(Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4, part 13)
Chapter 12. Of the discipline of the Church, and its principal use 
in censures and excommunication. 
    This chapter consists of two parts: - I. The first part of 
ecclesiastical discipline which respects the people, and is called 
common, consists of two parts, the former depending on the power of 
the keys, which is considered, sec. 1-14; the latter consisting in 
the appointment of times for fasting and prayer, sec. 14-21. II. The 
second part of ecclesiastical discipline relating to the clergy, 
sec. 22-28. 
1. Of the power of the keys, or the common discipline of the Church. 
    Necessity and very great utility of this discipline. 
2. Its various degrees. 1. Private admonition. 2. Rebukes before 
    witnesses. 3. Excommunication. 
3. Different degrees of delinquency. Modes of procedure in both 
    kinds of chastisement. 
4. Delicts to be distinguished from flagitous wickedness. The last 
    to be more severely punished. 
5. Ends of this discipline. 1. That the wicked may not, by being 
    admitted to the Lord's Table, put insult on Christ. 2. That 
    they may not corrupt others. 3. That they themselves may 
6. In what way sins public as well as secret are to be corrected. 
    Trivial and grave offences. 
7. No person, not even the sovereign, exempted from this discipline. 
    By whom and in what way it ought to be exercised. 
8. In what spirit discipline is to be exercised. In what respect 
    some of the ancient Christians exercised it too rigorously. 
    This done more from custom than in accordance with their own 
    sentiments. This shown from Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Augustine. 
9. Moderation to be used, not only by the whole Church, but by each 
    individual member. 
10. Our Saviour's words concerning binding and loosing wrested if 
    otherwise understood. Difference between anathema and 
    excommunication. Anathema rarely if ever to be used. 
11. Excessive rigour to be avoided, as well by private individuals 
    as by pastors. 
12. In this respect the Donatists erred most grievously, as do also 
    the Anabaptists in the present day. Portraiture by Augustine. 
13. Moderation especially to be used when not a few individuals, but 
    the great body of the people, have gone astray. 
14. A second part of common discipline relating to fastings, prayer, 
    and other holy exercises. These used by believers under both 
    dispensations. To what purposes applied. Of Fasting. 
15. Three ends of fasting. The first refers more especially to 
    private fasting. Second and third ends. 
16. Public fasting and prayer appointed by pastors on any great 
17. Examples of this under the Law. 
18. Fasting consists chiefly in three things, viz., time, the 
    quality, and sparing use of food. 
19. To prevent superstition, three things to be inculcated. 1. The 
    heart to be rent, not the garments. 2. Fasting not to be 
    regarded as a meritorious work or kind of divine worship. 3. 
    Abstinence must not be immoderately extolled. 
20. Owing to an excess of this kind the observance of Lent was 
    established. This superstitious observance refuted by three 
    arguments. It was indeed used by the ancients, but on different 
21. Laws afterwards made to regulate the choice of food. Various 
    abuses even in the time of Jerome. Practically there is no 
    common ecclesiastical discipline in the Papacy. 
22. The second part of discipline having reference to the clergy. 
    What its nature, and how strict it formerly was. How miserably 
    neglected in the present day. An example which may suit the 
23. Of the celibacy of priests, in which Papists place the whole 
    force of ecclesiastical discipline. This impious tyranny 
    refuted from Scripture. An objection of the Papists disposed 
24. An argument for the celibacy of priests answered. 
25. Another argument answered. 
26. Another argument answered. 
27. An argument drawn from the commendation of virginity as superior 
    to marriage. Answer. 
28. The subject of celibacy concluded. This error not favoured by 
    all ancient writers. 
    1. The discipline of the Church, the consideration of which has 
been deferred till now, must be briefly explained, that we may be 
able to pass to other matters. Now discipline depends in a very 
great measure on the power of the keys and on spiritual 
jurisdiction. That this may be more easily understood let us divide 
the Church into two principal classes viz., clergy and people. The 
term clergy I use in the common acceptation for those who perform a 
public ministry in the Church. We shall speak first of the common 
discipline to which all ought to be subject, and then proceed to the 
clergy, who have besides that common discipline one peculiar to 
themselves. But as some, from hatred of discipline, are averse to 
the very name, for their sake we observe, - If no society, nay, no 
house with even a moderate family can be kept in a right state 
without discipline, much more necessary is it in the Church, whose 
state ought to be the best ordered possible. Hence as the saving 
doctrine of Christ is the life of the Church, so discipline is, as 
it were, its sinews; for to it, it is owing that the members of the 
body adhere together, each in its own place. Wherefore, all who 
either wish that discipline were abolished, or who impede the 
restoration of it, whether they do this of design or through 
thoughtlessness, certainly aim at the complete devastation of the 
Church. For what will be the result if every one is allowed to do as 
he pleases? But this must happen if to the preaching of the gospel 
are not added private admonition, correction, and similar methods of 
maintaining doctrine, and not allowing it to become lethargic. 
Discipline, therefore, is a kind of curb to restrain and tame those 
who war against the doctrine of Christ, or it is a kind of stimulus 
by which the indifferent are aroused; sometimes, also, it is a kind 
of fatherly rod, by which those who have made some more grievous 
lapse are chastised in mercy with the meekness of the spirit of 
Christ. Since, then, we already see some beginnings of a fearful 
devastation in the Church from the total want of care and method in 
managing the people, necessity itself cries aloud that there is need 
of a remedy. Now the only remedy is this which Christ enjoins, and 
the pious have always had in use. 
    2. The first foundation of discipline is to provide for private 
admonition; that is, if any one does not do his duty spontaneously, 
or behaves insolently, or lives not quite honestly, or commits 
something worthy of blame, he must allow himself to be admonished; 
and every one must study to admonish his brother when the case 
requires. Here especially is there occasion for the vigilance of 
pastors and presbyters, whose duty is not only to preach to the 
people, but to exhort and admonish from house to house, whenever 
their hearers have not profited sufficiently by general teaching; as 
Paul shows, when he relates that he taught "publicly, and from house 
to house," and testifies that he is "pure from the blood of all 
men," because he had not shunned to declare "all the counsel of 
God," (Acts 20: 20, 26, 27.) Then does doctrine obtain force and 
authority, not only when the minister publicly expounds to all what 
they owe to Christ, but has the right and means of exacting this 
from those whom he may observe to be sluggish or disobedient to his 
doctrine. Should any one either perversely reject such admonitions, 
or by persisting in his faults, show that he condemns them, the 
injunction of Christ is that after he has been a second time 
admonished before witnesses, he is to be summoned to the bar of the 
Church, which is the consistory of elders, and there admonished more 
sharply, as by public authority, that if he reverence the Church he 
may submit and obey, (Matth. 18: 15, 17.) If even in this way he is 
not subdued, but persists in his iniquity, he is then, as a despiser 
of the Church, to be debarred from the society of believers. 
