Of the old god & the new
By Joachim Vadianus 
Translated into English from Latin
by William Turner, A. D. 1534
Now will I add a certain little and brief instruction, and, as it were, a rule or mark by which any man, whatever he be of the simple, common people, (for the great theologians and laborious martyrs, those servants of the temples, perhaps have no need at all of it, being themselves certain and assured that they may perceive their own diseases, and so need no outside help), that he may easily perceive and judge in the daily custom of our faith, and in the usage and rights of the churches, what is the old god, the old faith and the old doctrine, and on the contrary part also, what is the new god, the new faith and the new doctrine. [This heresy] we see daily increased. [It is my desire] that many good men be not so miserably seduced, remaining in diffidence and unbelief concerning God and their neighbor, their works and their reward, whereof no good thing can ever grow or come forth.
Forasmuch as no man doth know for certain what God is except God reveal it to him by the holy scripture, it shall not be lawful for us otherwise to speak, to teach of God, to believe, to hope, (which rule let all men consider), then what holy scriptures do teach and instruct us. We find such a revelation in Exodus 3.
The highest worthiness, honor and glory which Almighty God doth ask and require of all men is that every man should humbly give credence to the mouth and words of God without any human addition. Whereof it followeth that faith is the highest good work and the greatest worship and service of God – the only means of our health and salvation. For by faith are we united and knit to God.
The Christian faith is the holy scripture, which is the mother of the Christian Church. All men, who from the bottom and innermost fountain of their heart, do give credence to the scripture are regenerate and sons of God. And as long as they do continue in faith, they do also continue and are the sons of God, co-inheritors with Christ of the kingdom of God. Now if they be inheritors of the kingdom of God, they are safe. Wherefore it follows that we are saved or made safe only by the Christian faith and nothing else.
All the scripture which hath proceeded from God doth show and teach Christ Jesus the Son of God. Now it follows that the holy scripture is the Christian mother which doth engender us by faith, and that all men who do believe the scriptures (as was stated before) are the only daughters thereof, pure and uncorrupted virgins whose happiness and spouse is Christ Jesus. Hereof we may perceive that common saying, that no man can be saved outside the Christian Church, is in no wise to be understood and interpreted as speaking of the foundation as set forth by the Pope and bishopric of Rome, which are outward things and mutable. But it is to be understood as speaking of that which is immutable, cleaving fast unto the soul, and not of man’s reason or strength, which is the Holy Ghost.
From faith do spring good works following as signs and tokens of thy faith which thou hast by charity in hope in thy Lord God. Of these things take a very necessary instruction and lesson. That the servants or ministers of the temples are exceedingly foolish, who do put all their faith and hope in the ceremonial works of the church, so that if they had trimmed, garnished and decked the altars with many images and candlesticks; and had set round about the altar, as it were, a curtain of trees, and then perform their office, doing Mass, making a clattering of bells, and do run about in the church even until they sweat and become hoarse – they would affirm with an oath that they have wrought a good work to God; even though in all these things aforementioned there be not the value of one pence. Yea, though none of these rituals were performed, is it not sin and is not God angry if we approach Him without our love in our hearts toward Him and His Word? Not to love Him with all our heart and mind, nor to trust and hope in Him, this is the thing that doth displease God, and which doth separate and keep us from him, wherefore the Lord said, The hour shall come when you shall neither worship the Father in this mount, neither at Jerusalem; but the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth, that is to say, desiring and sighing for God by faith, in such manner do the servants loveth God. But the ministers of the temples should die for hunger, if such worshipping and service of God were used. Wherefore they will in no wise suffer such worship of God, seeking rotten glosses for the maintaining of their deeds.
It may be profitable that in the public temples [i.e., churches] the simple and unlearned men may be provoked to think upon God by the examples of other good men, until it is that God grants and gives His grace more abundantly unto them. But as concerning the Spirit, it is not necessary to build churches [in order to worship God].
