lord, and al Nations vpon whom my name is inuocated, saith the Lord that doth these things.
18. To our Lord was his owne knowen from the beginning of the world.
19. For the which cause I iudge, that they which of the Gentils are conuerted to God, are not to be disquieted,
20. but to write vnto them that they refraine themselues from the contaminations of Idols, and Fornication.
The Churches authoritie in making Decrees.
Fornication and contamination with Idols, are of themselues mortal sinnes, and therfore can neuer be lawful: yet because the Gentils by custome were prone to both, and of fornication made very smal account, it pleased the Holy Ghost to forbid both specially. Concerning the other points of absteining from bloud & stifled meates, they were things of their owne nature indifferent, in which for a time the Iewes were to be borne withal, and the Gentils to be a litle exercised to obedience. By which we may see the great authoritie of Gods Church and Councels, which may command for euer, or for a time, such things as be fit for the state of times and Nations, without any expresse Scriptures at al, and so by commandement make things necessarie that were before indifferent. fornication, and strangled things, and bloud.
21. For Moyses of old times hath in euery citie them that preach him in the Synagogues, where he is read euery Sabboth.
22. Then it pleased the Apostles and Ancients with the whole Church, to choose men out of them, & to send to Antioche with Paul and Barnabas, Iudas, who was surnamed Barsabas, & Silas, cheefe men among the Brethren,
23. Other Latin copies and the Greeke read thus writing by their hands an epistle conteining these things. writing by their hands. The Apostles and Ancients, the Brethren, to the Brethren of the Gentils that are at Antioche and in Syria and Cilicia, greeting.
24. Because we haue heard that certaine Going forth from vs.
Going out, a marke of heretikes.
A proper description or note of Heretikes, Schismatikes, and seditious Teachers, to goe out from their spiritual Pastours and Gouernours, & to teach without their commission and approbation, to disquiet the Catholike people with multitude of wordes and sweet speaches, and finally to ouerthrow their soules. going forth from vs haue troubled you with wordes subuerting your soules, to whom we haue no commandements:
25. It hath pleased vs being gathered in one, to choose out men & to send them vnto you with our deerest Barnabas and Paul,
26. men that haue giuen their liues for the name of our Lord Iesvs Christ.
27. We haue sent therfore Iudas and Silas who themselues also wil in wordes report vnto you the same things.
28. For it hath seemed good To the Holy Ghost and to vs.
God & our Ladie, and the likes speaches.
By this first we note, that it is not such a fault as the Heretikes would make it in the sight of the simple, or an incongruitie at al, to ioyne God and his creatures, as the principal cause and the secondarie, in one speach, & to attribute that to both, which though diuersly, yet proceedeth of both. God and you, say good people commonly: God and our Ladie, Christ and S. Iohn: We confesse to God & to Peter & Paul, as *God & his Angel, To our Lord & Gedeon, The sword of our Lord & of Gedeon, Our Lord and Moyses, Christ and his Angels, Our Lord and al Saints. ep. ad Philem. S. Paul and our Lord.
VISVM EST SPIRITVI SANCTO ET NOBIS.
1. Thess. 1,6. Al these speaches being partly Scriptures, partly like vnto the Scriptures speaches, are warranted also by this Councel, which saith boldly, & hath giuen the forme thereof to al other Councels lawfully called and confirmed, to say the like: It hath pleased the Holy Ghost and vs. S. Cyprian ep. 54. nu. 2. reporting the like of a Synode held in Afrike, saith: It hath pleased vs by the suggestion of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost's Assistance in al lawful.
Secondly we note, that the holy Councels lawfully kept for determination or cleering of doubts, or condemning of errours & Heresies, or appeasing of Schismes & troubles, or reformation of life, and such like important matters, haue euer the assistance of Gods Spirit, & therfore can not erre in their Sentences & determinations concerning the same, because the Holy Ghost can not erre, from whom (as you see here) ioyntly with the Councel the resolution proceedeth.
Councels, to the worlds end, and that by Christs promise.
Thirdly we learne, that in the Holy Councels specially (though otherwise & in other Tribunals of the Church it be also verified) Christes promise is fulfilled, **that the Holy Ghost should suggest them and teach them al truth, & that not in the Apostles time only, but to the worldes end. For so long shal Councels, the Church, & her Pastours haue this priuilege of Gods assistance, as there be either doubts to resolue, or Heretikes to condemne, or truths to be opened, or euil men to be reformed, or Schismes to be appeased.