    3. But as our Saviour is not there speaking of secret faults 
merely we must attend to the distinction that some sins are private, 
others public, or openly manifest. Of the former, Christ says to 
every private individual, "go and tell him his fault between thee 
and him alone," (Matth. 18: 15.) Of open sins Paul says to Timothy, 
"Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear," (1 
Tim. 5: 20.) Our Saviour had previously used the words, "If thy 
brother shall trespass against thee." This clause, unless you would 
be captious, you cannot understand otherwise than, If this happens 
in a manner known to yourself, others not being privy to it. The 
injunction which Paul gave to Timothy to rebuke those openly who sin 
openly, he himself followed with Peter, (Gal. 2: 14.) For when Peter 
sinned so as to give public offence, he did not admonish him apart, 
but brought him forward in face of the Church. The legitimate 
course, therefore, will be to proceed in correcting secret faults by 
the steps mentioned by Christ, and in open sins, accompanied with 
public scandal, to proceed at once to solemn correction by the 
    4. Another distinction to be attended to is, that some sins are 
mere delinquencies, others crimes and flagrant iniquities. In 
correcting the latter, it is necessary to employ not only admonition 
or rebuke, but a sharper remedy, as Paul shows when he not only 
verbally rebukes the incestuous Corinthian, but punishes him with 
excommunication, as soon as he was informed of his crime, (1 Cor. 5: 
4.) Now then we begin better to perceive how the spiritual 
jurisdiction of the Church, which animadverts on sins according to 
the word of the Lord, is at once the best help to sound doctrine, 
the best foundation of order, and the best bond of unity. Therefore, 
when the Church banishes from its fellowship open adulterers, 
fornicators, thieves, robbers, the seditious, the perjured, false 
witnesses, and others of that description; likewise the 
contumacious, who, when duly admonished for lighter faults hold God 
and his tribunal in derision, instead of arrogating to itself 
anything that is unreasonable, it exercises a jurisdiction which it 
has received from the Lord. Moreover, lest any one should despise 
the judgement of the Church, or count it a small matter to be 
condemned by the suffrages of the faithful, the Lord has declared 
that it is nothing else than the promulgation of his own sentence, 
and that that which they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they 
act by the word of the Lord in condemning the perverse, and by the 
word of the Lord in taking the penitent back into favour, (John 20: 
23.) Those, I say, who trust that churches can long stand without 
this bond of discipline are mistaken unless indeed we can with 
impunity dispense with a help which the Lord foresaw would be 
necessary. And, indeed the greatness of the necessity will be better 
perceived by its manifold uses. 
    5. There are three ends to which the Church has respect in thus 
correcting and excommunicating. The first is, that God may not be 
insulted by the name of Christians being given to those who lead 
shameful and flagitous lives, as if his holy Church were a 
combination of the wicked and abandoned. For seeing that the Church 
is the body of Christ, she cannot be defiled by such fetid and 
putrid members, without bringing some disgrace on her Head. 
Therefore, that there may be nothing in the Church to bring disgrace 
on his sacred name, those whose turpitude might throw infamy on the 
name must be expelled from his family. And here, also, regard must 
be had to the Lord's Supper, which might be profaned by a 
promiscuous admission. For it is most true, that he who is intrusted 
with the dispensation of it, if he knowingly and willingly admits 
any unworthy person whom he ought and is able to repel, is as guilty 
of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord's body to dogs. Wherefore, 
Chrysostom bitterly inveighs against priests, who, from fear of the 
great, dare not keep any one back. "Blood (says he, Hom. 83, in 
Matth.) will be required at your hands. If you fear man, he will 
mock you, but if you fear God, you will be respected also by men. 
Let us not tremble at farces, purple, or diadems; our power here is 
greater. Assuredly I will sooner give up my body to death, and allow 
my blood to be shed, than be a partaker of that pollution." 
Therefore, lest this most sacred mystery should be exposed to 
ignominy, great selection is required in dispensing it, and this 
cannot be except by the jurisdiction of the Church. A second end of 
discipline is, that the good may not, as usually happens, be 
corrupted by constant communication with the wicked. For such is our 
proneness to go astray, that nothing is easier than to seduce us 
from the right course by bad example. To this use of discipline the 
apostle referred when he commanded the Corinthians to discard the 
incestuous man from their society. "A little leaven leaveneth the 
whole lump," (1 Cor. 5: 6.) And so much danger did he foresee here, 
that he prohibited them from keeping company with such persons. "If 
any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an 
idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a 
one, no not to eat," (1 Cor. 5: 11.) A third end of discipline is, 
that the sinner may be ashamed, and begin to repent of his 
turpitude. Hence it is for their interest also that their iniquity 
should be chastised that whereas they would have become more 
obstinate by indulgence, they may be aroused by the rod. This the 
apostle intimates when he thus writes "If any man obey not our word 
by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him that he 
may be ashamed," (2 Thess. 3: 14.) Again, when he says that he had 
delivered the Corinthian to Satan, "that the spirit may be saved in 
the day of the Lord Jesus," (1 Cor. 5: 5;) that is as I interpret 
it, he gave him over to temporal condemnation, that he might be made 
safe for eternity. And he says that he gave him over to Satan 
because the devil is without the Church, as Christ is in the Church. 
Some interpret this of a certain infliction on the flesh, but this 
interpretation seems to me most improbable. (August. de Verb. 
Apostol. Serm. 68.) 