The multitude of diverse ceremonies of the church are misunderstood and ill perceived by the common people, who are in the majority of churchgoers. They know not what they represent, nor do they know how much weight and value should be placed on them. This gives birth to and causes many errors in the faith, so that the common people do count the ceremonies of greater worth than they really are. This is seen, for example, in the ground-breaking ceremony for a new church, or when blessing an altar. For then strange and marvelous relics are carried in upon some goodly and costly pillow and set down thereupon, candles are lit, the priest wears silk, being accompanied by the deacon and subdeacon….I believe that many do worship the relics, for we may perceive by the work that the layman doth give more mind and reverence unto the relics (which perhaps are bones of a rotten horse) then to the sacrament, which doubtless are manners not seemly for Christian men…..Now this manner and custom hath continued many years, with many other sundry and divers rites, manners and usage of the church, as thou thyself might remember. Is this the old faith or the old God? I covet not this faith, howsoever the ministers of the temple do babble and prate as they wish.
As God is true and eternal, so there is a true divine scripture, and a true and undoubted Christian faith. This is the very old God, the very old faith, and the very old doctrine.
The divine scripture is the holy Bible of the Christian Church (which church has been defined in the 3rd and 4th article, AND LET NOT THE POPE AND ROMANISTS BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE NAME OF THE CHURCH) understood only by the Holy Ghost and received as a truth that what is written in it is forever true. For it is the mouth of the Lord which cannot lie.
No man is holier than the Bible, not even Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, Gregory, Thomas, Bonaventure, Leo, Cyprian, Chrysostom, all the popes and bishops. Yet are their sayings and writings and whatsoever they taught to be understood with reason and judgment, and not to be compared and made equal with the Bible in authority and credence. Wherefore the following argument has no strength: ‘Augustine says this, therefore it must be true.’ Or, ‘Thomas says it, therefore it is true;’ or ‘the Pope teacheth this, how then can it be error?’ These sayings are worthless, but not this saying, ‘the holy Gospel says this, therefore it is true.’ This we should believe with a certainty….The kingdom of heaven is promised, the fire of hell is threatened, and all things are true.
All men, angels, wise men, philosophers, theologians, bishops, popes, monks, friars, and nuns – if they be not fortified and borne up by the scriptures, and grounded upon it, they are every one of them new gods, antichrists, vain and worthless.
The holy and divine scripture is the canonical and true rule which doth justly measure all things according to which all doctrines, all public sermons, even all the commandments of superiors, either spiritual, temporal or secular. The Pope and the Emperor, all theologians, whether it be Augustine or Thomas, the council or chapter, the Church of Rome or Bohemia, all men (I say) and all things ought to be measured and tried by this rule, which I have said. And whatsoever thing is approved by it, let it remain; whatsoever thing does not abide by the trial and judgment of the scripture, let it be refused as erroneous. Let it be despised as a thing originating with the new gods. Let it be cut away as [false] new faith and new doctrine. We ought to obey God, rather then men.
All men that live in this world, let them study and give their mind hereunto, that they do learn to read and write, if it may be for the purpose that every man may often read the Bible, namely the Gospels, to himself, his children and his household, especially on the holy days. For the Gospel is of such virtue and strength, that the more often men read it with desire, so much the better do they learn to understand Christ, the more firm and stable their faith toward God. Also, their charity is so much the more excited and stirred up towards their neighbor and the love of heavenly things do spring from it. In sum, it is the highest consolation that is in the world in all adversity. And it is a shameful lie to say that the Gospel cannot be understood without the theologians; for the divine scripture is so set forth by the Holy Ghost that it explains itself, opening and declaring one text by another, one place bearing witness to another. Neither does it have need to beg help from the Church Fathers, or our men, which of themselves are none other than liars, in that the scriptures are rich and perfect in themselves….I beseech you for the love of God, tell me, who taught the Gospel to all the martyrs, and them that inhabited the wilderness? Or perhaps they attended a worthy university for a dozen years, where they heard some master theologian expound the Gospels, in the school of the Sorbonne, and God knows is held in honor as is a rat among skinners. Who did instruct the martyrs in so honest, so good, and so reverent and worshipful life in God? Perhaps Duns or Thomas?...
