Confessions of Reformed Churches

We come therefore in the next place, to prove, that all the protestant churches beyond the seas, ever since the reformation, have in their several congregations, religiously kept the feast of our Saviour’s Nativity, according to the use of the primitive church, upon the 25th day of December, and have accounted it, and maintained it to be their duty so to do; and not only the feast of the Nativity  but of the circumcision, passion, resurrection, ascension, and pentecost, as is manifested at large in the Harmony of their Confession, lately printed in English, to which I refer the English reader.  As also by their several confessions, general practice and the testimonies of their reverend and learned divines.

First for the confessions.  We shall not urge the words of every one of them in particular, because it would be to tedious, and because they are the same in substance, and the grounds and reasons of each accord:  Two or three therefore of the chief shall suffice.

And first shall be the Augustana Confession [ AD1520 ], exhibited to the Emperor, Charles the fifth, in the year One thousand, five hundred, and thirty.  The words whereof in the fourth article, are as followeth.

We teach ( say they ) that we ought not to condemn those traditions, which appoint nothing contrary to Gods Commandments, and have a civil use, or end, to with, for good order in the Church: such are the traditions concerning Holidays, Christs Birthday, Easter, and the rest; and those ancient customs we willingly retain in our Churches. 

The second shall be the Bohemian Confession, published in the year 1532. cap. 16.

We keep the Lords day holy, and those chief festivals which are consecrated to the Commemoration of Christs works, his Nativity, Passion, Resurrection, etc.  As also those which are consecrated to th ememory of Saints; as of the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, and other Saints, especially of those whom mention is made in holy writ.  All these things are done of us, by the Authority of Gods word, and in worship of God, and for his glory.

The third shall be the latter Confession of Helvetia, published in the year 1566 which was Subscribed by all the churches of ______, Poland, Hungary and revolted Scotland, as Alfred doth witness in the 37th chapter of hi sChronology, page 392. edition ___: 1650.

They in their 24th Chapter, tell us much, If the Churches according to their Christian liberty, do, or shall religiously celebrate the memory of our Lords Nativity, Circumcision, Passion, resurrection, Ascension into Heaven, and sending of the Holy Ghost upon hte Disciples, we do in especial manner approve of it.

Note here I pray you, to the Scotts everlasting shame, that all the Churches or Kirks of Scotland, did subscribe this Confession of Helvetia, and that now at this day they generally speak against the keeping of Christs Birthday.  How true then is our Northern Proverb, As false as _____ ?  No marvel then if they ______ their King, that thus slight their faith, and despise the comming of the King of Kings.

Nay more, they have herein with Ephesus, forsaken their first love, for if we read the life of William Cooper, Bishop of Galloway, in the 12 page we may find, that hte Scottish Church for 800 years after Christ, before it was polluted with Popery, did give the Communion upon the 25th day of December by them accounted the day of Christs Nativity: which is also avouched by Mr. Ley, in his Sunday a Sabbath, page 173.

With these forementioned confessions, agree all the rest, as that of the four cities, Argentine, Constance, Memmimge, and Lindavia, called by some, the Confession of Sweethland, published in th eyear 1530.  That of Basil, 1531, that of Saxonse, 1551, that of Wittemberg, 1552, that of France, 1559 that of Germany 1556.

Add to thse the joint answer of the Protestants, in the year 1541 with the consent of all the Reformed churches of Poland, the greater and the lesse; also the churches of Russia, Lithuania, Samgoitia, in that famous Synod of Sendmore, in the year 1570 Denmark, Swede, and all the Lutherans, as appears by Luthers Hymns sun by them upon the day.

Add lastly to them all the late National Scottish Covenant, wherein the words that are to be voewd protested, and sworn by them that take it are

That they sall endeavour the reformation of the Church of England, in Doctrine, Discipline,a nd Worship, according  to Gods Word, and the Example, and Practice of the best reformed Churches.

Now all the best reformed churches keep the day of Christs Birht, as a day o fholy worship, and thanksgiving, even all of them at this day, and ever since their reformation.  Then, I beseech you note, that whosoever he be, or whether a faithless Scotsman, or a Scottified Englishman, that hat taken that Covenant, and doth not endeavour, and labour yearly to keep holy the twenty fifth day of December, or the annual day of Christs Nativity, is in plain English and Scoth, absolutely forswon, for not worshipping God and Christ thereupon, in the public congregation, as they of the best reformed churches do.