    6. These being the ends proposed, it remains to see in what way 
the Church is to execute this part of discipline, which consists in 
jurisdiction. And, first, let us remember the division above laid 
down, that some sins are public, others private or secret. Public 
are those which are done not before one or two witnesses, but 
openly, and to the offence of the whole Church. By secret, I mean 
not such as are altogether concealed from men, such as those of 
hypocrites, (for these fall not under the judgement of the Church,) 
but those of an intermediate description, which are not without 
witnesses, and yet are not public. The former class requires not the 
different steps which Christ enumerates; but whenever any thing of 
the kind occurs, the Church ought to do her duty by summoning the 
offender, and correcting him according to his fault. In the second 
class, the matter comes not before the Church, unless there is 
contumacy, according to the rule of Christ. In taking cognisance of 
offences, it is necessary to attend to the distinction between 
delinquencies and flagrant iniquities. In lighter offences there is 
not so much occasion for severity, but verbal chastisement is 
sufficient, and that gentle and fatherly, so as not to exasperate or 
confound the offender, but to bring him back to himself, so that he 
may rather rejoice than be grieved at the correction. Flagrant 
iniquities require a sharper remedy. It is not sufficient verbally 
to rebuke him who, by some open act of evil example, has grievously 
offended the Church; but he ought for a time to be denied the 
communion of the Supper, until he gives proof of repentance. Paul 
does not merely administer a verbal rebuke to the Corinthians, but 
discards him from the Church, and reprimands the Corinthians for 
having borne with him so long, (1 Cor. 5: 5.) This was the method 
observed by the ancient and purer Church, when legitimate government 
vas in vigour. When any one was guilty of some flagrant iniquity, 
and thereby caused scandal, he was first ordered to abstain from 
participation in the sacred Supper, and thereafter to humble himself 
before God, and testify his penitence before the Church. There were, 
moreover, solemn rites which, as indications of repentance, were 
wont to be prescribed to those who had lapsed. When the penitent had 
thus made satisfaction to the Church, he was received into favour by 
the laying on of hands. This admission often receives the name of 
peace from Cyprian, who briefly describes the formal "They act as 
penitents for a certain time, next they come to confession, and 
receive the right of communion by the laying on of hands of the 
bishop and clergy." Although the bishop with the clergy thus 
superintended the restoration of the penitent, the consent of the 
people was at the same time required, as he elsewhere explains. 
    7. So far was any one from being exempted from this discipline, 
that even princes submitted to it in common with their subjects; and 
justly, since it is the discipline of Christ, to whom all sceptres 
and diadems should be subject. Thus Theodosius, when excommunicated 
by Ambrose, because of the slaughter perpetrated at Thessalonica, 
laid aside all the royal insignia with which he was surrounded and 
publicly in the Church bewailed the sin into which he had been 
betrayed by the fraud of others, with groans and tears imploring 
pardon. Great kings should not think it a disgrace to them to 
prostrate themselves suppliantly before Christ, the King of kings; 
nor ought they to be displeased at being judged by the Church. For 
seeing they seldom hear any thing in their courts but mere flattery, 
the more necessary is it that the Lord should correct them by the 
mouth of his priests. Nay, they ought rather to wish the priests not 
to spare them, in order that the Lord may spare. I here say nothing 
as to those by whom the jurisdiction ought to be exercised, because 
it has been said elsewhere, (Chap. 11 sec. 5, 6.) I only add, that 
the legitimate course to be taken in excommunication, as shown by 
Paul, is not for the elders alone to act apart from others, but with 
the knowledge and approbation of the Church, so that the body of the 
people, without regulating the procedure, may, as witnesses and 
guardians, observe it, and prevent the few from doing any thing 
capriciously. Throughout the whole procedure, in addition to 
invocation of the name of God, there should be a gravity bespeaking 
the presence of Christ, and leaving no room to doubt that he is 
presiding over his own tribunal. 
    8. It ought not, however, to be omitted, that the Church, in 
exercising severity, ought to accompany it with the spirit of 
meekness. For, as Paul enjoins, we must always take care that he on 
whom discipline is exercised be not "swallowed up with overmuch 
sorrow," (2 Cor. 2: 7:) for in this way, instead of cure there would 
be destruction. The rule of moderation will be best obtained from 
the end contemplated. For the object of excommunication being to 
bring the sinner to repentance and remove bad examples, in order 
that the name of Christ may not be evil spoken of, nor others 
tempted to the same evil courses: if we consider this, we shall 
easily understand how far severity should be carried, and at what 
point it ought to cease. Therefore, when the sinner gives the Church 
evidence of his repentance, and by this evidence does what in him 
lies to obliterate the offence, he ought not on any account to be 
urged farther. If he is urged, the rigour now exceeds due measure. 
In this respect it is impossible to excuse the excessive austerity 
of the ancients, which was altogether at variance with the 
injunction of our Lord, and strangely perilous. For when they 
enjoined a formal repentance, and excluded from communion for three, 
or four, or seven years, or for life, what could the result be, but 
either great hypocrisy or very great despair? In like manner, when 
any one who had again lapsed was not admitted to a second 
repentance, but ejected from the Church, to the end of his life, 
(August. Ep. 54,) this was neither useful nor agreeable to reason. 
Whosoever, therefore, looks at the matter with sound judgement, will 
here regret a want of prudence. Here, however, I rather disapprove 
of the public custom, than blame those who complied with it. Some of 
them certainly disapproved of it, but submitted to what they were 
unable to correct. Cyprian, indeed, declares that it was not with 
his own will he was thus rigorous. "Our patience, facility, and 
humanity, (he says, Lib. 1 Ep. 3,) are ready to all who come. I wish 
all to be brought back into the Church: I wish all our 
fellow-soldiers to be contained within the camp of Christ and the 
mansions of God the Father. I forgive all; I disguise much; from an 
earnest desire of collecting the brotherhood, I do not minutely 
scrutinise all the faults which have been committed against God. I 
myself often err, by forgiving offences more than I ought. Those 
returning in repentance, and those confessing their sins with simple 
and humble satisfaction, I embrace with prompt and full delight." 
Chrysostom, who is somewhat more severe, still speaks thus: "If God 
is so kind, why should his priest wish to appear austere?" We know, 
moreover, how indulgently Augustine treated the Donatists; not 
hesitating to admit any who returned from schism to their bishopric, 
as soon as they declared their repentance. But, as a contrary method 
had prevailed, they were compelled to follow it, and give up their 
own judgement. 
    9. But as the whole body of the Church are required to act thus 
mildly, and not to carry their rigour against those who have lapsed 
to an extreme, but rather to act charitably towards them, according 
to the precept of Paul, so every private individual ought 
proportionately to accommodate himself to this clemency and 
humanity. Such as have, therefore, been expelled from the Church, it 
belongs not to us to expunge from the number of the elect, or to 
despair of, as if they were already lost. We may lawfully judge them 
aliens from the Church, and so aliens from Christ, but only during 
the time of their excommunication. If then, also, they give greater 
evidence of petulance than of humility, still let us commit them to 
the judgement of the Lord, hoping better of them in future than we 
see at present, and not ceasing to pray to God for them. And (to sum 
up in one word) let us not consign to destruction their person, 
which is in the hand, and subject to the decision, of the Lord 
alone; but let us merely estimate the character of each man's acts 
according to the law of the Lord. In following this rule, we abide 
by the divine judgement rather than give any judgement of our own. 
