Harm of Attending the Mass: 3. Reasons for Going to Mass Answered

 

Harm of Attending the Mass_Reasons for Going to Mass Answered

1. How Evil the Mass is
2. Why it is Sinful to Attend a Papal Mass
3. Reasons for Going to Mass Answered


John Bradford,
Hurt of Hearing Mass,
Chapter 7.

But, to make an end of collecting any more reasons to prove that which all wise men see plainly, namely, that they grievously do offend which honest with their presence God’s greatest enemy upon earth, the mass, and do not disprove and disallow it, not only in heart, but also in deed and word openly — for else openly by their presence they honour it, the priest praying especially for all that be there present, and, as they affirm, receiving for all, and also turning himself divers times to the congregation with his Dominus vobiscum, the clerk answering in the name of all, Et cum spiritu tuo, and other responds: so that the standers by, if they openly disprove it not, are partakers with the priest of his idolatry and false serving of God: as Paul saith, “They which eat of the sacrifice are partakers of the altar” (1 Cor. 10); they which are at the mass are partakers of the mass, that is, idolaters, false worshippers of God, blasphemers of Christ, destroyers of his death, merits, sacrifice, priesthood, and kingdom, destroyers of the ministers of his gospel and sacraments, destroyers of faith, repentance, and all godliness — summa, they are antichrist’s — antichrist’s, I say, in body though they feign their heart to [be] Christ’s: but Christ and antichrist cannot dwell together; and therefore, if they be there and hold their tongue, they cannot but cry one day, Voe mihi quia tacui, “Woe is me because I held my tongue” (Isaiah 6 (Vulgate)).

O that the latter end of the first Corinthians, tenth, were well weighed! namely, how that in worshipping God contrary to his word, as the massers do, we have fellowship with his devils. Then I trow his exhortation would take place, where he saith, “See that you give none occasion of evil to any man,” but seek to please that way which may help to the salvation of others, and not to the destruction of others; as all they do, which being at mass and see[ing] their brethren take it for a God’s service, it being a very devil’s service, lay a pillow and a cushion under their knees and elbows (Eze. 13:18), to hold on still, and so to increase God’s further vengeance, as in England — in England — we do.

O Lord, be merciful unto us, and forgive us, open our eyes that we may see thy truth, and work in our wills that we may embrace, love, and have lust to it to live it, confess it, and suffer gladly loss of friends, name, goods, and life for it. Amen, Amen.

Reasons for Going to Mass Answered

Now let us see how much the reasons of our popish protestants are of force.

1.

First they say that “God is a spirit,” and therefore “in spirit to be served” so that it forceth not though the body be at mass, if the spirit serve God and be with him.

To this I answer that, though God be to be served “in spirit,” yet not alone in spirit, but also in body; and therefore Paul willeth us to “glorify God” in both, and prayeth also that God would sanctify and make the body perfect as well as the spirit. When our Saviour saith, John 4, that God “to be served in the spirit,” a man that marketh the text before and following, cannot but see how that our Saviour would have it opposed and set against the corporal and exterior service of God, which was used of both the Jews and Samaritans without “the spirit and verity.

The Jews’ services instituted of God were void of the spirit and spiritual exercise of faith in the promises and Messiah, so greatly was religion corrupted and gross ignorance increased. The Samaritans’ services of God were not only void of “the spirit,” but also of “verity,” for they had no word of God for them. Therefore saith our Saviour, “that God must be worshipped in spirit and verity,” that is to say, not in all external services, but in such as he hath appointed once, or rather then would appoint (for the verity of that figurative service was come), and not only in this externally, but also spiritually with the exercise of faith in his word and promises.