Religious men of orders which do extol and advance highly their own doctrines and their own theologians and saints, I ask, ‘What other thing do they talk, sing or preach, or what else have they in their mouths, but [the words and teachings of] holy St. Thomas; the subtle doctor, Master Duns; the most excellent clergyman Augustine; worshipful Albert; the angelic doctor Bonaventure; or the irrefragable doctor Alexander of Hales, etc.’? Now I say, forasmuch as in all theologians is, according to the nature of man, inconstancy and a certain fear to affirm that not all their doctrines or sermons have been built upon the sure stone of divine scripture, believing it all to be sure and undoubted, whether it be Thomas or Duns or Ockham, I say that they do stand in great jeopardy before God. For this is more evident and clear than day: the fact that Duns and Thomas agree with no other theologians, as they also oppose each other. What the one affirms and says, the other denies. One says the thing is deadly sin, the other that it is no sin. Now if the ignorant common people hear sermons of a contrary nature from the pulpit, what else are they to think, but that they are all trivial and lies.
All princes, and especially bishops, are bound under pain of hell, to diligently, earnestly and sharply provide that the people be taught nothing else in sermons but the Gospel and scriptures. Now if the bishops be negligent and slack, (as nowadays many are), it belongeth to secular princes that they ought to assist and stand by the Gospel, that it may be preached, paying no heed to curses or interdicts proclaimed by bishops or popes. The reason for this is Christ Himself, who says in the Gospel, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall I confess before my father. But if the secular princes will also be blind (as I hope and trust they will not) then it belongeth to the common power, even by the provision of holy scripture, to help the Gospel, and to give honor to the same. For we ought more to obey God then men. For Christ says plainly in the last chapter of Mark: Go ye into all the world and preach ye the Gospel to every creature. He did not say, ‘Preach you the canon law,’ or ‘Preach you Thomas or Aristotle.’
The word of God, the holy scripture, standeth not, nor is it grounded upon the wisdom of philosophers. Wherefore it cannot be proved or measured by Aristotle or Averrois. For neither have the same view of natural science and craft, nor are they in agreement in every behalf with the scripture. By this reason are many excellent learned men deceived; yea, and some saints also have erred.
The mouth of God, the holy scripture, is stable, immutable, perpetual and true. Mark in the 3rd principle wherefore it suffereth itself not to be twisted or bent after the mutation and laws of man. But, on the contrary, men ought to change and shape themselves according to the scripture, if they desire to have eternal life.
Now this is the difference between the holy scriptures and the philosophies and doctrines of men: that the scripture can be understood by no man (be he never so high of wit), but only of him to whom it is singularly given by God from above. Now the grace of God is not given to any of the proud, wise and prudent men of the world unless they have repudiated their wisdom as foolishness. But this is never done, except God Himself do work it. But the true wisdom in all the wisdom of men which is greatly esteemed is found only in the right and true knowledge of man himself. Now there is no other master of whom a man should learn to know himself, but that of a pure and perfect humility. To be humble and meek is only possible if a man’s life is taken away from him, so that a man now thinks of himself as nothing, ascribing nothing to himself, but ascribes all to God. Forasmuch as his [old] heart is taken away that he now wrests and sighs in desire for, and is drawn toward, our Lord Jesus Christ. Now if a man does live in God, he is made one with God, he has also familiarity with God, and God with him, which in these days is nothing else but the knowledge of God and of His will and desire. The help of divine grace follows that we may be more and more enlightened in the will of the Lord. And the amity and friendship God has with man, and man with God, is knit and made one in the divine seal, which is the holy scripture. For the scripture is closed up and sealed tight to all the mighty men, to all the wise and learned men of the world, so that they cannot understand it. Neither shall they understand it, even until the end of the age. Furthermore, they are blinded more, and their hearts made more obstinate and hard by the scriptures which witness against them. Wherefore it would not change the value of a straw one penny whether one be a doctor of divinity or not, whether he be a bishop or pope, or a swine herder, or any other abject, vile person.