Let us not arrogate to ourselves greater liberty in judging, if we 
would not limit the power of God, and give the law to his mercy. 
Whenever it seems good to Him, the worst are changed into the best; 
aliens are ingrafted, and strangers are adopted into the Church. 
This the Lord does, that he may disappoint the thoughts of men, and 
confound their rashness; a rashness which, if not curbed, would 
usurp a power of judging to which it has no title. 
    10. For when our Saviour promises that what his servants bound 
on earth should be bound in heaven, (Matth. 18: 18,) he confines the 
power of binding to the censure of the Church, which does not 
consign those who are excommunicated to perpetual ruin and 
damnation, but assures them, when they hear their life and manners 
condemned, that perpetual damnation will follow if they do not 
repent. Excommunication differs from anathema in this, that the 
latter completely excluding pardon, dooms and devotes the individual 
to eternal destruction, whereas the former rather rebukes and 
animadverts upon his manners; and although it also punishes, it is 
to bring him to salvation, by forewarning him of his future doom. If 
it succeeds, reconciliation and restoration to communion are ready 
to be given. Moreover, anathema is rarely if ever to be used. Hence, 
though ecclesiastical discipline does not allow us to be on familiar 
and intimate terms with excommunicated persons, still we ought to 
strive by all possible means to bring them to a better mind, and 
recover them to the fellowship and unity of the Church: as the 
apostle also says, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him 
as a brother," (2 Thess. 3: 15.) If this humanity be not observed in 
private as well as public, the danger is, that our discipline shall 
degenerate into destruction 
    11. Another special requisite to moderation of discipline is as 
Augustine discourses against the Donatists, that private individuals 
must not, when they see vices less carefully corrected by the 
Council of Elders immediately separate themselves from the Church; 
nor must pastors themselves, when unable to reform all things which 
need correction to the extent which they could wish, cast up their 
ministry or by unwonted severity throw the whole Church into 
confusion. What Augustine says is perfectly true: "Whoever corrects 
what he can, by rebuking it, or without violating the bond of peace, 
excludes what he cannot correct, or justly condemns while he 
patiently tolerates what he is unable to exclude without violating 
the bond of peace, is free and exempted from the curse," (August. 
contra Parmen. Lib. 2 c. 4.) He elsewhere gives the reason. "Every 
pious reason and mode of ecclesiastical discipline ought always to 
have regard to the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This 
the apostle commands us to keep by bearing mutually with each other. 
If it is not kept, the medicine of discipline begins to be not only 
superfluous, but even pernicious, and therefore ceases to be 
medicine," (Ibid. Lib. 3 c. 1.) "He who diligently considers these 
things neither in the preservation of unity neglects strictness of 
discipline, nor by intemperate correction bursts the bond of 
society," (Ibid. cap. 2.) He confesses, indeed, that pastors ought 
not only to exert themselves in removing every defect from the 
Church, but that every individual ought to his utmost to do so; nor 
does he disguise the fact, that he who neglects to admonish, accuse, 
and correct the bad, although he neither favours them, nor sins with 
them, is guilty before the Lord; and if he conducts himself so that 
though he can exclude them from partaking of the Supper, he does it 
not, then the sin is no longer that of other men, but his own. Only 
he would have that prudence used which our Lord also requires, "lest 
while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them," 
(Matth. 13: 29.) Hence he infers from Cyprian, "Let a man then 
mercifully correct what he can; what he cannot correct, let him bear 
patiently, and in love bewail and lament." 
    12. This he says on account of the moroseness of the Donatists, 
who, when they saw faults in the Church which the bishops indeed 
rebuked verbally, but did not punish with excommunication, (because 
they did not think that any thing would be gained in this way,) 
bitterly inveighed against the bishops as traitors to discipline, 
and by an impious schism separated themselves from the flock of 
Christ. Similar, in the present day, is the conduct of the 
Anabaptists, who, acknowledging no assembly of Christ unless 
conspicuous in all respects for angelic perfection, under pretence 
of zeal overthrow every thing which tends to edification. "Such, 
(says Augustin. contra Parmen. Lib. 3 c. 4,) not from hatred of 
other men's iniquity, but zeal for their own disputes ensnaring the 
weak by the credit of their name, attempt to draw them entirely 
away, or at least to separate them; swollen with pride, raving with 
petulance insidious in calumny, turbulent in sedition. That it may 
not be seen how void they are of the light of truth, they cover 
themselves with the shadow of a stern severity: the correction of a 
brother's fault, which in Scripture is enjoined to be done with 
moderation, without impairing the sincerity of love or breaking the 
bond of peace, they pervert to sacrilegious schism and purposes of 
excision. Thus Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, (2 
Cor. 11: 14,) when, under pretext of a just severity, he persuades 
to savage cruelty, desiring nothing more than to violate and burst 
the bond of unity and peace; because, when it is maintained, all his 
power of mischief is feeble, his wily traps are broken and his 
schemes of subversion vanish." 
    13. One thing Augustine specially commends, viz., that if the 
contagion of sin has seized the multitude, mercy must accompany 
living discipline. "For counsels of separation are vain, 
sacrilegious, and pernicious because impious and proud and do more 
to disturb the weak good than to correct the wicked proud," (August. 
Ep. 64.) This which he enjoins on others he himself faithfully 
practised. For, writing to Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, he 
complains that drunkenness, which is so severely condemned in 
Scripture, prevails in Africa with impunity, and advises a council 
of bishops to be called for the purpose of providing a remedy. He 
immediately adds, "In my opinion, such things are not removed by 
rough, harsh, and imperious measures, but more by teaching than 
commanding, more by admonishing than threatening. For thus ought we 
to act with a multitude of offenders. Severity is to be exercised 
against the sins of a few," (August. Ep. 64.) He does not mean, 
however, that the bishops where to wink or be silent because they 
are unable to punish public offences severely, as he himself 
afterwards explains. But he wishes to temper the mode of correction, 
so as to give soundness to the body rather than cause destruction. 
And, accordingly, he thus concludes: "Wherefore, we must on no 
account neglect the injunction of the apostle, to separate from the 
wicked, when it can be done without the risk of violating peace, 
because he did not wish it to be done otherwise, (1 Cor. 5: 13;) we 
must also endeavour, by bearing with each other, to keep the unity 
of the Spirit in the bond of peace," (Eph. 4: 2.) 
