Sixteen Queries On The Observation of Christmas, by Joseph Heming (1648).
October 12, 2018
Whether such religious customs as are binding to all the Churches of Jesus Christ, ought not to have sure footing upon the Word of God, or Apostolic practice?
Whether you can substantially prove that Christ was born on the 25th December? and what your proofs are?
Whether the celebration of that day (grant he was born on it) can be clearly warranted by you from Scripture? and what your Scriptures are?
Whether you can clear it by sound consequence from the New Testament, though not set down there in totidein verbis?
Whether you can do it by universal tradition?
Whether (in case it can be evidenced by none of these, viz. plain text, solid inference, universal tradition) it be not a more human invention, and so will-worship? And how you will one day acquit yourselves before God, for placing, and crying up men’s inventions, instead of the institutions of Jesus Christ? And whether it were not faithful dealing with poor simple people to tell them that you have neither of these to warrant it?
(Since days and times commanded by God himself to be observed under the Law, were and are unlawful under the Gospel) whether days and times commanded by men, and not by God, under the Gospel, are not less lawful.
Whether the true and genuine interpretation on of Christmas be Christ-man? And whether to persuade people tis so, be not to abuse and delude them? And whether we may not as well interpret CandlemasCandleman, MichaelmasMichaelman, as ChristmasChristman?
Whether the Saints are bound to rejoice in the birth of Christ on that day men superstitiously call Christmas, more then at other times? And whether the Lord’s day be not [the] day appointed for them to rejoice on?
Whether Christmas day ought in any respect to be esteemed above another of the week days? And whether people may not without offence to God follow their lawful vocations on that day?
Whether you think the Parliament and Assembly have erred and played the fools in condemning and rasing out Holy-days not warranted in the Word? And whether to observe them be not highly to dislike, and flatly to contradict (in point of practice at least) their proceedings in order to a Reformation?
Whether (since most men and women in England do blindly and superstitiously believe Christ was born on that day) preaching on it doth not nourish and strengthen them in that belief?
Whether this feast had not its rise and growth from Christians conformity to the feast Saturnalia (kept in December to Saturn the father of gods) in which there was a Sheaf offered to Ceres goddess of corn?
Whether conformity to, and retention of heathenish customs be commendable in Christians, suitable or agreeable with Gospel principles, though under pretext of Christ honour and worship?
Whether you are not bound to prove your practice for the conviction and satisfaction of your Brethren, whose duty it is to walk with you in things agreeable to the mind of Christ? And in case you cannot; whether you ought not to acknowledge your error, lay down your practice (as others have done theirs) no longer befooling and misleading the people committed to your charge?
Whether in case you return no answer to these queries, I have not ground sufficient to conclude you utterly unable to give any rational account of your practice, now put upon it?