Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Hemmingsen on the Sabbath and Christian Festivals (13)

This post wraps up the series on Hemmingsen on the Sabbath and Christian festivals. In these four assertiones, he concludes with some remarks on change, continuity, and authority. 

Of special significance is the hard distinction he makes between “worship” (cultus) and “ceremonies” (ceremoniae) in assertio 33. Some might quibble with certain of his examples in this category, but it is important to remember that (a) these words are put into the mouth of an imagined hostile opponent and so we cannot assume at the outset that he endorses all of them, particularly in the way in which his opponent means them (for example, it is simply a fact that Lutherans do not have “priests” in the Roman Catholic sense); and (b) his basic point is a fundamental corollary of the classical two-kingdoms view and the distinctions it draws between inner and outer, eternal and temporal, and spiritual and corporeal.

Assertions concerning the Jewish Sabbath and the Festivals of the Christians (Continued)

  1. Just as I would wish that pious governors of the churches would exercise great zeal in watching out lest ceremonies be a stumbling-block for the weak, so also I would not wish private persons to change anything in ceremonies that have been instituted and approved by the weighty authority of their forebears.
  2. Nor is it the case that an extremely precise reason for every single ceremony should be sought out–only they should not reek of manifest superstition and impiety.
  3. Some people are offended by our ceremonies, and shriek that they are papistical; they say that we have priests, altars, vestments, candles, images, exorcisms, and uses of the sign of the cross, and all this in a clearly papistical way. I respond to them that the true church should be distinguished from the false by teaching and by worship, not by ceremonies that are in themselves indifferent.
  4. Nor, indeed, do we judge indifferent ceremonies to be of such great moment that schisms should be agitated in their church on their account. Sincerity of teaching should be maintained; the pure worship of God should be maintained; other things should serve partly tranquillity, partly the weakness of men; and we should leave it to the prudence of our governors to reflect upon these matters.1
  1. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.