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less simple and less pure; but by becoming a miscellany it became worse and worse.
It was or might be at the first a "complying with the infirmities of the weak,” a pursuance of St. Paul's advice so to do; but when these weak persons are sufficiently instructed in the religion, and that to dissent is not infirmity, but peevishness and pride, or wilfulness,—all compliance and condescension are no longer charity, but give confidence to their error, For when the reasonable discourses of the religion will not satisfy the supposed weak brother, he that complies with him, confesses his the better way; and when learned men follow the ignorant to superstition, they will no longer call it compliance and condescension, but duty and necessity and approbation. A good man will go a little out of his road to reduce the wandering traveller; but if he will not return, it will be an unreasonable compliance to go along with him to the end of his wandering. And where there is any such danger (as in most cases it is), we have the example of God himself, and his commandment'expressly given to the children of Israel, that they should abstain from all communion with the gentiles, their neighbours, even in things indifferent; and that they should destroy the very monuments and rituals, and the very materials, of their religion, lest, by such a little compliance, they be too far tempted. And thus also they did sometime in the primitive church; for Tertullian", because the gentiles used in the services of their idols to sit down immediately after they had prayed, would not have the Christians do so, though the ceremony of itself was wholly indifferent. And when many Christian churches had taken some gentile ceremonies into their Christmas solemnity, being occasioned by the circumcision of Christ falling on the calends of January, or the new-year's day, they were not only forbidden in the council of Auxerre ~, but the church did particularly appoint private litanies, processions, and austerities, to be used for three days with the twelve of Christmas, “ ad calcandam gentilium consuetudinem," “ to destroy and countermine the superstitious customs of the heathen," which, by the compliance and fondness of some Christians, had dishonoured the excellency and innocency of the Christmas festivity; as we find noted by the fathers of the synods of Turon. Sometimes there had been reason to retain these things : but when, in the days of persecution, some weak-hearted Christians did shelter themselves under the cover of such symbolical ceremonies, and escaped the confession of Christianity by doing some things of like custom-or when the folly and levity of Christianity, by these instruments, passed on to vanity or superstition,—then the church with care did forbid the retaining of heathenish customs, which had been innocent but for such accidents. In these things the church may lose her liberty, so that “all things be done to edification."
t Deut. vii. 5. xii. 4.
u De Oral. cap. 12. * Coucil, Antisiodor. cap. 1.
15. (2.) But if the customs and rites be such, as are founded upon any point of doctrine, whatsoever it be that derives from pagan customs, must also be imputed to their doctrines; and then to follow their customs, will be also to mingle the religions, to blend light and darkness, and to join Christ with Belial. It had been a material objection, which Faustus the Manichee made against the Catholics, that they did remove the worship from idols, and give it to saints and martyrs. St. Austin, who was to answer the objection, could not justify, but did deny the fact, as to that instance and some few others : for the custom of the nations, in such cases, was no argument, but an objection. From these premises it will appear to be but a weak pretence to say, that “if many nations and religions agree in such a ceremony, or such an opinion, it will be supposed to come from the light of nature.'-For there are not many propositions, in all which nature can teach; and we should know but a very few things, if we did not go to school to God, to tutors, to experience, and to necessity. This pretence would not only establish purgatory, but the worship of images, and the multitude of gods, and idololatrical services, and very many superstitions, and trifling observances, and confidence, in dreams, and the sacrifice of beasts, and many things more than can well become or combine with Christianity. When not only some nations, but all, agree in a proposition, it is a good corroborative, a good second to our persuasions, but not a principal; it gives advantage, but not establishment; ornament, but not foundation, to a truth: which thing if it had been better observed by the Christians, who, from the schools of Plato,
y Concil. Turon. 2. can. 13.