Now then, I pray you, what have they won of this sentence? Why do they not rather by “serving God in the spirit” understand the same to be required in his exterior service, which else were hypocrisy, than by it exclude that which God would not have excluded (I mean the exterior works and exercises he hath commanded), by this means take preaching away, vocal prayer, thanksgiving, obedience to the magistrates, &c., and all exterior things? And so they shall shew themselves libertines, as though whoredom, murder, and all exterior evils were no evils; for this can they do outwardly, and yet their spirit is still with God! What if any of their wives were taken in another man’s bed? think you, they would be content with this excuse, that her heart was not there, though her body was in bed? Henceforwards therefore let them learn to put to the spirit this word “verity” also, as our Saviour doth: or else they must be as much blamed for taking up too soon as the papists are for beginning too soon: for still they begin at, Hoc est corpus meum, where they should begin at, Accipite, comedite, “Take and eat,” or else God is not bound to keep his promise, “This is my body,” because it is conditional, requiring our obedience of taking and eating: which thing maketh against the mart, if men should know that Hoc est corpus meum were not true to any others but to such as do indeed take and eat the sacrament as he commandeth, that is, in faithful remembrance how his body was broken for their sins, &c. So I say should they do to the “worshipping of God in spirit and verity:” and then would they use this sentence no more to cloak withal their dissimulation and hypocrisy, making men to believe they serve God, as they do, when in heart yet these men do say they detest that kind of serving God. Thus much for the first reason.

2.

The second reason is, that it is no more sin for a man to be at mass in body, so that in spirit he allow it not, than it was for the prophets, Christ, and his apostles, to be at the idolatrous sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem with the priests, bishops, scribes, and pharisees.

This is their second reason, which I will answer when that they shall prove either the prophets, either Christ and his apostles, at any time to have been present and communicate with the priests in any sacrifice or ceremony which was not according to God’s word and commandment. Howbeit, to say the truth, there was never amongst the Jews in the temple of Jerusalem any such idolatry as the mass. The prophets, Christ, and the apostles, came to the temple at Jerusalem, and there used such sacraments, sacrifices and ceremonies, as God had instituted: but where did God institute the mass? Where alloweth he any service to be done in an unknown tongue? Where taught he adoration, elevation, reservation, and such horrible profanation, and gazing on his sacraments? Where taught he praying for the dead or to the dead? Where ordained [he] this sacrament to be eaten up of one alone? Where is their sacrifice of the mass, the principalest thing in the mass — where, I say, is it founded in God’s word?

The Mass and the Groves in the Old Law Were Alike

But what go I about to reckon the things in the mass besides God’s word? In that there is nothing in it, being placed and used as it is, but the same is contrary to God’s word, even as the holy prayers in exorcisms and conjurings are there placed and used, not holy prayers, but horrible blasphemies. So that the sacrifices and ceremonies used in the temple at Jerusalem were nothing like to our mass — nor our mass like to them, but rather like to those sacrifices which were at Bethel and Dan, and in their orchards, groves, woods, hills, &c. These sacrifices had a show of God’s word [Col. 2:23]; and in fact and appearance they were the self-same which were in the temple at Jerusalem. As in the temple they slew and offered rams, lambs, goats, oxen, &c., so did they in Dan, in Bethel, in their groves, hills, &c. But yet the one had God’s word, and therefore they were of themselves God’s servants, notwithstanding the error of the bishops and priests concerning them: but the other had none of God’s word, and therefore were idolatry, and the people idolaters. Wherefore all good people in the tribes of Israel came up to Jerusalem to the sacrifices there, and left Bethel and Dan, to their great perils, as we read of Tobias (Tobit 1).

And so I pray God that many may hear of our English gospellers, that they will adventure their lives and goods, rather than to come to mass; wherein though there be the epistle, gospel, sacrament, some good prayers, giving of thanks, &c., yet in that the same be not after God’s word, but after the imagination of man [Acts 17:29], all and every part thereof is leavened and sowered with the little lump, nay, massy piece of leaven papistical or antichristian; that is, is idolatry, to speak plain English, and whoso cometh to it be idolaters, howsoever their hearts seem, if outwardly they make it not known. And thus, because this reason is sufficiently answered, I will go to the third.

3.

Naaman (2 Kings 5:17-19), say they, was bidden of the prophet to go home “in peace;” all should be well although he went into the temple of Rimmon to worship in body, his spirit and heart being all set on the God of Israel: whereupon they gather that, although the mass be evil, yet it is no offence to be at it in body, the spirit being absent with God.

