Aside

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Theodore J. Kaczynski on the privileged taking of politically correct offence:

‘When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights advocates, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities. […] Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual, white males from middle-class families.’

Is this a class struggle or an ethnic struggle?

Aside

Ming Wilson in the Princeton Tory, ‘The Redemption of the World: What Music Teaches about Objectivity, Beauty & God’:

‘Considering both undeniable historical opinion and persuasive modern findings, we should not reject a possible bond between objectivity and beauty in music. Doing so would actually require incredible faith despite the evidence. Clearly there exists a power in music to bring a person out of the subjective self, but if we can indeed transcend ourselves, it suggests a standard higher than personal taste. And such an aesthetic standard further begs [sic] the question of its origins.’

Offences’ Debts

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Will God’s forgiveness free me now
From bondage unto man?
Are all my debts to man absolved
According to the plan?

I know his Spirit gives me pow’r,
Upon Christ’s perfect merits,
Without the law to plead his grace;
For whom he loves, inherits.

But what inheritance is worth
Enough my dues to pay?
For if I shun my duties now,
My hope will not appear:

If by my works I see my faith,
Which only justifies,
Then all assurance I dream up
Is nothing but cruel lies.

Could Newton make it up
To those he’d taken slaves?
No, he could only hope in God,
His final judge who saves.

No tears, no groans, no paltry works
Can heal the lashes’ scars;
But Christ, who meekly gave himself,
Will make them like the stars.

And is that treasure not enough
To satisfy all want,
Abundant beyond man’s design,
Your baptism’s full font?

From riches give that he has giv’n,
Incalculable worth,
And weigh not money’s sum but love –
Now have you any dearth?

Christ is King of the Holy Land

New plan: Kingdom of Jerusalem. A just commonwealth is achieved neither by a Zionist ethnostate that enables the firebombing of churches and enriches Jews at the expense of native Palestinians, nor by a practically Islamic state that leaves little room for Christians and cannot tolerate a Muslim’s conversion to the faith of Jesus Christ. The Jewish state would, through deprivation, push the Palestinians into oblivion; the Palestinian state would, for retribution, push the Jews into the sea. Nor is the Zionist régime’s apartheid wall a way for native Palestinians and descendants of ancient Israelites to live at peace in a land that largely belongs to the Palestinians by legal deeds but also embodies the Jews’ longing for the peace of God.

Against the Zionists

God’s judgement upon unbelieving Israel, forty years after the Lord was crucified and raised from the dead, was that it should be broken down and scattered to the winds. His express plan for this purpose is unlike his plan for the first exile: at no point has he expressed a plan for that nation to return. If God’s sentence is national exile, then a national return without his leave is wanton rebellion, and it will no more find peace than a man and a woman living together in adultery. When Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years, it was exiled to learn a lesson. Either to return without leave or to stay comfortably in Babylon without learning anything was to oppose his purpose: the nation’s repentance for the sins of its fathers. And even today he has offered the same path to his blessing: repentance. He who does not repent, let him not expect to be restored. Except by repentance and faith in the stone whom the Jewish builders rejected, the Jews today cannot be at peace.

For they who have refused to enter God’s rest, they who have grieved the Spirit as at Massah (‘temptation’) and Meribah (‘provocation’), they are condemned to wander, as the writer of Hebrews says in the words of the Psalmist: unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest. Their fathers fell in the desolation of Jerusalem, but those who believed in Christ have in him inherited God’s promise. No good is destined for those of the unbelieving Jews who now decide to conquer the land:

And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

In daring to resist the sentence of the Lord, they do not have the Lord with them; in their sin of præsumption, they are smitten by their enemies. So today, even today, their work will not prosper; for God himself has spewed them out, and they have returned to the land but not to YHWH their God. They may seek peace in the land of their fathers, but they will not have peace while they reject the Father while rejecting the Son.

Against the Saracens

But the Palestinians, they whom God kept in the land when he expelled unbelieving Israel, can they rejoice? Slaves of a hæresy, they will not turn back to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, nor will they honour those who leave the counterfeit for the truth. If they will not honour the Son of God, then God will not call them worthy rulers of the land. Let them also turn back to the Lord, whom their fathers worshipped, that he may bless them with his wisdom and his love, and in his care they may live long in the land.

Their oppressors are Jews, but their only true hope is the Lord who chastised his people with foreigners while they rejected his law and turned aside from his care. This, too, will not end till the people have turned to the pure and holy gospel.

