Christ, the high priest, when the prophet was imprisoned, than whom no greater has arisen born of women, did not impose the interdict, nay not even when Herod beheaded him. Yea, when he himself was stripped, beaten and blasphemed by the soldiers, scribes, Pharisees, officers, and priests, not even then did he pronounce any malediction, but he prayed, saying: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
Now, these things being considered, the faithful should know how many prelates, clergy and laity are excommunicated of God; for all who depart from the Lord’s commandments are excommunicated, and also how many excommunicate themselves when they put excommunication on others, or publish it.
An act, in order to be virtuous, must be justified by eight circumstances, which are set forth in this line:
Who, what, where, how much, how many, why, in what manner, when.
Hence, it is, that no obedience made to a superior profits for merit except in so far as it leans towards obedience of the counsels and commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is clear, for obedience to Christ, owed or performed, is in and by itself a reason of merit which increases or diminishes with the degree of obedience or disobedience. Hence nothing is more religious than obedience unto God.
We are not bound to follow any apostle, except in so far as he follows Jesus Christ, so it is evident by the limitation laid down by the apostle that we are bound to obey no prelate who has lived since the apostles, except as he commands or counsels Christ’s counsels or commands.
Just as, therefore, a true Christian is one who follows Christ in his life, so a truly apostolic man is the priest who follows the teaching of the apostles, living the life of an apostle and teaching his doctrine. Hence, any pope is to be called apostolic so far as he teaches the doctrine of the apostles and follows them in works. But, if he puts the teaching of the apostles aside, teaching in word or works what is contrary, then he is properly called pseudo-apostolic or an apostate.
Up to this point it is to be noted that human obedience is threefold — spiritual, secular and ecclesiastical — spiritual, which is due purely according to God’s law, and under this kind of obedience Christ and the apostles lived and each Christian should live. Secular obedience is obedience due according to the secular code. Ecclesiastical obedience is obedience according to the regulations of the priests of the church aside from the express authority of Scripture.
Further, the aforementioned doctors lay down that certain of the Bohemian clergy, leaning too little on the pope and the college of cardinals, do not want to agree to this, wishing to have holy Scripture for the only judge in such matters, which Scripture they interpret and wish to have interpreted according to their own heads, not caring for the interpretation accepted by the community of wise men in the church nor…
It should be evangelical wisdom that all priests are consecrated and guided directly by the one and only pontiff, our Lord Jesus Christ. For this was so at the time of the apostles, when the church grew, and this statement accords with Scripture. Therefore, God is able to bring his church back to its pristine state by taking away the government from the pope and cardinals. And so it stands that others besides these may be vicars of the apostles.
For many have been saved in Judea, Asia and Ethiopia who have believed in Christ, following the teaching of the apostles, and who did not expressly recognize Peter, nay, or expressly believe what concerns Peter, just as they did not hear anything about him.
Inasmuch as these doctors are not writers of sacred Scripture — it being granted that they excel by their sanctity — the faithful are not, therefore, to think a thing is true because they feel it to be true unless by other writers of Scripture or for canonical or probable reasons they prove that these points do not deviate from the truth.
“To be subject to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation for every human being.” But there is no other such pontiff except the Lord Jesus Christ himself, our pontiff. This is so because the humanity of Christ is not subject to any other pontiff as of necessity to salvation, inasmuch as God hath exalted him and given him a name which is to be the most worthy above every other name.
The true worshippers of Christ, wishing to obtain that power, ought to resist every assumed power which seeks to remove them from the imitation of Christ by force or craft, for, in thus resisting such power we do not resist the ordinance of God but the abuse of power. And such abuse, in respect to the power of the keys, the simoniacs exercise who allege that they can either damn the deserving or loose those who are bound, and they do this because the obedience they falsely demand is refused them or for the sake of the gain they derive.
Christ’s disciple ought to be on his guard against the fallacy of antichrist, when the following course of argument is pursued: Whatsoever Christ’s vicar shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, but this faithful layman who does not wish to give money for his absolution, him he binds on earth. Therefore, this layman is bound in heaven. Likewise, whatsoever Christ’s vicar shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven, but him who is not contrite and yet is willing to give money, him he looses on earth.
It is not a matter of much doubt to the simple Christian — faithful — that Peter did not dare to claim to be the head of the holy catholic church, for the reason that he did not rule over the whole church and did not excel above the whole church in dignity, nor was he the bridegroom of the catholic church.
Whoever has in common with others faith formed in love, this suffices for salvation when accompanied with the grace of perseverance. For God, who gave the first faith, will give to his soldier clearer faith, unless he puts some hindrance in the way. For God does not demand of all his children that they should continuously during their sojourn here be in the particular act of thought about any particular point of faith, but it is enough that, putting aside inertia and callousness, they have faith formed as a habit.
It has been said that Christ is the sole Head of the holy universal church and all the predestinate, past and future, are his mystical body and every one of them members of that body. It remains now briefly to examine whether the Roman church is that holy universal church, the bride of Christ.
The body of Christ is called the mystical body on account of the mystery of the heavenly marriage between Christ and the church, the body of the devil is not likewise mystical but dark, because to be joined with the devil as one of his members does not express itself directly in mystery but in the scourge.
Finally, in order to show that those least are the reprobate, who teach good things with their lips and break them with bad living, they will not only not be as the least in the eternal life in the future, but will not be there at all.
Christ is the head of the holy church, in whom the fathers believed as the one who was for to come in virtue of his humanity that he might be their head in his humanity as he had always been present with them in his divinity. And in this head all the elect are united, together with the holy angels.
For as the members compose one body to which the soul is joined, and again as each member is necessary to every other, the one helping the other in the performance of its functions, so it is true of the members of the church by virtue of the power of communion and the bond of love. Again as the members of the body keep themselves in their own function, so do also the members of the church.
Therefore, the whole of Christian doctrine is involved in that prayer of the church in which we pray the bridegroom, by his coming into the flesh, that he may teach us to despise earthly things and love heavenly things — to despise, that is, to subordinate, terrestrial things in our affections and to love Christ the bridegroom above all things.
The body of Christ, that is, the bride of God, is called in law the church. This is according to the apostle’s words: ‘And they twain shall be one flesh.’ This, he says, is a great sacrament in Christ and the church. For, if Christ and the church are one flesh, then certainly there is one body, one head, one bridegroom, but different elect persons, members the one of the other.