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for any other than priests, to offer any thing by of sacrifice, as the Collyridians did. Reply. Aristotle says most truly, that true definitions (he means I think of the terms of the conclusion to be demonstrated) are the best principles of science; and therefore want of them must needs be a cause of error and confusion in any discourse. Let me therefore here request you to set down what is a sacrifice, and how distinguished from an oblation by way of gift or present, and you will quickly see, that if the Collyridians offering a cake to the blessed Virgin were indeed a sacrifice, your offering a taper must likewise be so for a sacrifice is nothing else (for aught I know) but the oblation of any creature, by way of consumption, to the honour of that, whatsoever it is, to which it is offered. For if you include in the definition, that this offering must be intended to the highest Lord of all; so is, as you pretend, your offering of tapers to the blessed Virgin, intended to God finally, though not immediately: if you say it must be directed immediately to him, and is, not only no lawful sacrifice, but simply no sacrifice unless it be so; I say, you may as well require to the essence of a sacrifice, that it be offered by a priest, and from thence conclude, because the Collyridians were, you say, no priests, their offerings was no sacrifice. For the object of the action is as extrinsical to the essence of it, as the efficient; and therefore, if the defect of a due legitimate offerer cannot hinder but that an offering may be a true sacrifice, neither will the want of a due and lawful object be any hindrance, but still it may be so. Secondly,
say, this is to confound the essence of things with the lawful use of them; in effect, as if you
should say, that a knife, if misemployed, were a knife no longer. Thirdly, It is to make it not unlawful to offer incense (which yet you seem somewhat scrupulous of) or burnt-offerings to the Virgin Mary, or the saints, or even to living men, provided you know and believe and profess them to be men, and not gods. For this once supposed, these offerings will be no longer sacrifices; and to offer to creatures offerings that are not sacrifices, you say, by the doctrine of the Roman church, is lawful. It is, lastly, to deny (which is most ridiculous) that the pagans did indeed sacrifice to any of their inferior gods.
7. Demand. If it be said, that this worship, which they give to the blessed Virgin, is not that of Latria, but that of Dulia or Hyperdulia, for that they do not esteem her God; or if it be said, that their worship to her is not finally terminated neither, but given her for her relation to Christ; I demand, whether, as it is in St. Paul's judgment a great crime for him that knows God, not to worship him as God, so it be not as great a crime for him that knows her not to be God, yet to worship her (as if she were God) with the worship, which is proper, and hath been always appropriated to God alone? Such is the worship of oblations.
Ans. The worship of oblations, as worship is taken largely, for honour, and oblations for a gift or present, was never appropriated to God alone: take worship and oblations in any higher sense, and so it is not allowed in the church of Rome.
Reply. The oblation of things, by way of consumption, is the worship I spoke of: this is a higher matter than that of gifts and presents, and this is allowed in the church of Rome to be em
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. 1. 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 mat
ter 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 of gift 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