Chrysippus, Aristotle, and Epicurus, came into the schools of Christ, or from the temples of Jupiter and Apollo into the services of the church, Christianity had been more pure and unmingled than at this day we find it. The ceremony of sprinkling holy water was a heathenish rite, used in the sanctifications and lustrations of the Capitol, as Alexander ab Alexandro relates : but because this is not a ceremony
of order or circumstance, but pretends to some real effect, and derives not from Christ or his apostles, but from the gentiles, and
the doctrine of the effect of such ceremonies, it is not justifiable. Burning candles by dead bodies was innocent and useful to them, that attended in the vigils before interment; but when they took this from the custom of the heathens, who thought those lights useful to the departed souls, they gave a demonstration by the event of things that they did not do well: for the Christians also derived a superstitious opinion along with the ceremony, and began to think that those lights did entertain the souls in those cemeteries: and this produced the decree of the council of Eliberis?, that wax-candles should not be burnt in the daytime, “lest the spirits of the dead be disturbed.” Now when any false principle is in the entry of the ceremony, or attends upon it, or any superstition be in the progress or in the end of it, any scandal, or any danger,--such customs are not at all to be followed, such rituals are not to be imitated or transcribed : that is, no custom is a warranty for any evil,
The Measure of Perfection and Obedience expected of Christians,
is greater than that of the Jews, even in moral Duties com
mon to them and us. 1. It matters not, whether Christ's law have in it more precepts than were in the law of Moses : our work is set before us, and we are not concerned how much they had to do; and in most of the instances which are, or are said to be, new commandments, it may also be said of them as it was by the Apostle concerning charity, " This is a new commandment," and " This is an old commandment;" there being, at least in
most instances, an obligation upon them to do what was of itself good and perfective of human nature, and an imitation of the eternal law of God, a conformity to the divine perfections. This is true as to the material part : but then because that which was an old commandment, is also made a new coinmandment, and established upon better promises, and endeared by new instances of an infinite love ; and we ourselves are enabled by more excellent graces, and the promise of the Holy Spirit is made to all that ask him; it is infinitely reasonable to think, that because this new commandment superadds nothing new in the matter, it must introduce something new at least in the manner, or measure of obedience.
2. They and we are both of us to pray; but we are commanded to pray "fervently,' frequently, 'continually. They were to be charitable, and so are we: but they were tied to be so to their friends and to their neighbours, but we to our enemies; and though in some instances, they were tied to be so, yet we are bound in more; more men are our neighbours, and more are our brethren, and more is our duty. They were to do them no hurt; but we must do them good. They were to forgive upon submission and repentance; but we must invite them to repentance, and we must offer pardon. They were to give bread to their needy brother; but we are in some cases to give our lives. They were to love God “with all their soul and with all their strength :” and though we cannot do more than this, yet we can do more than they did; for our strengths are more, our understandings are better instructed, our shield is stronger, and our breastplate broader, and our armour of righteousness is of more proof than theirs was. Dares and Entellus did both contend with all their strength; but because Entellus had much more than the other, he was the better champion.
3. (1.) This rule does principally concern Christian churches and communities of men : that their laws be more holy; that the condition of the subjects be more tolerable; that wars be not so easily commenced; that they be with more gentleness acted; that the laws of Christ be enforced; that malefactors be not permitted ; that vice be more discouraged; that nothing dishonourable to religion be permitted ; that the kingdom of Christ in all capacities be advanced ; that
s Æn. 5.
his ministers be honoured and maintained according to the excellency of the present ministry and the relation to Christ's priesthood; that the public and honorary monuments of it be preserved, and virtue properly encouraged; and great public care taken for the advantageous ministry of souls, which are the proper purchase of our Redeemer,-that in all things Christ may be honoured by us more than Moses was by them, and that God, through Jesus Christ, be more glorified than he was in the Levitical government.
4. (2.) This also concerns single persons; that they certainly abstain from all those imperfections of duty which were either permitted in the law, or introduced by the commentaries of their doctors, or inferred by the general declination of their first piety, and the corruption of manners. The Jews would not take usury of a needy Jew, but of a needy stranger they would: but we must consider them with a more equal eye; we must be charitable to all: for to a Christian no man, that needs and asks him, is a stranger. The Jews had great liberty of divorces indulged to them; a Christian hath not the same: but in that in which he is permitted, he is not to be too forward.
5. (3.) In matters of duty, a Christian is to expound his obligation to the advantage of piety, to security of obedience, to the ease of his brother, and the pressing upon himself: that whatever be the event of his temporal affairs, he secure his spiritual interest, and secure justice though to the loss of his money, and in all doubts determine for duty rather than for interest: the Jews went not beyond the letter of the commandment.
6. (4.) In the interior acts of virtue, a Christian is to be more zealous, forward, operative, and busy, frequent and fervent: he must converse with God by a more renewed intercourse, give himself no limits, always striving to go forward, designing to himself no measure but infinite in the imitation of the perfections of God, and the excellences of his most holy Son.
7. (5.) In the exterior acts of virtue, Christians must, according to their proportion, be ashamed to be outdone by Jews, not only in what they did in obedience, but also in what they, in good and prudent zeal for the law of Moses, did expend or act: I say, what they did act in good and prudent zeal for their law. That they adorned their temple, freely