For answer to this reason let this suffice, that this Naaman was but an youngling in God’s religion, a three hours’ bird, and therefore not to be conferred with unto us English men in this case, which should be past milk, I trow, now, if a man have respect either to the time of our baptism, [or] of the pure preaching of the gospel which we have had six or seven years. Again the Syrians to Naaman now were not so near as we be one to another, “being baptized into one body.” Besides this Naaman acknowledged his fact to be sin, and therefore desireth the prophet to pray to God for the pardon of it, when he should commit it; but our men excuse their going to mass, as a thing not faulty. Last of all the prophet doth not excuse the fact, nor saith not that it is no sin, but, Vade in pace, “Go in peace;” as though he might say, ‘Go thy ways, trust in God, he will teach thee what to do, and guide thee with his grace otherwise than thou art aware of.‘ And surely it is not to be doubted but God did so: he knoweth full well how to pull out his people from the peril of temptation. We read not that he went into the temple of Rimmon. As soon shall we find that God turned the heart of his master the king, either from his idolatry, or from fantasying Naaman as he was wont, as soon shall we find that Naaman was strengthened to “obey God more than man,” as we shall find that Naaman went into Rimmon’s temple with the king, the prophet bidding him “go in peace” down some way that God would preserve his servant from evil. So that we may perceive this example of Naaman little shadoweth the fact of the popish protestants. Surely this is but one of Adam’s aprons.

In those days the knowledge of God was nothing so much and manifest as it hath been sithen [i.e. since] Christ’s coming, especially amongst the heathen: for the good men amongst the Israelites were but as “children” (so Paul calleth them, Gal. 4) in comparison to that we Christians in time of the New Testament should be (1 Cor. 13). Child’s age is past, and man’s state is now come. Therefore God suffered many things with them, which he will not suffer with us; even as the father will bear many more things at the hands of his son being a child, than being at full growth and man’s state. Why rather do not we set before our eyes Azarius (Dan. 3) and his fellows, which would not bow their knees to Nebuchadnezzar’s image? Why set not we for our example, to follow the “seven thousand Israelites which would not bow their knees to Baal” (1 Kings 19)? Why doth not the fact of Mattathias move us (1 Macc. 2)? Why forget we to look on the example of the woman and her seven sons (2 Macc. 7)? Read the story: shall the examples of one heathen prevail against so many examples of others, and that in the Old Testament? What a shame is this for us that be in the New Testament, and in the last days of it: for surely the coming of our Saviour will shortly appear in glory with innumerable martyrs, which courageously adventured not goods but life, rather than they would be stained in soul or body, to our shame and confusion if we play the Laodiceans (Rev. 3), become mere maids, and “seek to please men” (Gal. 1).

4.

Their fourth reason is, that they will pray to God at mass for those that are deceived therewith; and besides this they will not knock nor hold up their hands at the elevation time, as commonly men do, whereby men may be something moved the less to set by the mass. And here they bring in the example of one Astyrius which was at the idolatrous sacrifice the Caesereans made, and by his prayer there and then obtained their conversion.

I answer hereunto, that their prayer here is nothing as available; it wanteth these wings, faith and love to God, and love to our neighbours. For where is his faith or love to God, that seeth his own God horribly dishonoured, his good Christ robbed and spoiled, and yet dissembleth as though he were honoured, Christ were magnified? Where is his love to his brethren, that seeth their souls murdered, and they ready to drink poison as a preservative, and yet he dissembleth as though there were no peril? Yea, he will drink with them of the same cup. &c. Should a man think this man’s prayer is heard of God?

If God thy Master and Lord be dishonoured, Christ thy Saviour and Redeemer be robbed, the simple people thy brethren be murdered (as indeed spiritually all these be done in and by the mass), why dost thou dissemble [i.e. pretend] as though Christ were honoured, God were served, thy brethren were edified? Is not this deep dissimulation, is not this lack of love to God and his glory, is not this lack of love to thy brethren and to their salvation, and is not this iniquity? For every sin is iniquity. But, where iniquity hath ease and rest in the heart, there God will not receive the prayer. How will he hear thy prayer then, thou hypocrite, dissembler with God and man, mass-gospeller?