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Modern Divines

In the next place, we add the testimony of the best and most famous divines of those reformed churches, who concerning the keeping of these festivals, stoutly maintain, both by scripture and reason, what their churches delivered in their confessions.  I shall name only the chief.

First Calvin, Instit. lib 4. cap 10. In verba Augustin: approves the keeping of them, and in his epistle to Hallerus, sorrows very much that these festival days were put down in diverse places.  And moreover for the day of Christs birth, he saith and avoucheth, that the day of Christs birth was better known then that it should now be called into question; and calls the anabaptists that question it, Aerti Daemones, Aerie Divels.  And accordingly the church of Geneva doth annualy celebrate it, as we may read in Perths Assembly confuted. p. 85.   And in France, their most notable preachers give the communion on that day.

Secondly, Zanchie, that treasure of learning and knowledge, Vol 4. lib. I cap. 19 in quartam precept: thesi secunda, proves at large, that it was kept holy in the purer times, and that it ought to be so kept, and yearly observed by all true Christians at this day by sound reasons, which you shall read ……….

Thirdly, Zwingli, rector of the church of Zurich, accounts the birthday of our Lord among those holidays that he would have observed [citation unclear].

Fourthly, Bullinger [citation unclear] saith, Though it is no where said that the  Lords day was enjoined in the writings of the apostles; yet because in the fourth commandment of the first table the care of religion, and the diligent exercise of outward worship is commanded it were contrary to piety, and Christian charity, not to sanctify the Lords Day, especially seeing that outward worship cannot consist without a set time, and an holy rest:  the same we ought to judge of the holidays, or feasts of our Lord Christ, in which we celebrate the memory of his his nativity, incarnation, circumcision, passion, resurrection, ascension, in to heaven, and sending down the holy ghost upon his disciples.

Fifthly, Palanus, professor of divinity in the University of Basil, placeth the feast of Christ’s nativity under the title of The Anniversary Feast of the New Testament; which he defines to be holy times appointed among Christians for the worship of go d in public; that is, to maintain the consent of the faith among themselves, for the preaching of Gods word, and the use of the sacraments, and with one accord to yield due worship unto God in the due sacrifice of thanksgiving, prayers, and alms.  Syntagma Theolog. lib. 9. c. 35.

Sixthly, John Gerhard professor of divinity in the University of Jena (?), who hath gathered together many godly sentences out of the ancient fathers, for the furtherance, and help of our meditations on the day of Christs Nativity.

And what should we say more ?  For the time would fail us, to tell of Melancthon, in Responsione protestantium.  Festus Hommius, in the name of all the reformed Churches, coll: Antibellar: aisp: 41 thesi 3.  Of Bucer in Matth. cap 12 loco de feriis.  Of Ursin, Tract. Theol: in 4. praecep: Of Hemmingius lib: hom: Of Chytraeus in desposit: Epistol: Sub initio: of our countryman Hooker, Eccl. pol. l. 5.  Of famous Andrews, in his sermons; of learned Reynolds, in his conference with Hart, c. 8. divis: secunda, and many others, famous for piety and learning, who by their sermons, writings, examples, have justified the yearly observation of Christs Birthday, upon the 25th of December, grounding upon the word of God, the traditions of the Apostles, and the practice of the primitive and reformed churches.

Reasons

Next to the practice of Gods Church, reason comes in as an armed man, to confirm the truth, and to maintain the particular observation of the fore mentioned day.  The reasons are many, for brevity sake we shall only for the present allege three, which Zanchie, that great treasurer of learning, and religion, doth prompt unto us in the fore cited place.

His first reason is drawn, because it is praise worthy to observe this day, grounded upon the chief ends for which feasts were instituted among the Jews, which are three, as Thomas Aquinas recites them, 2 parte summa, quest 102 art. 4

The first, that they might remember the works of the Lord, and the blessings that at such times they had received.

The second, to give God thanks for them.

The third, That at such times they might freely offer large gifts, for the relief of the priests, and poor people.

If therefore ( saith he ) for the commemoration of such benefits and blessings at such times bestowed by God, feasts were instituted among the Jews; why then should any man dare to affirm that the Church of Christ may not also institute and keep the feasts that we have mentioned, that by observing those solemn days, those blessings may be kept in mind, which we have received from the bounty of Jesus Christ, and the famous works which he upon those days did perform for us, the certain historical relation whereof we have in the evangelists.