A Heart of Hope

A gentle heart that, deep in thought, is veiled
In philosophic pondering I now
Perceive, where notes Romantic once exhaled
Their longing spirit in a total vow.
And my own heart is warmed to hear this other,
In silent sounds awakened from the past,
Remembrance of a dream’s sweet, pensive brother,
Desiring peace and beauty that will last.
I’ll drink to that; the honey that you poured
For me I’ll drain, and raise another glass
To songs that won’t be conquered by the sword
Indiff’rent to the dew upon the grass.
Where heart lies open to another heart,
That world will never end, nor shall our part.

Christianity is Traditional for a Chinaman

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Some say we Chinamen ought simply to practise our traditional religion rather than converting to Christianity. They forget that Buddhism comes from India and that it has had little to do with the traditional religion. Rather than replacing the official cult of Heaven and the veneration of ancestors, it has added its own doctrines of karma, rebirth, and enlightenment. Few would now try, for perennialist reasons or otherwise, to dissuade the Chinese from being Buddhists.

But the Christian faith has been in China for well nigh 1500 years. Though it has never been favoured high above all other doctrines in China, it can be said to be a traditional Chinese religion. What remains is for the Christian faith to be indigenously and faithfully understood by the Chinese, and for us to reckon honestly and wisely with the worship of Heaven inherited from Noah and to bring it together with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world. Much remains to be done in political theology; but Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of Heaven, is risen today, alleluia.

Refuse the Image

O set a watch, O set a watch
Over my lips. I see the deep
State with its eunuch-poison botch

The soul of man, to make us cheap
And free to be ourselves and not
Ourselves when in the mirror’s leap.

O liberty! which by a plot
Doth forge my roboself
In autostep to bleed and clot –

All for the worn and weary shelf
To be replenished for the show
Of life imagined by a Guelf,

Whose totalizing vision’s woe,
Inflicted now upon us all,
He casts as rapture to forgo

If we would reckon it a fall
Of recollection to espouse
A people’s death as its halal.

New popery, new deadly vows,
A votive for new Antichrist.
Imperium it disavows.

Ha! we at thirty shekels priced
Shall be delivered to the priest,
Our natural spirit neatly sliced

And our right reason softly leased,
For quiet safety’s sake,
To the seductions of the Beast.

Of usury now let God shake
The heavens and the cursed earth,
And swiftly of this cursed ache.

Tell me how much your faith is worth
When desolating idols come
To cut off Israel’s second birth,

When to exact their token sum,
They will demand apostasy:
A pinch of incense, just a crumb

For loyalty. O Maccabee,
Resist in battle for your hearts
The terms that ‘for the gospel’ see

Smooth comfort for the ruling parts
In halls of pow’r, and not for poor
And broken reeds in ‘bigot’ carts;

For those despisers of the pure
Who worship sea-beasts, not for those
That trust the word of God is sure.

By this clear sign, whom YHWH chose
(When all are passing through the fire)
Is shown against his false-friend foes.

O Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
That we may love him who hath saved
And doth our living faith require;

To turn from images depraved
And serve the living Christ with fear,
His justice in our hearts engraved.

Love rises up, sometimes austere
Against the image on the plain,
Waiting for God soon to appear.

Meanwhile these precepts here remain:
To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer: No Churching of Women

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One thing that surprises me about Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, though I did not notice earlier, is that it does not provide for the Thanksgiving of Women After Childbirth, commonly called the Churching of Women. For a society in which postpartum confinement is still a common practice more than fifty years after this BCP was first printed, I think it a notable omission. I am led to wonder why this Prayer Book’s compilers chose not to include a Christian ritual for something that even today remains very much a part of Chinese culture.

Arrived: Hong Kong Book of Common Prayer

I have recently taken a look at Hong Kong’s Book of Common Prayer, first printed in 1959 by the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau and reïssued in 1998, with no textual changes to the services, by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui. This BCP looks fascinating, and I hope to share some of its distinctive features here.

For one thing, the order of Holy Communion, while clearly in the classical Prayer Book tradition, does not match the English (1662), Scottish (1764, 1912, 1929), or American (1789, 1892, 1928) types; likewise the orders of daily Morning and Evening Prayer. In general, the regular services seem to stand somewhat between the English and American types, with a few characteristics seen in neither.

Compline, often included in books of additional services but not part of either the English BCP (1662) or the American (1928), has made its way into the Hong Kong BCP.

The greatest difference, perhaps, is in the occasional prayers: to the English BCP’s 19 and the American BCP’s much richer 47, the Hong Kong BCP has 87. This great cloud of prayers and thanksgivings is organized by its own table of contents.

