Christian Churches of God
(Edition 1.0 19980913-20060320)
This paper is the translation of the condemnation of the Waldensians and the political arguments used by the Roman clergy to condemn the Waldensian Barbes after their Inquisition by the English monk Raymond of Daventry on the way to the Lateran Council.
The Sabbatarian Church was long extant in Europe and had been established there from the early Church of the first and second century. The outline history of the Church has been covered in the papers General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122) and the Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170).
As we said in paper No. 170; “We can tell with certainty that the Church was called, by the Catholic system, by various names in its different locations to disguise the widespread and uniform structure of its doctrines. However, the Church of God organisations had differing opinions as to its government and its emphasis (e.g. Presbyterian and Episcopalian in the Western Waldenses). We know that it was called Cathar or Cathari and hence Puritan in the English. It was also called Bulgar, Khazzar, Vallenses, Albigensian, Waldensian, Sabbatharier, Sabbatati, Insabbatati, Passaginians, among others. The term Sabbatharier seems to be a construction meaning Arian Sabbath-keepers.
We know that the commonality of views was generally understood and reflected itself in the vernacular language. For example, the term poor bugger in English is a common expression to convey sympathy for an unfortunate person undergoing some trial or torment. This is often confusing to modern Americans and even to Australians, as the word bugger and buggery has specific legal meanings relating to sodomy. The term, however, has another meaning which shows the application to the elect during the Inquisitions. The Oxford Universal Dictionary holds the term to be derived in the Middle English from the French bougre and the Latin Bulgarus or Bulgarian, or a heretic (or also usurer). It was held to be in reference to heretics to be used especially of the Albigenses. This was its first meaning. The second and pejorative meaning in relation to sodomy was a later term from 1555 and seemingly to denigrate the sect who had been persecuted for some three centuries. The term pauvre bougre or poor bulgar as applied to the Albigensians came to be in the English poor booger. The use as bogle or boggle in North English around 1505 is of uncertain derivation but came to be associated with phantoms and thence a quasi-proper name for the devil (hence, bogieman etc.). Certainly the term poor bugger had its origin in the Albigensian Crusades. However, one may be forgiven for asking what did the Bulgars have to do with the Albigensians? The answer is simple. The Churches of God, from its branches in what is known as the Pergamum era (Rev. 2:12ff) called the Paulicians, came into Europe from the relocations under Constantine Capronymous and John Tsimiskes (see the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). These relocations in Thrace spread into the Bulgars, the Southern Slavs especially in Bosnia and also into Hungary and Romania. They spread west and, from the fifteenth century, linked up with the remnants of the Sabbatati in the west called Vallenses or Waldensians. We can tell with relative certainty the extent of their doctrines from the thirteenth century, and with absolute certainty what the eastern branches, especially in Hungary and Romania, were from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
The Albigensian Crusades
The conduct of the Albigensian Crusades of the thirteenth century is outlined in the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122). The groups were without doubt Sabbath-keepers. The desire of the Roman Catholic Church to disguise this fact has led to some extraordinary claims regarding the linguistic derivation of the name Sabbatati. However, we also know that they were Unitarians. They are recorded as being extant before the year 934, when they were complained of by Atto bishop of Vireulli as had others before him.
They were first called Vallenses in 1179 in the condemnation of them by Raymond of Daventry. The elders, or barbes (uncles), Bernard of Raymond and Raymond of Baimiac were condemned as heretics by Raymond of Daventry in 1179 before the Lateran Council, not for their Sabbath-keeping but for their Unitarianism. The treatise written against them in 1180 by Bernard of Fontcaude then took up the name Vallenses in the title which is Adversus Vallenses et Arianos. They were thus subordinationist non-Trinitarians. This work of 1180 seems to have disappeared this century, but the work Liber Contra Vallenses written in 1190 by Bernard of Fontcaude still exists. The Vallenses of that time appear to be Unitarians and seen as distinct from Arians. This is a correct view and one upon which the Church of God would insist. Arianism, which according to the Catholics allegedly sees the Holy Spirit as a creation of the son, is distinct from biblical Unitarianism. They are both viewed as the same, or similar heresy by the Catholics, who may also have invented the doctrine of the creation of the Spirit by the son, as there is no actual record of this view in the texts attributed to Arius (see also the papers Arianism and Semi-Arianism (No. 167) and Socinianism, Arianism and Unitarianism (No. 185)).
The Albigensians were not simply a branch of the Vallenses. The Albigensians were in two divisions, the Vallenses or Waldensians and the local Cathari or Puritans. The Cathari held quite distinctive and heretical views of good and evil based on a form of Gnosticism and Manichean Dualism. The distinction, among others, is made by Ray Roennfeldt in his thesis (An Historical Study of Christian Cosmic Dualism, Andrews University) (cf. the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183)). The faith was often attacked by this dualist tendency. Where the Church was established, many so-called converts among the monastic orders often developed bizarre views. The Bogomils are an example. In the Bogomils and among the Bosnians, monastic asceticism accompanied an heretical dualism and attempted to undermine the general body of the faith. Errors also appear in earlier branches of the Paulicians. One error was that of the Melchisedekians who created another structured order developed from the Unitarian view. Melchisedek was held to be the angelic mediator and Christ the human mediator, below him. The Catholic writings seize on these contemporary heretical groups and link them to the Church at the time. They attribute these erroneous views to the Church, thus obscuring the true doctrines.
The entire Albigensian crusade was levelled against both elements by Rome in the thirteenth century. The Albigensians had protection in the south of France under Raymond Count of Toulouse. The Vallenses or Sabbatati were the greater and more widespread, and extended into Spain. We can reconstruct the doctrines of the Vallenses from the Spanish branch of the Sabbatati because of the intense persecution they suffered.”
The actual doctrines of the Waldensians can be seen from the Spanish Inquisition and the edicts against them there. Those edicts are also contained in the paper The Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170).
What is important in this work is the political direction and condemnations of these people as shown in the translated work here.
It is asserted, quite incorrectly that the sect appeared under Lucius, which is demonstrably false, as we know from other councils as early as the eight century at least and histories before that.
We see from the prologue that the Archbishop Bernard of Narbonne had condemned them previously but was unable to stamp them out.
The prologue recounts the condemnation under Raymond of Daventry.
We know from this text, which was highly selective and defamatory that they refused to accept the authority of the Church of Rome and its bishops and prelates. They refused to worship in its churches and preferred to worship in rooms and houses and unconsecrated buildings. The pagan symbolism of the Churches themselves is not canvassed here for obvious reasons but it is clear that is the case from the arguments against their avoidance of these buildings.
The dignity of the provosts are argued in Chapter II as the very financial structure of the Church was attacked by another religious system and thus they reasoned it had to be destroyed.
Chapter III argues that dignity of the Soul is the responsibility of the priests. This very point was the center of the dispute as the Soul doctrine was an anathema to the Waldensian Church who depended entirely on the Resurrection of the Dead and argued that the priests had become apostate and were disqualified on grounds of their immorality.
Thus, the chapter spends time on slander because it was that issue that was to protect the priests. Nevertheless, it did not save the Roman church as it still faced the Reformation on the same grounds a few centuries later.
In Chapter IV it is clear that those of rudimentary education, including what were referred to by the Roman priests as laymen, were used by the Waldensians to teach and the authority of the apostles were cited in this manner. The church condemned that position as they sought to ascribe to the Roman church the authority of Scripture and its interpretation and the right to educate and qualify teachers.
In Chapter V we get down to the real issue of the power of the bishops and prelates in diocese and in parishes and the Waldensians did not recognise their systems and divisions and preached wherever they could. It is also obvious that when this was written that marriage is raised as an issue. It must be remembered that by 1175 over the period of the Lateran Councils the monastic sodomites had seized control of the Church and the Waldensians were another great threat to the power of these people. It had taken the Roman Church centuries to remove married priests and in this century by 1175 they had finally succeeded.
In this chapter also we see an attempt at stifling what are the understanding of the mysteries of God as lifting the cover of a pit on so-called arcane matters of the Scriptures.
Chapter VI shows that the teaching of the Waldensians was contrary to the Roman Church on a number of matters and the Waldensians held to follow God rather than man and obey Scripture. The Roman defence here was that the church was the authority for the interpretation of Scripture.
As this was an inherently political act in those centuries they were thus in opposition to the political power which was sanctioned by the Roman system.
In Chapters VII and VIII they attack the role of women in the Church as the Waldensians used women very powerfully. There were houses and places where men could not access and the women were ordained as deaconesses and sent into those areas to preach and perform the sacraments. The monastic Sodomites had spent centuries stamping out the deaconesses from the Roman Church and had just finally succeeded and the Waldensians threatened this hard won victory. Because the barbes were not warlike they accused them of being effeminate also. Many of these priests were soldiers and many murdered the Muslims in the East and the Christians who opposed them in the West.
We see below the central issue where they say:
“See that it is clear that they do not lead firm men astray but corruptible women, who deserve to be led astray, especially those burdened by sins. They also led astray men with feminine weakness, just as is written: “A gathering of bulls amongst the cows of the population.” (Psalm lxvii) He calls the heretics bulls, those who are proud and untamed in their faults. They are those who congregate amongst the cows of the population; that is, amongst those who may be easily led astray.”
Chapter IX is directed at the heart of the Waldensian attacks on Roman Catholic heresy and innovation. The giving of alms for the dead to get them out of manufactured plights (such as purgatory and limbo) are defended here in this chapter and show that the rejection of the Waldensians of these dogmas were the very issues that were to cause the Reformation later. Indeed, it was with these people that the Reformation commenced.
It is with the very right of the Church to control absolution that we are concerned here.
Chapter IX goes on into Chapter X with the concept of heaven and hell and purgatory. Thus, the denial of purgatory is seen as conveying direct access to heaven and hell. This error shows that we are dealing with the Cathar Puritanism as well and that there are two doctrines here, one of the Resurrection seen with the Waldensians and the Cathar heaven and hell error, which nevertheless rejected purgatory.
Chapter XI confirms this view as they then go on to attack the other view, which is of the Resurrection and which rejects Heaven and Hell entirely. That was the Waldensian view and that of the Church of God from the beginning. Indeed it was the original view of the Church at Rome as we know from the R document. That document has been examined in the paper Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith (No. 088).
In Chapter XII we get down to the rejection of the Roman Church buildings and the reference to Stephen saying in Acts that the Most High does not dwell in buildings made of hands. Note the use of the term “praying to the church” by the Roman writer here as though the idols and relics are themselves sacred, which is what the real objection of the Waldensians was to the practice here.
Thus, the real issue was not that churches were not to be used to congregate, but rather the practice and teachings there were contrary to the laws of God and were idolatrous. However, the Roman Catholic writer does not properly canvass this issue, as it might further compromise his argument and reveal the true nature of Waldensian objections.
From this time forward, and from the Council of Geneoa, the Sabbatarians were delivered up in chains to be burned.
I. While Lord Lucius of famed memory was presiding over the Holy Roman Church, new heretics suddenly raised their heads. They called themselves the Waldensians, having chosen the name from some prophet of future events, who came from dense Valle, and therefore they involved themselves in the deep and weighty haunts of sin. These men, although condemned by the pontifex maximus, by their rash deeds cast forth the poison of their perfidy far and wide through the earth.
II. On account of this, Archbishop Bernard of Narbon, honoured in religion and the grace of God, and zealous in God’s law, on behalf of God’s Church, set this strong defence against them. He called as many clerics as laymen, as many religious men as heathens, to come to a verdict. What more can I say? With the matter most diligently investigated, their heretics were condemned.
III. Nonetheless, afterwards they dared both privately and publicly to spread the seed of their wickedness. From this they were called to return to a debate between both clerics and laymen, although it was beyond what was required. And, lest the matter be drawn out too long, an arbiter was elected by both sides, a certain priest, Raymond of Daventry; a man without doubt religious and god-fearing, of noble birth, but nobler in behaviour.
IV. Therefore, the day appointed for the matter having arrived, the sides met together, and those men, just as many clerics as laymen, were accused by true Catholics as being from that very fraternity in which they think evils. And with them pleading their case one at a time, the matter was debated for a while, back and forth, and from both sides many authorities were brought out. The allegations of the sides were heard; the aforesaid judge gave his opinion through a written decision, and he pronounced that there were heretics in the chapters, just as they had been accused.
V. They defended their own point of view, however, with evidence and arguments; I must reply to these, as a Catholic. So that I may protect the Catholic faith by the testimonies of the Scriptures, I have interwoven them in this present little work, having combined it with other works against other heresies. All these things, however, I have written most of all for men to be instructed: whether they are fellow clerics or those who have been brought into an offence or scandal against the faithful, over whom they command, because they were working either with a lack of authority or of books, and did not resist the enemies of truth. For these men are not strengthened by the Catholic faith, nor are they revived by the nourishment of the sacred Scriptures. Whence, abandoned by spiritual men, they rebel, as if beggars in the state of this present world, lest they mean to return to the homeland, indeed to Paradise. For the cause of preventing greater evil is a just one, for there to be thrown from the sheep-flock of Christ the hungry wolves, that is, the heretical and tyrannical demons, neither by the voice of praise nor the rod of discipline and severity.
VI. Therefore, I beg, let them take up, if they please, the poor gift of this little work, and let them commend to memory the evidence of the sacred fathers, so that, God have mercy, they might have impenetrable armour against the governors of darkness, against the spinners of falsehood, against the cultivators of wrong dogma, that is, against those pagan heretics; in order that, by the primal grace of God, they might both be strong to triumph over them, and merit the receipt of the unwithered wreath of glory from the supreme shepherd, because of this course and the teaching of these subjects.
Against their argument that one need not be obedient to the Pope, nor to the other prelates
I. First, therefore, they argue regarding disobedience, because they are indeed not obedient to the Roman Church, which is full of the power of restraining and freeing, and has the authority to manage other Churches.
II. Because of this, nor are they obedient to the bishops, nor to the priests; since, by the testament of the blessed Gregory, those bishops who are chosen to lead this way of life take the place of the disciples of Christ, and have the authority to bind or to free. Therefore by this authority there exist the Roman Church and the other bishops, just as it is said: “Whatever you bind on earth, it will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you free on earth will also have been freed in heaven.” (Matth. xvi) They bind the aforementioned heretics with the shackle of excommunication, with the Apostle: “being ready to punish all disobedience.” (II Cor. x.) As Augustine said in Against Johannes, “thus a Christian ought to fear nothing more strongly than to be separated from the body of Christ.”For if one is to be separated from the body of God, he is not a limb of it, and he is not nourished by His Spirit. The Apostle said, “But he who does not have a part of the spirit of Christ is not of him.” (Romans viii.) This also comes from the words of the Apostle: “Every Christian, beloved ones, who is excommunicated by the priests is said to be given up to Satan. How is this? It is because the Devil is outside the Church, just as Christ is within the Church. And because of this, it is as if he who has been removed from the ecclesiastical community is given to the Devil. And those, whom the Apostle preaches to have been handed over to Satan, are shown to have been excommunicated from him.” This is indeed what the Apostle also said to the Thessalonians: “If there is someone who does not obey our words in this letter, note this: do not associate with him, so that he might be ashamed.” (II Thess. iii.) Take note that the Apostle demands disobedience to be condemned, and that the offender be removed from society and interaction with others, so that, having been thrown out, he might be ashamed.
III. The Apostle also said to the Hebrews: “Be obedient to your superiors, and be subordinate to them. For they are watchful over your souls, as if about to give an account (of them).” (Hebr. xiii.) He also said to Timothy: “Let those elders who govern well be worthy of a double honour, and those especially who work in words and deeds.” (I Tim. v.) The elders have a double honour, that their instruction might be obeyed and they might minister aid to others with due respect being shown. The Lord also spoke, so that he might show that obedience must be extended to the prelates: “The scribes and Pharisees sit on the throne of Moses. Therefore whatever they say to you, obey them and do.” (Matt. xxiii) Also: “He who hears you, hears me; and he who spurns you, spurns me.” (Luc. X)
IV. Therefore Christ and the Apostles state that one must be obedient to the bishops and the elders: as a consequence whoever does not obey them lives disobedient to Christ and his apostles. Every error and incident of disobedience, as the Apostle demonstrates, “receives just punishment as its reward.” (Hebr. ii.) How therefore must they flee those who have neglected the teachings of Christ and his Apostles? Since those disobedient exist, they must be held as pagans and tax collectors, since the Lord said: “if someone does not hear the (teachings of the) Church, let him be to you as if a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matth. Xviii)
V. Moreover, one must abstain from interaction with such men, as is clear from the prescribing words of the Apostle to the Thessalonians. For even according to Mosaic Law, if a man is not obedient to the order of a priest, he must be executed, lest the people be corrupted by the evil of disobedience. Thus one finds in Deuteronomy: “Let the man be put to death by judicial decree, who will show himself arrogant by not obeying the order of a priest who at that time serves the Lord your God, and you will remove this evil from the people of Israel: and all the people, hearing this, will be fearful, so that no one afterwards will swell with pride.” (Deut. xvii). Therefore see how clear it is, how great is the crime of disobedience, when a man who does not obey a priest is put to death by the corporeal sword. In this time of true grace, because God does not wish the death of sinners, but that they might be converted and live (Ezech. xxxiii), they are not killed physically, but with a spiritual sword, and they are removed from participation in trust through the decree of the bishop, so that, since they have been rejected, they might be ashamed and repent.