But thou keepest still thy pew, and holdest not up thy hands. As though none were papists but such as knock and hold up their hands; as though all men at the sacring-time look on thee what thou only doest; as though he did eat no part of a pudding which eateth of both the ends of it but tasteth not of the midst of it. Is the holding up of the hands so great a matter with you now? What! I had thought this external work or behaviour had been nothing, if that the spirit had been right! Is the holding up of the hand at the sacring-time more than the presence of thy body at all the whole mass? Is there nothing else amiss in the mass but the adoration of the sacrament? If thou wouldest men should know that thou dost disallow it, why comest thou to it? What doest thou there? Dost not thou go to the mass, that the magistrate might know that thou art of his religion, a good obedient subject to the devilish laws? Thus playest thou wily-beguile thyself [i.e. deceive yourself]. Tell me, if thy servant should go with thieves to rob thy house, without gainsaying or doing to them, wouldst thou have him excused? And dost thou think that God will not be angry with thee, that goest with thieves to rob him of his true service and honour by the mass? Thy servant might have an excuse to say, if he should have reproved them for their fact and denied to have gone with them, it could not have holpen, but cast him away, for he had no help. But such excuse hast thou none, for God can deliver and help thee out of the hands of all thy adversaries. Read the story of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13), whether he was able to hurt the man of God, reproving his fact: and God is the same God now. The standing of the three young men overthrew the purposed idolatry of Nebuchadnezzar: and surely so would it do the wicked mass with us, if as obedient subjects we would obey God more than man.

As for the example of Astyrius being at sacrifice with idolaters, and praying there, helpeth them nothing; for, as he openly declared himself to disallow their idolatry, which our mass-gospellers do not, so did not he accustom to resort thither as they do to the mass, but only by the way happened to be there at that time. And, [that] the thing may be more apparent, I will here write the story as I find it in Eusebius:

At Caesarea Philippi which the Phenicians call Paneas, at the foot of an hill named Paneas, which is the head of the river of Jordan, there was a common custom amongst the people of that place, yearly upon a certain solemn day to offer and slay a sacrifice: the which sacrifice, by the sleight of Satan, suddenly after the slaughter of it vanished away, so that the people were persuaded it went up into heaven: and therefore this was no small miracle nor service of God, thought they and all the whole country. Now it came to pass that this Astyrius came by them in their sacrifice time, who perceiving that all this was done by the illusion of the devil in bewitching of the people’s eyes, he in his heart lamenting the error and misery forthwith fell down on his knees, and lift up his eyes and hands to heavenward, and with heart and voice called upon the blessed name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the tears trickling down by his cheeks apace, and besought Christ to have mercy upon the poor people, and to deliver them from this their error. As soon as he prayed thus openly before all the people, behold, the Lord opened their eyes, and so they saw their sacrifice which they thought had been in heaven haled over the water there in all their sight manifestly: whereupon they amended their fault, and never used this superstition any more. (Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, ch. 17).

This God wrought by the prayer of this one Astyrius, which you see serveth nothing to this purpose. I purpose by God’s grace shortly to put something forth of this Astyrius and other martyrs and confessors of Christ’s faith, to comfort and confirm my afflicted brethren and sufferers. Now will I go to their fifth reason.

5.

It is enough, say they, to “believe in the heart, and with our mouths to confess” (Rom. 10) it to God; and therefore, except a man were a preacher, he may not reprove or disannul the mass; yea it is but a needless tempting of God to lose all we have. Thus reason they, but I will briefly answer them.

First, you make no difference between “believing with the heart,” and “confessing with the mouth,” where the one, that is, belief, is spoken in respect of God, which “searcheth the heart,” and “looketh for faith” (Jer. 5:3, LXX and Vulgate); and the other is spoken in respect of the church or men, as Christ saith, “He that confesseth me before men,” &c. And this confession Paul putteth as a plain demonstration of faith in the heart, so that, wheresoever it be not, faith is not. Therefore this place utterly maketh against you; for, by your silence at that horrible idol and enemy unto Christ and his church, you utterly holding your tongues declare your faithless hearts, or else confession with the mouth could not but burst out, as light in an house cannot but burst out, at the door and windows of the same, to the sight of such as be without.

Secondly, though we be not all public ministers and preachers of the gospel, yet we are all bishops one over another, and called to preach out and “shew the virtues of him that hath called us into his light” (1 Peter 2:9): so that our duty is to see, as much as we can, “that no man fall from the grace of God” (Heb. 12:15), (except we will follow Cain, and say, “Who made me keeper of my brother?“, Gen. 4) and, whensoever occasion is offered, to set forth and “shew the praises of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:9), and reprove that which is evil, as Paul saith, Arguite potius [“Rather reprove them“] (Eph. 5), but after our vocation. Indeed, if the preachers did their duty to disallow and reprove this mass, we should have less cause so to do, it were enough to declare that we allow their doctrine. But, seeing that the preachers are lying praters, and the true speakers are put up to preach to posts, being companyless, bookless, paperless, and without pen and ink (so straitly are they looked unto), it is the duty of every Christian, after their vocation, to disallow all that he cannot obey and do with good conscience.