    14. The remaining part of discipline, which is not, strictly 
speaking, included in the power of the keys, is when pastors, 
according to the necessity of the times, exhort the people either to 
fasting and solemn prayer, or to other exercises of humiliation, 
repentance, and faith, the time, mode, and form of these not being 
prescribed by the Word of God, but left to the judgement of the 
Church. As the observance of this part of discipline is useful, so 
it was always used in the Church, even from the days of the 
apostles. Indeed, the apostles themselves were not its first 
authors, but borrowed the example from the Law and Prophets. For we 
there see, that as often as any weighty matter occurred the people 
were assembled and supplication and fasting appointed. In this, 
therefore, the apostles followed a course which was not new to the 
people of God, and which they foresaw would be useful. A similar 
account is to be given of the other exercises by which the people 
may either be aroused to duty, or kept in duty and obedience. We 
every where meet with examples in Sacred History, and it is 
unnecessary to collect them. In general, we must hold that whenever 
any religious controversy arises, which either a council or 
ecclesiastical tribunal behaves to decide; whenever a minister is to 
be chosen; whenever, in short, any matter of difficulty and great 
importance is under consideration: on the other hand, when 
manifestations of the divine anger appear, as pestilence, war, and 
famine, the sacred and salutary custom of all ages has been for 
pastors to exhort the people to public fasting and extraordinary 
prayer. Should any one refuse to admit the passages which are 
adduced from the Old Testament, as being less applicable to the 
Christian Church, it is clear that the apostles also acted thus; 
although, in regard to prayer, I scarcely think any one will be fold 
to stir the question. Let us, therefore, make some observations on 
fastings since very many, not understanding what utility there can 
be in it, judge it not to be very necessary, while others reject it 
altogether as superfluous. Where its use is not well known it is 
easy to fall into superstition. 
    15. A holy and lawful fast has three ends in view. We use it 
either to mortify and subdue the flesh, that it may not wanton, or 
to prepare the better for prayer and holy meditation; or to give 
evidence of humbling ourselves before God, when we would confess our 
guilt before him. The first end is not very often regarded in public 
fasting, because all have not the same bodily constitution, nor the 
same state of health, and hence it is more applicable to private 
fasting. The second end is common to both, for this preparation for 
prayer is requisite for the whole Church, as well as for each 
individual member. The same thing may be said of the third. For it 
sometimes happens that God smites a nation with war or pestilence, 
or some kind of calamity. In this common chastisement it behaves the 
whole people to plead guilty, and confess their guilt. Should the 
hand of the Lord strike any one in private, then the same thing is 
to be done by himself alone, or by his family. The thing, indeed, is 
properly a feeling of the mind. But when the mind is affected as it 
ought, it cannot but give vent to itself in external manifestation, 
especially when it tends to the common edification, that all, by 
openly confessing their sin, may render praise to the divine 
justice, and by their example mutually encourage each other. 
    16. Hence fasting, as it is a sign of humiliation, has a more 
frequent use in public than among private individuals, although, as 
we have said, it is common to both. In regard, then, to the 
discipline of which we now treat, whenever supplication is to be 
made to God on any important occasion, it is befitting to appoint a 
period for fasting and prayer. Thus when the Christians of Antioch 
laid hands on Barnabas and Paul, that they might the better 
recommend their ministry, which was of so great importance, they 
joined fasting and prayer, (Acts 13: 3.) Thus these two apostles 
afterwards, when they appointed ministers to churches, were wont to 
use prayer and fasting, (Acts 14: 23.) In general, the only object 
which they had in fasting was to render themselves more alert and 
disencumbered for prayer. We certainly experience that after a full 
meal the mind does not so rise toward God as to be borne along by an 
earnest and fervent longing for prayer, and perseverance in prayer. 
In this sense is to be understood the saying of Luke concerning 
Anna, that she "served God with fastings and prayers, night and 
day," (Luke 2: 37.) For he does not place the worship of God in 
fasting, but intimates that in this way the holy woman trained 
herself to assiduity in prayer. Such was the fast of Nehemiah, when 
with more intense zeal he prayed to God for the deliverance of his 
people, (Neh. 1: 4.) For this reason Paul says, that married 
believers do well to abstain for a season, (1 Cor. 7: 5,) that they 
may have greater freedom for prayer and fasting, when by joining 
prayer to fasting, by way of help, he reminds us it is of no 
importance in itself, save in so far as it refers to this end. 
Again, when in the same place he enjoins spouses to render due 
benevolence to each other, it is clear that he is not referring to 
daily prayers but prayers which require more than ordinary 
    17. On the other hand, when pestilence begins to stalk abroad, 
or famine or war, or when any other disaster seems to impend over a 
province and people, (Esther 4: 16,) then also it is the duty of 
pastors to exhort the Church to fasting, that she may suppliantly 
deprecate the Lord's anger. For when he makes danger appear, he 
declares that he is prepared and in a manner armed for vengeance. In 
like manner, therefore, as persons accused were anciently wont, in 
order to excite the commiseration of the judge, to humble themselves 
suppliantly with long beard, dishevelled hair, and coarse garments, 
so when we are charged before the divine tribunal, to deprecate his 
severity in humble raiment is equally for his glory and the public 
edification, and useful and salutary to ourselves. And that this was 
common among the Israelites we may infer from the words of Joel. For 
when he says, "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a 
solemn assembly," &c., (Joel 2: 15,) he speaks as of things received 
by common custom. A little before he had said that the people were 
to be tried for their wickedness, and that the day of judgement was 
at hand, and he had summoned them as criminals to plead their cause; 
then he exclaims that they should hasten to sackcloth and ashes, to 
weeping and fasting; that is humble themselves before God with 
external manifestations. The sackcloth and ashes, indeed, were 
perhaps more suitable for those times, but the assembly, and weeping 
and fasting, and the like, undoubtedly belong, in an equal degrees 
to our age, whenever the condition of our affairs so requires. For 
seeing it is a holy exercise both for men to humble themselves, and 
confess their humility, why should we in similar necessity use this 
less than did those of old? We read not only that the Israelitish 
Church, formed and constituted by the word of God, fasted in token 
of sadness, but the Ninevites also, whose only teaching had been the 
preaching of Jonah. Why, therefore should not we do the same? But it 
is an external ceremony, which, like other ceremonies terminated in 
Christ. Nay, in the present day it is an admirable help to 
believers, as it always was, and a useful admonition to arouse them, 
lest by too great security and sloth they provoke the Lord more and 
more when they are chastened by his rod. Accordingly, when our 
Saviour excuses his apostles for not fasting, he does not say that 
fasting was abrogated, but reserves it for calamitous times, and 
conjoins it with mourning. "The days will come when the bridegroom 
shall be taken from them," (Matth. 9: 35; Luke 5: 34.) 