VI. Indeed, whoever are disobedient are lumped together as infidels. As Samuel said: “to fight against him is to practise witchcraft” and “not to obey him is to commit the crime of idolatry.” (I Samuel xv). The blessed Gregory spoke concerning this topic also: “Obedience is that alone which possesses the merit of faith; a man without this is proven to be faithless, even if he might appear trustworthy.” The Apostle also mentions the sin of disobedience amongst the capital (mortal) crimes when speaking of “those gentiles replete with every sin: malice, fornication and avarice.” (Rom i). And a little later: “the doers of evil, not obedient to parents” (ibid.). To parents, just as the learned orthodox Christians comment, either actual or spiritual. And a little further on: “they who do things of such a kind are worthy of death: not only, however, those who do these things, but also those who consent that they be done.” (ibid.) Following Ambrosius, consent is when someone could censure the act, but remains silent, or when hearing of this, approves of it.
VII. It is no wonder if those who are disobedient to Ecclesiastical power deserve eternal death. For by the evidence of the Apostle: “There is no power, except through God, and those things which come from God are set in place. And so he who resists authority resists what has been ordained by God. Those who resist, however, procure damnation for themselves.” (Rom. xiii) Therefore let those aforementioned heretics, and those who agree to these things, listen to the instruction of the Apostle, when he says: “Let every spirit be subject to the higher power.” (ibid.) Just as, indeed, the Apostle writes in the Acts of the Apostles: “The Holy Spirit placed the bishops to rule over his flock and the Church of God which he won with his own blood.” (Acts xx) Therefore he who resists the bishops through pride sins against the Holy Spirit. For even when the Judaeans were muttering against Moses and Aaron, the answer was: “your grudges are not against us, but against God.” (Exod. xvi) Judas of Jacobus said to this end “Woe to those who die in defiance, together with Korah!” (Jud. 11) Korah and his accomplices rebelled against Moses and Aaron, the priests of the Lord, and without delay the fire of Heaven was sent. They burst into flames. Therefore they, who contradict the order of the priests, perish, like Korah, in defiance, and on that account are burned up by the heat of the eternal fire. Whence the “woe”, for there is to them eternal damnation.
VIII. Moreover, through the disobedience of Adam many sinners were created; and through the obedience of Christ, who was totally obedient to the Father, even to death, many just men have been spawned. Therefore whoever lives disobedient carries the image of that old man. Against this the Apostle says: “Just as we have carried the image of an earthly man, let us carry the image of a heavenly one.” (I Cor. xv) Wearing the virtue of obedience, just as they were thrown out of Paradise because of their disobedience, let us return all the more through our obedience, as if along another road. “Obedience is better than making sacrifices, and to obey is better than to offer a slaughtered ram.” (I Kings xv) This is because through sacrifices another flesh is honoured, but through obedience one’s own intention is rightfully glorified. Solomon said: “the obedient man will speak of victories.” (Prov. xxi) This is because while we are humbly subordinate to the voice of another, we ourselves conquer our own hearts. From all of this it is clear how great the virtue of obedience is, and how great is the crime of disobedience.
The dignity of the provosts is examined, and how they should be deferred to and obeyed
I. So that it might be clearly understood, by how much priests surpass others, and what deference and obedience must be paid to them, the words of the Saviour should be considered. He said to a leper who was cured: “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer a gift as a testament, as Moses ordered.” (Luc. v) Indeed, it is the duty of priests to discern and to judge who are Catholics and who have been contaminated with an heretical disease. Whence is the reason that since the Lord healed many sick men, he often sent lepers to priests. In the body of a leper the colour is varied, which signifies the truth in the heretical man intermixed with falsehood. Clearly the Lord did not wish the leper, even if purged, to be attached to the society of men without the judgement of a priest, so that he might show him, who had wandered from the unity of Catholicism, and who had perhaps repented by chance, that he may not be attached to assemblies of faithful men without the decision of a priest. He is ordered to make, in show of his devotion and humility, an offering to the priest; so that equally he might show himself obedient to the priest, he sacrifices his victim, with divine knowledge kissing his hand [that is, with the Church looking on].
II. Also, some clerics provide food, but others graze as if sheep: the first live from the altar, the latter truly ought to give offerings. The first are able to give sinners to Satan, but the others sit before them; nor should they bear those things, which are the province of God without the counsel of the former. Whence Jerome wrote in to Heliodorus: “One thing for the cleric, another for the monk. Clerics feed sheep, I graze. They live from the altar, for me is placed an axe as if at the root of a fruitless tree. If I do not bring an offering to the altar, it is not permitted me to sit before an elder. They are permitted, if I sin, to send me to Satan in the destruction of flesh, so that my spirit might be safe at the day of the Lord.” He also wrote in to Rusticus: “The Church has a Senate, a gathering of elders, without the judgement of which no monk is allowed to act. Rohobo’am the son of Solomon laid waste to the kingdom because he did not wish to listen to his own elders. The Romans also have a Senate, and all things are done with its approval, and we have our own Senate, a gathering of elders.”
III. Moreover, he who doubts divine law ought to run without delay to the priests and to question (them). For they are the men through whom the Creator of all faithful men commanded that the people feed. This what the Lord did to his own five disciples when he gave them seven loaves of bread, that they might place them before the crowds. He provided a spiritual doctrine for priests who succeed to the course of the disciples: so that they, as if good stewards, are ministers of food to the souls of the family of God, so the hungry do not want for food in the course of this life. Hence it is written: “who do you think is a trustworthy and prudent steward, whom the Lord appointed above his own family, so that he might give a measure of wheat to them from time to time?” Whence the Lord struck down Paul, and Saul besides, in the street, but he did not teach what they ought to do; he sent them, however, into the city of Anania to the disciples, to be taught. And neither did the angel, who appeared to the religious centurion, give up the matter on trust, but he ordered Simon to be fetched so that the man might be instructed through him who ought to do it.
IV. From these examples it is may be clearly understood that no one ought to presume to teach another the way of perfection, except if he lives in a Christian community, that is, in the Holy Church, and is a disciple of Christ. Since Christ (or his messenger) did not want to teach Saul or the Centurion, they showed that the guardianship of the Church must be held invulnerably, and none, without exception, may hold it, apart from those who have succeeded to the course of the disciples, that is, the bishops and the men of the Church, to whom the Lord entrusted this duty. As it is written, and as Malachia testifies: “The lips of a priest guard knowledge, and they bring out the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.” See how great is the merit of a priest. For he is, as is written in Ezekiel, the treasury in the house of the Lord; he guards the treasure of wisdom and knowledge in his own breast, and from his mouth, with the Lord’s command, the law must be sought. This the Lord himself taught, by the evidence of the Evangelist, by example, when he sat in the temple, amongst the learned men, and listened to them, and asked them questions. He taught likewise in the holy Church that the most heavenly knowledge must also be learnt neither in the forum nor in the streets, so that as much as it is well understood and committed to memory, so much in the Church will there be more leisure for attentive study in matters not temporal but divine.
V. How true is it, that a priest, an angel of the Lord, is called a messenger? Certainly he is sent to announce celestial justice, and therefore even if he is to be personally despised, he must be honoured as a proxy of the Lord. From the evidence of the blessed Gregory: “Often a powerful man has a contemptible slave, and he demands from him some response, either from strangers or perhaps from his own family; a person should not be despised when speaking as a servant, because he is preserved in the reverential heart of the Lord who sent him.” And therefore some priest, even if by chance he is rightly despised by someone ought to preserve in his own mind reverence for the Lord for whom he is sent.
VI. Sinners ought to confess their crimes to priests, so that they might be absolved from the fetters of their guilt. The Lord says this on the matter, to a man dead for four days: “Lazarus, come out of doors.” (John xi) Since he had come forth while alive, through the disciples he was loosed from his bonds, and the Lord ordered them: “Untie him, and allow him to go away.” (ibid.) The dead come out when a sinner confesses his crime. The disciples untied him when he came out (of the tomb). The preachers of the Church ought to exonerate him who merits it, who was not ashamed to confess what he has done. Indeed, Judas confessed his crime, but he was not a disciple of Christ, but of the Jews. He said: “I have sinned, by betraying noble blood.” (Matth. xxvii) And his confession did not aid him.
VII. Not only should the presbyters absolve, but they should also bind the guilty, and hand over to Satan the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit might be safe. Whence the Lord said: “Their sins, which you remit, are remitted by them, and those you remember, will be remembered.” (Matth. xvi) Indeed, by the evidence of Gregory, the disciples, in the study of whom the bishops occupy themselves, for the sake of God, do not absolve the sins of some, but absolve those of others. The Apostle also said of a fornicator: “I have decided in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (that is, for the sake of him, and for his glory); “to hand (this man) over to Satan, so that the spirit might be safe on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. v) He handed the man over to Satan so that he might be physically badgered and that he might repent. According to some, either the death of the body must be understood, or else excommunication, that is, the consignment to Satan... For in this way the devil has no rule over a man after he had been vindicated by his faith. But after a man, on account of a sin, is cut off from the sacraments of the Church, which are for him amour against Satan, let him then be tied under Satan’s yoke.
VIII. Moreover, the Holy Spirit reckons up the dignity of a priest readily (that is, what he deserves), and through him cares for the chosen people, concerning which Caiphas prophesied when he was bishop. There the Evangelist clearly bestowed the gift of prophecy on the divine sacrament, saying: “since he was pontiff” (John xi) (that is to say, pontifex maximus). He passed as water through the stone canals to the places of the spice-men, that is, as a waterer of spiritual grace, often flowing through the obdurate and unfeeling minds of the governors; he poured into and watered the spirits of the virtuous, which were sown and scented with perfume.
IX. The blessed James also showed how necessary and useful is the order of priests, when he said: “Who amongst you is weakened? Let him send for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. For this prayer in faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall heal him: and if he has sins, they will be forgiven.” (James v). See both that the prayer of the priest saves him and that through it God heals the sick man and forgives his sins. So too, therefore, he saves, as long as the prayer of the elders aids the body and the mind, in relieving sickness and remitting sins. Equally the Apostle punishes those who bring forward heretics and desert the elders; since he orders the elders to be brought forth, not the heretics. Silently, he also reprehends even those very Christians who, when they are sick, do not go to the elders, but send to the doctors; and who with the order reversed, afterwards send (for the elders); since often the weakness of the mind is the cause of corporeal infirmity. Whence the Lord resolved the sins of a paralysed man who had been brought to him first, saying, “son, your sins are forgiven;” (Luc. v) and afterwards his body became healthy. “For once the cause is discerned, the effect is relieved.”
X. It is the role of the priests to decide on questions, which arise concerning the Christian religion. Whence Moses, climbing the mountain, said to the senior men of Israel: “Wait here, until we come back. You have Aaron and Hur with you, and if some question arises, you will take it to them.” (Exod. xxiv) Indeed questions arising amongst believers, concerning belief or Christian worship, should be referred to the bishops and the elders. It comes from this that because of these and other necessities bishops (from individual cities) and elders (from individual churches) are appointed by the papacy. Wherefore the Apostle said to Titus: “I left you in Crete, so that you might set right the matters which need attention, and appoint elders from each town, just as I assigned you to do,” (Tit. i) In the Acts of the Apostles it is held that Paul and Barnabus set up elders in each Church.
XI. Truly it must be observed that the bishops are received in the name of the elders, just as in the Letter to Titus before, and similarly the priests, as was seen a little above in Acts. For the position is can be reversed and sometimes, in the name of bishops, sometimes lesser priests are named, just as in Philippians, where the Apostle says: “Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all devout people who are in Philippi, with the bishops and the deacons.” (Phil. i) For in one city there are not many bishops, or, speaking about the bishops, he places the silent bishops in a lower order, that is, (the order) of the deacons, except that he calls the bishops priests. Sometimes bishops are called greater priests in appropriate contexts, just as even daily communication demonstrates.
XII. This said on transgressions, one should know what is in the New Testament, when the question arises whether it behoves believers to be circumcised, and the law of Moses to be observed: Paul and Barnabus resolved that believers should so remain as they and those same Apostles might consider proper, and that they (from other places) should go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem regarding this question. “And they decided to see the apostles and elders about the matter.” (Acts xv) And together the apostles and elders decided the question; and they worked out regarding this, a letter of instruction for the believers necessitated, just as is written in the Acts of the Apostles.
XIII. From this example it is clear that when doubt arises regarding the practice of the Christian faith, one must have recourse to the highest patriarch, who performs his duty like the blessed Peter; and to others, both archbishops, who represent the apostles, and bishops, who preserve the course of other practices, whom Luke, in Acts (as quoted above) called elders (presbyters), and finally to elders. For if the Apostles Paul and Barnabus did not take it up themselves to decide such a great question, except in consultation with the apostles and the elders, and once a thorough exploration of the question had been made; it must be considered alarming how much presumption and madness there is about these matters which concern the faith of God and His system, that people questions not the priests of Christ but others, and especially heretics or evil Catholics.
XIV. To this, the Apostle, in the letter to the Corinthians, says regarding transitory matters that the faithful ought not to have the matter decided before unbelievers, but before holy men: “Does someone of us, having business against another, dare to be judged by sinners, but not the holy? You do not know that we will judge the angels? How much more pertinent is this in secular matters? But if you are to judge the world, are you incapable of judging trivial matters?” (I Cor. vi) And later: “So too is there not a wise man amongst you, who is able to settle a dispute between his own brethren? But a brother contends with another brother for judgement, and this in done before unbelievers? Indeed, already it counts against you, that you have court cases amongst yourselves.” (ibid.) If therefore the holy (that is, the believers, not the unbelievers) ought to pass judgement in lesser matters, so much more are unbelievers unworthy to judge on matters regarding the Christian religion and faith. Especially since Moses warns each and every one, saying: “Question your father and he will relate matters to you: question your betters, and they will speak to you.” (Deut. xxxii) Who is the father, or the betters, whom we ought to question, if not the guardians of spirits, who educate us in pious behaviour, as if they are rearing spiritual sons? And because by worthiness or merit they surpass us, they are called our “betters”, or by another name our “seniors”. About whom Saint Peter says, writing to the faithful: “I supplicate those seniors who are amongst you, I, a fellow senior and witness to Christ’s sufferings. Nourish the flock of God which is amongst you.” (I Petr. v) And a little after: “Likewise, young men, be obedient to the older men.” (Ibid.)
XV. See that it is clearly of importance, this flock of the faithful which ought to be nurtured, indeed, by their own seniors. For just as the blessed Gregory says: “the Holy Scripture calls those men old, who are mature in respect of the dignity of their habits, not the length of time, as it is written: old age is venerable, not in a long-lasting age, nor in the calculation of the number of years; old age is, however, the mature wisdom of a man, and old age marks a spotless life.” Also, young men are said to be those who are not weighed down by any dignity of wisdom. He is first to order some of the apostles to be subordinate to the older ones, so that extreme levity (lit, the lightness of lightnesses) might be weighed down by the dignity of dignities, following that text: “you shall be holy when with an holy man, and innocent with an innocent.” (Psal. xvii) In which words those men, who do not obey the wishes of the elders (that is, the prelates) are censured, and so are seen by the Apostle Paul to be disobedient.
