From Miles Coverdale’s translation of Bullinger The Old Faith 81-83. Published in England around 1547. (The first 11 chapters are essentially a Biblical Theology, demonstrating the centrality of Christ and the Gospel in the Scriptures).
A CONCLUSION, THAT THIS FAITH IS THE RIGHT TRUE OLD
FAITH, WHICH ALWAY SHALL STAND SURE.
This holy undefiled faith, which the Lord planted and set up in all nations by the apostles, immediately after the apostles’ decease, was sore attempted by sundry unclean persons, which brought up false customs and misbelievers, and made perilous sects. Besides this also was it sore persecuted with the sword of tyrants. But in all such dangers the truth overcame and had the victory. For though the citizens of the devil’s city, according to the disposition of their patriarch Cain, did murther, and although false prophets brought evil counsel, yet the city of God triumpheth, and the blood of innocent Abel and his brethren speaketh yet. But after that the persecution was somewhat ceased, and the persecutors sore and horribly punished for their blood- shedding, (the heresies also being well brought down by faithful shepherds,) in the same rest also was our holy faith not a little hurt. For rest put away fear, brought idle felicity, voluptuousness, and fleshly seeking of riches and dominion ; and so through covetousness and ambition, there was poured great poison into the church, whereby religion sore decayed. For while the ministers of the word laboured more after riches, than to perform their office and charge, and to edify the church, they were pleased with superstitiousness instead of true religion. Of this then followed it farther, that the singleness of faith was forgotten, new laws made, the old rites and customs either perverted, or else utterly overthrown and abused ; whereby men came far from the doctrine and Christian ceremonies, from the way of truth into error foolishly, and partly into ceremonies of idolatry. Hereof cometh it, that we have now the abomination of the pope’s power of pardons, of masses for the dead and quick, of merits, power and intercession of saints in heaven, of worshipping their bones upon earth, of idols, and vain ornaments, pomp and pride of the church, of hired singing and praying in the temple, and of the whole swarm of idle religious. All which things, with other more like fondness, are nothing but new alterations, pervertings, and contrary to all old ordinances, having no ground in God’s word, and are clean against God, though many hard-necked people are yet in a fury and brawl for such things, and will make all the world believe that this their foolishness, alteration, and perverting of God’s ordinance, is the old faith. And yet wote they or will not know, that their babbling hath very little ground, and that they, if they considered the matter as it is, are very naked and miserable.
And though this papistical religion hath endured, prevailed, and triumphed certain hundred years, yet hath God alway sent his faithful servants, and had a little holy flock of his own, like as afore time in the days of the Judges, of the kings of Judah and Israel, and in the captivity of Babylon, though it was almost at the worst afore and at the coming of Christ. Like as it is also with us, the nigher the second coming of Christ, the worse is it in the world. Nevertheless, as I said afore, God alway set forth his word, and doth yet. Contrariwise, the pope with his multitude, and Machomet with his, as it seemeth and becometh very antichrists, have hitherto undertaken to suppress the old religion, and to set up his own ordinance, unknown to our fathers of old time, to bring it into possession, and under the name of God and his holy church, to spread it upon all Christendom. For out of the acts and statutes of the pope and his wanton spirituality, and out of the laws of Machomet, it is manifest, what the one hath taken in hand and done now more than six hundred years, and the other upon a nine hundred years. It is evident yet also even now, whereto his general councils and parliaments do extend. But not regarding how he threateneth and faceth, and how he garnisheth his new and wanton religions with false, but dissembling, titles, boasting of many hundred years, many general councils, fathers, holy men, doctors, universities, cloisters, singing, praying, fasting, almsgiving, displaying, and telleth such like ; all his bragging set aside, let us cast his religion from us, and take upon us unfeignedly the true old religion, which hath endured since the beginning of the world, by the which all holy men have ever loved, worshipped, and served God, and knew nothing utterly of the pope’s religion. And if we must for this cause be hated and persecuted of the world, well : it happened even so unto all holy prophets before us likewise, and specially unto Jesus Christ our Lord, which shall come shortly to judgment, and utterly destroy the kingdom of Antichrist, whom he now killeth with the spirit of his mouth. Our possession is not here upon earth; the kingdom of heaven is our native country. From thence look we for the Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord, which shall raise up our mortal and miserable body, that he may make it like his excellent and glorified body, according to the power whereby he may subdue all things unto himself. To him be honour and praise for ever and ever. AMEN.