Last of all, as concerning the loss of life, &c., I can none otherwise answer than with Christ’s own words, “He that loveth father and mother better than me is not worthy of me. Yea, he that forsaketh not father and mother, wife and children, goods, and his own self also, cannot be my disciple; for he that will go about to save his life shall lose it, but he that adventureth, yea, loseth his life for my sake, the same shall find it eternally” (Mat. 10:37-39). One day, will we nill we, we must forsake all, and perchance go to the devil: now if willingly, for God’s sake, we will do that which of necessity we must do, we cannot but be most certain to go to God, not for the suffering’s sake, but for his mercy and promise sake.

6.

Their sixth reason is of charity and offence: “knowledge maketh proud, but charity edifieth” (1 Cor. 8): for else, if we should not go to mass, we should offend the simple.

I answer, that knowledge without charity is evil; and such had the Corinthians which abused their knowledge in the liberty of the gospel, to the sore wounding of many a poor conscience for whom Christ was crucified; as our mass-gospellers, puft up with knowledge of the liberty of the gospel in exterior things, do, thinking that they may go to mass, and so lacking whereof they brag are taken tardy with their own reason: for what charity call you that which not only suffereth, but also helpeth to hurl his blind brother headlong into the pit of perdition?

But surely their reasoning, as their doing, sheweth them to want knowledge also; for that which is spoken of indifferent things they apply to things utterly unlawful; for the mass is not to be placed among things indifferent, but amongst the greatest evils, for one most horrible. God send them more knowledge and charity; and then I doubt not but they will keep them at home rather than go to mass.

Offences are Either Given or Taken

For offending our brethren in not coming to mass, a man must put a difference between offences: some are taken, some offences are are given. The preacher that preacheth God’s word truly or taken, offends the wicked, or rather the wicked taketh thereby offence: so doth the father offend the child if he be covetous, in giving liberally to the poor. But this offence cometh of the wickedness [of] the evil, and is taken and not given. The man that goeth to the mass giveth an offence, occasioning others to do the like: and woe be unto such! The man that goeth not to mass, or if he go thither doth reprove it publicly, this man, I say, giveth no offence, but the offence is taken; for he that followeth God’s word, to do his will, can never give offence. But he that followeth his own will or reason, or the will and reason of any man, in religion or God’s service, the same man giveth an offence, and sinneth damnably. Go to therefore, and see with thyself in going to mass, whether thou doest it to do God’s will or thine own. If thou look well on it, thou shalt see it is not God’s will, but thine own, or the will of others whom thou wouldest not displease. But now see what Paul saith, “If I should please men, I were not the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1), and what saith thy conscience when thou prayest, “Thy will be done,” and doest the contrary. “Every man must study to please his brother, but yet to edification” (Rom. 15:2).

But of these offences much were to be spoken against our gospellers, which have given great offences in not resorting to the communion, to receive it when they might, also in contemning common prayer, in neglecting preaching and sermons, in abusing their liberty in meats, in church, goods. &c.

7.

Their seventh reason they gather out of Christ’s words, that “not it which goeth into the mouth defileth man, but that which cometh forth of the heart” and therefore going to mass being but an external thing, if so be the heart allow it not, “cannot defile a man” (Mark 7).

Our Saviour’s words do not exclude outward words and works contrary to his laws, but that they defile man, as murder, theft, whoredom, &c., albeit these indeed spring out of the heart. Howbeit, to make the matter manifest, a difference, as before I have spoken, there should be put always between things indifferent and things unlawful. The mass and going to it to serve God thereby is no indifferent thing. We should discern God’s creatures from man’s ignorance in the abuse of them. Wine is God’s creature: drunkenness is man’s error and the abusing of God’s creature. The epistle, gospel, supper, good prayers, &c., are God’s ordinances: but the mass is man’s ignorance and horrible abusing of those holy things. To sacrifice calves, sheep, &c., was God’s institution: but to sacrifice in the groves, woods, at Bethel, Dan, &c, was man’s error and plain idolatry, as our mass is, and they that use it horrible idolaters. So that this their reason upon this text gathered is reasonless. If they used it against man’s prescription of meats, as though some were more holy than some, some defiled upon Friday more than upon Thursday, &c., then used they it rightly.