As expected in a society that is by and large not Christian, baptisms of such as are of riper years take priority over baptisms of infants, a priority reflected by the former’s appearing before the latter. Similarly, between the Catechism and order of Confirmation appears a section acquainting the reader with the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui’s mission, history, and practices.

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The Athanasian Creed, also known in the West as Quicunque vult, is given the alternate name of Sacred Text of Salvation. A rubric also declares, ‘To this Sacred Text of Salvation ought every believer to attend: some of the principles it expresses are very deep, but are in no wise contrary to Scripture.’ A second rubric says that this sacred text may be used at Morning Prayer on all the holy days listed in the English BCP – except, very curiously, Trinity Sunday itself. The days listed in the Hong Kong BCP, then, are the following: Christmas-Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter-Day, Ascension-Day, Whit-Sunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and Saint Andrew. The text is kept whole and undefiled: ‘Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he keep the principle of the Holy Catholic Church. Which faith whosoever keep not wholly, or keep not straightly, must suffer everlastingly the bitterness of sinking unto perdition.’

The Psalter is not included (the expectation being that the psalms will be read from the Bible), but there is a table of proper psalms for many days in the year. Similarly, there is a table of proper lessons. There seems, however, not to be a daily ordering of psalms or a daily kalendar of lessons.

God willing, I shall post more details later, when I have the time.

Prayer and Holy Communion in Daily Life

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John R. W. Stott comments on Acts 2 in The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World, The Bible Speaks Today (InterVarsity Press, 1994), 84–86:

They devoted themselves … to the breaking of bread and to prayer (42). That is, their fellowship was expressed not only in caring for each other, but in corporate worship too. Moreover, the definite article in both expressions (literally, ‘the breaking of the bread and the prayers’) suggests a reference to the Lord’s Supper on the one hand (although almost certainly at that early stage as part of a larger meal) and prayer services or meetings (rather than private prayer) on the other.

If we are to follow the work of the Holy Ghost in the early Church immediately after his descent upon the disciples and conversion of 3000 to the gospel, it seems that – as we learn and are turned to deeper repentance by the word of God – we must also express our sharing in the divine gift, the regeneration in Christ of the image of God, by continuing stedfastly both in eating together, with the Lord’s Supper often observed, and in corporate prayer.

Dr Stott then details ‘two aspects of the early church’s worship which exemplify its balance’:

First, it was both formal and informal, for it took place both in the temple courts and in their homes (46), which is an interesting combination. It is perhaps surprising that they continued for a while in the temple, but they did. They did not immediately abandon what might be called the institutional church. I do not believe they still participated in the sacrifices of the temple, for already they had begun to grasp that these had been fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ, but they do seem to have attended the prayer services of the temple (cf. 3:1), unless, as has been suggested, they went up to the temple to preach, rather than to pray. At the same time, they supplemented the temple services with more informal and spontaneous meetings (including the breaking of bread) in their homes. Perhaps we, who get understandably impatient with the inherited structures of the church, can learn a lesson from them. For myself, I believe that the Holy Spirit’s way with the institutional church, which we long to see reformed according to the gospel, is more the way of patient reform than of impatient rejection. And certainly it is always healthy when the more formal and dignified services of the local church are complemented with the informality and exuberance of home meetings. There is no need to polarize between the structured and the unstructured, the traditional and the spontaneous. The church needs both.

For structure, we in the Church already have what the Church has long practised. For daily prayers, analogous to those of the temple in Jerusalem, the Book of Common Prayer provides forms for Morning and Evening Prayer daily throughout the year. For these prayers we ought to meet as often as possible, that our hours in the holy Church may be sanctified when we seek the Lord’s face as one Church. Such daily meeting has always been the hope expressed by the reformed Church of England, and such also is shown to be a healthy and holy cultural practice sanctioned by Scripture.

Though we may not always repair to our church buildings for daily worship services, we can all meet with other Christians to declare the praises of God as priests in his holy temple, and perhaps especially on Wednesdays and Fridays in addition to Sundays and Saturday evenings. On the other days of the week, families might meet for worship at their home altars instead, while those who did not live with their families continued to attend services at church or met from house to house.

Throughout our days, of course, we could meet for informal prayers as circumstances permitted, that we might seek the Lord in all things.

And to break bread in our houses we ought to meet often for fellowship and hospitality, and at these meals we can have clerics (all ordained elders, not only those who are called ‘teaching elders’) daily celebrate Holy Communion, even according to the Book of Common Prayer. To keep the service short, clerics could use the Summary of the Law in place of the Ten Commandments, omit the sermon, omit the taking of alms, and omit the exhortation ‘Ye that do truly’ &c. Thus the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper could be joined to a common meal of fellowship in which we shared our joys and griefs, expressing the unity of the Spirit and the sacred bond of peace.

