« VorigeDoorgaan »
to us from heaven, to tell it us; unless we had either sight and sense, or immediate vision and fruition.
And I am fully satisfied, 1. That spiritual things are invisible, and are no objects of corporeal sense. 2. That it is not meet and honourable to God's wisdom and justice to govern rational free-agents in via, by sight and sense. It would be no trial, or thanks to the most sensual wretch, to forbear his sin, if heaven and hell were open to his sight. 3. That spiritual vision and fruition is our state in patria; our end and perfection, and not fit for the state of trial and travellers in the ways.
Sect. 12. II. If I had been to choose who this messenger should be, I could have preferred none before him, who is the very wisdom, truth, and word of God.
Had it been but an angel, I might have thought that his indefectibility and veracity is uncertain to mankind on earth; but wisdom and truth itself can never lie.
Sect. 13. III. If I had been to choose in what way this messenger should converse with man, as an effectual and suitable teacher of these mysteries, and how the work of mediation between God and man should be performed, I could have desired no fitter way than that he should assume our nature, and in that nature familiarly instruct us, and be our example, and our high priest toward God by his merit, sacrifice, and intercession.
Sect. 14. IV. Had I been to choose what way he should prove his message to be of God, I could not have chosen a more satisfying way than that of prophecy, sanctity, and open, numerous, and uncontrolled miracles, with his own resurrection and ascension, and giving the Holy Ghost to be his advocate and witness continually to the world.
Sect. 15. V. I could not have expected that these miracles should be done in the sight of all the persons in the world, in every place and age, (for then they would be but as common works,) but rather before such chosen witnesses as were fit to communicate them to others.
Sect. 16. VI. Nor could I have chosen a fitter way for such witnesses to confirm their testimony by, than by the same spirit of holiness and power, and by such a stream of miracles as the apostles wrought, and such success in the actual renovation of their followers.
Sect. 17. VII. Nor could I well have chosen a more meet and convincing way of history or tradition, to convey down all these things to us, than that before described, which hath been used by God.
Sect. 18. VIII. Nor could I have chosen any one standing seal and witness of Christ, so fit for all persons, learned and unlearned, and to endure through all generations, as is the actual saving of men, by the real renovation of their hearts and lives by the Holy Spirit, reclaiming them from selfishness, sensuality, worldliness, and other sin, and bringing them up to the image of God's holiness, in love and heavenliness; which is the continued work of Christ.
So that when God hath done all things so, as my very reason is constrained to acknowledge best, what should I desire more? I confess I feel still that my nature would fain be satisfied by the way of sight and sense. Could I see heaven and hell, I think it would most effectually end all doubts. But my reason is satisfied that it is a thing unmeet, and utterly unsuitable to a world that must be morally governed and conducted to their end.
Sect. 19. XI. The temptations of Satan, by which he would hinder us from faith, love, and obedience, are so palpable, malicious, and importunate, that they do much to confirm me of the truth and goodness of that word and way which he so much resisteth.
I think that there are few men, good or bad, if they will observe both the inward suggestions with which they are often solicited, for matter, manner, and season, and the outward impediments to every good work, and invitations to evil, which they meet with in their conversations, but may be convinced that there are malicious spirits, who are enemies to Christ and us, and continually by temptations fight against him.
Sect. 20. XII. The devil's contracts with witches opposing Christ, and engaging them to renounce their baptism, and to forsake his ways, is some confirmation of the christian verity.
That witches really there are, as I said before, he that will read Remigius and Bodin only, may be satisfied, as also the 'Malleus Maleficorum,' 'Danæus,' &c.; and the numerous instances in Suffolk and Essex, about twenty-one years ago, may further satisfy them. And that the devil draweth them to such renunciations of the covenant and ordinances of Christ, the many histories of it are full proof.t
Sect. 21. XIII. Though many such reports are fabulous and delusory, yet there have been certainly proved, in all ages, such apparitions as, either by opposition or defence, have borne some testimony to the christian faith.
Of both these last, see what I have written in
* Of the abundance of witches at that time read Bishop Hall, sol, 15. pp.
53, 54.' Read Edm. Bower, Of the Salisbury Witch.'
Infidelity,' and in the 'Saints' Rest' (part ii. p. 258); and read Lavater De Spectris,' et 'Zanchius' (tom. 3. lib. iv. cap. 10, et cap. 20); 'Dælris,' &c. And what I said before, especially the narrative called 'The Devil of Mascon,' and Dr. Moor, ' Of Atheism.'
Sect. 22. XIV. The speeches and actions of persons possessed by the devil, usually raging blasphemously against Christ, do somewhat confirm the christian verity.
That there are, and have been, many such, there hath been unquestionable evidence. See my 'Saints' Rest' (part ii. p. 258, &c.); 'Zanchius' (tom. 3. lib. iv. cap. 10. p. 288); Forestus 'De Venenis' (observ. 8); in Schol. Pet. Mart. 'Loc. Com.' (clas. i. cap. 9); Fernel. 'De abdit. rerum causis' (lib. ii. cap. 16); Platerus 'Observ.' (p. 20); 'De stupore Dæmon,' &c.; Tertul. 'Apol.' (cap. 23); Cyprian. Epis. Ad Demetrium. Origen. in Matt. 17;' Augustin. 'De Divinat,' 'Dæmon,' &c.