Therefore, upon such festival days, seeing they are to be kept holy in remembrance of such benefits received from Christ, and of all that he did and suffered for us, the histories of those particulars ought to be read and explained to the people, which the ancient primitive church was always wont to do; wherefore ( saith he ) I do utterly condemn those ministers, who upon such days do strictly prosecute their ordinary texts, that if upon Easter day a text of Christs Passion, do come in their way, they will explain that, and will by no means choose any of those that make mention of the resurrection.

His second reason is drawn, We ought to solemnize the feast of our Saviour’s Nativity, and those other of his Resurrection, etc.  Because it is a point of honesty so to do; for if that be honest  ( as Cicero defines it ) which  though it be not actually praised, yet it is praise worthy  it must needs follow, that it is a point of honesty, to solemnize those feasts which the ancient church graced with a solemnity before us;  because it is a point of honesty, and praise worthy to follow antiquity in things not evil in themselves, but indifferent;  for it ought to be our judgement, that the ancients had a sufficient, and a well grounded cause for the doing of such things, especially in the instituting and, appointing of such festival days.

His third reason, is drawn, We ought ( saith he ) to keep the holy birthday of our Saviour, and his other feasts, by reason of the great profit that accrues unto us, and others in the observation of the same:  For it is not ( saith he ) in the tongue of man to express what great profit the common people do gain by the due observing of those days, and coming to church to give God thanks thereupon;  whereupon the passages of those things that were done by our Saviour, for the good and salvation of their souls, are read and explained unto them, and a treasure of good things are begot in them.  Let me add, all the articles of the creed, are in a manner every year more and more made known unto them; and they upon every festival built up in their most holy faith; and that increased by the annual exposition, and confirmation, they being taught to believe in God, that made Heaven and Earth, by his Son, by whom he made the world, Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord who as conceived by the Holy Ghost, upon the day of the annunciation, upon which day the world was created.

To believe that he was Born of the Virgin Mary, upon the feast of his Nativity.

That he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, and descended into hell, upon the day of his passion.

That the third day he rose again from the dead, and that we by  virtue of his resurrection shall rise again at the last day, and have everlasting life after death, upon the feast of his resurrection.

That he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, and shall come again to judge both the quick and dead, upon the feast o f his Ascension.

That he sent down the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to gather unto him an Holy Catholic Church, in which he would establish a forgiveness of sins, and a communion of saints, upon the feast of Pentecost.

Behold the form of the sound words, which we are to hold fast, and the body of  that saith without which our souls cannot be saved, delivered upon those festivals; so that by the labor and industry of Orthodox and painful ministers, Christ Jesus may day by day be formed in the hearts and souls of their people, they yearly with St. Paul, travelling in Birth of them, may make them so grow in grace, and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, that they may bring them up at last to be perfect men and women in him.  Begetting them at the conception, bringing them forth new creatures upon the nativity, cutting of the foreskin of their hearts at the circumcision, enlightening their minds, and bringing them out of darkness into his marvelous light, upon the epiphany; teaching them to crucify their affections an d lusts on Good Friday, and to rise to newness of life on Easter day; to set their affections upon things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God upon Holy Thursday, that he may send down the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to lead them into all truth,upon the day of Pentecost, and into this truth above others, that they kiss the Son of God, upon the day of his Nativity, and so they perish not from the right way, ( which  with grief of heart I write it )  too many have done that they have neglected the celebration of this blessed day.  Alas, alas!  how many poor, unlearned people are there, that cannot read anything concerning Christ, or what they are to believe concerning him, not to hear anything of Christ, but when they come to church upon such festival days.

Let me add another reason also, that we should keep these days holy, and that a grand one; It is that we may give no offence to the weaker brethren, who if the observation of these days should be laid aside, and we should condemn and despise the keeping of them, those poor ignorant souls would be verily persuaded that we did not care for, nor regard those great things that Christ either did or suffered for us, and that we did not count them worth the thanksgiving.

I conclude my reasons with the words of St. Augustine; Next after the holy scriptures, we are to observe those rites and customs, which came either from the apostles, by tradition, or are judged to be decreed by general counsels; such are those feasts of the ancient and purer Church, annually observed over the whole world, all which were kept in the honor of Jesus Christ: to wit, the Lords Day, Easter, Pentecost, Ascension, Passion,  Supper of the Lord, and the Nativity.