XVI. Finally, just as the Lord said to them, in the character of Aaron the priest and his sons, “it is the mark of a priest to decide between the sacred and the profane, between the worldly and the unworldly (or, “the clean and the unclean”), and to teach all lawful things which God dictated to the children of Israel through the hand of Moses.” Just as is written in Leviticus: “The Lord said to Aaron: you shall not drink wine or anything else which causes inebriation, and then enter the Tent of my presence, and you and your children, or else you will die; this law is eternal for your race.” (Lev. x.) And “So that you may have the knowledge to discern the sacred from the profane, the polluted from the clean, and so that you might teach the children of Israel all my laws, which the Lord spoke to us through the hand of Moses.” (ibid.). From which matter it appears clearly that it is the role of the elders, not others, to determine who is holy, that is, Catholic, and who is profane, that is, heretical; or, who are clean of the stain of a crime, and who are not clean (that is, who are criminal). Moreover, he has charge of teaching the faithful the laws of God. Therefore it is damnable for others, who are not of the tribe of Levi (that is, from the clerical order), to usurp their duty in judging or teaching.
XVII. See that I have collected a little material about many things to show how great is the dignity and authority of both bishops and priests: by which I think that those who thus far have been rebels against them must humbly submit to them.
Against those who disparage the guardian of souls
I. But there are those who disparage the guardians of souls, and those who censure them with danger to their own souls: let me say a little to correct them. Let listen those of such a kind who, with the evidence of the Apostle: “are detestable slanderers of God, and blabbermouths, and trouble-makers who deserve death.” (Rom. i) A slanderer is he who diminishes the good qualities of a neighbour as much as he is able, and places upon him evil qualities which he does not have. A blabbermouth however is one who secretly passes on evil from neighbour to neighbour. A trouble-maker is he who willingly inflicts some disgrace or dishonour on a neighbour, either in word or in deed. The Apostle also said to the Corinthians: “If he who is called a brother is a liar” (that is, a slanderer), do not take food with him.” And following: “Slanderers will not possess God’s kingdom.” (I Cor. Vi)
II. Therefore since a slanderer or liar must not be received into a community of the faithful and deserves death, seeing that he is someone who shall not possess the kingdom of God; particularly however, he is prohibited from slandering a guardian of the people. Whence Paul, when it was ordered by the head priest Ananias that he be struck in the mouth, being ignorant that he was the head priest, said: “May the Lord strike you, you white-washed wall! And those who stood by said, ‘do you slander the high priest of God?’” Paul answered: “I did not know, brothers, that he is the high priest. For it is written that you shall not speak evil to the ruler of your people.” (Acts xxiii) See, however, that it is openly permitted that the leader of the people act against the law, and (it is permitted) for him to decide that a man be struck, and Paul says that slander must not be committed, and he demonstrates this by the authority of the Scripture. Therefore they weigh up carefully, how much damnation those who speak slander against the guardians of the Church deserve; if the Apostle forebears to slander an unbeliever, and one acting out deeds contrary to the law, from the time he realised him to be a leader of men. And he said that he had committed slander because he did not know that he was the ruler over the people.
III. Moreover, Ham saw the naked genitals of his father Noah and laughed; and he was damned with his descendants, when Noah said: “slanderous Canaan will be a boy slave to his brothers” (Gen ix) Therefore one ought not to add to the evils of his own betters, or rashly to divulge them, or to rejoice when seeing them: otherwise he will be damned into posterity; that is, in the future. Truly the sons of Noah, coming with their backs turned, covered the private parts of their father with the cloak from their backs, thrown over him. Just as the blessed Gregory said: “Because the good (sons) were obedient, they were so unhappy with the harm done to their superior that they hid his genitals from others: and deciding on this course of action and revering their guardian, they did not wish to see what they covered.”
IV. And let those aforementioned slanderers take notice that holy David humbly obeyed Saul who was a king, although an arrogant one, but chosen by God: but Saul persecuted and wished to kill David; but finally, once his own crimes were weighed up, he was reproved by God, and David was chosen by the Lord for the governorship of the kingdom. Therefore things were such, and since David obeyed the evil king, it is written about him: “Who, like David, has come into all things, entering your kingdom, leaving it, and proceeding to the power of a king?” On the other hand, although he was able to strike the king who was persecuting him, he prostrated himself in an expression of humility, saying: “Whom do you persecute, King of Israel, who is it? a dead dog and a flea.” Therefore let subordinates learn from this, it is permitted for humble men, and innocents, once they have preferred the powers of God to their own, to defer to a wise men against their own judgement, not to disparage them, to obey them, not to speak against them. Likewise David, when his servants wanted to attack Saul, who had entered the cave where they were hiding. He crushed them with an answer, that he ought not send a band of the Lord against a Christian. He rebelled secretly however, and cut off the hem of Saul’s cloak. And because he did this, afterwards David berated himself. See that although he considered himself anointed by God and chosen, it was permitted to him to seek to kill, but David did not wish to, and because he had cut the hem of Saul’s cloak, he regretted it. Regarding this episode the blessed Gregory said: “The deeds of those who have been placed in positions of power through the sword of words must not be borne, even when they are rightly judged as being worthy of punishment. If a tongue is mistaken, whether against them or in lesser matters, it is necessary for a heart to be ‘burnt’ by inflicting punishment on it, up to the point at which he punishes himself. And when those in high power err, let them be afraid of His judgement against them, by which they placed themselves in command. For when we in positions of power wander, we oppose the judgement of Him who offered them to us.”
V. See that I have demonstrated, with the authorities of the Holy Scriptures and with sacred examples, how much reverence must be shown, once disparaging has been removed, and that towards the prelate’s deference must be shown, not disparagement or slander. Otherwise we both go against the orders of God and do not stand in the footprints of the holy.
Against their argument that all, even laymen, should preach. And what they say about this, and what we say against them.
I. Heretics argue: everyone, everywhere, should preach, without regard for condition, age or sex. And since many who in appearance are called Christians are led into this error, having recovered some of them back by grace, and proving the remainder (to be heretics), let us see, God willing, on what line of arguments or authorities they support themselves, what may be said by Catholics to weaken these arguments which are hollow within, and lastly what Catholics draw on in their own argument.
II. First of all, they say that every person who knows how to sow the word of God amongst the people must preach. James says about this: “It is a sin for someone to know how to do good, and not to do it.” (James iv) However, if we know how to preach a sermon, and we cease doing so, have we sinned gravely? When indeed the heretics draw on the Scripture for their own argument, it provides a response: it is written in the Gospel that the Devil spoke to the Lord Jesus: “‘I know who you are, Holy Son of God.’ And Jesus threatened him, saying: ‘Be silent.’” (Mark. i) See that the Lord did not wish to preach through the mouth of the Devil, although he said that he know him; lest by chance in offering a falsehood he might deceive half-wits as to the truth, as though he had seduced a woman into degradation. So too, student, the name of Christ should not be sent out from your mouth, even if you know how: lest, in the manner of a poisoner, while you are believed to deliver, with all the guilelessness in the world, drinking cups coated with honey, you have poured in poison and mixed it in. Regarding evil men indeed it is written: “the bile of dragons is their wine, and the incurable poison of adders.” (Deut xxxii) The incurable poison of adders is the dogma of the heretics, because whoever drinks it, that is, learns about it by actively listening, without doubt is granted death.
III. Moreover, the Apostle did not say that it is good for the knowledgeable to teach, rather that it is good for them to act. (James iv) Therefore, this statement must be understood to concern him who understands what is good and does not act upon it, and who sins in this matter. It does not apply to him who knows how to teach what is good and does not do it. For not every man sins when he does not teach what he knows: he sins all the more deeply, if he teaches when he himself, however, is a liar. For David says: “God said to the sinner, ‘why do you explain my justice and declare my testament through your mouth?’” (Psal. xlix) And the Apostle says this: “Do you, who teach others, not also teach yourself? Do you, who are glorified in the Law, dishonour God through the false enactment of that Law?” (Rom ii.)
IV. Also, they draw on this for applause for their error: “He who hears this must say, ‘come!’” (Rev. xxii) To this the blessed Gregory said: “The more he received in his heart the voice of celestial love, the more let him return the voice of exhortation out of doors to his neighbours.” Gregory also said “In how much you avail of divine largess, give ladles of good words to your neighbours.”
V. To this we respond: that if these things are diligently scrutinised by them, the passages are of no use to them in their erroneous observations. When he said: “he who hears this must say, ‘come!’” it should be understood from this that the man who does not hear the voice of fraternal love inwardly in his heart, or who does not hear the voice of God through the ears of his body, or through his heart (although that is a part of the body); or yet someone not filed with this service, should not say “come.” For who, when he does not submit to the word of God, and does not fulfil it with his works, is able to attract another to that obedience through his guise? Or, how does he construct the obedience in another, which he demolishes in himself? Therefore those who do not heed the word of God exist in disobedience all the more deep, just as was demonstrated above, and ought not teach others. Whence the blessed Gregory gave this homily: “As much as you may think you have advanced, even so draw others with you, and desire to have companions on the way of God.” And it is clear from these words that the blessed Gregory advises people to exhort their neighbours; those who have advanced and were on the path of God; and he advises them that they should draw others along with however much they have advanced. But heretics do not advance, but rather they fall back, and they are not on the path of God; rather, as it is written: “He makes them wander in the wilderness, not on the path.” (Psal. cvi) Therefore they ought not to encourage others. For their works, if faith is wanting, are of this kind, even if they are of great power and a short cut along the road.
VI. Also they draw upon for their argument what is said in the Gospel of Mark: John answers the Lord, saying: “‘Teacher, we have seen someone casting out devils in your name, a person who does not follow us, and we forbade him do it.’ Jesus said, however, ‘Do not forbid him. For there is no one who does a virtuous deed in my name and can easily speak evil about me, for who is not against you is with you.” (Mark ix)
VII. They say: See that they say that he does not follow the apostles; and however, because he cast out devils in the name of Christ, the Lord ordered them that they not prohibit it. Therefore, if we preach the name of Christ, although we do not follow bishops or other priests, they ought not to stop us.
VIII. But we respond to this that the passage does not aid them, but rather it harms them. For the man both did good things, because he cast out demons, and he did them in the name of Christ, just as if he had faith, and he did not speak evilly. Regarding this matter, although a man might not follow the apostles in body, he must not be prohibited from doing good deeds, because by living spiritually, according to the faith, and doing (good) works, he follows the apostles and does not introduce contrary dogma. But these men are both unbelievers and without obedience, “which possesses merit in faith alone.” Since, following the Apostle, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” (Hebr. xi) And works actually take them further away from the road of faith; and through them they do not approach God, but withdraw from him, and become tellers of lies, and cultivators of contrary dogmas. Therefore those who act against the priests of Christ should be prevented from doing so. On these topics learned Catholics have also written, saying that the communal sacrament, which exists with us, does not exist in heretics and bad Catholics, but we ought to detest this and put a stop to the division and the notion opposing peace and truth, by which they oppose us and do not, with us, follow the Lord.
IX. Also, they say that the Apostle supports them when he says: “Some preach Christ on account of their jealousy and quarrelsomeness, but some on account of their goodwill.” (Phil. i) For some envy the glory of the Apostle and aim to gain it, trying to bring peace to themselves by the praise-worthy action of preaching. Others preach Christ because they wish all men to come to the recognition of the truth. A little later, the Apostle says: “What does it matter? Provided that Christ is announced in every possible way, whether through truth or through opportunism. I rejoice because of this, and I shall continue to rejoice.” (ibid.) See that they say, “the Apostle rejoices,” in whatever way Christ “is preached, whether by jealous men or by good, with good intentions or with distorted ones.” Therefore, why do the bishops not likewise rejoice when Christ is preached by us but actually contradict us? To this I say that it is a great concern by whom Christ is preached: by Catholics or by non-Catholics. That Christ is preached sometimes by good Catholics, sometimes by bad (that is, those jealous or having hate for their brothers), is the same as the sheep of Christ being looked after now by shepherds, now by mercenaries. Regarding this it is said: “On the chair of Moses sat the scribes and the Pharisees; do what they say to you, and do not do what they do.” (Matth. xxiii) Regarding good men, however, the Apostle says: “Remember your former leaders, who spoke to you the word of God. And imitate their faith, taking note of their manner of living and their death.” (Hebr. xiii) Regarding non-Catholics, that is, heretics, it is said: “Take notice of the false prophets who come to you in the clothes of sheep. Within, however, they are ravenous wolves.” (Matth. vii) And as if someone had asked in what way true prophets may be differentiated from false ones, the Lord advised: “You will recognise them by their fruits.” (ibid.) Because they suppress the faithful, they blaspheme against God in their deeds, if not in their words. Most easily, however, they may be discerned through their lack of patience in times of adversity. They are identical to good men in fasting, speech and things of that kind. Therefore they may be discovered not in their leaves (that is, in their speeches), but in their product. Whence the Apostle: “I shall come quickly to you, if the Lord wishes it, and I shall become acquainted with not just the speech of those who are proud, but their power. For the kingdom of God lies not in words but in power.” (I Cor. iv) As if he were saying “I shall not become acquainted with their foliage, but their fruit.”
X. Moreover, Christ is the truth, just as he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John xiv) Therefore he who makes up and spreads contradictory dogma does not preach Christ. Therefore the Apostle spoke about those bad Catholics (that is, the mercenaries) who speak nonetheless about Christ (that is, the truth). These men however fabricate their own lies and on that account attention must be paid to them, along with the orders of the Lord, that is, that one must be diligently beware of them. And so we do not rejoice in their preaching, because they do not preach Christ, but falsehood, and because they are not guardians, nor hirelings, but wolves, since shepherds must be heard and imitated, as just now we proved using the Apostle’s evidence. Hirelings must be heard, so that the matters which they teach through the Word might happen, but they are not to be imitated in their labour, just as the Lord said. Wolves must be attended to and shunned. Whence the Apostle: “I ask, brothers, that you take notice of those who make dissension and obstacles to the doctrine which you teach, and I ask that you turn away from them; for in this way they do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own stomachs; and through sweet speeches and benedictions they seduce the hearts of the innocent.” (Rom. xvi) See that people of such a kind should be avoided. And why? Because they make dissension, removing those who trust them from the sentiment of the faithful, and even making offence against their neighbour, since it is written: “Live without offence to the Jews and the Gentiles and the Church of God.” (I Cor. x) In this, indeed, take care that you “please everyone by doing everything” which is permitted to be done or forbidden to be done (that is, that you do or do not do). On that account he joins opposition to and stumbling blocks for them together, because whoever believes anything else goes against how many other believers, “dashing against the stone of offence and the rock of scandal.” Whence the Apostle called them “sinning against their brothers and wounding their weak conscience.” An example of this is seen in them: “you sin against Christ,” whose limbs they are. (I Cor. viii) The Apostle therefore orders that dissension be avoided, when he says: “I beseech you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you say the same things and there are not factions amongst you. But rather be smoothed in the same feeling” (that is, wishing the same thing) “and knowledge” (that is, belief). (Cor i) On the other hand, he ordered them to beware of offence, when he said: “Resolve all the more that you will never place a stumbling block for your brother, or make a cause of offence.” (Rom xiv)
XI. Therefore the heretics who make dissension and stumbling blocks act contrary to the doctrine of the Apostle, and are therefore to be shunned.
XII. On the other hand, they use as evidence for their own position what Moses said to Joshua. For when Joshua wished to stand in the way of two men who had remained in the camp and were prophets; Moses said to him, “Do you rival my interests? Would that someone would allot to all these people the power of prophecy; and would that the Lord give to them his Spirit.” (Num xi) See that the heretics say, “Moses did not envy the prophets, on the contrary he desires that the whole population are prophets. The order of clerics resists us, however, and envies the prophets, that is, the exponents of the mysteries of the word of God.” Prophecy is the foreknowledge of future events, the revelation of things hidden away, or the exposition of dark mysteries. There are therefore clerics similar not to Moses, but to Joshua, both because they do not follow in the footsteps of the holy, but of the jealous, and they sin and must not be heeded when they speak against us.
XIII. To this we say that just like Moses, we wish that the whole population would prophesy and that the Lord would give to them his Spirit, and also the truth, of which we cannot speak enough, and that the mouths of all should sound. “But everyone has a peculiar gift from God [that is, a gift peculiar to himself], one this, another that. He gave the gift of apostleship to some, others he made prophets, others evangelists, others shepherds and learned men.” (I Cor. vii) This is similar to what the Apostle said: “I wish all men to be as I myself” (ibid.), as containers, but “each has a peculiar gift from God.” The mark of God however is not dissension, but peace, just as the Apostle teaches in every holy Church. Therefore prophecy is not given to all. And I say that prophecy is not given to them, for prophecy is the gift of God; they, however, make dissension and stumbling blocks, as was said above. Therefore God is not with them, since he lives in the peaceful and the concordial. Whence the Apostle: “Have peace, and the God of peace and love will be with you.” (II Cor. xiii) And elsewhere: “Supporting each other in love, be anxious to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.” (Ephes. iv) These men however neither have nor love Catholic peace, but rather they make dissension and discord amongst the Christian people. And therefore because some follow them, some others are irresolute as to whether they ought to follow them or true Catholic men. Therefore there is not in them the unity of the Spirit, which is preserved in the restraints of peace.