S. Gregories reuerence of General Councels.
For which cause S. Gregorie li. 1. ep. 24. sub fin. reuerenceth the foure general Councels (Nicen. Constantinop. Ephes. Chalced.) as the foure books of the holy Ghospel, alluding to the number: and of the fifth also he saith that he doth reuerence it alike: and so would he haue done moe, if they had been before his time, who saith of them thus: Whiles they are concluded and made by vniuersal consent, himself doth he destroy, and not them, whosoeuer presumeth either to loose whom they bind, or to bind whom they loose.
The Protestants fond distinction between the 4. first & the later Councels.
S. Gregorie therfore reuerencing al fiue alike, it may be marueled whence the Heretikes haue their fond difference betwixt those foure first and other later: attributing much to them, and nothing to the rest. Whereas indeed the later can erre no more then the first foure, being holden & approued as they were, and hauing the Holy Ghost as they had. But in those first also when a man findeth any thing against their Heresies (as there be diuers things) then they say plainly that they also may erre, and that the Holy Ghost is not tied to mens voices, nor to the number of sentences. Which is directly to reproue this first Councel also of the Apostles, and Christes promise of the Holy Ghosts assistance to teach al truth.
Beza's blasphemie against the first general Councels.
Yea that you may know and abhorre these Heretikes throughly, heare ye what a principal Sect-Maister with his blasphemous mouth or penne vttereth, saying, that ***in the very best times such was partly the ambition of Bishops, partly their foolishnes and ignorance, that the very blind may easily perceiue, Satan verily to haue been president of their assemblies. Good Lord deliuer the people and the world from such blasphemous tongues and bookes, and giue men grace to attend to the holy Scriptures and Doctours, that they may see how much, not only S. Augustine and other Fathers attribute to al general Councels specially, to which they referre themselues in al doubts among themselues and in al their controuersies with Heretikes: but to which euen S. Paul himself (so specially taught by God) and others also yealded themselues.
What the Fathers attribute to Councels, & namely S. Augustine.
Notorious is the saying of S. Augustine concerning S. Cyprian, who being a Blessed Catholike Bishop and Martyr, yet erred about the rebaptizing of such as were Christned by Heretikes. If he had liued (saith S. Augustine li. 2. de bapt. c. 4.) to haue seen the determination of a plenarie Councel, which he saw not in his life time, he would for his great humilitie and charitie straight way haue yealded, and preferred the general Councel before his owne iudgement and his fellow Bishops in a Prouincial Councel only.
Whereby also we learne, that Prouincial Councels may erre, though many times they doe not, and being conformable to the general Councels, or confirmed and allowed by them or the See Apostolike, their solutions be infallible as the others are.
Notwithstanding the Holy Ghosts assistance, yet humane meanes must be vsed to search the truth.
If any here aske, what need so much disputing, study, and trauail in Councels to find out and determine the truth, if the Holy Ghost infallibly guide them? We answer that such is the ordinarie prouidence of God in this case, to assist them when they doe their endeauour, and vse al humane meanes of industrie, and not els. And so (though somwhat otherwise) God assisted the Euangelistes & other Writers of the holy Scriptures, that they could not erre in penning the same; but yet they did and ought to vse al possible humane diligence to know and learne out of the histories and truth of matters, as is plaine in the beginning of S. Lukes Ghospel: els the Holy Ghost would not haue assisted them. Euen so in this Councel of the Apostles, though they had the Holy Ghost Assistant, yet the text saith, cum magna conquisitio fieret, when there was great disputation, search and examination of the case, then Peter spake &c.
Though the See Apostolike it self haue the same assistance, yet Councels also necessarie for many causes.
If againe it be demanded, what need is there to expect the Councels determination, if the Popes or See Apostolikes iudgement be infallible and haue the assistance of God also, as the Catholikes affirme? We answer, that for the Catholike and peaceable obedient children of the Church it is a comfort to haue such various meanes of determination, trial, and declaration of the truth; and that it is necessarie for the recouery of Heretikes, and for the contentation of the weake, who not alwaies giue ouer to one mans determination, yet wil either yeald to the iudgement of al the learned men & Bishops of al Nations, or els remaine desperate and condemned before God and man for euer. And as I said before, this assistance of the Holy Ghost promised to Peters See, presupposeth humane meanes of searching out the truth, which the Pope alwaies hath vsed, & wil, & must vse in matters of great importance, by calling Councels; euen as here you see SS. Peter & Paul themselues and al the Apostles, though endowed with the Holy Ghost, yet thought it notwithstanding necessarie for further trial & cleering of truth and maintenance of vnitie, to keepe a Councel.