Give me leave to add the words of worth Zanchie, concerning the particular Feast of the Birthday of every particular Man, how mean soever, especially of princes and great ones, as of Herod, of which we read in the gospel, and that not without reason, for it is a special blessing that anyone created by God, in the womb of his Mother, should be brought alive into this world; therefore as God would have the sabbath to be kept holy, in  remembrance of the creation of the world, that thanks might be given to the creator for so great a benefit:  so it must needs be a piece of great thank fullness too, and well accepted of Almighty God, that any man shall keeping memory the day that he was born, and regard and honor it more than other days, in rejoicing thereupon, giving thanks to God, soberly feasting with his neighbors, and giving more largely to the poor, then at other times.

How much more ought the day of our Saviours Birth, in a more excellent, devout, and rejoicing manner, annually to be observed and kept by all that bear the  name of Christian, and hope for salvation by that blessed Babe, that now came into the world to save sinners, whereof they must needs be the chief that despise the day of so great Salvation; work and follow their callings  when it should be their only work to remember what the Lord Jesus upon this day did for them, and sing praise to his name.

Miracles

Methinks what hath been said already might persuade any reasonable christian to the due observation of the day.  But alas, I find of late,  [people] in England, to whom Christ came and they received him not, John 1:11.  Who unless they see signs and wonders, they will not believe, and then neither;  so stupid they are, and obstinate  yet whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, whether they will believe or continue in unbelief, and believe no man but themselves; let them know, that divers and sundry miracles have been wrought in diverse nations, upon the twenty fifth day o  December, to confirm it to have been the very day of our Saviour’s Birth; as the Fountain of Ogle(?) breaking out in Rome, the tongue tying of the Divels Oracles, the amity of the Beasts, and many more, which you may find in Gregory Turonensis, which I may not now repeat; but especially two wrought here in England, confirming that the keeping of the day, upon the twenty fifth of the fore said month, according to the old Julian account, is authentic, true and orthodox.

The one is the oak in the new forest  sacra jovi quercus, an oak consecrated to the Son of God, left as a lasting witness to this truth, even there, where so many churches were demolished, wherein it should have been preached.  Abraham the father of the faithful, feasted the son of God in the likeness of man, even Abraham that rejoiced to see his day, and saw it, and was glad, under the Oak of Mamre, and this oak so long after desires to show unto the faithful, the day of his incarnation, and to solemnize the same by wearing every year upon this very day, new and green leaves upon it: as showing to posterity, that as this day Truth sprung out of the earth of Mary’s womb, and righteousness looked down from heaven; signifying also, that in his days the righteous should flourish, and that the should grow up as a tender plant in a dry ground, his fruit should shake like Lebanon  and be green as grass upon the earth; that he is the chief of our strength, and that as the leaves, bark , and fruit of that tree are all medicinal, so should Christ be that Tree of Life, Rev 22:2 whose leaves should heal the nations.

The other is that thorne by Glastenburie, growing as the tradition goes, on Josephs Grave.  But whether that be true or no, I know not, it may be;  this I am certain, that the whole country cries it up for a truth, and a known one, that time out of mind, even to this day, it hat every year blossomed in full measure, upon the twenty fifth day of our December  near that place where Joseph of Arimathea, that buried our Saviour’s Christ, first arrived, and first preached the gospel in this our Island, to witness to all posterity, that our Saviour’s Christ did as that Day, bud and blossom out of the earth.

That very thorn in a mysterious manner, pricing deep, and reproving to the quick, the dead unthankfulness of many men, while that poor thorn, as it were, in way of thankfulness to its Creator, doth gratefully shoot forth his blossoms upon the very day of his birth, who did honor and grace all thorns so much, as to wear a crown of thorns upon the day of his death; and signifying by the white blossoms  that the King that was born that day, and wore the thorny crown when he died, is now risen again, and wears a crown of glory; and moreover, by the long livedness of the same, intimates to dull mortals, that he that was that day born, and died on Good Friday, corned in that manner, is still alive, and lives forevermore.  And further yet, that those men that are of such a thorny disposition, and touchy froward behavior  as not to suffer their souls as this day to send out the white and pleasant blossoms of thanksgiving, for his birth, shall at the day of their death, like thorns that are dead, be cast into unquenchable fire.  Christ then coming to destroy all such briers and thorns, as the soldiers of the King of Ashur, are called, who came to destroy Jerusalem  the holy city, Gods Temple, priests, and ordinances, and to put an end to  the solemn feasts, Isa 10:17 to whom for such an intention the prophet tells them, that the light of Israel should be for a fire, and his holy one for a flame, and it should burn and devour all such briers and thorns in one day:  And shall consume the glory of his forest, and his fruitful field, both soul  and  body, ver 18

What shall I say more ?  But, that if the things that have been done in England, had been done among the wild and savage Americans, they had believed in Christ, and honored his day long  ago:  But here is the condemnation  that the marvelous light as this day came into the world, and that this day, was the day of its coming, hat been among us of this Island, believed, and yearly is confirmed by miracles, and yet many blinded ones among us, both clergy and laity, shut their eyes and will not see, loving darkness rather than light.

