Secure from Heresy

From “The Form of Sound Words Sermons (1720)

The same reasons that occasioned all the disturbances and oppositions that the Catholic Church ever met with still hold good as to ours too; even because its doctrine is so pure, its discipline so severe, its worship so solemn, and all its rules and constitutions so holy, perfect, and divine, that mankind, being generally debauched in their principles and practices, have a natural averseness from it, if not antipathy to it. They would willingly go to heaven, but are loath to be at so much pains for it, as our church, out of the Word of God, prescribes; and therefore would gladly persuade themselves that many of her prescriptions are either sinful or superfluous, because not suiting, alas, with their humor, interest, or depraved inclinations.

But all their little objections against her are grounded either upon their ignorance of what she prescribes or their unwillingness to perform it.  There are very few… that know what our church is, and therefore all their zeal against it must needs be “without knowledge.” And that that have some general notions of it, would never set themselves in good earnest upon the observance of what she commands, and therefore cannot know what advantage it would be to them,

Whereas, let any one that has a due sense of religion and a real desire of happiness, let such a one make trial of our church but for one year; let him constantly read the Scriptures, in the method she prescribes; let him constantly use the Common-Prayer, according to her directions; let him constantly observe all her fasts and holy-days; let him receive the sacrament as often as she is ready to administer it, and perform whatever else she has been pleased to command; let any man, I say, do this, and then let him be against our church, if he can; I am confident he cannot. But our misery is that none of those who are out of our church, and but few of those that are in it, will make the experiment; and that is the reason that those are so violent against her, and these so indifferent to her.

But let others do what they please, and answer for themselves as well as they can another day; as for you who are here at this time, in the special presence of God, I humbly beseech and exhort you in the ‘name of or Lord and Master Jesus Christ,” that as he has been pleased to admit you into so holy and pure a church, you would all endeavor to live up to the rules and orders of it, as many here present do. First, keep close to the words she uses in her Articles and Common Prayers; by this means you will have a right judgment in all things, and “hold fast the form of sound words” indeed. By this means you will be secure from heresy and entertain no doctrine but what is Catholic and orthodox. By this means whatever happens, you will still be steadfast in the faith of Christ, and no suffer yourselves to be imposed upon by the adversaries of our church on either side, for they cannot fasten “new words upon you; it will be impossible for them ever to deceive you.”

William Beveridge (1637-1708) was an English theologian who served several London parishes before becoming Bishop of St. Asaphs in 1704. He was called “the great reviver and restorer of primitive piety” for his efforts in reviving patristic teaching and robust liturgical piety. Several volumes of his sermons, including “The Form of Sound Words,” which he wrote for an ordination service during his episcopate, were published after his death.


Online Archives