The Headcovering as a Customable Practice

“Divine Apostolical Institutions, (that we may draw to our purpose) were again of two sorts: First, variable, or temporary, which were such injunctions as were prescribed, either for some special ends, as that law for abstaining from blood, and things strangled, Acts 15.1 for avoiding offence to the Jews, or to some special nations, or persons, as agreeable to the customs of those places and times, as that of women being vailed in the Congregations, and some other the like.  Secondly, invariable and perpetual: such as concerned the whole Church: This distinction we received from that learned and Professor; His instances of the later part of it, are Imposition of hands, in the election of Ministers, and the distinction of Deacons from the Pastors; we would say, Presbyters.”

~Daniel Cawdrey and Herbert Palmer, Sabbatum Redivivum: or, The Christian Sabbath vindicated (London, 1652), second part, p. 463.


“According to Durham, this was not a universal principle of regulated worship, but a custom-able sign:

ASSERTION ONE.  For no offense whatsoever should men forbear a necessary duty, or commit anything which is materially sinful.  Christ would needs go up to Jerusalem, although his disciples were displeased, and would continue in preaching the gospel, and in doing what was entrusted to him, although the Pharisees were offended (Matt. 15).  This is clear, for no evil should be done that good may come of it (Rom. 3).

ASSERTION TWO.  Yet in other things there ought to be great respect had to offense, and men ought to be swayed accordingly in their practice, as the former reasons clear.  As (1.), if the matter is of light concernment in itself, as how men’s gestures are in their walking (suppose in walking softly, or quickly, with cloak or without) men ought to do, or abstain, as may prevent the construction of pride, lightness, etc., or give occasion to others in any of these.  Of such sort was womens’ praying with their heads uncovered amongst the Corinthians, it being then taken for an evil sign.  Yet if it is necessary, there is nothing little, as Moses will not leave a hoof (Exod. 10), or Mordecai bow his knee to Haman, because it looked like fawning on an accursed enemy.  Of this sort also are offenses in the fashions of clothes, as some men’s wearing of ribbons, and such like, which being of small concernment, ought certainly to be regulated be offense.”

~James Durham, The dying man’s testament of the Church of Scotland or, A treatise concerning scandal, ed. Christopher Coldwell (1680; Dallas, 1990), pp 20-1.



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