    18. But that there may be no error in the name, let us define 
what fasting is; for we do not understand by it simply a restrained 
and sparing use of food, but something else. The life of the pious 
should be tempered with frugality and sobriety, so as to exhibit, as 
much as may be, a kind of fasting during the whole course of life. 
But there is another temporary fast, when we retrench somewhat from 
our accustomed mode of living, either for one day or a certain 
period, and prescribe to ourselves a stricter and severer restraint 
in the use of that ordinary food. This consists in three things, 
viz., the time, the quality of food, and the sparing use of it. By 
the time I mean, that while fasting we are to perform those actions 
for the sake of which the fast is instituted. For example, when a 
man fasts because of solemn prayer, he should engage in it without 
having taken food. The quality consists in putting all luxury aside, 
and, being contented with common and meaner food, so as not to 
excite our palate by dainties. In regard to quantity, we must eat 
more lightly and sparingly only for necessity and not for pleasure. 
    19. But the first thing always to be avoided is, the 
encroachment of superstition, as formerly happened, to the great 
injury of the Church. It would have been much better to have had no 
fasting at all, than have it carefully observed, but at the same 
time corrupted by false and pernicious opinions into which the world 
is ever and anon falling unless pastors obviate them by the greatest 
fidelity and prudence. The first thing is constantly to urge the 
injunction of Joel, "Rend your heart, and not your garments," (Joel 
2: 13;) that is, to remind the people that fasting in itself is not 
of great value in the sight of God, unless accompanied with internal 
affection of the heart, true dissatisfaction with sin and with one's 
self true humiliation, and true griefs from the fear of God; nay, 
that fasting is useful for no other reasons than because it is added 
to these as an inferior help. There is nothing which God more 
abominates than when men endeavour to cloak themselves by 
substituting signs and external appearance for integrity of heart. 
Accordingly, Isaiah inveighs most bitterly against the hypocrisy of 
the Jews in thinking that they had satisfied God when they had 
merely fasted, whatever might be the impiety and impure thoughts 
which they cherished in their hearts. "Is it such a fast that I have 
chosen?" (Isa. 58: 5.) See also what follows. The fast of hypocrites 
is, therefore, not only useless and superfluous fatigue, but the 
greatest abomination. Another evil akin to this, and greatly to be 
avoided, is, to regard fasting as a meritorious work and species of 
divine worship. For seeing it is a thing which is in itself 
indifferent, and has no importance except on account of those ends 
to which it ought to have respect, it is a most pernicious 
superstition to confound it with the works enjoined by God, and 
which are necessary in themselves without reference to any thing 
else. Such was anciently the dream of the Manichees, in refuting 
whom Augustine clearly shows that fasting is to be estimated 
entirely by those ends which I have mentioned, and cannot be 
approved by God, unless in so far as it refers to them. Another 
error, not indeed so impious, but perilous, is to exact it with 
greater strictness and severity as one of the principal duties, and 
extol it with such extravagant encomiums as to make men imagine that 
they have done something admirable when they have fasted. In this 
respect I dare not entirely excuse ancient writers from having sown 
some seeds of superstition, and given occasion to the tyranny which 
afterwards arose. We sometimes meet with sound and prudent 
sentiments on fasting, but we also ever and anon meet with 
extravagant praises, lauding it as one of the cardinal virtues. 
    20. Then the superstitious observance of Lent had everywhere 
prevailed: for both the vulgar imagined that they thereby performed 
some excellent service to God, and pastors commended it as a holy 
imitation of Christ; though it is plain that Christ did not fast to 
set an example to others, but, by thus commencing the preaching of 
the gospel, meant to prove that his doctrine was not of men, but had 
come from heaven. And it is strange how men of acute judgement could 
fall into this gross delusion, which so many clear reasons refute: 
for Christ did not fast repeatedly, (which he must have done had he 
meant to lay down a law for an anniversary fast,) but once only, 
when preparing for the promulgation of the gospel. Nor does he fast 
after the manner of men, as he would have done had he meant to 
invite men to imitation; he rather gives an example, by which he may 
raise all to admire rather than study to imitate him. In short, the 
nature of his fast is not different from that which Moses observed 
when he received the law at the hand of the Lord, (Exod. 24: 18; 34: 
28.) For, seeing that that miracle was performed in Moses to 
establish the law, it behaved not to be omitted in Christ, lest the 
gospel should seem inferior to the law. But from that day, it never 
occurred to any one, under pretence of imitating Moses, to set up a 
similar form of fast among the Israelites. Nor did any of the holy 
prophets and fathers follow it, though they had inclination and zeal 
enough for all pious exercises: for though it is said of Elijah that 
he passed forty days without meat and drink, (1 Kings 19: 8,) this 
was merely in order that the people might recognise that he was 
raised up to maintain the law, from which almost the whole of Israel 
had revolted. It was therefore merely false zeal, replete with 
superstition, which set up a fast under the title and pretext of 
imitating Christ; although there was then a strange diversity in the 
mode of the fasts as is related by Cassiodorus in the ninth book of 
the History of Socrates: "The Romans," says he, "had only three 
weeks, but their fast was continuous, except on the Lord's day and 
the Sabbath. The Greeks and Illyrians had, some six, others seven, 
but the fast was at intervals. Nor did they differ less in the kind 
of food: some used only bread and water, others added vegetables; 
others had no objection to fish and fowls; others made no difference 
in their food." Augustine also makes mention of this difference in 
his latter epistle to Januarius. 
    21. Worse times followed. To the absurd zeal of the vulgar were 
added rudeness and ignorance in the bishops, lust of power, and 
tyrannical rigour. Impious laws were passed, binding the conscience 
in deadly chains. The eating of flesh was forbidden, as if a man 
were contaminated by it. Sacrilegious opinions were added, one after 
another, until all became an abyss of error. And that no kind of 
depravity might be omitted, they began under a most absurd pretence 
of abstinence, to make a mock of God; for in the most exquisite 
delicacies they seek the praise of fasting: no dainties now suffice; 
never was there greater abundance or variety or savouriness of food. 
