Page images

In an Italian book, called “ The Miracles of the Blessed Virgin," printed at Milan, 1547. A certain abbess being great with child, the Holy Virgin, willing to cover her crime, did in her stead present herself before the Bishop in form of an abbess, and shewed by ocular demonstration that she was not with child.

But that which Joannes de Nicol, in his “ Reformed Spaniard," tells, that he read taken out of Trithemius, is the more worthy to be remembered, as being a principal motive in his conversion, who was till then extremely addicted to the idol worship of the blessed Virgin; which was much cooled, when he read, “ That she came into the chamber of Friar Allen (a dominican that made her rosary,) made a ring of her own hair, wherewith she espoused herself unto him, kissed him, ei ubera sua contrectare permisisse, et cum eo familiariter sicut sponsam cum sponso

coiisse.” Whether think you not that these fellows were seared in their conscience ? What block could have been more senseless ? Melchior Canus, speaking of the Golden Legend, as they call it, a book fraught with such stuff as you have heard, methinks almost expresses the meaning of a cauterized conscience : *“ A fellow (saith he) of an iron mouth and leaden heart wrote this;" as if he had said, t of a brawny and unfeeling conscience.

* “Hanc homo scripsit ferrei oris et plumbei cordis."

1 κεκαυτηρίασμενο της ιδιας συνειδησιν.





now I come to shew how this prediction of our Apostle hath been accomplished ; how* the cousenage and feigning of liars was the means whereby the DOCTRINE OF DÉMONS was advanced in the Church ; I mean the deifying and worshipping of saints and angels, the adoring and templing of reliques, the bowing down to images, the worshipping of crosses as new idol-columns, the worshipping of the breaden God or any other visible thing whatsoever upon supposal of any Divinity therein: all which I have proved to be nothing else but the Gentiles' idola. trous theology of demons revived among Christians.

The first of these, the deifying and invocating of saints and adoring reliques, is the most ancient for time of all the rest, and began to appear in the Church presently after the death of Julian the Apostate, who was the last Heathen Emperor. The grounds and occasions whereof were most strange reports of wonders shewed upon those who approached the shrines of martyrs, and prayed at their memoriest and sepulchres ; devils were charmed, diseases cured, the blind saw, the lame walked, yea the dead revived, and other the like: which the doctors of those times for the most part avouched to be done by the power and prayers of the glorified martyrs, and by the notice they took of men's devotions at their sepulchres ; though

* υποκρισις ψευδολογων. . + Their monuments.

at the beginning those devotions were directed to God alone, and such places only chosen for the stirring up of zeal and fervour by the memory of those blessed and glorious champions of Christ. But while the world stood in admiration, and most regarded these wonders as the glorious beams of the triumph of Christ; they were soon persuaded to call upon them as Patrons and Mediators, whose power with God, and notice of things done upon earth, they thought that these signs and miracles approved.

Thus the reliques of martyrs beginning to be esteemed above the richest jewels, for the supposed virtue even of the

very air of them, were wonderfully sought after as some divine elixir sovereign both to body and soul. Whereupon another scene of wonders entered, namely, of visions and revelations, wonderful and admirable, for the discovery of the sepulchres and ashes of martyrs which were quite forgotten, yea of some whose names and memories till then no man had ever heard of; as S. Ambrose's Gervasius and Protasius. Thus in every corner of the Christian world were new martyrs' bones ever and anon discovered, whose verity again miraculous effects and cures seemed to approve; and, therefore, they were diversely dispersed, and gloriously templed and enshrined.

All these things happened in that one age, and were come to this height in less than a hundred years. But here is the wonder most of all to be wondered at, that none of these miraculous signs were ever heard of in the Church for the first 300 years after Christ, until about the year 360 ; after that the Empire under Constantine and his sons having publicly embraced the Christian Faith, the Church had peace, and the bodies of the despised martyrs, such as could be found, were now bestowed in most magnificent temples, and there gloriously enshrined. And yet the Christians long before had used to keep their assemblies at the cemeteries and monuments of their martyrs : how came it to pass that no such virtue of their bones and ashes, no such testimonies of their power after death; were discovered until now?

Babylas his bones were the first, that all my search can find, which charmed the devil of Daphne, Apollo Daphneus, when Julian the Apostate offered so many sacrifices to make him speak; and being asked why he was so mute, forsooth the corpse of Babylas the martyr, buried near the temple in Daphne, stopped his windpipe. I fear, I fear here was some hypocrisy in this business, and the devil had some feat to play : the very name of BABYLAS is enough to breed jealousy, it is an ominous name, that name Babylas : yea, aud this happened too at Antioch, where Babylas was Bishop and martyr in the persecution of Decius. Would it not do the devil good, there to begin his mystery, where the Christian name was first given to the followers of Christ? Howsoever this was then far otherwise construed, and a conceit quickly taken, that other martyrs' bones might upon trial be found as terrible to the devil as those of Babylas; which was no sooner tried, but experience presently verified it with improvement, as you heard before: so that all the world rung so with wonders done by martyrs, that even holy men, who at the first suspected, were at length surprised and carried away with the power of delusion.

Besides the silence of all undoubted antiquity of any such sepulchral wonders to have happened in the former ages, the very manner of

speech which the fathers living in this miraculous age used when they spake of these things, will argue that they were then accounted novelties, and not as continued from the Apostles' times. Chrysostom, in his oration against the Gentiles, of the business of Babylas, speaks thus ; *“If any man believes not thosethings which are said to be done by the Apostles, let him now beholding the present desist from his impudency.Ambrose. (Epist. ad sororem Marcellinam,) relating of a piece of the speech he made upon the translation of the bodies of Gerrasius and Protasius, and the miracles then shewed, saith

* Ει τις απισει τους υπο των Αποστολων γεγενημενους, τα παροντα θεωρων παυεσθω της αναισχυντιας.

he, **

you see the miracles of ancient times (he means the times of Christ and his Apostles) renewed.” S. Augustine (Lib. de civ. Dei 22, cap. 8.) in a discourse of the miracles of that time, saith, “ We made an order to have bills given out of such miracles as were done, when we saw the wonders of ancient times renewed in ours. "

But, alas ! now began the. Latter Times ; this was the fatal time, and thus the CHRISTIAN APOSTASY was to be ushered. If they had known this, it would haveturned their joyous shoutings and triumphs at these things into mourning. The end which these signs and wonders aimed at, and at length brought to pass, should have made them remember that warning which was given the ancient people of God, Deut. 13.

« If there arise among you a Prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder; and the sign or wonder come to pass,

hereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other Gods and serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that Prophet, or that dreamer dreams : For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” But why should I

go any

further before I tell you, that even in this also the idolatry of saint-worship was a true counterfeit of the Gentiles' idolatry of demons ? Did not demon-worship enter after the same manner ? Was it not first insinuated, and at length established, by signs and wonders of the very self-same kind and fashion ? Listen what Eusebius will tell us in his fifth Book de Preparat. Evangel. Chap. 2. (according to the Greek edition of Rob. Stephen,) “when (saith he) those wicked spirits (as he proved them to be which were worshipped under the names of demons) saw mankind brought off to

* Reparata vetusti temporis miracula cernitis. + Id namque fieri voluimus, cum videremus, antiquis similia divinarum signa virtutum etiam nostris temporibus frequentari, et ea non debere multorum notitiæ deperire.

Η υπεροι καιροι.

« PreviousContinue »