XIV. Therefore I am not jealous of their prophesying, because they are not prophets, except perhaps false ones, regarding whom the Lord said: “Be on your guard against false prophets” (Matth. vii) and so on. Jeremiah too spoke to the Israelites regarding this: “Your prophets saw for you false things; they did not show you your sin, with the purpose of encouraging your repentance.” (Lam. ii) Of such a kind are they who are seers for the Christian people, and they assert falsehoods. Since it is written: “Shout, do not cease to tell my people of their sins, and the sins of them of the house of Jacob.” (Isa. lviii) The heretics, on the contrary, do not announce to the faithful the sins which they have committed, and they do not urge them to repent. Therefore rightly are they cast away, as if false prophets. The Lord said also: “False Messiahs and false prophets will rise, and they will give many prodigious signs so that they might lead even the chosen people into error, if it is possible.” (Matth. xxiv) Even in later times false Messiahs will gives signs and therefore deceive many people. It is no wonder then, when those who give no signs deceive the trust of many and through sweet speeches seduce the hearts of the innocent.
XV. To this they say: many laymen spread the word of God amongst the believing population, such as the blessed Honoratus and the blessed Equitius, whom the blessed Gregory records in his book of dialogues, and in this time the holy Raymond, known as Paul, to whose attestation of sainthood many miracles occurred. Finally, the first apostles were both monoglots (idiotae) and illiterate. (Acts iv) And all these men, although laymen, preach or preached the word of God. And therefore we are imitators of their acts, and should not be repelled, but rather heard.
XVI. To this, however, I shall respond that true apostles were illiterate before their calling, but “the Lord appeared to them in their minds, so that they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luc xxiv) He poured into them the Holy Spirit, and he himself sent them to preach the kingdom of God. Moreover, they did not preach untruths, but the Catholic faith and the will of the Lord. And because of this they worked new and unusual miracles, through the grace of God, “with God willing, by confirming their speech, by accompanying signs.” (Mark. xvi) But these men do not understand the sacred writings, just as the Apostle says: “some have lost the way, and keep company with lies; they wish to be learned in the laws, but they understand neither what they say nor the arguments which they assert.” (I Tim. i) They do not understand because they lack faith, without which no one is able to have the gift of intelligence, just as is written: “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” (Isa. vii) Also, they do not understand because they do not act. If they were to do what is written, they would understand well, just as is written: “The good man comes to understanding in doing everything.” (Psal. cx) The same happens when the vine is taken from the farmers who are not producing fruit, and given to others who produce fruit in their own time. And a talent was taken from a fat servant who did not wish to carry out trade. Thus the Lord said to the Jews: “May the kingdom of God be taken from you” (that is, understanding of the Holy Scriptures) “and it will be given to the tribe who produce fruits.” (Matth. xxi) They truly do not have the Holy Spirit because they go away from the Holy Church, outside of which it (i.e., the Holy Spirit) is given to no one. Whence is what the Lord said to the disciples: “Rule in the town until you may be clothed in the power from above.” (Luke xxiv) The Church indeed is the city of a great king, in which leaders are clothed in the power of the Highest. Whence the impassioned Spirit: “He fills the whole house where they are seated.” (Acts ii) That is, (he fills) the Holy Church where the humble receive the Holy Spirit. For it is written: “On whom does my spirit rest, except upon the humble, and the quiet and he who trembles at my words?” (Isa. lxvi) They are truly not humble as long as they place themselves before the guardians of the Church. On the contrary, humble David, who placed the proud king before himself when he said: “Whom do you persecute, King of Israel, who is it? A dead dog and a single flea.” (I Kings. xxvi) It should be noted how humble he regards himself when he names himself a dead dog and a single flea. And what of Saul, although reproved by God, whom he (David) called the King of Israel? To this let both heretics and other arrogant Christians take note of how greatly they ought to defer to the powers of the Church, or of secular authorities, whose merit in the eyes of God they ignore, if the holy David held respect for the proud king, whom he knew to have been reproved by God, and to have elected himself to the governorship of the kingdom.
XVII. Moreover, they walk restlessly, “doing nothing,” as the Apostle says regarding those similar to them, and “not minding their own business.” And also regarding others, whom the Apostle orders to “worship in silence, eating their own bread.” (II Thess. iii) (That is, of their own labour, not of another.) Since they are arrogant, and restless, there does not repose within them the Holy Spirit, who inhabits the humble and the quiet.
XVIII. Their arguments regarding holy laymen, that they have preached the Word of God, would in no way be put forward, if they would take note of the words of the blessed Gregory. For he says regarding the blessed Honoratus that he glittered with miracles even from above through the virtue of abstinence, through humbleness and through his other virtues. He also transfixed the mound of a huge rock, which was coming from the sky and about to destroy his brothers, with an invocation in the name of Christ and the sign of the cross, through the extension of his right hand in opposition. Gregory testifies that he had not heard that Honoratus had the teaching of another. Heretics cling to him, saying that they receive the likeness of him after the disciples, although they have no teachers. But let them take note of the argument the blessed Gregory applies. For he says: “The application of the correct manner of life is for him not to dare to be leader who has not learned to be subordinate.” The same man said: “This liberty must not be dragged down into imitation, lest someone presume himself to be likewise filled with the Holy Spirit; that is, presumes to be untaught by a human instructor, since he despises to be the student of a man, and he then becomes a teacher of error.” and so on. And also: “This should revered by the weak, but not imitated.”
XIX. The blessed Equitius was also inspired by an angel, and was sent. By night the imposing youth stood near him in a vision, and placed on his tongue a lancet, saying: “See that I have placed my words in your mouth: go and spread them.” That same Spirit shone with chastity, clear-speech, zeal of intention, doctrine, humbleness, prophecy and power in driving unclean spirits away. It is therefore no wonder if they are educated and sent from God, and if so many, being strong in virtues, preach, even if they are not members of a holy order. Indeed, let the heretics learn from the example of this man that they ought without delay to be obedient to both the pontifex maximus and the bishops. For called by the Roman Pope through the protector Vitalianus, Equitius continuously gave praise to God; and ordered at once that some mares be prepared within the hour; and he began to urge Vitalianus most vehemently that they ought to depart that same hour. But because Vitalianus was tired from his journey at his command they remained that night. The next day the pontifex maximus decreed through another announcement that Equitius, the servant of God, should not move from his monastery. Having heard this, the servant of God, made however gloomy because they had not made haste, remained. See that this holy man was obedient to the Roman Pope, both in leaving and in remaining.
XX. Also, the bishop Cadorius ordered this same servant of God that he should in his congregation take a man by the name of Basil, who was foremost in magic arts and, fleeing from Rome, was seeking Valeria, in the habit of a monk. Therefore having been asked, the blessed Equitius responded to the bishop: “This man, whom you, father, commend to me, I shall not view as a monk, but as the devil.” And the bishop said: “You seek a reason so that you might not have to execute that deed for which you are a candidate.” To whom the blessed Equitius said: “I shall proclaim that he is the one when I see him; but do not imagine that I do not wish to obey you. I shall do what you order.” He was therefore taken into the monastery. After only a few days, when the servant of God was absent, this same Basil deceived with his magic arts one of the chaste virgins, over whom Equitius was guardian. This virgin came down with a fever and said that she would die immediately unless Basil (the monk) would come and cure her. The servant of God (Equitius) was sent for and the matter was told to him, and he completely cured the virgin. He saw to it that Basil was thrown out of the congregation once it had been recognised that he was an evildoer. See that the man was obedient to the bishop in his acceptance of Basil, although he recognised through the spirit of prophecy that the man was evil. By these examples the heretics teach that one should obey both the Roman pontiff and the other bishops.
XXI. Indeed, it is true what they allege about the blessed Raymond Paul, that he preached when he was a layman, and the Church received him. But the man of Catholic manner of living preached honestly with the permission of the bishops, leading no one into error, but orthodox in all matters, obedient to the guardians of the Church, burning with total effort to collect souls for God, a most keen opponent of the heretics on behalf of knowledge and possibility; on that most rapid river, which is called Difficulty, constructing a bridge from the alms of the faithful and a ford from every tribute, returning, so to speak, a free path to wanderers and all travellers. He did pious work in a place that is called the Boni Pas, with others in need, according to the appropriateness of the time. Therefore let the heretics desist from drawing on this Catholic man for the defence of their own error, a man from whose footsteps they are recognised to have deviated much.
XXII. I have said these things to confute the arguments of the heretics, by showing the certain authority of the sacred Scriptures. By the evidence of the Apostle Paul they distort the way in which they should be understood, to their own ruin. Now it is my intention to publish, with the Holy Spirit willing, both the evidence and the reasons by which it is clearly evident that they ought not to preach the word of God, and that they should be heard by the faithful.
That it is not permitted tothem to provide the word of God to the faithful
I. Regarding laymen, there is the question of whether they are able to spread the word of God amongst the people, and on this point we must distinguish Catholics from non-Catholics. There is no doubt if they are Catholics and the honesty of their lives commend them; if their speech is grounded in the salt of wisdom; and they know to vary the degree of difficulty of their speech according to the capacity of each individual listener, and they prefer a certain path of study or to be obedient to a Catholic of true faith, according to the level of their achievement in knowledge or in work, either to the will of the bishops or the elders in whose area they might be; and they are able, I think, to encourage those around them. And if, moreover, they were not married, neither would the weight of earthly trouble oppress them. Indeed, if their life were reprehensible, it would not be necessary to listen to them. For the Lord said this: “Do what they say.” It has not been said except about those who sit above the seat of Moses, that is, about the teachers and those learned in divine law, whom God made superior to his people. “God said to the sinner, however: ‘Why do you explain my justices and assume my testament through your mouth?’” (Psal. xlix) Yet David also spoke thus: “You will not build a house for me because you are a man of blood.” (II Reg xvi) A man of blood is not permitted to build a temple of God because he may dwell in carnal deeds and it is necessary that he shame the minds of his neighbours into building spiritually.
II. According to the Apostle, “May your speech also be grounded in grace and in the salt of wisdom so that you may know how you ought to respond to someone.” (Col. iv) Indeed, one responds to a mono-glot in one way, a learned man in another, in different ways to different persons. But how could a layman be able to distinguish these modes, when clerics hardly have this knowledge? And indeed food is not palatable unless seasoned with salt; neither is speech useful without evidence of wisdom. Whence in Leviticus: “Give salt in all offerings.” (Lev ii) That is, may you have apostolic wisdom in every speech and deed. If, therefore, a man does not have apostolic wisdom in word and deed, his speech is not useful, and he must on that account be shunned. For the Apostle said to Timothy: “Avoid profanities” (that is, heresies) “and foolish discussions.” (II Tim ii) That is to say, those things which are without fruit, even if they are not so much evil as profane. “For they progress towards much impiety,” that is, against the worship of God, “and their speech crawls along like a crab,” little by little, corrupting those things which are healthy.
III. To this, a teacher ought to take note of the capacity of his audience, so that he hands out the correct measure of wheat (that is, of divine words), “just as God set out the bounds for each faithful man.” (II Cor x) Whence the Apostle orders prophesy, that is, the revelation of spiritual matters, to be supplied by those by whom mystical things ought to be supplied, according to the capacity for (that is, the measurement of) the faith of them; lest there be the situation where the discussion of rudimentary matters are suffocated by concerns of higher things, or conversely, where the discussion of more advanced points is frustrated by the necessity of discussing more simple arguments. Otherwise, it would happen that if the listener is offended by the teacher’s words, then with God the guilty man will be held a learned man. Whence it is written in law: “If anyone uncovers a pit, or digs one and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit is to give as compensation the price of the animals.” (Exod. xxi) To uncover a pit is to lift intellectually the lid on arcane matters of the Holy Scripture. He who has begun this touches on the sublime senses of the Scripture, but they are understood through silent contemplation, not publicly. But whoever does not touch upon the brute hearts of his listeners, must answer as a defendant to the charge, if through his words a mind, whether clean or blemished, is caught in scandal.
IV. Moreover, if men superintend a certain area, or are obedient, they become well known; and because they are obedient to the Holy Church, it is clearly revealed, since almost all are located in some diocese, and since almost every diocese has its individual boundaries. Not only this, but in certain diocese the established Churches are distinguished in different ways by their own boundaries, as far as a bishop does not have episcopal jurisdiction except in his own diocese. And neither does a priest have power in a different parish, since it is written: let no one send a scythe into another man’s harvest; that is, let no one presume to be the judge of believing men committed to another. And the Apostle says: “Who are you who judges another man’s servant? He stands or falls at the will of his own master.” (Rom. xiv) If therefore it is not possible for a bishop or a priest to exercise his power in the normal course of events when outside his diocese or parish, how much less can an ignorant man and a layman be able to send his scythe into another’s crop, that is, into those people committed to another, without the licence of a bishop or priest, to whose concern the matter is relevant? And indeed they do not labour in the vineyard, as the Evangelist testifies, except drawn from the same family. And in another place it is written how the head of a household hired out his vineyard to farmers, who would return to him the fruits in their own time. Indeed, however, they did not return the fruits to their lord, but rather they killed his servants (they threw stones at one and killed another) and in the end they also killed the master’s son. Not one of them, however, dared to transfer the ownership of the vineyard to himself, as long as the master tolerated their idleness and wrong-doings. Since they were committed to a community, although idle, although evil, as long as they were tolerated by the Church, without the permission and the licence of him to whom the vineyard was trusted, not one of them presumed to work, that is, to get rid of the dead vines and to plant new ones, to use the hoe of the Word, to think the vineyard to be superfluous and to cultivate the necessary.
V. Finally, who is so foolish that he attends to the feeding of another’s sheep without consulting his master? For by the fact itself it is suspicious, that he takes this on himself, especially if he is low-born. And it is he, who “does not enter through the door, but climbs up through another way, and is a thief and a bandit. But a thief does not come except so that he may thieve, kill and cause destruction.” (John x) And indeed, as the learned say, one enters through the door by trusting in the Son of God, and by imitating his humility, and by preaching for his love, not for reward from others. Besides, if he is an unbeliever, or arrogant or seeks his own things, not those of Jesus Christ (Phil. ii), he is a thief, who says that what is another’s is his own; and a bandit is one who kills to get another’s property.
VI. From all these things it may be seen that it is permitted to neither cleric nor layman whose dwelling-place is unknown (nay rather even if it is known where he may dwell), to cultivate a vineyard (that is, a people) and to feed the flock of another, without the permission of a bishop of elder, whose concern it is. And if by chance anyone presumes to do this, this objection may be made: “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Acts vii) It may be read in the testament of the Evangelist that the same man said this to Jesus regarding a crowd: “‘Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘which man appointed me judge over you, or a distributor of property?’” (Luke xii) And, if it is resolved that in secular matters a judge must be chosen, so that a man does not suddenly nominate himself, how much more important is it in divine matters? Also in the account of the Apostle: “Neither should anyone take up the honour for himself except he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.” (Hebr. v) And yet, wishing to show his faith in the invocation of God from hearing God’s Word, and wishing to spread his preaching from the fount of divine grace, he said: “How will they pray to Him, in whom they do not believe; or how will they believe in Him, about whom they have not heard; but how will they hear without there being preachers; and how will men preach without being sent out to do so?” (Rom. x) From this connexion it is demonstrated that others do not invoke God if they do not believe in him; neither do they believe if they have not heard; neither do they hear unless others preach to them; neither ought those others preach unless they have been sent. First therefore is to be sent from God, from whom all good things proceed; and so he who has been sent ought to obey and to preach. So too without doubt Moses was sent from God for the children of Israel and after many pleas that he not be sent, with God persisting in his wish, he obeyed. So too Isaiah, so too other blessed prophets did not teach the people of God except having been sent.
VII. Also, in the New Testament, other apostles and disciples was sent by God to preach His word. Whence they are called Apostles, that is, ones who were sent. The apostles Paul and Barnabas were also sent by the Holy Spirit, but when the disciples were fasting. They prayed for them and laid their hands upon them, and apportioned them tasks, which they took up. They did not, however, receive the task of preaching, by which all the way things had been done, both by God and by the disciples. Then the apostles appointed elders in individual churches. The blessed Paul also ordered Titus that he appoint elders for each city, that is, bishops.