Even on days when we ate together and did not have Holy Communion, it would be useful still to pray the collect of the day before eating (the same that was appointed at the Communion), in memory of the Lord’s Supper and of his high priesthood in heaven and his call to sanctification on earth.

The second example of the balance of the early church’s worship is that it was both joyful and reverent. There can be no doubt of their joy, for they are described as having glad and sincere hearts (46), which literally means ‘in exultation [agalliasis] and sincerity of heart’. The NEB unites the two words by translating ‘with unaffected joy’. Since God had sent his son into the world, and had now sent them his Spirit, they had plenty of reason to be joyful. Besides, ‘the fruit of the Spirit is … joy’, and sometimes a more uninhibited joy than is customary (or even acceptable) within the staid traditions of the historic churches. Yet every worship service should be a joyful celebration of the mighty acts of God through Jesus Christ. It is right in public worship to be dignified; it is unforgivable to be dull. At the same time, their joy was never irreverent. If joy in God is an authentic work of the Spirit, so is the fear of God. Everyone was filled with awe (43), which seems to include the Christians as well as the non-Christians. God had visited their city. He was in their midst, and they knew it. They bowed down before him in humility and wonder. It is a mistake, therefore, to imagine that in public worship reverence and rejoicing are mutually exclusive. The combination of joy and awe, as of formality and informality, is a healthy balance in worship.

This combination of joy and awe, much to be desired, we can seek as we find ways to put into practice the principles of the first disciples’ lives. I believe that, when we are commemorating the Lord’s sacrifice often in the midst of our daily lives, the Lord himself will teach us to view and avail ourselves of that sacrifice with both joy and holy awe, and that our living in light of this sacrifice will be a witness to the nations as God has himself intended.

Rulership and Subordination Intrinsic to Common Right

Althusius in Politica, on the communion of right (jus), or the law of association, which is the process by which symbiotes live and are ruled by just laws in a common life among themselves:

‘Common law (lex communis), which is unchanging, indicates that in every association and type of symbiosis some persons are rulers (heads, overseers, prefects) or superiors, others are subjects or inferiors. For all government is held together by imperium and subjection; in fact, the human race started straightway from the beginning with imperium and subjection. God made Adam master and monarch of his wife, and of all creatures born or descendant from her. Therefore all power and government is said to be from God. And nothing, as Cicero affirms, “is as suited to the natural law (jus naturae) and its requirements as imperium, without which neither household nor city nor nation nor the entire race of men can endure, nor the whole nature of things nor the world itself.” If the consensus and will of rulers and subjects is the same, how happy and blessed is their life! “Be subject to one another in fear of the Lord.” ’

Aside

Are there Christian mutual funds that, like Amana and other Islamic mutual-fund trusts, are not involved in usury? Or have Christians treated it as a foregone conclusion that, in a capitalistic world œconomy, avoiding usury is neither morally necessary nor practicable?

Acts29 and Radically Diverse Churches

Manosphere blogger Dalrock criticizes Matt Chandler’s vision for the Acts29 Network. Three of the values named – planting churches that plant churches, being known for holiness and humility, and earnestly proclaiming the gospel and seeking conversion – are good and godly, for which God bless Acts29. But Mr Chandler’s third hope for Acts 29 is ‘that we might boldly and unapologetically become a radically diverse crowd over the next few years’. In pursuing this agendum, especially with the commitments they have implied, I think Acts29 and the Gospel Coalition are not wise. May the Lord enlighten us.

The Church itself is meant to be diverse, for the Lord intends – and will surely accomplish! – that it encompass all nations. And indeed the biblical vision of ethnic and racial harmony is that, in Christ, there should be intercourse among the nations, that all these parts of the Church catholic should recognize that they already belong to one Body: If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? Yet God has so created man, and the Church embodying man’s redemption, that not everyone is an eye, nor everyone a foot. Though fitted together, the peoples of the earth are, like the parts of a natural human body, to be distinct but not separate.

And in particular places this natural order means that trying to become ‘a radically diverse crowd’ is often misplaced. For the diversity of the earth to work rightly, a hand or an eye, even while subservient to the needs of the whole body, has also to maintain its identity as a hand or an eye. To turn a cold shoulder to those of other nations is a sin; to bar a Black man from entering on the mere basis of his Blackness is abhorrent. But racial integration, or its appearance in the political mythology of America, has not stopped the breakup of Black communities, nor has it led Black and White American Christians to embrace their brotherhood. Rather, the end of segregation has sometimes done little more than destroy Black businesses serving their local Black communities and tear at the social fabric of Black America. Many Black Americans have called for stronger Black families and neighbourhoods, including Black churches. Locally, it may be much better for a congregation to accept and even to embrace being largely White, and to affirm that God honours its cultural Whiteness, but make a real effort – such as has often not been made – to comfort and support existing historically Black churches in their work. What is most ædifying?

