Henry Bullinger on the Judicial laws and the Magistrate’s Duty in matters of Religion and the Sabbath Day

Henry Bullinger (1504 – 1575)

“This one thing I add more; that it is the duty of a christian magistrate, or at leastwise of a good householder, to compel to amendment the breakers and contemners of God’s sabbath and worship. The peers of Israel, and all the people of God, did stone to death (as the Lord commanded them) the man that disobediently did gather sticks on the sabbath-day [Numbers 15:32-6]. Why then should it not be lawful for a christian magistrate to punish by bodily imprisonment, by loss of goods, or by death, the despisers of religion, of the true and lawful worship of the sabbath-day? […] For it is a heinous sin and a detestable schism, if the congregation be assembled, either in cities or villages, for thee then to seek out byways to hide thyself, and not to come from there, but to contemn the church of God and assembly of saints: as the Anabaptists have taken an use to do.” -Henry Bullinger, Fifty godly and learned sermons divided into the five decades containing the chief and principal points of Christian religion, ed. Thomas Harding (1849-52 Parker edn; 4 vols, Grand Rapids, 2004), i, 261-2.

“the substance of God’s judicial laws is not taken away or abolished.” -Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), The Decades

Henry Bullinger writing to John Calvin on the execution of Michael Servetus

“I know that many have wished that you had not defended this principle; but many also thank you, and among others our church. Urbanus Regius has long ago proved, in a work of his own, and all the ministers of Luneberg agree with him, that heretics, when they are blasphemers, ought to be punished. There are also many other pious men who think the same, and consider that such offenders ought not only to be silenced, but to be put to death. Do not repent therefore of what you have done: the Lord will uphold your righteous efforts. I know that your disposition is not cruel, and that you will favour no barbarity. Who knows not, that a boundary must be set to things of this kind? But how it could be possible to spare such a man as Servetus, that serpent of all heresies, that most obdurate of men, I see not.”[1] [1] Cited in Paul Henry, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer: Volume II, trans. Henry Stebbing (London: Whittaker and Co., 1849), 234.

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