In this splendid display they think that they serve God. I do not 
mention that at no time do those who would be thought the holiest of 
them wallow more foully. In short, the highest worship of God is to 
abstain from flesh, and, with this reservation, to indulge in 
delicacies of every kind. On the other hand, it is the greatest 
impiety, impiety scarcely to be expiated by death, for any one to 
taste the smallest portion of bacon or rancid flesh with his bread. 
Jerome, writing to Nepotian, relates, that even in his day there 
were some who mocked God with such follies: those who would not even 
put oil in their food caused the greatest delicacies to be procured 
from every quarter; nay, that they might do violence to nature, 
abstained from drinking water, and caused sweet and costly potions 
to be made for them, which they drank not out of a cup, but a shell. 
What was then the fault of a few is now common among all the rich: 
they do not fast for any other purpose than to feast more richly and 
luxuriously. But I am unwilling to waste many words on a subject as 
to which there can be no doubt. All I say is, that, as well in fasts 
as in all other parts of discipline, the Papists are so far from 
having anything right, anything sincere, anything duly framed and 
ordered, that they have no occasion to plume themselves as if 
anything was left them that is worthy of praise. 
    22. We come now to the second part of discipline, which relates 
specially to the clergy. It is contained in the canons, which the 
ancient bishops framed for themselves and their order: for instance, 
let no clergyman spend his time in hunting in gaming or in feasting; 
let none engage in usury or in trade; let none be present at 
lascivious dances and the like. Penalties also were added to give a 
sanction to the authority of the canons, that none might violate 
them with impunity. With this view, each bishop was intrusted with 
the superintendence of his own clergy, that he might govern them 
according to the canons, and keep them to their duty. For this 
purpose, certain annual visitations and synods were appointed that 
if any one was negligent in his office he might be admonished; if 
any one sinned, he might be punished according to his fault. The 
bishops also had their provincial synods once, anciently twice, 
a-year, by which they were tried, if they had done anything contrary 
to their duty. For if any bishop had been too harsh or violent with 
his clergy, there was an appeal to the synod, though only one 
individual complained. The severest punishment was deposition from 
office, and exclusion, for a time, from communion. But as this was 
the uniform arrangement, no synod rose without fixing the time and 
place of the next meeting. To call an universal council belonged to 
the emperor alone as all the ancient summoning testify. As long as 
this strictness was in force, the clergy demanded no more in word 
from the people than they performed in act and by example; nay, they 
were more strict against themselves than the vulgar; and, indeed, it 
is becoming that the people should be ruled by a kindlier, and, if I 
may so speak, laxer discipline; that the clergy should be stricter 
in their censures, and less indulgent to themselves than to others. 
How this whole procedure became obsolete it is needless to relate, 
since, in the present day, nothing can be imagined more lawless and 
dissolute than this order, whose licentiousness is so extreme that 
the whole world is crying out. I admit that, in order not to seem to 
have lost all sight of antiquity, they, by certain shadows, deceive 
the eyes of the simple; but these no more resemble ancient customs 
than the mimicry of an ape resembles what men do by reason and 
counsel. There is a memorable passage in Xenophon, in which he 
mentions, that when the Persian had shamefully degenerated from the 
customs of their ancestors, and had fallen away from an austere mode 
of life to luxury and effeminacy, they still, to hide the disgrace, 
were sedulously observant of ancient rites, (Cyrop. Lib. 8.) For 
while, in the time of Cyrus, sobriety and temperance so flourished 
that no Persian required to wipe his nose, and it was even deemed 
disgraceful to do so, it remained with their posterity, as a point 
of religion, not to remove the mucus from the nostril, though they 
were allowed to nourish within, even to putridity, those fetid 
humours which they had contracted by gluttony. In like manner, 
according to the ancient custom, it was unlawful to use cups at 
table; but it was quite tolerable to swallow wine so as to make it 
necessary to be carried off drunk. It was enjoined to use only one 
meal a day: this these good successors did not abrogate, but they 
continued their surfeit from midday to midnight. To finish the day's 
march, fasting, as the law enjoined it, was the uniform custom; but 
in order to avoid lassitude, the allowed and usual custom was to 
limit the march to two hours. As often as the degenerate Papists 
obtrude their rules that they may show their resemblance to the holy 
fathers, this example will serve to expose their ridiculous 
imitation. Indeed, no painter could paint them more to the life. 
    23. In one thing they are more than rigid and inexorable, - in 
not permitting priests to marry. It is of no consequence to mention 
with what impunity whoredom prevails among them, and how, trusting 
to their vile celibacy, they have become callous to all kinds of 
iniquity. The prohibition, however, clearly shows how pestiferous 
all traditions are, since this one has not only deprived the Church 
of fit and honest pastors, but has introduced a fearful sink of 
iniquity, and plunged many souls into the gulf of despair. 
Certainly, when marriage was interdicted to priests, it was done 
with impious tyranny, not only contrary to the word of God, but 
contrary to all justice. First, men had no title whatever to forbid 
what God had left free; secondly it is too clear to make it 
necessary to give any lengthened proof that God has expressly 
provided in his Word that this liberty shall not be infringed. I 
omit Paul's injunction, in numerous passages, that a bishop be the 
husband of one wife; but what could be stronger than his 
declaration, that in the latter days there would be impious men 
"forbidding to marry?" (1 Tim. 4: 3.) Such persons he calls not only 
impostors, but devils. We have therefore a prophecy, a sacred oracle 
of the Holy Spirit, intended to warn the Church from the outset 
against perils and declaring that the prohibition of marriage is a 
doctrine of devils. They think that they get finely off when they 
wrest this passage, and apply it to Montanus, the Tatians, the 
Encratites, and other ancient heretics. These (they say) alone 
condemned marriage; we by no means condemn it, but only deny it to 
the ecclesiastical order, in whom we think it not befitting. As if, 
even granting that this prophecy was primarily fulfilled in those 
heretics, it is not applicable also to themselves; or, as if one 
could listen to the childish quibble, that they do not forbid 
marriage, because they do not forbid it to all. This is just as if a 
tyrant were to contend that a law is not unjust because its 
injustice presses only on a part of the state. 