VIII. From this it is clear that some men are sent by God alone; some by God and man; some neither by God, nor by man. Moses, John the Baptist, and the above-mentioned blessed Equitius are examples of men sent by God alone. Indeed in the words of the blessed Gregory: “The freedom of their life from baser matter must not be dragged into imitation; lest someone presume himself to be likewise filled by the Holy Spirit, and he might despise to be a disciple of men, and become a teacher of error.” There are those who are sent by God and man, just as the apostles were by Christ, indeed a God and a man, and others from by apostles or the bishops of their area. This is what the Apostle said to the bishops, whom he himself had appointed: “Take care of yourselves and the entire flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you to rule as bishops the Church of God, which he made through his own blood.” (Acts xx) See, just as Acts confirms, that he appointed them himself, but he says that they are sent by the Holy Spirit. There are others who are not sent by God; but they come of their own accord, with their own extreme presumption, and so that they might lead others astray less blatantly, they lie that they have been sent from God; as people who are in fact able to make and interpret a prophecy. “Woe to those who prophesy from their own hearts; who act at the behest of their own wills; who say, ‘the Lord says’, and the Lord did not send them.” (Ezech. xiii) Regarding whom the Saviour says in the gospel of John: “All those who came before me are thieves and brigands.” (John x) Those who came had not been sent. For he said: “They came, but I did not send for them.” In coming there is a presumption of arrogance. In being sent, there is the compliance of serving. Therefore he says ‘woe’, that is, eternal damnation, to those who say that they are sent and are not, as if to liars, thieves and brigands and presumptuous men. Indeed there are very clear signs to identify those who are sent by God: they have virtues: charity, peace, patience, continence, goodwill, humility, and obedience as an inseparable companion. To this the blessed James said: “That wisdom which comes from on high is first of all pure, then peaceful, modest, well-advising, harmonious with good deeds, full of compassion and good products; it is not judgemental and is without hypocrisy.” (James iii) See how evident are the signs of a wisdom given by God!
IX. Those who are sent by God and man have clear evidence that they were sent. Those who come of their own accord were not sent; neither do they have the evidence of the man who sent them, nor of God, if they lack charity, humility and obedience, and these things, which, according to Bede, are the inseparable companions of humbleness.
X. And from all these things it is more certain that those who are not part of the sacred order must not readily be heard by the common people of God, unless they have visible evidence that they were sent from God. And if they will not be obedient to the guardians of the Holy Church, it is clear that they were not sent, but came of their own accord. For “because all power comes from God and those things which are from God are ordained, those who resist the power work against the arrangement of God; and those who resist the ordination of God, acquire damnation for themselves.” (Rom xiii)
XI. Moreover, those who have wives or are oppressed by a weight of earthly care are not suited to spreading the word of God. For by the evidence of the Apostle: “He who has a wife has a concern for worldly maters - how he may please his wife - and is therefore divided.” (I Cor. vii) Indeed, a preacher of the word of God ought to have a heart free of all earthly care, so that as much as he, being perspicacious, may see those things which escape others, so much may he himself incline more truly to knowledge and life. For the eye does not properly observe a defect in something when it is full of dust itself. For this indeed the Lord said to the first learned man of the Holy Church: “Do not carry a sack, nor a wallet.” (Luc. x) But what could he have signified through the wallet, except the burdens of the secular? And the first pastor of the Church said: “It is not right for us, in order to look after the money tables, to leave behind the word of God. Let us chose for this work, men of good testament, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and we will urge them to preaching and the ministering of the Word.” (Acts vi)
XII. Therefore once all the arguments given above, regarding those learned in divine speech, are considered, one may see that it is dreadful to commit the weight of the Word to a layman, especially since, indeed, it was committed to the priests to teach all matters of the laws, which God enjoined to the children of Israel through the hand of Moses, as Malachia says: “The lips of a priest are the guardians of knowledge, and the law should be sought from his mouth; because he is the angel of the Lord of Hosts.” (Mal ii) These conditions apply if the layman is a Catholic; with the result that without the permission of a bishop or elder he might not send his scythe of words into his field, that is, the people, and neither may he give a measure of wheat to a family, over whom the Lord has not appointed him as protector, nor should he feed the flock of another if he comes across them, nor should he work in another’s vineyard if he has not been called.
I respond to the argument where they use the Apolstle’s words: “One must obey God, not men,” and regarding certain other matters
I. Without doubt a man (either cleric or lay) who has lapsed into heresy must not be heard by the faithful, but must be shunned. A heretic is one who either follows an ancient or older heresy or creates a new one. Of this kind are those who say that one does not have to obey the bishops, priests or, which is horrible to mention! the Holy Roman Church. By this it is agreed that men of such a kind are heretics or unbelievers. It was said above: “For obedience is the only thing which provides the badge of faith.” Without this a man is demonstrated to be guilty of being an unbeliever, even if he appears to be faithful.
II. But, they say, we are obedient to God, not to men, following Peter who said: “One must obey God before obeying men.” (Acts v) The Lord indeed enjoined the disciples, saying: “Go into the whole world, preach the Gospel to all creatures.” (Mark xvi) The leaders of the priests and the high priests of the temple prohibited even the elders from teaching or preaching in the name of Jesus. When the leaders of the Jews forbade teaching, Peter argued, saying that Christ had ordered that they teach all creatures: “One must be obedient to God sooner than to men.”
III. But the above mentioned heretics cannot defend their own error with this passage of Scripture. For God did order them to teach. For those, whom the Lord sends (as has been said previously), show clearly visible signs of humility, charity, other virtues and miracles, and whose indivisible companion is obedience: “With the Lord willing, and confirming the truth of their words with subsequent evidence.” (Marc. xvi) These men do not have such signs. Therefore they are not sent from God and they ought not to speak. Whence, when the blessed Job called his friends, who were heretics, “fabricators of lies and worshippers of a perverse dogma.” He declared: “would that you were silent, so that you might be thought wise!” (Job xiii) Also: “What does God need of your lying, that you speak deceits for him?” (ibid.) And further: “Will your windy words have an end?” (Job xvi) And in turn: “sharp looks to me speak a testament against me and false speech is roused against my face, contradicting me.” (ibid.) And again “my wordy friends” (ibid.) and also “Take note of me, and be silent, and place your finger over your lips.” (Job xxi) and “your reply has been shown to fight against the truth.” (ibid.) The Lord also said to Eliphaz: “My fury is aroused against you and against your two friends, because you did not speak the truth before me, as did my servant Job.” (Job xlii) In the opinion of the blessed Gregory, Job is the image of the Holy Church and his friends the figures of heretics, who are said to be friends because in some observances they are a part of the Holy Church; but by their errors, which they make either themselves or by following others, they are said to be weavers of lies. And because they work to defend their actions, they are said to be the worshippers of a perverse dogma. And since their malice lies concealed, they, who speak a testimony against the Holy Church, are called sharp looks, provided that they fight against it even once, not by rational arguments but by false and useless speeches; and thereby are they called false speakers and wordy, and their words windy. And therefore it is advantageous for them to be silent. Whence, Job wished both that they be silent and that they place their finger over their lips and attend to the guardians of the Holy Church when they are speaking, satisfying what is said in James (V. Chapt. i) “May every man be quick to listen and slow to speak.”
IV. They provoke the wrath of God against themselves because they teach a way other than that of the Holy Church. Therefore God answers neither their sacrifices nor their prayers. However, if the Holy Church were to make offerings or to pray for those who were repentant, on their behalf, he would answer them. Whence the Lord said to the friends of Job: “‘Take seven bulls for yourselves, and seven rams, and go to my servant Job; and let him offer the burnt offering on your behalf; for Job is my servant; he will pray for you; I shall answer him, so that you might not reckon it a foolish act. For you have not spoken the truth before me, as my servant Job did.’ And they did just as the Lord had spoken to them; and the Lord answered the figure of Job, and he yielded to the penitence of Job, when he prayed on behalf of his friends.” (Job xlii)
V. Therefore let heretics cease to be verbose, and let them, penitent, return to the holy Church, leaving behind their arrogant principles, as if through the sacrifice of bulls and rams. The Church, with sacrifices and prayers, intercedes on behalf of those who stray; since the sacrifice or prayer of no one outside the Church will be taken up.
VI. The Apostle was therefore sent by God and the honesty of his life, the extraordinary nature of his miracles and the orthodoxy of his doctrine are attested. Therefore the Apostles ought not to have obeyed the Jewish unbelievers, the crucifiers of the Lord, and the persecutors of the disciples, those members of other faiths, believing indeed that the name of the Lord might be snuffed out, as if blaspheming against God; and God was willing, and confirmed his speech with accompanying signs, and even sent them. But those who are not wholly obedient to the will of God, and moreover obey unbelievers, that is, exponents of heresy; those indeed were sent neither by God nor man. It is agreed that they do not obey God because they are not obedient to those whom the Lord ordered to be obeyed; those who sit on the throne of Moses, that is, the bishops and the priests, those who hold the place of Moses. While they rule over the people of God, they rule and teach the will of God, and correct the wicked. Thence it is written: “On the throne of Moses sit the scribes and the Pharisees: obey and do therefore all that they ask of you.” (Matth. xxiii) Moreover the Apostle says: “Obey those who rule over you, and be subordinate to them.” (Hebr. xiii) And Peter: “Young men, be obedient to your elders.” (I Petr. v) Indeed he called the elders the shepherds of the flock, regarding whom he said previously: “Feed the flock of God that is yours.” (Ibid.)
VII. From this it is most clearly apparent that the aforementioned heretics are obedient neither to God nor to the Apostles. Indeed, they devote themselves to a reprehensible notion; they obey perfidious men, purveyors of heresy, with Catholic priests being held in contempt. Others, as if sheep without a shepherd, apply themselves to obedience to none. These men the law of God calls “the sons of Belial” (III Kings xxi), that is, “out of the yoke.” In truth, the Lord, about to ascend to the heavens, did not leave the sheep for whom he cared without pasture; but he entrusted them to the care of the blessed Peter, saying: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these other men? Look after my sheep.” (John xxi) By which example, the apostle and the apostolic man, God’s shepherds, were instructed and took care to command the faithful through time. For a flock without pasture dies, and an army without a leader, as a city without a governor, and a far flung region without an overseer, just as is written: “where there is no governor, the people go to ruin.” (Prov. Xi)
VIII. From this and other similar examples let the enemies of truth take note how foolish are the actions of those who presume to live without either God or man as guide. Therefore, in the words of the blessed Peter, they strive to show that they obey God, not men, as if they cut Goliath’s throat with their own swords, while they are actually proven to obey neither God nor Catholic men. On that account they must be shunned, as if unbelievers or condemned, and neither greeted nor received into the community; rather they must be put to flight and removed from everyday society. The Apostle says: “Do not take to the yoke with unbelievers: for what is the partnership of justice with iniquity? Or, what common bond does light have with darkness? What agreement is there between Christ and Belial? Or what part does belief have with unbelief? What consensus is there between the temple of God and idols?” (II Cor. vi) Also the Apostle: “Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel which is different from what we have (already) preached to you, may he be condemned. Just as we have said before, even now I say again: ‘if anyone shall preach to you something which is different from what you have accepted, let him be condemned.” (Gal i) And also: “After a heretic has been punished the first time and the second, avoid him, knowing that he is subversive, and of what kind he is.” That is, that he is ruined even he who is so incorruptible, “and that he sins, having been condemned by the appropriate judge.” (Tit. Iii)
IX. Others are thrown out of the Church by its own decision, on account of their crimes; but heretics leave it of their own accord. The Apostle orders the Thessalonians: “Do not be associated with him who is not obedient to the word” of that same Apostle. (II Thess. iii) Also the blessed John: “God does not have anyone who leaves [the Church] and who does not remain with the doctrine of Christ.” (II John ix) And a little later: “If anyone comes to you and does not follow this doctrine, do not receive him into the house; do not even greet him. For he who greets him communicates with evil works.” (II. John x) Also the blessed Paul: “I exhort you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who does not lead a regular life, or does not live according to the tradition which he received from me.” (II Thess. iii) And also: “Shun profanities and idle speech, for they lead to much impiety,” and so on. (II Tim. ii) Again: “Do not be led astray by different and foreign doctrines.” (Hebr. xiii) and also: “Remove the evil man from amongst you.” (I Cor. v) This is brought about when an evil man is removed from the communion of the Church through a disciplinary action of the Church. And also: “You were going so well. Who stopped you from obeying the truth? You plotted with no man. The persuasion was not from him who called you (that is, God) but from the devil. A small amount of yeast makes the whole dough rise.” (Gal. v) Also: “Do not communicate with the unfruitful instruments of darkness, but confound them all the more.” (Ephes. v) Further: “Let none deceive you with loftiness of speech.” (Col ii) And indeed, loftiness of this type does not exist except in words. Compare also John: “Do not believe every spirit, but examine the spirit to see if it comes from God.” (I John iv) And the blessed Peter: “Our most charitable brother Paul, following the gift given to him, wrote to you, just as he writes in all his letters. In these there are some points that are difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable may explain falsely, just as they do other parts of the Scripture, to their own damnation. You brothers, therefore, since you already know this, guard yourselves closely, lest you be led astray by the errors of the foolish, and you fall from your own proper position of safety.” (II Petr. Iii)
X. We have selected these words of the sacred Scriptures, as if a reminder of salvation to be contemplated by men faithful to Christ, to be retained in memory, so that they may know firmly that there must be no participation with, nor society for, those perfidious heretics. Nor should they be listened to, but treated as if condemned, and shunned as if corrupted and clearly shameless. Neither should one associate with them, but they should be treated as disobedient, and neither should they be greeted, or received into your home, but treated as men who are against Christ, and avoided, as speakers of profane and foolish words. Indeed, they draw themselves to impiety in the manner of a crab; little by little they infect healthy limbs, that is, the faithful, and just as yeast leavens a mass of fine flour, they inflate to pride those who have something to do with them. Once the natural sweetness of Catholic unity has been lost, they return them acidic, that is, with their opinions reshaped, and they are both corrupted, just as the Apostle says, and deprived of truth, believing that piety is profit, while preaching for profit and not for the future. This is why there must be no communication with them, and they must be all the more vigilantly rebutted.
XI. Whence the Apostle also says, making use of the words of Isaiah: “The Lord says ‘go from amongst them, and separate yourselves. And do not touch anything unclean. I shall receive you and be a father to you, and you shall be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (II Cor. vi) He who is separated from evil men does not imitate their works. He who does not consent to the will of sinners does not touch evil. He shuns the man who is not sparing in the use of his mouth, but he corrects however much is permitted. This is the voice of heaven, which John heard, saying: “Come out from here, my people, and do not take part in their crimes, and do not receive a part of their punishment: since their sins reach all the way to heaven and the Lord has taken note of their iniquity.” (Apoc. xviii) They do not defile us in these two ways if we do not acquiesce: but we confute them, since they are acting out the works of darkness, and are despoilers of the sacred Scriptures; unbelievers and foolish, corrupters of minds, and metaphorical wolves who snatch from and break up the flock of the Lord, as is written: “Within there are ravenous wolves.” (Matth. vii) They have poisoned minds and the intention, if the opportunity is given, of pursuing people publicly and corrupting them inwardly, and in the custom of thorn bushes or thistles, making those bloody who come close to them, and tearing them to pieces, as is written: “Do they collect grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matth. vii)
Whom the heretics most readily lead astray, and whom they do not
I. I shall show here how much heretics harm the people of God, and let us see, the Holy Spirit willing, whom they most readily lead astray.
II. They lead astray women, those men who are not manly (but who act effeminately), the ignorant, liars, those who are not obedient to truth and who fall into iniquity, the avaricious, and finally those who do not have the sign (of virtue) on their faces, that is, those who do not have charity in their hearts. They lead the women astray first, and through them the men; just as the devil first beguiled Eve, and then through her Adam. Similarly he tried to ruin Job through his wife, when she said: “Do you still keep to your faith? Curse God and die!” (Job ii) The same thing happened to Pilate through his wife when she said to him: “Have nothing to do with that just man. For today, in a vision, I suffered many things on account of him.” (Matth xxvii) He wished to disrupt the mystery of the passion of our Lord, lest through his death Satan would lose his power. The Apostle says to Timothy regarding pseudo-christs and heretics: “They indeed have the appearance of piety, but they do not have the virtue associated with it. Shun these men. From this group there are those who will pervade houses, capture and take for wives young women who are burdened by sins and who are led by various desires.” (II Tim iii)
III. See that it is clear that they do not lead firm men astray but corruptible women, who deserve to be led astray, especially those burdened by sins. They also led astray men with feminine weakness, just as is written: “A gathering of bulls amongst the cows of the population.” (Psalm lxvii) He calls the heretics bulls, those who are proud and untamed in their faults. They are those who congregate amongst the cows of the population; that is, amongst those who may be easily led astray.