For God Himself hath reserved to His own self the election and reprobate. The former whom He wishes to favor; the latter whom He chooses to hate. His grace He gives in different quantities; to some much, to some little. And although there were no scripture in the world at all, neither any other understanding, this same rule would apply: All men ought to rise up, lifting their heads unto God, saying the following, “Lord, I am a wretched sinner. Have pity and compassion upon my desolation and misery.” But the wise men, the theologians and teachers, and old ministers of the temples have no need of these things. For there are weightier things which they must do. They write themselves to be the enemies of such manner of men, considering them to be foolish and uneducated Christians. Beware you subtle wise men, that your ring of Sennacherib be not fastened through your nostrils, that by your own proper worldly wisdom you slander yourselves, giving you a perpetual fall, according to the word of God. Whereto your power serves not with the fear of God and the knowledge of holy scripture, but only that poor men may be sore vexed and seduced and that we may thrust down the heavy burden of Pharaoh which daily is more and more cruelly applied to the necks of our innocent subjects…
There cannot a more excellent or more noble treasure be found in this world then a true and righteous preacher of the word of God in the pulpit; one who is honest, chaste, and who lives a Christian lifestyle. Upon such a one, the commonality ought not to spare for any cost; for as the piper goes, so go the guests bidden to dance. There is no doubt that God speaks by the mouth of the true preacher well skilled in the scripture. If, on the other hand, he is untrue and full of guile, God is far from him, and it is Beelzebub who speaks by his mouth. And where shall the people learn of God but through public sermons. If, therefore, the preacher sets before his hearers the pure grains of wheat without any chafe, then the guests which do eat at his table do eat pure and fine wheat bread. After it is digested it does gender pure, delicate and natural blood. This blood causes good complexion which gives sure and stable health. And this good health causes good works, from which proceeds praise and honor. So the word of God is that pure bread set forth before the people by the preacher. The guests, that is to say, the people which hear the word, if they take it with diligence, they will digest what was spoken with contemplation, considering how it was spoken and why it was spoken. By so doing is gendered good and delicate blood.
what the true preacher preaches
That is to say, if they do learn, understand and know who is God, what it is to truly honor Him, what is the true faith, which are the righteous and good works, what is man, that is to say, utterly nothing, and who is able to do no good of himself, etc. This understanding and knowledge doth engender and cause a quiet conscience, which otherwise is troubled and disquieted with peevish questions, having diffidence and distrust. A quiet and healthy conscience having spiritual understanding is an asset because it makes the man constant when faced with adversities. This constancy flows from an understanding of his relationship with God, His Rock, as taught in scripture……
There can be no more noxious, strange, or pestiferous poison, whether devised by man or found naturally upon the earth, then a false and guileful preacher, Matthew 24. (Reverse the similitude of the bread and you will perceive this to be true.) Paul in the 10th chapter of Romans saith thus, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But how shall men call upon him if they do not believe on him? Or how shall they believe or trust in him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear if he be not preached and revealed to them? And how shall they preach if they are not sent for that purpose?, etc. By this saying common sense understands it to mean that if the people have no other way of gaining knowledge of God then by faith, and if faith cometh through hearing, and hearing cometh by preaching, which cometh from the mouth of the preacher (now is the heart of the matter touched), if then the preacher be unskilled, unlearned, wicked, and false (as many there are nowadays, who in the pulpit constantly preach their personal complaints, hatreds and pride, unable to take vengeance and revenge themselves any other way), can such a person preach the true spirit of the scripture? Nay, that cannot be. For as he is, so he sings his carol. He hath learned human wisdom and philosophy, and the laws both Civil and Canon; he hath learned the arts of Aristotle, Averrois and Lombard’s Sentences with 600 opinions and questions brawling and striving among themselves as ragged and torn beggars are known to do. As for others, he studied none, neither can he discern anything from them. What else, therefore, can he teach but human wisdom?....What new and strange doctrine is this? Where did this stranger come from bringing these new wares?
