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ployed on and directed unto (though not terminated in) the Virgin Mary and other saints.
8. Demand. Whether any thing can be said for the justifying the doctrine and practice of the Roman church in this matter, which might not also have been as justly pretended for the justification of the Collyridians in their opinion and practice; seeing it was never imputed to them, that they accounted the blessed Virgin, God, or that they believed in more gods than one; and seeing their choosing her out, rather than any other woman, or any other creature, for the object of their devotion, shews plainly, that they gave it her for her relation to Christ.
Ans. The Collyridians could not say this, as appears by what has been said before: and it is a most shameless slander upon God's church, and such as (without repentance) will lie heavy upon his soul that uttered it, that the Collyridians might as justly and truly have said all this for themselves, as papists for themselves.
Reply. To this I reply four things. . ]. That to my last and most convincing reason you have answered (as much as you could, I believe, but yet you have answered) nothing; and I am well content you should do so; for where nothing is to be had the king himself must lose his right. 2. That if I had thought or spoken better of the Collyridians than they deserved, yet I cannot see how this had been to slander the church of Rome. 3. That I did not positively affirm, that the Collyridians might do so, but desired only it might be inquired into and examined, whether, for the reasons alleged, they might not do so. 4. And, lastly, Upon a thorough examination of the matter I do now affirm, what before I did not, that the Collyridians, for aught appears to the contrary, might justly and truly have said, for the justification of their practice, as much, nay, the very same things, that the papists do for theirs. For they might have said, We are Christians, and believe the Scripture, and believe there is but one God. We offer not to the blessed Virgin, as believing she is God, but the mother of God; our worship of her is not absolute but relative, not terminated in her, but given to her for her Son's sake: and if our practice may be allowed, we are content to call our oblation not a sacrifice, but a present; neither is there any reason, why it should be called a sacrifice, more than the offering and burning a taper to the honour of the same Virgin. All this the Collyridians might have said for themselves; and therefore, I believe, you will have more cause to repent you for daubing over impiety with untempered mortar, than I shall have for slandering the Roman church with a matter of truth.
9. Demand. Whether therefore one of the two must not of necessity follow; that either the ancient church erred, in condemning the opinion and practice of the Collyridians as heretical; or else, that the church of Rome errs, in approving the same opinion, and the same practice in effect, which in them was condemned ? That is, whether the church of Rome must not be heretical with the Collyridians, or else the Collyridians catholics with the church of Rome?
Ans. It appears by the former answers, that neither did the ancient church err in condemning the opinion and practice of the Collyridians, as
heretical, nor doth the church of Rome approve the same opinion, or the same practice.
Reply. The substance of the former answers is but this: That the papists offer to the Virgin Mary, and other saints, wax tapers by way or present, not of sacrifice; and to her, not as to a god, but as the mother of God; but that the Collyridians offered to her by way of sacrifice, as to a sovereign power and deity. To this I have replied, and proved, that it no way appears, that the Collyridians did believe the blessed Virgin to be a sovereign power and deity, or that she was not subordinate to God. Then, that their offering might be called a gift, as well as the papists, and the papists a sacrifice, as well as theirs; both of them being a consumption of a creature in honour of the blessed Virgin, and neither of them more than so; and, therefore, either the Collyridians must stand with the church of Rome, or the church of Rome fall with the Collyridians. It had been perhaps sufficient for me, thus to have vindicated my assertion from contrary objections, without taking on myself the burden of proving a negative; yet to free from all doubt the conformity of the Roman church with the Collyridians, in this point, I think it will be necessary to shew, and that by many very probable arguments, that Epiphanius did not impute to them the pretended heresy of believing the Virgin Mary God; for then that other evasion, that their oblation was a sacrifice, and the papists is not, together with this pretence, will of itself fall to the ground.
Now, an opinion may be imputed to a man two ways; either because he holds and maintains it expressly, and formally, and in terms; or because VOL. III.
it may by a rational deduction be collected from some other opinion, which he does hold: in this latter sense, I deny not but Epiphanius might impute this opinion, we speak of, to the Collyridians, as a consequence upon their practice, which practice they esteemed lawful; but that they held it and owned it formally, and in terms; this, I say, Epiphanius does not impute to them, which I think for these seven reasons.
My first reason is, because he could not justly do so, and therefore without evident proof we may not say he did so; for this were to be uncharitable to him, in making him uncharitable to others. Now I say he could not justly charge them with this opinion, because he was not informed of any such opinion that they held, but only of their practice, and this practice was no sufficient proof that they held this opinion. That his information reached no further than their practice, appears out of his own words: “I have heard (saith he, hæres. 78.) another thing with great astonishment, that some being madly affected to the blessed Virgin, endeavour to bring her in in God's place, being mad and beside themselves : for they report, that certain women in Arabia have devised this vanity, to have meetings, and offer a cake to the blessed Virgin.” The same practice he sets down, hæres. 79. But that he was informed of any such opinion that they held, he has not a word or syllable to any such purpose; and yet if he had been informed of any, here had been the place to set it down; which certainly, writing his book rather of heretical opinions than practices, he would not have omitted to do, if there had been occasion: his silence therefore is a sufficient argument, that he was not informed of any such opinion that they held.
Now that their practice was no assurance that they held this opinion, it is manifest; because they might ground it, not upon this opinion, that she was God, but upon another as false, though not altogether so impious, that the worship of oblations was not proper to God alone. And therefore, though Epiphanius might think, or fear, that possibly they might ground their practice upon that other impious opinion, and therefore out of abundant caution confute that also, as he doth obliquely and in a word, and once only in all this long discourse, by telling them that our Saviour called her woman; yet he had no ground from their practice to assure himself, that certainly they did hold so. Nay, justice and reason and charity would, that he should incline himself to believe, that they grounded their practice upon that other opinion, which had less impiety in it; that is, that this worship of oblations was not proper to God, but communicable to creatures high in his favour.
My second is, because, if Epiphanius had known, that these Collyridians held the blessed Virgin to be a supreme power and deity, this being a far greater matter than offering a cake to her, should in all probability rather have given them their denomination; at least when he sets down what their heresy was; he would have made this part of it, that they did believe so: but to the contrary, in his Anacephalæosis, p. 130, he thus describes them : “they that offer to the name of the blessed Virgin cakes, who are called Collyridians." And again, p. 105, “they that offer to the blessed Virgin cakes, who are called Collyri