IV. They also beguile the ignorant. Whence it is written in Proverbs: (Ignorance) is like “a stupid and noisy woman, full of inducements to sinning, and knowing nothing at all” and so on. (Prov. ix) She says: “He who is slight should come in my direction.” The stupid and noisy woman is heretical perversity. She is stupid through her fatuous intellect and noisy because of her babbling. She is full of inducements to sinning, and knowing nothing at all” and so on. She says: “He who is slight should come in my direction.” A slight man is very stupid man, one deficient in common sense.
V. They also lead astray the innocent or the simple. Whence the Apostle: “Through honeyed speeches and good words they seduce the hearts of the innocent.” (Rom. xvi) They even seduce those humble at heart; whence in Proverbs: “There are those who have swords for teeth and chew away with their molars that they may consume the poor from the earth and the needy from all things.” (Prov. xxx) Heretics have swords in place of teeth; they know that their depraved teachers may consume more readily than be consumed, that they may kill rather than make live. They pick off the needy from the earth while leading those with yet less common sense than they themselves have, touching them as if dead in their own body. Similarly they try to supplant from the congregations of the faithful those needy in all things (that is, those humble of heart).
VI. They strive to lead astray those right in heart. Whence: “Look! The sinners have drawn their bows, prepared their arrows in the quiver, so that they might shoot in the shadows at those right in heart.” (Psalm x) Sinners, that is, heretics, have drawn their bows; that is, they have bent the scripture of the Old and New Testaments, understanding it according to their own mistakes; and they have prepared their arrows: this means the poisonous words in their hearts; and this, that they might shoot in the shadows at those right in heart, this is ambiguous. Either in the shadows means in a guileless sense, and shadowy since there are carnal and ignorant men. Or, it could refer to in the shadowy moon, that is, the Church, which was darkened at the beginning of the faith, or which is obscured by the clouds of the blasphemers, or, made bloody with the slaughter of martyrs. The heretics shoot their arrows in this darkness, because they know that these times are advantageous for picking off the sick. Once the sick have been led astray, still they likewise resolve to drag off those right in heart. Or, the children of the Church are said to be like a dark moon while they are sinners. Here the heretics shoot, when they prepare the sacrament through such ministers of the Church as those who deceive the sick, when they suggest they themselves attend to those things, which are the duty of those ministers.
VII. From this it is clear that they lead astray the infirm and the ignorant. The Apostle warns against this happening, saying: “Let us be no longer like little children, bobbing on the waves and carried around by every wind of doctrine, in the profligacy of men, in cunning and the oppression of sin.” (Ephes. iv) We shall not be, he says, prattlers in intellect; and we shall be carried around by every other pressing wind of doctrine. The doctrine of the depraved, as if the wind of a tempest, compels the ignorant and the infirm to perfidy, that is, to shipwreck. This doctrine comes about in the profligacy and the cunning of men, that is, through men intrinsically worthless, and astute in the deception of the naive. The doctrine of these people always leads to wandering into error; that is, that they lead them by some way into sin. Regarding this he also said elsewhere: “Do not become imprudent, but rather intelligent as to what is the will (of God)” and so on (Ephes. v) And also: “Brothers, do not be as boys in thought, but have the malice of little children, and be well formed in that thought.” (I Cor. Xiv)
VIII. Clearly they do not deceive the brave and the wise. Whence in Proverbs: “In vain is a net spread out before the eyes of birds.” (Prov i) The eyes of the birds are here the hearts of the blessed, supported by the feathers of virtue, which in contemplating celestial things with keen vision fly to the regions above. In vain are the nets of deception spread out by the impious in front of such men. For with divine aid they easily transcend all their bonds and reach higher knowledge.
IX. They also lead astray those who have not received charity or truth. Or, if they have received it, they are not saved because of it. They also seduce those who agree to iniquity. Whence the Apostle says, wishing regarding the devil, who already works the mystery of sin through pseudo-christs, to point out those whom he deceives: “He will destroy him with the revelation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and in every seduction to sin, for those who are to perish. This is on account of the fact that they have not received the love of truth, so that they might be saved. Therefore God will send to them a strong delusion, so that they might believe a lie, so that all might be condemned who have agreed to sin instead of to truth.” (II Thess ii)
X. And the Lord said in the Gospel of John: “I come in the name of my Father and you do not receive me. If another were to come in his own name, you would receive him.” (John v) See that he who does not receive Truth, which is Christ, with the strict will of God, believes a liar and receives the doer of error; and he who does not believe the true signs of God, believes liars, with the result that he removes himself from truth and from His signs; he is attached to a liar through lying signs. Whence David says regarding reprobates: “Decide on a man according to the works of his hands: return their deserving to them; since they do not take notice of the works of the Lord, or the works of his hands, you will destroy them not rebuild them.” (Psal. Xxvii)
XI. And finally they lead those astray, in whom there is no sign of God, that is, charity, or the virtue of faith. Whence it is instructed in the book of Revelation to locusts, in the form of heretics, that they not afflict the hay of the earth, greenwood, nor any tree, except only men who do not have the sign of God on their faces. What does earth signify here, except the holy Church? Just as is written: “The earth stands in eternity.” (Eccl i) The hay of this earth is the original believers, and those fearing the time of tribulation, but until now adhering to the faith and the unity of the whole Church from the roots on behalf of power. What else does greenwood signify, except those who show their own courage, who exhibit the life of the faithful by the origins of their deeds? What else indeed does the tree signify, except those men lofty in contemplation or in the excellence of virtue of their works?
XII. The heretics therefore do not harm these three kinds of faithful; but they harm those who do not have the “sign of God” that is, charity. As the blessed John says, “in this (sign) there is manifest the children of God and the children of the devil.” (I John iii) And the Lord: “Let them know this, that you shall be my disciples if you have love for each other.” (John xiii) Either the sign of God is the power of God, regarding which John also wrote: “This is victory, your faith, which conquers the world.” (I John v) Therefore these men who do not have the sign deserve to suffer, just as “those who are in the dirt will continue to be dirty.” (Apoc. xxii) “He will be consumed by the iniquity of his sins.” (Psal vii) They deserve to have teachers of such a kind as those who hold God, the one teacher, in contempt, through whom, since they are blind, the blind fall into a ditch. This is said in Hosea to the Heresiarchs: “You have been made a trap for spies, a net spread over Mount Tabor.” (Hosea. v) They are traps and nets in whom those who lack the sign of God are caught, in their investigation of the celestial things which the heretics promised to them.
XIII. Therefore truly rightly have the heretics been designated insatiable locusts, insects, harming the fruits with their mouths more than other small animals. Because “they have not stood in truth, but have gone away from us; because they were not like us. For if they had been, they would have remained all the while with us.” In debate they were positioned as if jumping, having been defeated in one error they would flee to another shade of reason, always jumping about lest they appear to be defeated. Truly they do harm with their mouths, because, just as is written: “They have sharpened their tongues as if serpents, and they have the venom of adders within their lips.” (Psal. xiii) They sharpen their tongues as if serpents so that they might seduce the hearts of the innocent with sweet speeches and benedictions. And for them the adder’s venom is not within their lips but under them, because they do their harm not openly but secretly and in the manner of snakes, through the tongue, they instil the deadly poison of sin with a bite. Whence they, more than other depraved men, who are described as small animals, harm fruit with their mouths, that is, they damage the works and the power of certain faithful men. Therefore they spoil and corrupt those things that they do not carry within: and as a result they are either deprived of the whole Catholic faith, or they doubt it. For it is clear how great is their evil from the words of the blessed James, who said: “he who hesitates” (indeed, in faith) “is similar to a sea wave which is moved by the wind ... this man must not think that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James. I)
XIV. Indeed the avaricious also merit being seduced, for the most part according to the measurement of their own sins. Whence it is recorded that the devil spoke when facing Achab, a king, but a worshipper of idols. “I will deceive Achab. And it was said: ‘In what way will you deceive him?’ And he answered: ‘I shall step forth and shall be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” (II Par. xviii) For Achab the King, with a great many sins preceding him, deserved it and ought to have been damned by such a deception: thus far he who often wished to fall into sin, since he did not wish to be forced to pay the penalty. Hidden lawlessness in judgement is given to malign spirits so that those whom they wish to torment in the bonds of sin, they do not yet wish to drag into the recompense of their iniquity.
XV. Also he, who does not deviate from the reprobate life, who does not turn his spirit from the acting of sins, whenever he requires something from a prophet, he hears those things which God has placed there, which he who must be damned deserves to hear. See that even the house of Israel left the worship of God in servitude to idols. They went in hope, however, to the prophets, by whom they were often deceived, requiring propitious messages. Although they (who were doing something wrong) heard propitious things from the mouth of the prophets, what else could celestial judgements do, except act so that a sinner is captured in his own heart? Thus in such a way a man commits a crime by following perfidy, inasmuch as he has been deceived by the flattering sermons of his prophets, even if he is not already very fearful that he has committed a crime; and as much as he might live secure in his sin, so much afterward may he be harshly snatched off to his punishment.
XVI. But see that by the largess of God humans publicly confess the true faith and they refuse to be subordinate to any other creatures in adoration. Therefore whoever consults a prophet from a position of faith does so safely, because he will hear what is worthy for his faith to hear. I speak confidently, that he is safe if he retires from other unclean people and from depraved acts. For since Paul proclaims: “and also avarice, which is the condition of a slave to idols.” (Gal v) Whoever is still now a slave to avarice is not free from the worship of idols. If therefore he, who ties himself to avarice, seems to be faithful, but solicits other strange things, and desires to receive earthly rewards, and longs for earthly glory and regarding that same glory he consults a prophet; it is most just that out of his own sin he rightly hear propitious statements from the mouth of the prophet, inasmuch as he does not wish to hear the words of God in holy eloquence regarding how he should despise earthly matters and love celestial ones; this, by the will of God, let him hear from the mouth of his own prophet, whence he may sink, bound more strongly.
XVII. See that from this it is clear that those men avaricious in the worship of idols are not free, although they may appear to have faith. Whence, by the will of God, they hear this from the mouth of their own prophet, whence they fall, bound up. And let me say in general that He hears him who does not model his reprobate life, and God sets out those things which the damned are worthy to hear; indeed a case of the leaders of the blind being the blind.
Against their statement that women may preach
I. Besides committing the errors I have already spoken of, they err more gravely; for they permit women, whom they admit to their partnership, to teach, although this is contrary to the doctrine of the Apostle. For it is written: “Let the women be silent in Church, for it is not permitted for them to speak. But if they wish to learn something, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in Church.” (I Cor. xiv) See that the Apostle orders women to be silent in the church building, or in congregations of the faithful, but not in speech about, or in praise of, God. He means they should not talk about matters of doctrine, and they should not ask questions in Church about the matter under discussion, but rather they should ask their husbands at home. He says more clearly elsewhere: “Let a woman learn in silence every subject. It is not permitted for a woman to teach, nor to be master over her husband, but rather she should be in silence. For Adam was created first, and then Eve. And Adam was not beguiled, but that woman was led to shame.” (I Tim. ii) See that the Apostle says clearly that a woman should be silent when she learns and should not question a learned man of the Church. She is also not permitted to teach, nor to be master over her husband, for two reasons: on the one hand, because she was created after man, and on the other, because she was seduced into the disobedience of the law of God, as if he (the Apostle) says: and she is not a man.
II. Therefore because of the argument of timing (that she was created after), and because of their establish fault, a woman is not permitted to teach or to be master over a man, and neither can she question a learned man, because in the service of her sin, which she brought upon herself, she must always be modest and ought to shun public appearance rather than to seek it. Also, the blessed Peter said: “Let wives be subordinate to their husbands so that even if some do not believe in the Word, they might reap the benefit of it through the wordless behaviour of their women; they will reflect with reverence on your holy way of life.” (I Petr. iii) See that it is clearly stated here, how faithful women ought to give benefit to their faithless husbands, indeed through the example of their holy way of life, and by the example of their preaching without words. Because of this I argue that if she cannot educate her husband through speech (but by deed only), much less is she able to teach others by using words. For it is greatly to be feared that the old enemy, making use of a primitive art, might seduce a man through the speech of his wife. Such he said to Job through his wife: “Do you still remain in your simplicity? Praise God” (that is, curse God) “and die.” (Job, ii) But her husband, perfect in serenity and patience, rebuffed her, saying: “You speak as one of the stupid women.” (ibid.) And so too, although placed in the dung-pile, he conquered the (devil) who prostrated the first man in paradise. This is said in the laws to women: “You will live under the power of a man.” Also in the evidence of the Apostle: “If a woman takes care of her hair, there will be glory for her, since her hair has been given to her to serve as a veil.” (I Cor. xi) See what a woman’s ambition ought to be: she ought to veil herself as a sure sign of her subjugation: “For the head of a woman is a man.” (Ephes. v) And also: “Any woman who prays or prophesies without a veiled head defiles her head.” (I Cor. xi) And further: “Man was not created on account of woman, but woman on account of man. Therefore on account of the angels a woman ought not to have power over the head [that is, over the man].” (ibid.) For these men the sign of piety and holiness is gladdening.
III. By what boldness does a woman presume to teach the words of God in public, when she ought not to prophesy nor to pray to God himself, unless she is veiled. And if the head of a woman is a man, with what face does she dare to teach a man, who is her own head indeed? And if she ought to wear a veil as a sign of subservience and chastity, that she might remember her sin, for which she was punished from the time of her first act of disobedience, and that she might be subservient to her husband. Neither should she, since she is subservient, presume to teach the law of liberty. Thus it is ordered in the decrees of the 23rd division, by the sixth Carthaginian Council: “A woman, however learned and holy, must not presume to teach men in an assembly. But a lay man, in the presence of clerics, must not dare to teach unless those clerics ask him.”
IV. Moreover the glorious Virgin, mother of God, who “kept safe every word” showed herself to “transfer them to her own heart.” (Luc. ii) and is not said to have preached. Moreover, neither did Mary Magdalene, nor anyone else of those women who followed the Lord.
V. But, say the enemies of truth, women ought to preach, on account of what the Apostle said to Titus. He said to instruct “old women so that they live similarly to those who life a holy life; not criminals, not slaves to wine, but teachers of good, so that they might teach prudence to young women so that they might love their husbands and care for their sons, so that they might be prudent, chaste, sober, and have a care for their home, good natured, obedient to their husbands, so that there might be no blaspheming the Word of the Lord.” (Tit. ii) This must be noted. The Apostle did not say that old women should teach their husbands in public, but that they should instruct the young women privately, indeed however only so far that they might teach them that modesty which they will subsequently follow. He permits, however, only old women to teach, who excel adolescents in age and in maturity of behaviour, in these things which are held in common with old men, which the Apostle says to be superior: that the men are sensible, modest, chaste, healthy in their faith and in their love and forbearance. Let them have those things which the Apostle subjoins them to, on behalf of their sex, when he orders them that they might live “a holy way of life,” and so on. The heretics are therefore refuted, in that women may not teach heresy to the wise, but according to words preached, however, they may not teach, except the women aged in years and customs, and they in turn may teach no one except young women. Nay rather, it is clearly decreed to them (young women) that they may not teach; this is because they are not healthy in faith, and it has been proven that whoever is without that is not obedient, just as has been demonstrated above.
VI. They further strive to confirm this mistake through the example of the prophetess Anna, who (by the evidence of the Evangelist) in that very hour in which the Lord was brought into the temple, appearing unexpectedly began to confess to the Lord and to speak about him to everyone who awaited the redemption of Israel.