8.

Now let us see their eighth reason. ‘It is Anabaptistical,‘ say they, ‘to abstain from the ministry and temple, be cause of other men’s faults; rather men should prove and try themselves than others. The priest’s illness [i.e. ill or evil conduct or character], or the papists’ error cannot hurt us if we in heart consent not to their evil or allow it.

This reason is like the rest; for the ministry of God’s word and the mass are two things, the one mere repugnant to the other, and destroyers the one of the other. He doth wickedly which with the Anabaptists or Donatists think the fault of the minister or people should impair Christ’s ministry or sacraments, and the virtue and efficacy thereof is himwards. In using God’s ordinances let us try ourselves and not others. But, sir, what ordinance of God call you the mass? Who taught to pray publicly in an unknown tongue? Who taught Christ’s supper to be a private supper? But of this look more before. — Now will I dispatch their ninth and tenth reasons.

9, 10.

Because “God beholdeth the heart, and not the outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16), because “the eyes of God look for faith” (Jer. 5:3, LXX & Vulgate), and because the beauty of God’s church is “within” (Psa. 45:13), therefore the outward deed of going to mass forceth not, if so be inwardly it be not approved.

To this I answer, that indeed it is true that “God looketh on the heart,” but yet so that he beholdeth the words and works also (Mal. 3; James 1:23). “His eyes look on faith,” but so that he casteth his eyes on men’s facts also, Psalm [33:15]; and therefore the scripture saith that “God will judge after our works” and sayings (Rev. 20:13). Read Matt. 25 and 12: “Of thy words thou shalt be justified,” &c. This therefore conclude not as they gather, but rather teach us God’s privilege, which we must not meddle withal: only “we must know the tree by the fruits,” the which fruits if at any time they deceive us, yet God can they never deceive, for he knoweth the heart, he knoweth the faith, and whether the fruits spring thereof or no. Yea, this sentence, well weighed, doth give us occasion to set the popish church to be no church in God’s sight, as doth the sentence they allege for their tenth reason, of the beauty of “the king’s daughter,” that is, the church, “within” (Psa. 45:13): for — if we behold the face of the popish church in respect of Christ’s true church whose beauty indeed is all inward, being replenished with the Spirit of Christ and the fruits of the same, outwardly being but simple, for she will add nothing to Christ’s commandments in God’s service and religion, otherwise than for order’s sake — if, I say, we be hold the face of the popish church, Lord, how it glistereth, and gorgeous it is in comparison of Christ’s true church! Which is discerned in these days but by the word of God truly preached, the sacraments purely ministered, and some discipline nothing so much as hath been, might be, and should be. Whereas the popish church wants nothing to set herself forth to the show — as he that considereth the persons (pope, cardinals, legates, archbishops, bishops, suffragans, abbots, priors, deans, prebendaries, archdeacons, canons, monks, friars, parsons, vicars, parish-priests, mass-priests, nuns, sisters, novices, deacons, subdeacons, &c., and a thousand more), the power, riches, honours, promotions, lands, houses, fair services (as singing, saying, ringing, playing, censing, &c.), implements (crosses, chalices, relics, jewels, basins, copes, cruets, vestments, books, bells, candles, &c.) — he, I say, that considereth these things, he cannot but with Samuel, thinking Eliab had been he whom God had chosen, think this to be the catholic church and spouse of Christ.

But this sentence saith, the beauty of God’s paramour is “within:” and therefore this may be suspected to be the rose-coloured whore St. John speaketh of in the Apocalypse, for whom her ministers watch night and day, how to maintain their mistress and whore-madam, with endowing her with the riches, power, and pleasures of the earth. Whereas the ministers of Christ’s true church watch and labour how to enrich and beautify God’s people with heavenly riches, even with the knowledge of God and his Christ; and therefore they use daily preaching and public praying, and using the sacrament so as may edify; they urge men to repentance, and to begin a new life; they would have men to hoard up their treasures in heaven, &c. And this gear the world liketh not, but murmureth at the ministers, contemneth them, pilleths [i.e. plunders] them, that for poverty and living’s sake they might speak to please, as experience hath taught here in England.

