« السابقةمتابعة »
and the long superstition of the Gentiles, which they therefore thought fit to be retained, because they had done so formerly; “ Pergentes non quò eundum est, sed quò iturC;" and all the blessings of this life which God gave them, they had in conjunction with their religion, and therefore they believed it was for their religion; and this persuasion was bound fast in them with ribs of iron : the apostles were forced to unloose the whole conjuncture of parts and principles in their understandings, before they could make them malleable and receptive of any impresses. But the observations and experience of all wise men can justify this truth. All that I shall say to the present purpose is this, that consideration is to be had to the weakness of persons, when they are prevailed upon by so innocent a prejudice: and when there cannot be arguments strong enough to overmaster an habitual persuasion bred with a man, nourished up with him, that always ate at his table, and lay in his bosom, he is not easily to be called heretic; for if he keeps the foundation of faith, other articles are not so clearly demonstrated on either side, but that a man may innocently be abused to the contrary. And therefore in this case to handle him charitably, is but to do him justice. And when an opinion in minoribus articulis' is entertained upon the title and stock of education, it may be the better permitted to him, since, upon no better stock nor stronger arguments, most men entertain their whole religion, even Christianity itself.
5. Fifthly: there are some persons of a different persuasion, who therefore are the rather to be tolerated ; because the indirect practices and impóstures of their adversaries have confirmed them, that those opinions which they disavow, are not from God, as being upheld by means not of God's appointment. For it is no unreasonable discourse to say, that God will not be served with a lie; for he does not need one, and he hath means enough to support all those truths which he hath commanded, and hath supplied every honest cause with enough for its maintenance, and to contest against its adversaries. And (but that they which use indirect arts, will not be willing to lose any of their unjust advantages, nor yet be charitable to those persons, whom either to gain or to undo they leave nothing unattempted)
c Vid. Mip. Fel. Dolay.
the church of Rome hath much reason not to be so decretory in her sentences against persons of a differing persuasion: for if their cause were entirely the cause of God, they have given wise people reason to suspect it, because some of them have gone to the devil to defend it. And if it be remembered what tragedies were stirred up against Luther, for saying the devil had taught him an argument against the mass; it will be of as great advantage against them, that they go to the devil for many arguments to support not only the mass, but the other distinguishing articles of their church. I instance in the notorious forging of miracles, and framing of false and ridiculous legends. For the former I need no other instances than what happened in the great contestation about the immaculate conception, when there were miracles brought on both sides to prove the contradictory parts : and though it be more than probable that both sides played the jugglers, yet the Dominicans had the ill-luck to be discovered, and the actors burnt at Berne. But this discovery happened by Providence; for the Dominican opinion hath more degrees of probability than the Franciscan, is clearly more consonant both to Scripture and all antiquity; and this part of it is acknowledged by the greatest patrons themselves, as Salmeron, Posà, and Wadding: yet because they played the knaves in a just question, and used false arts to maintain a true proposition, God Almighty, to shew that he will not be served by a lie, was pleased rather to discover the imposture in the right opinion than in the false, since nothing is more dishonourable to God than to offer a sin in sacrifice to him, and nothing more incongruous in the nature of the thing, than that truth and falsehood should support each other, or that true doctrine should live at the charges of a lie. And he that considers the arguments for each opinion, will easily conclude, that if God would not have truth confirmed by a lie, much less would he himself attest a lie with a true miracle. And by this ground it will easily follow, that the Franciscan party, although they had better luck than the Dominicans, yet had not more honesty, because their cause was worse, and therefore their arguments no whit the better. And, although the argument drawn from miracles is good to attest a holy doctrine, which by its own worth will support itself after way is a little made by
miracles; yet of itself and by its own reputation it will not support any fabric: for instead of proving a doctrine to be true, it makes that the miracles themselves are suspected to be illusions, if they be pretended in behalf of a doctrine, which we think we have reason to account false. And therefore the Jews did not believe Christ's doctrine for his miracles, but disbelieved the truth of his miracles, because they did not like his doctrine. And if the holiness of his doctrine, and the Spirit of God by inspirations and infusions, and by that which St. Peter calls “a surer word of prophecy,” had not attested the divinity both of his person and his office, we should have wanted many degrees of confidence, which now we have upon the truth of Christian religion. But now since we are foretold by this “surer word of prophecy,” that is, the prediction of Jesus Christ, that antichrist should come in all wonders and signs and lying miracles, and that the church saw much of that already verified in Simon Magus, Apollonius Tyaneus, and Manetho, and divers d heretics, it is now come to that pass, that the argument, in its best advantage, proves nothing so much as that the doctrine which it pretends to prove, is to be suspected; because it was foretold, that false doctrine should be obtruded under such pretences d. But then when not only true miracles are an insufficient argument to prove a truth since the establishment of Christianity, but that the miracles themselves are false and spurious, it makes that doctrine, in whose defence they come, justly. to be suspected; because they are a demonstration, that the interested persons use all means, leave nothing unattempted, to prove their propositions; but since they so fail as to bring nothing from God, but something from the devil, for its justification, it is a great sign that the doctrine is false, because we know the devil, unless it be against his will, does nothing to prove a true proposition that makes against him. And now then those persons who will endure no man of another opinion, might do well to remember how by their exorcisms, their devils' tricks at Lowdon, and the other side pretending to cure mad folks and persons bewitched, and the many discoveries of their juggling, they have given so much reason to their adversaries to suspect
Vid, Baron. A. D.68. n. 22. Philostrat. 1. 4. p. 485. Compend. Ced. p. 202. Stapleton prompt. Moral. pars æstiva, p. 627.