VII. But let them take note as to what Anna was. Her husband had died, and she was a widow eighty-four years of age, “who did not leave the temple, day and night, worshipping by fasting and praying.” (Luc ii) Rightly therefore was a prophecy given to her for such daily abstinence, continence and uninterrupted prayer. Let anyone bring out a woman of such a kind and I shall willingly listen, not to her teaching, but to her confessing her sins to God, or confessing to the Lord in a confession of praise. And neither is it said here, that she taught or preached, but that “she spoke about Christ to everyone who awaited the redemption of Israel.” (ibid.) Preaching and speaking are not the same thing. For everyone who preaches or teaches speaks, but not everyone who speaks preaches or instructs. For a man speaks when he prays, but he is not said to teach. She was therefore speaking about Christ by confessing, that is, in praising or in prophesying, not in teaching. For the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy and doctrine, are different; this may be evaluated from the words of the Apostle when he says: “Now, brothers, if I should come to you, speaking in tongues, what use would I be to you, unless I were to speak to you in revelation, in knowledge, in prophecy or in doctrine?” (I Cor. xiv.) And also: “When you come together, brothers, one of you has a psalm, one a teaching, one a revelation, one a message in strange tongues and another an explanation for it. All of these add to the building of the Church.” (ibid.) And also: “You are all the body of Christ, each a part of it. And God indeed has placed these in the Church; first the Apostles, then the prophets, then the learned men, then the virtuous, and after them the people who are given the power of healing, those who give help, rulers, and speakers of strange tongues.” (I Cor. xii) And also “Some are given by the Spirit a speech of wisdom, while others are given, by that same Spirit, a speech of knowledge. That same Spirit gives faith to one, to another the One Spirit gives the power of healing, to one the power of miracles, to another prophecy. To one he gives the ability to tell the difference between those gifts which are given by the Spirit and those which are not, to another he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, to another the ability to interpret that speech.” (ibid.) Since therefore one is the gift of prophecy but the other is the speech of teaching, I assert safely that Anna, or other women like her, were prophets; it does not however follow as a consequence that they must be thought to have been teachers. In other respects the Apostle forbids this, just as the two are different things.
Against their argument that the alms of the living do not aid the dead; fasting, the rites of the Mass and other arguments
I. And since it is the evil tendency of sinners to fall into worse things (unless they recover their senses), “so that those who harm continue to harm, and those in dirt continue to be dirty, so that the evil of sinners is exhausted,” (Apoc. xxii) already these insane heretics dare to say to those whom they seduce: the alms given by living believers are no aid to the dead; neither are fasting, prayers, nor even the celebration of masses, nor prayers made on their behalf. This heresy must be rebutted first by the canonical authorities; next by the writings of the Catholic fathers and by Catholic reasoning.
II. It is written in the Book of Maccabees, that: “a man of such moral strength was Judas that when a collection of money had been made, he sent twelve thousand silver drachmas to Jerusalem, so that a sacrifice might be offered for the sins of the dead.” and so on (II Macc. xii) See that the man was full of faith, burning with zeal for the Law of God, praying much for the people of God, devoted to God, resisting tyrants, striving on behalf of the Law of his God even unto death, for those “who received death with piety.” (ibid.) He sent twelve thousand drachmas to Jerusalem as a gift. The Catholic Church gave him an appointment that he might preach publicly and serve as an example, making offerings on behalf of dead believers, so that they might be absolved from all their sins, when they might rejoice in God without end.
III. Certainly, we read in the New Testament that we ought to cease circumcision and certain other practices of the Old Testament; but nowhere may one read that sacrifices on behalf of the faithful dead are not allowed. Indeed it is rather the case that of the sins of many believers, some are absolved here (on earth), but some are absolved in the future. Whence it is written in the Book of Maccabees: “It is holy and proper to decide to pray for the dead, that they might be absolved from their sins.” (ibid.) Yet also the Lord said: “But he who will speak words against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this lifetime, nor in the future.” (Matth. xii) From this argument it may be understood that some sins may be forgiven in this lifetime and some in the future. Consequently it may be clearly recognised that what is denied to one is given to others who have sinned less, or less seriously. Of such a sort are unremitting and idle speech, improper laughter, sins regarding the care of familial matters, things which are done almost without fault, or by those people who know how to strive to avoid fault of this kind. Also included are errors of ignorance in matters which are not serious. This the blessed Augustine says in his Enchiridion: “It must not be denied that the spirits of the dead are mitigated because of their piety while they were alive, whenever an intermediary offers a sacrifice on their behalf, or alms are offered in a church.” And also: “whenever sacrifices are offered, whether on the altars or as alms, on behalf of all baptised people, these are actions of thanks for very good men; those for the very bad, even if they are of no help to the dead, are some sort of the consolation to the living; and those offered for the not very bad are merciful. But they aid them, or at least give this help, that their remission might be full, or at least that damnation itself might be more tolerable.
IV. Furthermore, there are many examples of how the prayers of the living are of aid to Christians who have died. For consider, from the evidence of the blessed Gregory, the bishop Germanus of Capua, who visited the baths at Angulanum for the sake of his body, on the advice of his doctors, so that he might be washed. He came across Paschasius, the deacon of the apostolic seat, already dead, who was a man of miraculous sanctity, available for the greatest works of alms, helper of the poor, and humble, standing in prayer in the hot-bath. He asked what so great a man as he was doing there. Paschasius replied that he was appointed to that place as a punishment because he had sided with Laurence against Symmachus; and because Symmachus was spurned, Laurence was made Pope, although there were many other believers who were against this, and they were of greater authority. He said, however, “I ask you to pray to the Lord for me: and in this you know that you will be heard. If then you return to these baths, you will not find me here.” Germanus, a man of God, threw himself into praying. A few days later he returned, but he did not find anyone there, just as Paschasius had already predicted.
V. In the same book, the blessed Gregory responds to the episode when Peter asks what may be done which might aid the souls of the dead. “Even if sins cannot be remitted after death, the holy offering of a healthy sacrifice yet habitually benefit souls after death, even so that the souls of the dead are seen on occasions to wish for this themselves.” For when a certain presbyter, in the diocese of the city of Centumcellensis, was accustomed to wash in hot baths as often as the necessity of his body required it, an unknown man would remove the shoes from his feet with great deference, and he would admire his clothes and furnish him with towels as he was going from the hot bath, and set about all of his needs. And when this happened more often, one day he gave the man, as he was praying for himself, two offertorial wreaths, seeking that they might be accepted gratefully, because they were offered to them in the grace of charity; but the man humbly refused this offering, and said, amongst other things: “If you wish to support me, make an offering of this bread to God Almighty on my behalf, and you will intercede on behalf of my sins: and you will know that you have been heard when you return to the baths to be washed, and you do not find me here.” after these words he disappeared; and he who appeared to be a man became known to have vanished, because he was a spirit. And that same presbyter for seven continuous days grieved in tears on the other man’s behalf, and everyday offered a healthy sacrificial animal. When he returned to the baths afterward, he did not find the man there. From this example it is shown how much good sacrificing and the giving of alms does for souls, when those from amongst the living seek themselves the spirits of the dead and declare the signs by which, through alms, they appear to be absolved.
VI. A certain monk also, in the monastery of the blessed Gregory, in great mourning over the loss of three gold coins, which he had hidden as if they were his own, was despised by his brothers, so that they did not wish to take an interest in his death, and he lacked the burial of his brothers. Thirty days after his death, after the blessed Gregory had deliberated on the matter, for thirty continual days a healthy victim was sacrificed. And after this, appearing to him in a dream, he said that he was well and that he had received communion, since offerings had been made on his behalf, for thirty days.
VII. See that from these examples it is clear that prayers and the sacrifice of a healthy victim bring much aid to the souls of the departed, since through these things the aforementioned Paschasius was absolved from the sin of dissension and division, as was that monk from the error of covetousness, following the bitterness housed in his soul after death and following the purging fires of thirty days in torture.
VIII. This argument is strengthened and confirmed by this evidence, with all skerricks of doubt removed, and by the long-established practice of the Catholic Church, which is, as the Apostle says, “the safety and mainstay of the truth.” (I Tim iii) He prays for the souls of dead believers, both in the sacred ceremonies of the mass and elsewhere. And indeed, if no other authority were to be at hand, this exemplar or argument ought to suffice: that is, the custom of the Holy Church which has been in practice for a long time. For if “in the mouths of two or three witnesses stands every word,” (II Cor xv), how much more important is it if the whole Church all over the world proclaim it together; for the Holy Spirit, just as the Lord said, teaches the whole truth. This fills the orb of the earth, that is, the Holy Church, which is everywhere throughout the world, and it does not permit the truth to lie. For truth is the seven candles above the candelabrum of the tabernacle. It has seven parts because by the grace of the Holy Spirit it stands for the Catholic Church, so that it may not be placed in the darkness of sin.
IX. And so by these examples is Catholic reason supported. For just as St. Augustine said, “There is a certain way of living that is not so good that it does not have need of these things, and one not so evil that these things may not benefit it after death. There is such a thing as a good life that might not require these things, and equally there is something in the evil that may not by these things be helped when it departs from this life. Therefore these things are of benefit to those who are not very evil, and they are the actions of a good life. There is nothing that can aid the very evil after death, except the comfort (of whatever kind) of living men.”
X. It is no wonder if the benevolence or the prayers of the living are of physical help to the dead in the absolution of their crimes, when they are of spiritual advantage to the dead for the abolition of the criminal stain of falseness or of other sins. The Holy Stephen prayed for the fallen, and Paul was converted. They prayed for a lame man, whom four men carried, and his sins were removed from him and health was restored to his body.
XI. Also, Christ was placed physically in the sepulchre, but spiritually when descending into hell he led out his own men: what wonder is it therefore if the chosen, descending to the place of purgatory, are later led out again when there is sacrificed on their behalf a victim, which will save the soul of each one from eternal ruin, from which we are saved by the mysterious death of the only-begotten son? And if a prayer made on behalf of another is profitable for him, what wonder is it if alms or fasting are shown to be of benefit? There are these words of the Apostle: “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thess. v) Saint Augustine said: “It is never right to cease praying, unless one ceases to be just. He who always does good things always prays.”
XII. And also: “Just as we have many limbs in our one body, but not all the limbs do the same thing, so too are we many are one body in Christ, but individually members, one of another, but God governs the body, so that there is no division (that is, discord) in that body.” (Rom xii) The body means the Church, where there ought to be unity, “but in that body itself the limbs take care of one another.” (I Cor. xii) They ought to take care, I say, in that body, which itself has the characteristic of concern, that is, indifferent that one should not act for the benefit of another less than for the benefit of oneself. “If one member suffers all the others suffer with it, and if one member is glorified all the other members rejoice.” (Ibid.)
XIII. From this it is clear that just as different limbs are collected and live within the same body, so too different members are ruled in the same Spirit of Christ and are preserved in His unity. Whence it is that all faithful men have a care for each amongst themselves, founded in the body of Christ: so if one suffers the others are sympathetic. And indeed, since some suffer the fires of purgatory, others should aid them and show them compassion “with concern which is not at all sluggish.” (Rom. xii) They should work as if working for their own benefit so that others might be absolved. Whence it is that by fasting, vigil, alms and by the action of other pious deeds, by such remedies help is managed for both the living and the dead, established in the body of Christ, through the unity of the faith and the bond of love.
XIV. And no wonder, “He is the holy one and the true one, who has the key of David, who shuts and no one opens, who opens and no one shuts, who has the keys of death and of hell, who hears the desires of the poor and has an ear for their prayers.” (Apoc. iii), so that He might absolve them whom the Church absolves and bind them whom the Church binds, just as He Himself said: “Whatever you will bind upon the earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loosen upon the earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matth. xvi) Therefore if there are those whom the Church has freed upon the earth, they are freed in heaven, whether living or dead, (as long as they are or were) believers. For he said whatever.
XV. Still, it is written in the book of the Dialogues that the blessed Benedict, on account of a sin of the tongue excommunicated two chaste women unless they would correct themselves; who, not having altered their previous customs, had shortly afterwards died and had been buried in the Church. But when the sacrifice in Holy Communion was performed, they were seen to depart from the church. Judgement was pronounced by the Blessed Gregory: he gave an offering with his own hand, ordering that it might be offered for their benefit. Once the offering had been made for them, neither of them was seen to depart from the church. Indeed, they received communion from the Lord through the servant of the Lord. See from this it is clear how greatly do offerings aid the souls of the faithful dead. He was deemed worthy to bestow this, since for men God was made flesh, so that He could judge the flesh from souls.
XVI. The enemies of truth object to this, however. They say that nothing can aid us after death. They bring this testimony to the evidence of their own error. For the Lord said: “Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you.” (John xii) And the Apostle said: “Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor vi) And also: “While we have the time, let us work good for all, greatest however for the households of faith.” (Gal. vi) And Salomon: “Do immediately whatever your hand can do, because neither work, nor reason, nor knowledge, nor wisdom will there be in hell, whither you are hurrying.” (Eccles. ix) And David: “Since there is His mercy on earth.” (Psalm cxvii) From these words it is clear that he who has despised to walk in the way of God during this life is consumed after death by the darkness of punishment, for God’s mercy is allotted to those who do good works. For evil men, however, there will not be mercy after their lives are ended, but the judgement of God, because then they are not able to provide for themselves any help or safety. In these circumstances the dead are not able to receive protection or consideration from the kindness of the living. For from the evidence of the Apostle: “We must all appear before the judgement of Christ so that each may receive good or evil, according to what he has done with his body.” (II Cor. v) See that according to these words each man will receive in judgement the good or the evil, which he has done with his body. From this it may be understood that after the destruction of the body there is no benefit for a man if another does something on his behalf.
XVII. To understand this, we must agree that these authorities say that no man is able, after death, to provide any aid for himself. For no man who has neglected God and who afterwards dies can deserve merit. However, if someone, making a faithful offering through charity will close off the final day, by the prayers of the faithful or by pious acts he may be saved. For he merits this so that he might be helped by the faithful themselves, that amongst the faithful he might preserve his faith in a faithful life, and exist as a limb of the body of Christ amongst the other limbs. Regarding this the blessed Augustine said: “Let every desert be preserved, from which someone can be freed after the end of this life, or with which he may be weighted down. Let none who has neglected this prepare for himself to be pardoned by God after he departs from the world.” Therefore these things, which the Church attends to often for the solace of the dead, are not contrary to apostolic opinion, for as it is said: “We shall all stand before the judgement of Christ, so that each might receive either good or evil, according to the actions he has performed,” (Rom xiv) that yet each established for himself his deserts whilst he lived corporeally, so that these things might be of aid. For these are not of benefit to all. And why do they not benefit all, except if on account of the different ways of life which each has performed in his body? This the blessed Gregory said: “This must be known, that each will obtain nothing from at least the lesser sins which warrants purgatory, unless he merits it by good works which he has done during his life, that he might gain it.” Whence it is that he says that the above-mentioned Paschasius “obtained this through the largess of his own alms, so that then he was able to merit grace, since he now could do nothing [for himself].” That the Apostle said in the body must be understood to mean the time in which we live in the body.
Against those who deny the fire of purgatory, and say that spirits, once loosed from the body, go immediately to heaven or hell
I. There are those heretics who claim that souls once loosed from the body immediately ascend to heaven, or descend to the punishment of hell, and they deny that the fire of purgatory exists. Against this argue the authorities, evidence and the doctrine of orthodox Catholicism. For the Apostle says that Christ is the foundation. And he joins to this: “If anyone were to build above a foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, fire will demonstrate of what stability is the work of each one. If what he has built remains, he will receive a reward; but if his work is burnt down, he suffers the loss of it, but he himself will be safe, just as if he had been through the fire.” (I Cor. iii) Therefore this argument, regarding the fire of purgatory to come, must be accepted.
II. This must therefore be considered carefully: he says that a man may be saved through fire; not he who builds above the foundation using iron, bronze or lead, that is, the greater sins, and therefore the more permanent, and thereupon ones that cannot be repaid; but rather he who builds with wood, hay or straw, that is, the lesser and less serious sins, which the fire easily consumes. Augustine in his Enchiridion wrote: “It is not unbelievable that a number of the faithful either lie unaffected or come to light through that very purgatorial fire, according to how much more or less do they love those good things which perish, by that much more or less slowly or quickly are they saved; such men as this, however, about whom I am talking, will not inherit the kingdom of God, unless they are remitted of their sins, with the repentant in agreement. I say ‘in agreement’ so that they might be sincere in their alms.” The blessed John the Baptist also said to the people regarding Christ: “He will baptise you himself in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” (Marc. i) Indeed, the Lord purges sins through baptism and through the fire, either of worldly suffering or of purgatory. Also, it is written: “Place an empty pot over burning coals until the bronze grows hot and melts and is consumed by the glowing flame.” (Ezech.) The pot is any faithful soul, now full of virtue and good works, now empty, that is, imperfect. And because the spirit clearly is not perfect in sacred desires and works, but is befouled by the red of venal sins, it is ordered to be placed above the coals of the fire of purgatory, as long as it may be tormented by the heat of the fire, and in that fire the filth of less important sins may be consumed. The greater the stain of sin, the longer the period of time to remain in the fire.
