14.But I confess. Because they had laid to Paul’s charge impiety and the polluting of the temple, he purgeth himself of both now, that Felix may understand that his adversaries were moved with evil will. − (578) For though the religion, which is pretended, be false and preposterous, yet the study thereof did oftentimes find favor with men, who took no great heed. Wherefore it was to be feared lest Felix, if he had conceived any sinister suspicion of Paul, should not only have pardoned the zeal of the priests, but also have granted their requests. Wherefore Paul doth also refute this point of the accusation; and that so, that he doth not touch the faith of the gospel, because (as we have said) that was no fit place for making confession thereof. But what is this that he saith, that he worshippeth God according to the way which they call heresy? Some think that this is added like to a concession; because the enemies take that in evil part which ought to be attributed to judgment and right election; as if Paul had said, that that form of religion which he had followed is, indeed, called heresy, but unworthily. But seeing that name was not infamous either among the Jews or Gentiles, it is unlikely that he maketh answer before a profane man, touching that which they counted everywhere rather a commendation than any vice. When Christians have conference together, the Spirit of God commandeth that heretics be counted detestable; and he teacheth us to beware of heresies, because they bring upon the Church plague, dissension, and wasteness. Therefore, it is a thing not to be suffered among the people of God, whose safety consisteth in the unity of faith. But because the Jews did then openly boast of their sects, that excuse, whereof we spake of late, was superfluous. Therefore, it remaineth that he do either mean that he is a Pharisee, or that he call the Jewish religion or the profession of the gospel (without infamy) heresy; because they were distinguished from the use and custom of all nations. Seeing he did before confess himself to be a Pharisee, there shall no inconvenience ensue, if we say that he doth repeat the same now; especially seeing he speaketh shortly after of the resurrection of the dead. But because this first point doth only contain a confession concerning the worship of the God of the fathers, I think that he doth rather speak generally of the Jewish religion, or of the Christian faith which did flow thence. Paul was a citizen of Rome, notwithstanding as he came of the Jews by his ancestry, he confesseth that he continueth in the religion which he had learned of the fathers. And to this end doth the adverb of likeness tend; for it showeth a known thing, namely, the manner of worship whereunto the Jews were addicted. He maketh express mention of the God of his fathers, because it was not lawful for a man that was a Roman to receive the doctrine of the law unless he had come of the Jews. Also he toucheth his adversaries, which handle him so cruelly; whereas, notwithstanding, they both worship one God. I (saith he) worship the same God (according to the manner delivered by mine ancestors) which they themselves worship, and even as they worship him. Neither doth that hinder because he was fallen from the ceremonies of the law, and was content with the spiritual worship of God. For Paul thinketh it sufficient for him to wipe away that blot of impiety which his adversaries had falsely cast upon him. Therefore the Papists are ridiculous, who feign that Paul alloweth [approveth] all manner [of] antiquity. We, say they, worship the God of our fathers with Paul, as the custom was delivered to us from hand to hand; as if (even they themselves being judges) it were sufficient for the Jews or Turks to hold up the same buckler against the faith of Christ. But the apostle meant nothing less than simply to ground religion in the authority of ancestors, and to defend his godliness with that defense, which might have been common to all the superstitions of the Gentiles; he meant only to stop the mouth of his adversaries. Nevertheless, he taketh this for a plain matter, that the fathers, from whom the Jewish religion came, were good and sincere worshippers of God; so that the Jews, which were not degenerate, might well boast, that the God of their fathers whom they worshipped was the only Creator of heaven and earth; and that the country gods − (579) of all the rest of the world were mere and vain inventions. −
Believing all things. A short exposition of the sentence next going before. For, because he had not simply affirmed that he worshipped God, but did add this word ουτως, or so: he doth now set down how he worshippeth God. Whereby it appeareth what great heed he taketh for fear he entangle himself in those accidental − (580) superstitions which reigned among the Jews. As if any of us do at this day answer the Papists, that he worshippeth the God whom they profess, as we be taught out of the law and out of the gospel. By this let us learn that God is not rightly worshipped, so that our obedience can please him, unless it be of faith, which is the only ground-work of godliness. For he (to the end he may prove himself to be the servant of God) doth not thrust upon them bare ceremonies; but he saith flatly that he believeth. Furthermore, this place containeth a profitable doctrine, that this is the only foundation of right and true − (581) faith, for a man to submit himself to the Scripture, and reverently to embrace the doctrine thereof. Furthermore, Paul doth in this place divide the Scripture into the law and the prophets, that he may the more plainly prove that he doth not dissent from the universal consent of the Church. −
“ Sola malevolentia impelli,” were instigated by sheer malevolence.
“ Gentiles,” the Gentile.
“ Adventitiis,” adventitious.
“ Orthodoxae,” orthodox.