I am now 60 years of age and yet before now I never heard [the Gospel] otherwise preached. In old times you can be sure there were wise and prudent men. What?! – Did they all err?! – Were they all ignorant, not knowing what is right and what is not?! Besides, my father also confirmed what they taught. If what the preachers preach nowadays is true, then must we all be enemies of God and very devils, having all of us wandered out of the way, living in error.
Do not believe the Heretics
What does all this then mean? It is heresy, it is erroneous doctrine that they do teach. It is new faith that they do preach unto us. Do not, do not believe them. I will stick to my old God, my old faith and doctrine…..My fool tell me, [you who follow the heretics], when began thy God, thy faith, and thy doctrine? Thou wilt say to me, ‘I have heard it preached this way all my lifetime.’ Oh, I see. It is the preacher who taught thee these things. Then I ask, Who were his teachers? And thou answerest, ‘He hath taught me Thomas, Duns, Ockham, Capreolus, Aristotle, Averrois, Lombard, the pope’s law and the emperor’s law.’
Oh, good poison! Now I ask further, What are all these whom you have now named but MEN. If he has preached men unto you, then men are thy gods, thy faith and thy doctrine…..Tell me, these worldly masters and wise men, were they Christian men? Or were they panims and gentiles, Grecians and Arabians? …O good sir, how then could the gentiles judge the word of God if they never had knowledge of God in the first place! And who was their God – the Sun? The Moon? Jupiter, Mars and other rabbles of idols? Ah, a goodly thing, indeed! And of what spirit were these idols? Why, the family and household of Satan!
Now can we please sit down together and seek back to discover the old God, the old faith and doctrine. What would you think, if at the last judgment you found Satan to be your God, and as for your faith and doctrine, it be found in Aristotle the murderer, Averrois the sodomite, and Plato the traitor. Where then is the hope of your statement, ‘I have heard it preached this way all my lifetime,?’ which is really saying, ‘I have heard it thus said and therefore I will not change my mind or opinion.’
There is a common proverb which is both popular and true: Not all that glitters is gold. I ask, what comparison is there between chafe and pure fine wheat? ……..
The Church of Rome that great whore who kills the true preachers
The experience of all times doth witness that no man is held more in contempt, is more persecuted, or treated more pitilessly, then they which have the singular and special commission of the Lord God to show forth the praise and glory of God to all men. For that whore clad in purple and garnished with gold and precious stones, even until this day, holds in her hands a golden cup full of the blasphemies of God; offering and reaching it forth to all her wooers and lovers; by which cup she doth make drunk all the princes of the earth, as she herself is drunk from drinking the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus Christ. This harlot shall exercise her own lusts and pleasures with this potion, even until the end of the world. Then she will be cast down headlong and slain by our Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone. For to Him this victory is reserved. Wherefore let no man be offended or marvel why the whore and her admirers are presently experiencing power, honor and prosperity. No should we be surprised that all things go well for them, their enemies being suppressed, undone and slain. For so it must needs be according to the prophecy of Daniel 8. Who so hath ears, let him hear.
Take these principles as worthy and for your good. If in anything I have been too bold, truly I have done so for your profit, to the end that no man should come into error, and so by the reason thereof be damned perpetually. May God preserve us from these errors and damnation by His high grace. Amen.
 I. e., what are the differences between the eternal, true God and true faith and the recent false God and false faith. Early English Books: Short Title Catalogue # 25127 (London: William Marshall, 1534). Slight alterations in text by present editor for clarity purposes only. Some text has been omitted for size considerations. The author’s scriptural proofs have also been deleted.
 German Protestant, (d. 1551).
 The author is sarcastically referring to the Roman Catholic clergy and their love for the early Church Fathers above the Word of God. The term ‘temples’ is used because in their churches they claim to do sacrifice to God, calling their ministers ‘priests,’ as did the Jews in the Old Testament.
 Meaning there is no money to be made in worshipping God in Spirit and truth.
Commentaries written explaining Scripture.