Pardon me ( or will you not, choose ) for I am full of godly jealousy for the honor of my Saviour’s Birthday, and will affirm even to my last breath, that it was upon the twenty fifth day of December, and is every year to be kept holy, and that Dies Dominica, that Lords day by way of eminence, from which our Lords day, kept every first day of the week, doth take its denomination, and name, rather then from that of the resurrection, and that it was that Lords day mentioned by St. John  Revel 1:10 upon which he was in the spirit, upon which Christ Jesus did appear unto him in that glorious shape, which is the opinion of diverse and good divines; and the first primitive fathers do also persuade me to believe it, while they, in their writings, as Zanchie well observes, do affirm, that the churches of God did everywhere, in their time, yearly and solemnly celebrate the feast of the Lords Day, besides the Feast of the Passover, Easter, and the Resurrection, as the chief feast in the year, as a distinct feast from the same.

This great and principal feast then, of the Lords Day, could be no other ( being by them so precisely distinguished from the day of Christs Resurrection ) but the feast of Christmas, or the day of our Lords Nativity, from which, and not from Easter day, all the Sundays in the year, became to be called Lords days, the truth whereof will appear as clear as the sun, to any that will take the  pains to compare Ignatius in his epistle, ad Magnes, with Justin Martyr, apol 2. ad finem, Euseb lib 4. c. 23 Iraeneus l 4. c. 23 ad Victorem Romanum apud Sozomen: Tertullian lib de idolat pag 376 lib de Corona Militis, Augustine Tom 2. ep. 119. ad Januar decivit dei lib 22 c. 30 de verbis Apostolis Ser 15. Cyrill in Johan lib 17. cap 58 Euseb lib 1. cap. 23,24 Socrates lib 5. cap 22  And to shutup all, take here the words of a most eminent divine, whose learning and piety hat placed him beyond exception, Bishop Andrews ( I mean ) in his sermon upon John, chap 8 verse 56.  There is ( saith he ) no day so properly Christs, as his Birthday, which may appear, if we set it in comparison with other days of most honorable note, as the day of his Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension: for the day of his Passion, that was not so properly his, because two Thieves suffered with him at the same time, in the same place, after the same manner, Luke 23:32,33.  Nor the day of his Resurrection, for as he rose from the dead, so did others, the same day, and went into the holy city, Mat 27:52,53.  Nor the day of his Ascension, for Enoch and Elias, had their ascension too, and long before his, Gen 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11.  But his Birthday was without a fellow:  None ever so born, none ever so both such; and therefore ( as no festivity is besides it ) it is attended as Christ himself, with an apostolical retinue of Holidays.

Objections Answered

What we have written may be sufficient to satisfy all gainsayers, and to make the sun dimming clouds of all fanatical objections, for to vanish, and to bring in the clear morning of the day; but Beroaldus the author of the Scripture Almanack, with their foolish hemmings, and others their followers, have told their lies so often, that they believe them to be truths, and the sun of righteousness, that was born this Day, hath given them over, that they should believe a lie, because they received not the love of this truth concerning the birthday of the Son of God; so that counting themselves wise, they are become fools.

That worthy, learned laborious judicious gentleman, Edward Fisher, hath lately, sufficiently brayed them and their foolish objections  in a mortar  yet I doubt they will ever be the wiser.  Their objections are so ridiculous, self confuting, idle, vain, erroneous, that I would not defile my paper with them but that Solomon bids me, Answer a fool in his folly, lest he seem wise in his own conceit.

These Jesuites, ex ignorantia, cry out as Campian the Jesuite did, Scripture, Patres Concilia Rationes,etc.  Scriptures, Fathers, Councils, Reasons etc. all are on our side, they are indeed but as rods for the backs of fools.

(1) For Scripture, Christ ( say they ) was born when Augustus made the whole world to be taxed and all went to be taxed, every one to his own city, Luke 2:1-3, which could not be in the winter, because it is not to be believed that the wise emperor would command poor men to come in winter to their own towns.