Heretical or Schismatical assemblies.
Lastly it is to be noted, that as Christ and the Holy Ghost be present by his promise, to al such assemblies as gather in the obedience & vnitie of the Church, with ful mind to obey whatsoeuer shal be determined, whereby the assembled though of diuers iudgements before, doe most peaceable yeald to truth, and agree in one vniforme determination of the same: so al such as gather out of the Church, without humilitie or intention to yeald one to another, or to any Superiour, man or Councel, or what els soeuer, but chalenge to themselues learning, spirit, & we can not tel what; such, how many meetings soeuer they make, being destitute of the Holy Ghost the Authour of truth and concord, are further off & further out, then euer before: as God hath shewed by the successe of al Heretical Colloquies, Synodes, and Assemblies in Germanie, France, Poole, and other places in our daies. Read a notable place in Saint Cyprian, that the promise of Christ, that he would be in the middes of two or three gathered in his name, pertaineth not to them that assemble out of the Church.
*Gen. 48,15. 16. Iud. 7,18. 20. Exod. 14,31. 1. Tim. 5,21.
***Beza in præf. Test. No. an. 1565.
de vnit. Ec. nu. 7. to the Holy Ghost and to vs, to lay no further burden vpon you then these necessarie things:
29. That you absteine from the things immolated to Idols, and bloud, and that which is strangled, and fornication, from the which things keeping your selues, you shal doe wel. Fare ye wel.
30. They therfore being dimissed went downe to Antioche: and gathering the multitude, deliuered the epistle.
31. Which when they had read, they Reioyced vpon the consolation.
Al good Christians rest vpon the determination of a general Councel.
Straight vpon the intelligence of the Councels determination, not only the Gentils, but euen the Maisters of the former troubles and dissension, were at rest; & al tooke great comfort that the controuersie was so ended. And so should al Christian men doe, when they see the Sectes of our time condemned by the like authoritie and most graue iudgement of the holy Councel of Trent. Against which the Heretikes of our time make the like friuolous exceptions and false cauillations, as did the old Heretikes heretofore against those Councels that specially condemned their errours.
Al Heretikes make exception against the Councels that condemne them.
The Pope and Bishops (say they) are a partie, and they ought not to be our iudges: they are partial and come with preiudicate mindes to condemne vs; and we accuse them al of Idolatrie and other crimes, and we wil be tried by Gods word only, and we wil expound it according to another rule, that is to say, as we list. So say they against this Councel, and the like said the Arians against the first Nicene Councel, and al such like against those Councels namely that condemned their heresies. And so say al theeues against their correctours and punishers, & would both say and doe more against temporal tribunals, Iudges, Iustices, and Iuries, if they had as much license and libertie in those matters, as men haue now in religion. reioyced vpon the consolation:
32. but Iudas and Silas, themselues also being Prophets, with many wordes comforted the Brethren, and confirmed them.
33. And hauing spen some time there, they were with peace dimissed of the Brethren vnto them that had sent them.
34. But it seemed good vnto Silas to remaine there: and Iudas departed alone:
35. and Paul and Barnabas taried at Antioche, teaching and euangelizing with many others the word of our Lord.
36. And after certaine daies, Paul said to Barnabas, let vs returne and Hereof our Catholike Bishops tooke vp the necessarie vse of often visiting their flockes & cures committed to their charge, for confirmation in faith & vertue, & reformation of manners both of clergie and laitie. visite our Brethren in al cities wherein we Act. 13,14. haue preached the word of our Lord, how they doe.
37. And Barnabas would haue taken with the Iohn also that was surnamed Marke.
38. But Paul desired that he (as who Act. 13,13. had departed from them out of Pamphylia, & had not gone with them to the worke) might not be receiued.
39. And there rose a Dissention.
Such occasions of differences fal out euen among the perfect men often, without any great offence. And this their departing fel out to the great increase of Christians. And therfore it is very ridiculously applied to excuse the disagreeing of the Heretikes among themselues in the principal pointes of religion, namely the Sacrament. dissention, so that they departed one from another, & that, Barnabas indeed taking Marke sailed to Cypres.
40. But Paul choosing Silas departed, being deliuered of the Brethren to the grace of God.
41. And he walked through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches Not only the things commanded by Christes expresse word, or written in the Scriptures (as our Heretikes hold) but whatsoeuer the Apostles and Rulers of the Church command, is to be kept & obeied. See these wordes repeated againe c. 16,4. & that in the Greeke, lest any man cauil, because here the Greeke hath them not. commanding them to keepe the precepts of the Apostles & the Ancients.