I used to think that a local church’s ideal form was a microcosm of the catholic Church which approached the diversity of the heavenly kingdom as a whole, but I have since changed my mind. Even in those days, I valued for the sake of the Chinese community those churches in the United States which held Lord’s Day services in Chinese and allowed Chinese parents to bring up their children in their own language and some form of their own culture. The microcosm is not in every assembly of the Church, for naturally men will meet with men, and women with women, and others with those who are in certain ways like themselves. In such homosociality there is nothing unseemly. More than in this temple or that, however, the local church is the visible expression of the Church in a place, the Church visible in every part of the commonwealth. And it is in the space of the commonwealth that the Church shows forth the gospel’s catholicity – for it is indeed a call to everyone – and the righteousness of God in every part of life. The Church, as a royal priesthood, is bound to welcome all sinners to the love of God; but the form of welcome is not the obliteration of either self or other, nor must it destroy the natural inheritance also given by God.

To have fellowship, to testify against the alienation caused by sin, humanity in the gospel must also affirm the natural gifts that God has kept for us and even developed in history by the wisdom of his providence. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. No less, the fathers who begot us and the mothers who nursed us we are not free to despise, nor to forsake; throughout all generations, our descent from Adam through Noah and our children and children’s children are witness to God’s keeping us, to his love for us and our kind beyond the womb and beyond the grave. It is in our particular inheritances that we recognize our common humanity, and in the particular saving acts of God that we see the grace of God shown to all mankind. To rejoice in the particular glories of our own line’s recognition of God’s law is to give thanks for our creation, præservation, and all the blessings of this life; only in this position can we bless him for the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace does not destroy nature.

That said, it is a sickness when Christian congregations are bound more by homophily than by the gospel of Christ. If the spirit be not of love but of unconcern, it is a sickness unto death, the spirit of silent schism. The Church gathers not as a social club but as the witness of Christ to the nations, and if it does otherwise it grieves the Holy Spirit. When affluent White Christians do ‘urban ministry’ looking for ‘diversity’, with no regard either for God’s work in Black Christians already working in the same place or for the plight of poorer Whites in Appalachia, they seek to please men and not God. Believing that theirs is the Lord’s work, they have neglected certain men for the sake of their own itch, and they have set up an image in the sanctuary of the Lord, to whose gold they have bowed at the trumpet. The Lord purge them, that tried by his Spirit they may become pure gold. For the love of the Lord is pure and perfect, and his people are merciful by his eye. Let them not be deceived who refuse to welcome those to church who are unlike themselves, and let them not be deluded who think the idol of diversity will sanctify the Church.

Aside

‘God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?’

The sure prosecution of God’s will is in God’s very nature. God is that he is, and out of his nature comes his dark will, which he reveals as he sees fit.

Aside

Following the Protestant doctrine of the two kingdoms and royal supremacy, John Donne denies that the presbyterium has power over persons:

‘First, then, for our office towards you, because you may be apt to say, You take too much upon you, you sonnes of Levi; We the sonnes of Levi, open unto you our Commission, and we pursue but that we professe, that we are sent but to pray, but to intreat you; and we accompany it with an outward declaration, we stand bare and you sit covered. When greater power seems to be given us, of treading upon Dragon and Scorpions, of binding and loosing, of casting out Devills, and the like, we confesse these are powers over sinnes, over Devills that doe, or endevour to possesse you, not over you, for to you we are sent to pray and intreat you. Though God sent Jeremy with that large Commission, Behold this day, I have set thee over the Nations, and over the Kingdomes, to pluck up, and to rout out, to destroy and to throw down; and though many of the Prophets had their Commissions drawn by that precedent, we claime not that, we distinguish between the extraordinary Commission of the Prophet, and the ordinary Commission of the Priest, we admit a great difference between them, and are farre from taking upon us, all that the Prophet might have done; which is an errour, of which the Church of Rome, and some other over-zealous Congregations have been equally guilty, and equally opposed Monarchy and Soveraignty, by assuming to themselves, in an ordinary power, whatsoever God, upon extraordinary occasions, was pleased to give for the present, to his extraordinary Instruments the Prophets; our Commission to the pray, and to intreat you.’

What the priest has is persuasion, not the right of potestas held over kings and governors.