    24. They object that there ought to be some distinguishing mark 
between the clergy and the people; as if the Lord had not provided 
the ornaments in which priests ought to excel. Thus they charge the 
apostle with having disturbed the ecclesiastical order, and 
destroyed its ornament, when, in drawing the picture of a perfect 
bishop, he presumed to set down marriage among the other endowments 
which he required of them. I am aware of the mode in which they 
expound this, viz., that no one was to be appointed a bishop who had 
a second wife. This interpretation, I admit, is not new; but its 
unsoundness is plain from the immediate context, which prescribes 
the kind of wives whom bishops and deacons ought to have. Paul 
enumerates marriage among the qualities of a bishop; those men 
declare that, in the ecclesiastical order, marriage is an 
intolerable vice; and, indeed, not content with this general 
vituperation, they term it, in their canons, the uncleanness and 
pollution of the flesh, (Siric. ad Episc. Hispaniar.) Let every one 
consider with himself from what forge these things have come. Christ 
deigns, so to honour marriage as to make it an image of his sacred 
union with the Church. What greater eulogy could be pronounced on 
the dignity of marriage? How, then, dare they have the effrontery to 
give the name of unclean and polluted to that which furnishes a 
bright representation of the spiritual grace of Christ? 
    25. Though their prohibition is thus clearly repugnant to the 
word of God, they, however, find something in the Scriptures to 
defend it. The Levitical priests, as often as their ministerial 
course returned, behaved to keep apart from their wives, that they 
might be pure and immaculate in handling sacred things; and it were 
therefore very indecorous that our sacred things, which are more 
noble, and are ministered every day, should be handled by those who 
are married: as if the evangelical ministry were of the same 
character as the Levitical priesthood. These, as types, represented 
Christ, who, as mediator between God and men, was, by his own 
spotless purity, to reconcile us to the Father. But as sinners could 
not in every respect exhibit a type of his holiness, that they 
mighty however shadow it forth by certain lineaments, they were 
enjoined to purify themselves beyond the manner of men when they 
approached the sanctuary inasmuch as they then properly prefigured 
Christ appearing in the tabernacle, an image of the heavenly 
tribunal, as pacificators, to reconcile men to God. As 
ecclesiastical pastors do not sustain this character in the present 
day, the comparison is made in vain. Wherefore, the apostle declares 
distinctly, without reservation, "Marriage is honourable in all, and 
the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge," 
(Heb. 13: 4.) And the apostles showed, by their own example, that 
marriage is not unbefitting the holiness of any function, however 
excellent; for Paul declares, that they not only retained their 
wives but led them about with them, (1 Cor. 9: 5.) 
    26. Then how great the effrontery when, in holding forth this 
ornament of chastity as a matter of necessity, they throw the 
greatest obloquy on the primitive Church, which, while it abounded 
in admirable divine erudition, excelled more in holiness. For if 
they pay no regard to the apostles, (they are sometimes wont 
strenuously to condemn them,) what, I ask, will they make of all the 
ancient fathers, who, it is certain, not only tolerated marriage in 
the episcopal order, but also approved it? They forsooth, encouraged 
a foul profanation of sacred things when the mysteries of the Lord 
were thus irregularly performed by them. In the Council of Nice, 
indeed there was some question of proclaiming celibacy: as there are 
never wanting little men of superstitious minds, who are always 
devising some novelty as a means of gaining admiration for 
themselves. What was resolved? The opinion of Paphnutius was 
adopted, who pronounced legitimate conjugal intercourse to be 
chastity, (Hist. Trip. Lib. 2 c. 14.) The marriage of priests, 
therefore, continued sacred, and was neither regarded as a disgrace, 
nor thought to cast any stain on their ministry. 
    27. In the times which succeeded, a too superstitious 
admiration of celibacy prevailed. Hence, ever and anon, unmeasured 
encomiums were pronounced on virginity so that it became the vulgar 
belief that scarcely any virtue was to be compared to it. And 
although marriage was not condemned as impurity, yet its dignity was 
lessened, and its sanctity obscured; so that he who did not refrain 
from it was deemed not to have a mind strong enough to aspire to 
perfection. Hence those canons which enacted, first, that those who 
had attained the priesthood should not contract marriage; and, 
secondly, that none should be admitted to that order but the 
unmarried, or those who, with the consent of their wives, renounced 
the marriage-bed. These enactments, as they seemed to procure 
reverence for the priesthood, were, I admit, received even in 
ancient times with great applause. But if my opponents plead 
antiquity, my first answer is, that both under the apostles, and for 
several ages after, bishops were at liberty to have wives: that the 
apostles themselves, and other pastors of primitive authority, who 
succeeded them, had no difficulty in using this liberty, and that 
the example of the primitive Church ought justly to have more weight 
than allow us to think that what was then received and used with 
commendation is either illicit or unbecoming. My second answer is, 
that the age, which, from an immoderate affection for virginity, 
began to be less favourable to marriage, did not bind a law of 
celibacy on the priests, as if the thing were necessary in itself, 
but gave a preference to the unmarried over the married. My last 
answer is, that they did not exact this so rigidly as to make 
continence necessary and compulsory on those who were unfit for it. 
For while the strictest laws were made against fornication, it was 
only enacted with regard to those who contracted marriage that they 
should be superseded in their office. 
    28. Therefore, as often as the defenders of this new tyranny 
appeal to antiquity in defence of their celibacy, so often should we 
call upon them to restore the ancient chastity of their priests, to 
put away adulterers and whoremongers, not to allow those whom they 
deny an honourable and chaste use of marriage, to rush with impunity 
into every kind of lust, to bring back that obsolete discipline by 
which all licentiousness is restrained, and free the Church from the 
flagitous turpitude by which it has long been deformed. When they 
have conceded this, they will next require to be reminded not to 
represent as necessary that which, being in itself free, depends on 
the utility of the Church. I do not, however, speak thus as if I 
thought that on any condition whatever effect should be given to 
those canons which lay a bond of celibacy on the ecclesiastical 
orders but that the better-hearted may understand the effrontery of 
our enemies in employing the name of antiquity to defame the holy 
marriage of priests. In regard to the Fathers, whose writings are 
extant, none of them, when they spoke their own mind, with the 
exception of Jerome, thus malignantly detracted from the honour of 
marriage. We will be contented with a single passage from 
Chrysostom, because he being a special admirer of virginity, cannot 
be thought to be more lavish than others in praise of matrimony. 
Chrysostom thus speaks: "The first degree of chastity is pure 
virginity; the second, faithful marriage. Therefore, a chaste love 
of matrimony is the second species of virginity," (Chrysost. Hom. de 
Invent. Crucis.)

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume 4
(continued in part 14...)

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