But, to make an end of this matter, I would wish that they which use such sentences as these be, to hide their manifest idolatry and fornication at the mass, would know that their spouse is jealous, and will as well be angry with them whoring so in their bodies, as they would be, if their wives were taken in bodily act with others. Would they take this excuse if the wife should say, ‘Forsooth, husband, this is no matter, for I promise you nobody but you alone hath mine heart,‘ &c.? — God for his mercy’s sake in Christ open our eyes and hearts to see, know, and love his will, that we may serve him thereafter. God pour into our hearts the sense of Christ’s sweet sacrifice, made for our sins in his own person and by his own self.

Then surely we cannot but earnestly detest this mass, which is most enemy thereagainst, and that not only in spirit inwardly, but also in body outwardly, even as all honest women cannot but be sore grieved, in heart or bodily act to depart from their husbands. The greater love in heart the wife hath to her husband, the more pure will her body be kept from the fellowship of others; and so it goeth with us. Herein let us therefore pray God to engraft his love in our hearts, and then undoubtedly we will neither do nor say anything that shall displease him. Let his word be the “lantern unto our feet” (Psa. 119), none other way to go than we shall see it give light before us. Let his word so lie and remain in our hearts, that we sin not (Mat. 13). Let us “keep our feet from all evil ways,” that we may “keep God’s laws and testimonies” (Psa. 119). And here I will write an history not unfit for this purpose as I think.

There was in the time of Sapores, king of Persia, which cruelly persecuted the Christians, a certain archbishop of Seleuchia and Ctesiphon, called Simeon, which was called before the king divers times, but at the last bound like a thief for Christ’s gospel’s sake. Howbeit all prevailed nothing. Constant he was in word and countenance to the comfort of all the Christians. On a day, coming from the king, of whom he was examined and threatened if he would not worship the sun and make a knee to it as god (but in vain as I said), it fortuned that one Ustazardes, an ancient officer in the king’s court, I trow great master of his household, sat in the court-gates as Simeon came by, which Simeon so soon as this Ustazardes did see coming, forthwith he arose and did reverence: but Simeon, knowing that he had worshipped the sun for fear of the king, would not look at him, but seemed to contemn and despise him. This gear when Ustazardes perceived so pierced his heart, that he began to pull asunder his clothes, and to rend his garments, with weeping eyes crying out, and, alas, that ever he had so offended God as in body to bow to the sun! For, saith he, herein I have denied God, although I did it against my will: and how sore is God displeased with me, when mine old father and friend Simeon, his dear servant, will not speak, or look towards me! I may by the servant’s countenance perceive the master’s mind. &c. On this sort this Ustazardes lamented.

Now, sir, it came shortly to the king’s ear; and therefore was he sent for, and demanded the cause of his mourning, and he out of hand told him the cause to be his unwilling bowing to the sun. ‘By it, O king,‘ saith he, ‘I have denied God, and therefore, because “he will deny them that deny him,” I have no little cause to complain and mourn. Woe unto me‘ quoth he, ‘for I have played the traitor to Christ, and have dissembled with thee, my liege lord. No death therefore is sufficient for the least of my faults.‘ &c.

When the king heard this it went to his stomach, for he loved Ustazardes, who had been to him and his father a faithful servant and officer: howbeit the malice of Satan moved him to cause this man to be put to death, when he saw that by no means he would alter his mind to worship with the body the sun. Yet in this point he seemed to gratify him, for Ustazardes desired that the cause of his death might be published to be as it was: ‘This I ask,‘ saith he, ‘for guerdon and recompense of my true service to thee and thy father.‘ ‘Marry,‘ quoth the king, ‘thou shalt have it,‘ thinking thereby that, when the Christians should know how he would not spare his chiefest servants for religion, it would make them more afraid, and sooner to consent unto him. But, so soon as it was published, and Ustazardes put to death, Lord, how it comforted not only Simeon then being in prison, but also all the Christians! (Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, ch. 9).

This history I wish were marked, as well of us as of s our popish gospellers, which have no more to say for them than Ustazardes had; for his heart was with God howsoever he framed his body, and therefore saith he, that unwillingly he bowed to the sun. We should behave ourselves strongly against such brethren, as Simeon did, and then they the sooner would play Ustazardes’ part: which thing no marvel though they do not, so long as we rock them asleep by regarding them and their companies as daily we do, and so are partakers of their evil, and at the length shall feel of their smart. — God guide us all with his holy Spirit as his children for evermore. Amen.