(2) The shepherds were then in the fields watching over their flocks (v.8) and the winter was no fitting time for it:  A sheepish argument, fitter for a shepherds boy, than a shepherd of Israel.  Christ was not born in England, but in Judea, and there were wolves there, and therefore the shepherds were to watch their flocks at all times; or become like many of our English, who when the wolf comes fly away.

(3) But Christ ( say they ) according as our affirmation, was born and baptized about the same time, it could not then be in midwinter, it being not wholesome for men to go up then to the head in water.

To kill these three birds with one bolt.  The Land of Canaan is found to extend itself for latitude from the 36 degree and 52 minutes  to the 33 and 44 minutes, and for longitude, it is placed between the 64 degree, and 22 minutes, and the 69 degree and 10 minutes, for that it is included fully and wholly in the third climate, in which Fez and Morocco are situated, where the winter season ( as every geographer and mariner will tell us ) is hotter than our May here in England, and yet Canaan in heat exceeds Fez and Morocco, lying about 40 degrees nearer the east then they do.

The scripture saith as much, Leviticus 23:5,6,10,11, For in regard that a sheaf of the first fruits of harvest was yearly offered on the second day after the passover, which was the 16th day of Abib and is with us the 27th of March ( which 27 according to the true account falls upon the 15 of our March ) it must necessarily follow, that the temperature of the month December in the Land of Canaan, is answerable to our May, if not June; the season of the year could no way hinder, either the execution of Ceasars decree, or the shepherds being in the fields, nor our Saviors going into the river Jordan in December.

What they urge out of the first of Luke, concerning the conception of John, that it should be in the beginning of July, because the course of Abiab, Zacharias course, the eighth course of the priests, fell in the end of June, and that course lasted a fortnight, is not only disclaimed by Beroaldus, their patron, who not fitting to be a chronologer, confesseth, we do neither understand when the course of Zachariah was, nor how long it lasted; But proves them to be natural brute beasts that cannot number;  we desire no better argument then this computation to prove the very day, for let them compute from the third day of the month Adar, and the sixth year of Darius, Ezra 6:15.  When the priests were set in their divisions  and their courses began, being in all twenty four, and ever course continuing one whole week, till the year of the world, wherein John was conceived, and they shall find that Zachariah’s course fell in September, and then that by their own argument, Johns conception must be in that month, then in the sixth month after Christs, Luke 1:26 etc, which is March; then let them go to any teaming sister, and she will assure them, that Christ ( according to scripture and the common course of women ) must be born in December.

As for their Fathers they urge, they will not help them.  Clement of Alexandria, saith that in his days there was a question about the certainty of Christs Birth ?  Men in these days question both his godhead and manhood, quid ergo is he therefore neither God nor Man ?

But Cyrill saith, that the Church of Alexandria celebrated at first, the birthday of John the Baptist, on the twenty third day of April, in his Homilies, or twelve books on John, and therefore Christ must be born in October.

Like father, like sons, both bastards, these works of the Father accounted so, by by papists and protestants, it being certain, that ___________ wrote four books of the twelve, and the rest are accounted spurious  both by Mr. Perkins, and by Bellarmine, Catalog. Eccl. Scriptorum ad an: 430  Neither is it likely to be true, that the Church of Alexandria should at the first celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, in April, seeing the Egyptian churches ( of which that of Alexandria was the chief) did ever maintain that Christ was born on the twenty fifth day of December, and yearly kept that day Festival in memory thereof, as Genebrard hath showed out of their own accounts and calendars, and not only they, but the Greek churches, and so did the Arabian, Persian, Syrian Churches, as learned Mr. Gregory hat fully proved in his Notes and Observations, Chapter 34.

But grant the words of the forged Cyrill were true, and that they kept Johns birthday, April 23.  It seems they fell from the observation, and found themselves in an error, and judged the Greek and Latin churches to be in the right who kept it annually and constantly on the twenty fourth of June, as Causabon confesseth.  I would they would leave their errors likewise.

May be they would, but that Epiphanius ( say they ) saith, that Christ was born the fifth of January; take heed, that was in winter, and one of the twelve days [of Christmas], I doubt you will turn smell feasts, but let me tell you, as for liars, we had rather have their room than their company; and you believe your Father, for Epiphanius who if he were alive, would put you in the catalog of his heretics, doth indeed twice affirm that Christ was born in the year 33, year of the first Herod, the son of Antipater, which was the forty second year of Augustus Ceaser, as you read, lib 1. cont. heres. haer 20 lib 3 haer 78.  But not a word, either of the month, nor day of the month.