their doctrine, that either they must not be ready to condemn their persons who are made suspicious by their indirect proceeding in attestation of that which they value so high as to call their religion; or else they must condemn themselves for making the scandal active and effectual.
6. As for false legends, it will be of the same consideration, because they are false testimonies of miracles that were never done; which differs only from the other as a lie in action; but of this we have witness enough in that decree of Pope Leo X., session the eleventh of the last Lateran council, where he excommunicates all the forgers and inventors of visions and false miracles: which is a testimony that it was then a practice so public as to need a law for its suppression. And if any man shall doubt whether it were so or not, let him see the centum gravamina' of the princes of Germany, where it is highly complained of. But the extreme stupidity and sottishness of the inventors of lying stories is so great, as to give occasion to some persons to suspect the truth of all church-story®: witness the legend of Lombardy; of the author of which the bishop of the Canaries gives this testimony; “ In illo enim libro miraculorum monstra sæpius quàm vera miracula legas. Hanc homo scripsit ferrei oris, plumbei cordis, animi certè parùm severi et prudentis.” But I need not descend so low, for St. Gregory and Venerable Bede themselves reported miracles, for the authority of which they only had the report of the common people ; and it is not certain that St. Jerome had so much in his stories of St. Paul and St. Anthony, and the fauns and the satyrs which appeared to them, and desired their prayers. But I shall only, by way of eminency, note what Sir Thomas More says in his epistle to Ruthal, the king's secretary, before the dialogue of Lucian · Philopseudes ;' that therefore he undertook the translation of that dialogue, to free the world from a superstition that crept in under the face and title of religion. For such lies, says he, are transmitted to us with such authority, that a certain impostor had persuaded St. Austin, that the very fable which Lucian scoffs and makes sport withal in that dialogue, was a real story, and acted in his own days'.
• Τα γαρ μη ειρημένα εκβιαζόμενοι, και τα αβιάστως ειρημένα υποπτεύεσθαι παρασ. xeválourir. Isid. Pelus. Vid. Lib. 11. loc. Theol. cap. 6. Canus ibid.
i Viz. De duobus spuriis, altero decedente, allero in vitam redeunte post viginti
The epistle is worth the reading to this purpose : but he says this abuse grew to such a height, that scarce any life of any saint or martyr is truly related, but is full of lies and lying wonders; and some persons thought they served God, if they did honour to God's saints by inventing some prodigious story or miracle for their reputation. So that now it is no wonder if the most pious men are apt to believe, and the greatest historians are easy enough to report, such stories, which serving to a good end, are also consigned by the report of persons otherwise pious and prudent enough. I will not instance in Vincentius's speculum,—Turonensis - Thomas Cantipratanus,- John Herolt,-Vitæ Patrum,--nor the revelations of St. Bridget, though confirmed by two Popes, Martin V. and Boniface IX. Even the best and most deliberate amongst them, Lippoman, Surius, Lipsius, Bzovius, and Baronius, are so full of fables, that they cause great disreputation to the other monuments and records of antiquity, and yet do no advantage to the cause under which they serve and take pay. They do no good, and much hurt; but yet accidentally they may procure this advantage to charity, since they do none to faith, that since they have so abused the credit of story, that our confidences want much of that support we should receive from her records of antiquity,—yet the men that dissent and are scandalized by such proceedings, should be excused, if they should chance to be afraid of truth, that hath put on garments of imposture : and since much violence is done to the truth and certainty of their judging, let none be done to their liberty of judging; since they cannot meet a right guide, let them have a charitable judge. And since it is one very great argument against Simon Magus and against Mahomet, that we can prove their miracles to be impostures; it is much to be pitied if timorous and suspicious persons shall invincibly and honestly less apprehend a truth which they see conveyed by such a testimony, which we all use as an argument to reprove the Mahometan superstition.
7. Sixthly : here also come in all the weaknesses and trifling prejudices, which operate not by their own strength,
dies ; quam in aliis nominibas ridet Lucianus. Vide etiam argumentum Gilberti Cognati, in Agnolat. in hunc Dialog. Vic. Palæot. de Sacra sindove, par. 1. Epist. ad Lector.