11.

As for the example of the three children, which, eleventhly, [they] bring in, that, because they, being with the others that worshipped the golden image, were therefore not blamed, so may they be at mass with the mass-worshippers, and that harmless or blameless, except they worship the idol there as the papists do — as for this example, I say, how little it maketh for their purpose we should easily perceive, if men would consider that the three children going thither was not so much to obey the king’s precept in coming to the place appointed, as to declare their faith in public, condemning the false religion there by the king published whilst they were there present. There is no man that will find fault with thee if thou go to the church, for obedience to the magistrate, there publicly to declare thy faith, and to disallow, not only in heart but also in fact, the false religion there set forth. The three children, not only in heart, but also in outward gesture, condemned this religion. And wilt thou, by thy outward presence allowing antichristian religion, use their example to excuse thee?

Yea, but their being there was not condemned: and therefore, if I go to mass,‘ saith one, ‘so that I worship not the idol there, I am not blameworthy.‘ Ah! good brother, deceive not thyself; there was no religion, as far as we read, in any other thing than in falling down to worship the golden image: but here it is otherwise: it is not counted for a piece of religion to be at matins [i.e. morning worship], at evensong, and at the prayers of the mass, as well as to knock and kneel, and lift up our hands to the sacrament. Again, this property hath public prayers, that all that be there present, and do not publicly disallow them, the same doth shew himself to consent to them. Now what idolatry is even in their matins and evensong (let the mass-prayers alone) by invocation to saints and such baggage! So that it is too evident, I hope, that the example of the three children will not serve for their purpose.

12.

And truly no more will the testimony of Baruch [6:4-6]: for, although he willeth the Jews in their captivity to honour God in their hearts, when they should see other men worship stocks and stones, yet meaneth he not that men should assemble to the places where their temples and places appointed for their false religion was; but — because they being captives could not but, going abroad [in] the streets and other places, see their enemies the Babylonians, Chaldees, &c., to fall down and worship their idols, standing in their open places, and being carried about with them — should by their example not be offended, but “sanctify the Lord in their hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). As, for example’s sake, if a man going by the street or way meet Sir John with his god about his neck, and see folks kneel down as many do, or if a man going through Cheapside and see folks worship the cross there, or Thomas Becket his image standing by his church, this going and seeing others committing idolatry is not defiled for passing by the way, so that he commit not idolatry with them, or in his heart consent not to their iniquity. Indeed, if a man should resort to the temples and places appointed for religion and worship of idols, and not to reprove the idolatry there committed, it were a matter. But to go by the way where a cross standeth, or men carry idols (as the priest in visitation of the sick, and the bishops in their processions, their cake-god), and to see others do thereto worship, doth not defile any that doth not in deed or heart consent to their iniquity.

Howbeit, if this were not which I have spoken, this saying of Baruch can little help our mass-gospellers, which, resorting to the church to the service, are defiled by communicating with the common prayers, whereto he consenteth that publicly doth not disallow them. I need not to recite the authority of Baruch as not canonical, which I well might if I saw any such cause or matter to make for a mass-gospeller’s purpose in his testimony.

Conclusion

But — to make an end of all this matter — let every man be sure of his own meaning; let every one remember what he learned afore he began with A, B, C, that is, Christ’s cross; let every one remember what he hath professed, to “deny himself, to take up his cross, and to follow Christ;” let every one beware that in nothing he seek himself; but, in all things he goeth about, let him see that he seek God’s glory and his neighbour’s commodity. And then doubtless in this matter, and in many others, as there will be less reasoning, so there will be more edifying.

Now every man almost seeketh to avoid the cross: and, because they love themselves, they preferreth this before God’s glory or good example. And therefore they seek out all shifts that can be, for a time, to shadow their self-love and their own selves: as indeed the man that had “bought the farm and the yoke of oxen,” &c., which God admitted not, but “sware in his wrath,” “they should not taste of his supper,” “nor enter into his rest.

Into which rest God the eternal Father of mercy bring us, for his Christ’s sake, our only Mediator. Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Harm of Attending the Mass: 3. Reasons for Going to Mass Answered

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