Will you yield yet ?  No, for our countryman Bede tells us, that for certain the Indications began on the 24th of September, and that our Lord was born when the fourth Indication began, therefore Christ was born on the 24th of September.   Help Neighbors   Born in October, saith Cyrill, in January, saith Epiphanius, and now in September, saith Bede, and all lies; for the two former said no such matter, neither the last, for our countryman doth not say that Christ was born when the fourth Indication began, but in the fourth, and an Indication, according to Bucholzerus, being the space of fifteen years, Christ might very well be born in the beginning of the Indication, though he was born three months after the first day thereof.

Well poor babes, your fathers forsake you, will your reasons take you up ?  I doubt they are to weak to heave such blocks from the ground; but lets try their strength.

1.  Taxes and Collections of Tribute began on the twenty fourth day of September, as appears by the Indications which were instituted to bear account of the payment of tribute by Constantine the Great, Anno Dom. 312.  Therefore Augustus  his decree, that all the world should be taxed, went out on the twenty fourth of September, and so Christ was born on that day.   Hysteron Proteron, brains and stairs.

But 2. The Church of England doth not celebrate the true day of Christs Birth, nor the Churches beyond Sea, because the Gregorian account errs almost two days, and the Julian more than twelve days, therefore the Church of England errs ?

No such matter; for though we do not celebrate the very day exactly and precisely taken, yet we celebrate the true day according to the Julian account which account is generally embraced by the Protestants, and not to be despised, saith Calvisius; well, suppose it be not the very day, I hope you will maintain that the day of Christs Resurrection, or Easter day, is yearly to be kept holy.  I pray you tell me, how often it falls in the same month, or on the same day ?  Suppose the day were not certainly known, yet the church hat power to ordain one annually to be kept in remembrance of so great a mercy, and that of her self, by her own power, it being not so much the day, as the benefit, we remember. Tolle & lege 2 Chron 30 23.  And consider that free will seven days feast, kept after the passover.

Again, in case we know the day strictly, yet it is not absolutely necessary for us to keep it on that day always, if the Church appoint, or think the contrary; for the Jews did not keep their Purim on the same day of the year whereon their deliverance was given them, but on the next day after, as you may read in Esther;  The passover was to be eaten in the first mont, Exodus 12:2-3 yet Hezekiah and his people kept it in the second month, contrary to the institution in that particular, 2 Chron 30:2-3 and yet they were accepted as you may read, verse 20.

3. Yea, but [ need citation ] tells us, in his Scripture Almanack, that the Saturnalia, those mad feasts to saturn, the fatehr of the gods, were kept at the same time by the heathen, that the Christians keep their Christmas, and that you have your karrils from ceres, the goddes of corn, in which feasts at the same time a sheaf was offered to her; and that you have your word yule, or ule, from … a hymn then offered in her praise.

Sirs, give over for shame, all these are as false as the Almanack, for our word yule is from the norman word nule, or ule, which signifies new, the sheaf was not offered to ceres in december, nor the hymn in her praise, but at her own feast, which was in April, as Ovid averrs, [ citation needed ].  Nor did the Saturnalia, which lasted for three days, begin on the 25th of December but on the 27th as Macrobius doth witness; but suppose the contrary; May not Christians set a day a part to Gods service, in that month that heathens made feasts to their idols ?  If so, we must bid adieu to all public services, and serve your humors, and conclude, that the Jews did very well to keep their feast of tabernacles, according to Gods command, in the month of September, seeing the heathens kept their Bacchanalia, after the same manner, at the same time ?  So Plutarch.

But lastly, your feasting doth offend us:  Your plum pottage, and minced pies, do offend our taste and smell; your bay and rosemary, holly and ivy, box, and privit, with all your green strewings, and trimming your churches and houses, do offend our pure eyes, and your carrolls and songs do offend our sanctified ears.

Alas brethren, we cannot help it; we must not offend God, in striving not to offend you;  it is not we that give, but you that take; and we may not neglect our duty, to please your humors.