Against those who say that the spirits of the dead do not enter heaven or hell before judgement, but are contained in another place of shelter
I. There are, however, those who say that souls enter neither heaven nor hell before judgement. They assert that the souls of just men are held in a pleasant place of shelter, and those of the reprobate are held in a place of punishment. The shelter for pious souls they say is called Paradise, just as the place of punishment for evil men is called Hell. After the last judgement the chosen will inhabit divine palaces and the sinners will be hurled to the torments of Hell.
II. But these men are not correct in their assertion. There are indeed three places that accept spirits loosed from the body. Paradise receives the spirits of the perfect, and hell the very evil. The fire of purgatory takes those who are neither very good nor very evil. And just as a very good place receives the souls of the very good, and a most evil place receives the evilest spirits, those of middling perfidy go to a place which is moderately painful, a place less grim than hell but worse than the earth. The Apostle was one of the very good men, as he said: “I wish to be released and to be with Christ.” (Phillip. i) Christ, however, is at the right hand of the God the Father, where furthermore he intercedes for us. Therefore, there can be little doubt but that he who wishes to be with Christ after the dissolution of the body, desires to be in heaven, where Christ is. Whence he said clearly to the Corinthians: “We know that if our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building made by God, a house which has not been built, eternal in heaven.” (II Cor v.) See that the Apostle knows without any ambiguity that after the dissolution of the terrestrial home, that is, the body, which is from the earth, he has an everlasting home in heaven, not made by hand, (that is, by the aid of another man), but rather by God, that is, by divine work. Hence the Lord said: “Where there is a body, there the vultures will gather.” (Luc. xvii) Because souls ascend to heaven once the bulk of the body has been dissolved, where Christ is, not only according to divine nature, but according to human nature also, by which the corporeal ascends to the heavens.
III. And also: “If someone should aid me, should follow me, where I am, there will also be my helper.” (John xii) And also: “If I shall go away and prepare a place for you, I shall then return and receive you to myself, so that you are also where I am.” (John xiv) And again: “Father, those whom you gave me I wish to have with me, so that they may see my renown, which you have given me.” Great therefore is the reward of love and of good works, and to be with Christ.
Against those who do not wish to pray in church and assert that vows do not have to be made in the church. Here it is proven that the Church must be prayed to, prayer must be made there, and that is must be held in great veneration. Here response is made to the objections of those heretics, how they say in the words of the blessed Stephen, ‘that the Most High does not dwell in buildings made by hand,’(Acts vii) and therefore not in the church.
I. While they pile sin on sin, condemning in their speech both the house of God and the house of prayer, they prefer to pray in stables, or in their own rooms, or in treasure-chambers, rather than in a church. Even worse, they strive to persuade women and the stupid that there is no church, and nor ought they to pray.
II. Against these men I offer the testimony of the sacred Scriptures, as the blessed Peter taught: “so that those of the faithful who have foreknowledge of this might guard themselves, lest they be drawn into the error of the foolish and fall from your own proper position of safety.” (II Petr. iii) Therefore attention must be paid that the house of God and the church are called the house of prayer. It is written in the books of the Evangelists how much reverence must be shown. The Lord discovered men selling sheep and cattle in the temple, and pigeons; he found money-changers seated, and when he made a kind of whip from string, he cast all of them out of the temple, the sheep and the cattle also, and turned over the teeming tables of the money-changers. And he said this to those who were selling pigeons: “Go away from here, and do not do business in the home of my Father.” (John ii) This is in John. Mark says that the Lord would not allow that “any carry a vase through the temple, and he taught, saying to them: ‘Is it not written that my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? And you make it a den of robbers.’” (Mark xi) According to Luke, after he had done this, “every day he spent teaching in the temple.” (Luke xxi)
III. See that he clearly calls the temple the house of his father and his house, and the house of prayer not only for him or the apostles, but also for all men, that is, those chosen Jews and gentiles. The heretics, however, call it neither the home of God nor the home of prayer, and neither do they take care to pray with the chosen people. They prefer to pray in their own homes more than to pray in the house of God. From this it is clear that they follow the Lord Jesus Christ neither in words nor in deeds, while they blaspheme the temple, which to such a degree He venerated in speech and deed; nor do they pray in that place where it is ordained that people must pray. For they follow the beast (that is, the Antichrist), who just as is said in the Apocalypse: “appears in the blaspheming of his own mouth, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle and those who live in heaven.” (Apoc. Xiii)
IV. They blaspheme against the tabernacle of God when they say that they would prefer to pray in their own room or in a stable than in the house of God. They blaspheme against the name of God when they say that He did not create the world and does not rule it. They speak ill of those who live in heaven when they say that the apostles, martyrs and the citizens of heaven cannot alleviate any suffering from suppliants.
V. Moreover, He used to teach in the temple, as it is said: “He spent every day teaching in the temple.” (Luc. xxi) There he heard the learned men, just as was written regarding His parents: “They discovered him in the temple seated amongst the learned men, listening to them and asking questions.” (Luc. ii) And when they said: “We were looking for you anxiously,” (ibid.) He answered: “Why did you look for me? Do you not know that I must be where my father is?” (ibid.) See that when he was discovered in the temple, he replied that it was His Father’s and it was necessary for Him to be there.
VI. Pertaining to this it is written in the Gospel of Luke about the disciples after the ascension of the Lord: “They were always in the temple praising and blessing God.” (Luc. xxiv) And after the coming of the Holy Spirit, just as is written in the Acts of the Apostles: “Everyday they were in vigil in the temple.” (Acts ii) And also: “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour,” (Acts iii) when they healed a man who had been lame from birth.
VII. Also, an angel of the Lord, leading the Apostles out of prison, said: “‘Go, and standing in the temple tell the whole gathering the words of His life.’ And when they heard this, they entered the temple at dawn and began to teach.” (Acts v) And also: “It happened to Paul as he was praying in the temple that he fell into a trance and saw Jesus.” (Acts xxii) The widow Anna also “did not depart from the temple, worshipping night and day.” (Luc ii) Also there was Simeon, “just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was in him. He also came into the temple, inspired by the Spirit, and received Jesus into his arms and praised God.” (Ibid.)
VIII. From this it is clear that the Apostles prayed and praised God in the temple, and Paul saw Jesus there; there also they taught by the order of the angel; also Anna did not depart from the temple but worshipped the Lord night and day. Simeon also, a holy man, filled with the Holy Spirit in his own soul, came into the temple and received Jesus and blessed him. Why, therefore, do the impious heretics boast that they serve the Gospel and follow the apostles when they do not pray in the temple but in their own room; nor do they teach in the temple, but in the forum and even privately at home?
IX. O the stupidity of it! Is it annoying to you if God has a home in every city, farm and castle, so that he might be honoured by his own people, when many of you have not one home but many for your whims? You also have homes, one for eating, another for sleeping and others for other uses. Why are you jealous of the Christian people if they have a house for prayer, for praising God or for teaching the words of life? Also, because God is of all things, not of one thing alone, He is praised by all in the community.
X. That a church is said to be a house of prayer will be proven by reason and by authorities. Church is said to be now the gathering of the faithful, now the congregation of evil men, now and the home of God, to which both the former and the latter come. The church is said to be the gathering of the faithful, whence it is written: “Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved fellow worker, and to Appia our dear sister and Archippus our fellow-soldier, and the church in your house. Grace be with you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philem. i) The church is said to be a congregation of evildoers by David: “I hate the church of the malicious.” (Psalm xxv) A church is also said to be a house of prayer, whence the Apostle said to the Corinthians: “For when you assemble in church, I hear that there are divisions, and in part I believe it.” (I Cor xi) And a little later: “When you meet together as one, it is not the Lord’s supper that you take up for eating. For each one goes ahead with his own meal, and while one is hungry another is drunk. Do you not have your own houses for eating and drinking? Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (ibid.) He clearly says that the Corinthians, of whom some are good and some are evil, meet in church that is in the house of prayer, just as the true explicators tell us. Then he states: “when you meet together as one”. What does meeting together as one mean, except all coming together to one place, and which place can one name as superior to a church? And since in that place, that is, in church, they repaired themselves, he admonished them, saying: “Do you not have your own houses for eating and drinking? Or do you despise the church of God.” That is, do you not have other places where you restore yourselves? Or since you have other places you despise the church of God, that is, the house of prayer, by eating and drinking in that place? It is as if he said: “a church is not a house for eating or drinking but for prayer, and therefore if you have a house for eating or drinking, refresh yourselves there, not in the house of prayer, that is, in a church. By that reasoning, he who eats or drinks in a church of God despises it, especially if he has his own house for eating. For a church of God is not a house for eating and drinking, but a house of prayer.
XI. From this it is clear that the church of God can be said to be the house of prayer. Besides, if someone says that the church of God is said to be faithful men, let him attend to what great absurdity he follows. The Apostle, indeed, chastises those Corinthians who were eating in God’s church. Also, if God’s church is understood to be the convocation of the faithful, consequently he seems to reprehend those men who eat in a gathering of the faithful, and in such a way the Lord will punish those who eat and drink with the disciples. It follows therefore that one must not eat with another, or that one must only eat with unbelievers and accepting this argument is highest madness. It is a concern, therefore, that we must understand the church of God as the house of prayer. Whence it is that through etymology the church (ecclesia) is said to be the ‘building of the clerics’ (aedes clericorum), not because only they come into this place, but because it is frequented other believers and because it is their occupation to guard it, close it, open it and there to celebrate the divine mysteries.
XII. No wonder is it then if God’s church is called both a congregation of the faithful and the house for prayer where they meet, just as the word house denotes both the building and the people who live within it. When it is said that the Lord entered into the house of the prince of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath (Luc xiv), the house signifies the buildings. When however there is talk of the prince, that “he himself believed, and the whole house” (ibid.) the house here denotes those living in the building. The word city (civitas) likewise means both the place where the citizens live and the citizens who live there. It means the place in the passage “when he saw the city, Jesus wept.” (Luc xix) It means the people here: “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: ‘who is he?’” (Matth x) For the circle of the walls or the place itself did not say, “Who is he”, but the citizens themselves.
XIII. A synagogue is also said to be a house of prayer in which the Jews meet. And the Jews themselves said to the Lord regarding the centurion: “He built the synagogue for us.” (Luc vii) They meant by the word the structure of the synagogue, which he built for them so that they might pray. John also said to the angel in the church at Smyrna: “You have been blasphemed by them who say that they are Jewish and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.” (Apoc. ii) In this passage, without any doubt he calls the Jews the synagogue of Satan.
XIV. It is therefore quite clear both by the evidence of the Apostle and by the reasoning of other similar authorities that God’s church is called as much the house of prayer as the congregation of the faithful. For in the physical structure of a church the variety or multitude of stone or wood signifies the divers types of the faithful. The floor and the roof mirror the servient and the masters; the windows through which the light of heaven pours are the learned men through whom other believers are illuminated, who are brought to light by the light of God. The foundation, upon which the whole weight of the church is grounded, is Christ, who underpins our customs. The door is faith; the altar, God; the width of the church building, love; its height, hope; its length, perseverance; its lamps or candles, the Scripture or virtues; the cymbals, the sign of jubilation. Therefore since the material structure of a church reflects the spiritual, not inappropriately is its name given, because many signs represent the thing of which it is the sign. The Prophet spoke regarding manna: “Man ate the bread of angels” (Psal. lxxvii) not because it was the bread of angels but because that was a metaphor for it. Also, the Apostle said to the Jews about the rock which was a foundation for the water: “the Rock followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (I Cor x), not because the Rock actually was Christ but because it was a metaphor for Christ who makes us drink from the water of wisdom.
XV. Although we speak of the house of prayer, that is, the church for praying in, the enemies of truth cite the words of the Evangelist against us: “You, however, when you pray, go into your room and with the door closed pray to your father in secret, and your father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matth vi) From this, they say that one must pray in one’s own room, and not in church.
XVI. If, however, one must pray in one’s own room, and not in church, Jesus Christ, in whose words there is no trickery, sinned, when he called it the house of prayer, if there one does not pray. If, however, he spoke the truth, especially since Truth speaks truth, it is the house of prayer because people must pray there. Moreover, if one must not pray in church, John and Peter sinned when they entered the temple at the hour of prayer, at the ninth hour of the day. Peter also sinned, as did Anna, who did not depart from the temple, worshipping night and day through fasting and prayer. To think that this is so is the highest madness. It is agreed, therefore, that one must pray in church, from the authority of Christ, from the example of the apostles and of many other holy people.
XVII. Prayer must be made everywhere, however, just as the Apostle said: “I wish men to pray everywhere, raising their clean hands, without anger or insincerity, and the women should do likewise.” (I Tim. ii) And the Prophet said: “In every region of His kingdom let my spirit praise the Lord.” (Psal. cii) Therefore although one must pray everywhere, God wished especially for the there to be a place reserved for praying, specifically and only for the praying to and worshipping of God, so that as much as prayer might be made more attentively, so much might that place be vacated for God, so that other things would not take place there. Indeed other places are often used for many other types of business. And therefore if anyone were to pray there he would often be interrupted whether he liked it or not. “For dead flies pollute the sweet odour of perfume.” (Eccles. x) Worldly affairs, just like flies, make themselves intrusive and confound the hearts of those praying, and as a result the prayers, which by their own nature smell sweet, do not return to God the fragrance of the suppliant.
XVIII. Therefore when the Lord said that one should go into his own room to pray, he does not advise that the physical bed is the place for prayer, for He never did this: He never calls the bed or the bedchamber the house of prayer. Yet he calls the temple the house of God and the house of prayer. This must not be understood to mean the physical bed but the spiritual. It is therefore called one’s own room, or the secret place of the heart, where if the conscience is good, a person weighs up favourably; but if it is evil, then he is much weighed down. He who will pray, therefore, ought to enter the secret places of his heart so that he prays not only with his voice but also with his heart. Let him enter the chamber of his heart lest the mind, overcome by external matters, pollutes the fruits of prayer. Then turned towards itself, the more, having spurned other matters it vies to have leisure for God alone, the more it may gain things more easily through prayer. And therefore as long as it is insisted that the mouth must be closed for prayer, that is, that the sense of hearing must be secured through the caution of the heart, so that unlawful wishes might be restrained and carnal desires prevented; but the Father of heaven should be diligently prayed to with whole intention of heart, and by this closing of the entrance to the heart unexpected matters should not provide an interruption. This is the praying which reaches heaven. This beats upon the ears of the Father of heaven. This brings benefit is something was asked for. Whence it is said, that: “Your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matth. Vi)
XIX. Moreover, because they do not wish to pray in church, they extend against us this plea in their sin, and cite as evidence what the blessed Stephen said in the Acts of the Apostles: “Solomon built a house for God, but the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my foot-stool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord? Or what is the place for my rest? Did not my hands make all these things?’” (Acts vii) And they say that if the Most High does not live in buildings made by hands, He does not live in the churches, which are made by the hands of men. But if He does not live there, why do we go thither to pray?
XX. To this we respond: we must understand God does not live in manmade places as those buildings, which are not closed, or are not contained by manmade things. For God is immeasurable and cannot be circumscribed; He is indefinable and therefore cannot be limited or confined to one place. For whom is heaven a throne and the earth a footstool - how could He be contained in a house? When you live in your own home there will you be confined and nor will you ever be anywhere else. But God does not live thus in temples made by humans, to be shut therein, to be never anywhere else.
XXI. Moreover, “God is the Spirit” (II Cor. iii). He also said that God is not held in any corporeal place but by Grace he lives in the hearts of the chosen. Whence the Apostle said to the Ephesians: “May the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ grant it to you that Christ will dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephes. iii) For faith is yours through Christ and Christ is in your heart. The Prophet said: “He forsook the tent of Shiloh, His own tent, where He lived amongst the people.” (Psal. lxxvii) See how God lived in His own tent, and He lived there among the people. In such a way God lives in churches, dwelling amongst men, and therefore He would rather live there than elsewhere, because sometimes many gather there: with great devotion and burning faith they congregate. God is worshipped through supplication and by the comprehension of the sacred food, that is, the body of Christ, and the comprehension of the divine Word. Therefore since God is always in the hearts of the chosen ones, always and everywhere, let Him satisfy them fuller and more completely in the churches, when He sees them more resolute in their entreaty. If, however, God is everywhere, as he says: “I fill the sky and the earth” (Isaiah xxiii) He is in manmade buildings, containing it and ruling over it, but He does not live there, as in the hearts of the chosen: He ‘lives’ there through Grace, and in them He exists through essence, power and presence.
 The Vulgate has hominibus for omnibus, but Bernard’s reading is translated here.