27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the chief priest asked them, 28. Saying, Did not we, in commanding, command you, that you should not teach in this name? And behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you will bring the blood of this man upon us.
28. The chief priest layeth two crimes to the charge of the apostles, for he accuseth them of contumacy or stubbornness, 1 a because they obeyed not the decree of the council. In the second member he betrayeth an evil conscience, or, at least, he showeth that he handled rather a private business than any public cause, for he complaineth that the apostles will cause the priests and the scribes to be hated for the death of Christ. Behold, therefore, what that is which nettleth them, because they fear the revenge and punishment of wicked murder. He pretendeth, at the first, doctrine; but we may gather out of the end that he was not so careful for doctrine. In the mean season, he accuseth the apostles of sedition; for he taketh that for a thing which all men, for the most part, did grant, 2 that Christ was put to death justly. Notwithstanding this is the principal point of the accusation, that they did not obey the commandment of the priests. It was an heinous offense not to obey the chief priest; how much more heinous was it, then, to despise the whole order? But the chief priest doth not consider what is his duty towards God and the Church; 3 he abuseth his authority tyrannously, as if the same were not under any laws, as the Pope dealeth with us at this day; for seeing that he taketh to himself an unbridled authority and government, he feareth not to condemn us for schismatics, so soon as he seeth us refuse his decrees; for he catcheth at these sentences: "He which despiseth you despiseth me," (Luke 10:16;) and thereupon he concludeth that we will rebel 4 against God. But if he will be heard as the ambassador of Christ, he must speak out of the mouth of Christ.
Now, forasmuch as he doth manifestly play the minister of Satan, he borroweth authority, without shame and color, of the name of Christ; yea, the very form of speech which the chief priest useth doth prove how carelessly spiritual tyrants who usurp such authority and lordship as is not subject to the word of God, dare grant liberty to themselves to attempt whatsoever pleaseth them. With a commandment (saith he) have we commanded. Whence cometh such strait rigor, save only because they think that all that must be received without exception which they shall command?
1 "Inobedientiae et contumaciae," of contumacy and disobedience.
2 "Pro confesso sumit," he takes for granted.
3 "Vicissim," in his turn, is omitted in the translation.
4 "Esse rebelles," are rebels.