We keep the day Festivally, we ought to do it, as we have shown already, we have warrant for it, Esther. 9:22 from the Jews practice, who for a less blessing, kept the 14 and 15 of Adar yearly, as the days wherein the Jews rested, and the month which was turned unto them, from sorrow to joy, and from mourning to a good day;  that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and of gifts to the poor.  And likewise from the command of Nehemiah, and Ezra, in the like case; This day is holy unto the Lord your God, mourn not, nor weep; go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. [ Nehemiah 8:9-10 ]   Tell me did ever the Church of England celebrate this day, in any other manner then the Jews were commanded to do those ?  Did you ever know any yule game suffered thereupon ?  Was it not as religiously and devoutly kept, by hearing the word, receiving the Sacrament, offering up the Sacrifice of thanksgiving for Christs coming into the world, and relieving his poor members, as ever you did any Sabbath day in the year ?  Nay, I will affirm that you never heard any harp or violin in our feasts upon that day ( as the Jews had ) but our chief work  was to remember, as we ought, the work of the Lord thereupon, and the operation of husbands, that as this day the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, upon the morning of the day, breaking out in darkness, he making the day his own, by being born thereupon, we will therefore be glad, and rejoice in it.

As for our plum-pottage, and minced pies, stand off, and do not let them trouble you, we dare eat, making no question of conscience sake, because our stomachs are strengthened by that forecited piece of invitation, Nehemia 8:10 Eat the fat, and drink the sweet.  And brethren, though you will not put your spoons into our platter, yet gie me leave to reach a spoonfull of instruction to your souls, from our pie and pottage, that you would endeavour to join with us in the main of our feasting, which is, to taste and see how sweet our Lord Jesus is.  Do not you cry out prophane now, if you do, St. Paul will stop your mouth, who makes the same use of, and raiseth the like instruction from, the unleavened bread that the Jews used in the passover; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened, for even Christ our Passover is crucified for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  Behold two table doctrines, one of Easter, the other of Christmas, both raised from the viands.

As for our bays and rosemary, and other green trimmings of our Churches and houses, truly brethren, we do and may do it, by the same warrant that the Israelites in the Feast of Tabernacles, Neh 8:16, did go out to the mountain and fetch olive, myrtle, and palm branches, to adorn their booths withall, they are as significant as these; their booths so trimmed up with those branches, and built in the streets, according to Gods command, signified, and put them in mind, that they were pilgrims in the wilderness, and that their fathers dewlt in tabernacles:  So as our meat, which is more choice than other times, puts us in mind o nthat day of Christs sinless humanity, and our strong drink of his spiritual consolation:  So our Churches and Houses, decked with bays and rosmary, holly and ivy, and other plants which are always green, winter and summer, signify and put us in mind of his Diety,  that the child that now was born, was God and Man, should spring up like a tender plant, should always be green and flourishing, and live for ever more. Therefore thus the spouse entertains her beloved, whose bed is always green, Canticles 1:16 and shows Jesus Christ to be yesterday, and today, and the same forever.

As to our songs and carrolls, brethren, they are collected and composed out of the scriptures, contain matter of instruction, and edification, they implant the history and benefits of Christs birth, in the minds of poor, ignorant people; and often times he is taken by a song, that will fly a sermon.  Such songs are like the son gof Moses, which learned by heart, put the people in mind of what God hat done for them, as upon that day,  and such are most fitting for the time, and we have an order for them, under St. Pauls own hand, Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, in Psalms, and Hymns, and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  Brethren, remember what the King said to those men who were bid to the Marriage of his Son, and would not come, but went about their husbandry, and other occasions, Not one of these shall taste of my supper, etc.  The Day of Christs Birth, was the day of the Marriage of the Son of God, when the two natures formerly had-fasted in the conception, were now declared forever Married, never to be severed, that Marriage-day is annually to be kept by us in remembrance.  I invite you all against the next year, if you will not come, I cannot force you, I leave you to the coming of the Bridegroom, and then you shall know whether you shall taste of his Supper.

Conclusion

I will say no more, but that notwithstanding all your pettish oppositions, this truth shall stand steadfast, that,

The 25th day of December ought annually to be kept holy as a festival, and thanksgiving day by all Christians;  let the learned Zanchie speak the epilogue.

So much the scriptures teach, so much the fathers, so much the holy doctors of our days; in a word, The ancient use and custom, received and approved in all the particular churches of all places and nations, do approve and maintain so much as hath been spoken, and (let me add) so much the fore mentioned Miracles.


Now he that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; he that is ignorant, let him be ignorant still. But he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Behold he comes quickly, and his reward is with him, to give every man according to his work, to them both that do, and do not

Opus Diei in Die Suo(?)

Till the, grace and peace be to all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and the day of his appearing.


Amen, HALLELUAH