Sect. 23. XV. Lastly: the testimony of the enemies of Christianity is some encouragement to faith."
What conjectures there be that Pythagoras had his knowledge from the Jews, and Plato was not a stranger to Moses's writings, hath been showed by many. How plain it is that the wiser and better any heathens have been, the nearer they have come in their doctrines to that of Jesus Christ, I need not say much to convince the considerate, that are men of reading. How the Jews were convinced of the miracles of Christ, and fled to the accusation of Christ as a magician, is already showed. The wisest and best of the Roman emperors favoured them. Dion Cassius, in the Life of Nerva Coccieus,' (page 1,) saith, "Cæterum Nerva omnes qui impietatis in Deos rei fuerant, eos absolvi voluit: exules in patriam reduxit." These that were called impietatis rei, were the Jews and Christians who refused to sacrifice to idols: and he addeth, "Et ne servi de cætero dominos criminarentur, edicto vetuit, neve liceret aut impietatis, aut Judaicæ secta quemquam de hinc insimulari." It seemeth by this that when displeased servants would be revenged on their masters, they used to accuse them of Christianity, or Judaism.
Trajan did something against the Christians, being provoked by the Jews, who (saith Dion Cassius, in Vita Trajani') did
Porphyry was so convinced of the truth of Daniel's prophecy, that he is fain to say, that it was written after the things were fulfilled; saith Grot. Imò Petri miracula Phlegon Adriani imperatoris libertus in Aunalibus suis commemoravit : inquit Grotius de Verit. Rel. 1. 3.
make one Andrew their captain, and, about Cyrene, murdered, of Greeks and Romans, above two hundred thousand men; but upon Pliny's information of the Christians' innocency and unjust sufferings, their persecutions were moderated. *
Adrian also was exasperated by the Jews, who, as Æl. Spartianus saith, in Adrian,' "Moverunt bellum, quod vetebantur mutilare genitalia;" and the Christians were taken for a sort of Jews, and so suffered often for their faults. But Serennius Granianus Legatus, a Roman nobleman, writing to Adrian, how unjust it was, upon vulgar clamour, to kill innocent Christians only for their religion, Adrian wrote to Minutius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, that no Christian should suffer, but for proved crimes. Euseb. 'Hist.' (lib. 4.) Y
Lampridius, in Alexand. Sever.,' saith: "Quod (viz. templum Christo facere) et Adrianus cogitasse fertur ; qui templa in omnibus civitatibus sine simulachris jussit fieri: quæ hodie idcirco, quia non habent numina, dicuntur Adriani; quæ ille ad hoc parasse dicebatur: sed prohibitus est ab his, qui consulentes sacra repererant, omnes Christianos futuros, si id optato evenisset, et templa reliqua deserenda."
Lucian honoureth the Christians, while he derideth them for their sufferings and faith, saying: "Persuaserunt sibi infœlices Christiani, se immortalitate fruituros, perpetuoque victuros esse : ideo et mortem magno contemnunt animo: ac non pauci sua sponte semetipsos occidendos offerunt: postquam vero semel à nobis desciverunt, Græcorum Deos constanter abnegant," &c.
When Adrian had found how the Christians differed from the Jews, and had suffered by Barchochebas, because they would not join in the rebellion, when he had ended the war, * Fuit vero prodigiorum apud sepulchra editorum tanta frequentia, tot eorum testes, ut etiam Porphyrio ejus rei confessionem expresserit inquit.Grot. 1. 3.
y I know what a stir is made about Josephus's 'Testimony of Christ ;' some accounting it current, and some as foisted in by some Christian; but I doubt not to say, that to those who well consider all, the middle opinion of B. Usher will appear to be the most probable: viz. That the whole sentence is current, except those words, "This was Christ;" and that some Christian, having written those words as expository in the margin of his book, they afterwards crept thence into the text. Athenagoras tells M. Aurel. Antoninus, the emperor, and L. Aur. Commodus, to whom he wrote: Nec dubito quiu vos etiam doctissimi et sapientissimi principes, historias et scripta Mosis, Esaiæ, Hieremiæ, et reliquorum prophetarum aliqua ex parte cognoveritis.-Sed vobis relinquo qui libros novistis, studiosius, in illorum prophetias inquirere ac perpendere, &c.-Apol. p. in B. pp. 56, 57. And it is likely that Antonine learned somewhat from the Scriptures, as well as Severus, if he so well knew them; and thence received some of his wisdom and virtue.
he gave Jerusalem to the Christians and others, to inhabit: saith Eusebius.
Antoninus Pius published this edict for the Christians: "Siquisquam cuiquam Christiano, quia Christianus sit pergat molestia quicquam aut criminis inferre, ille cui crimen illatum erit, etiamsi Christianus reipsa deprehensus sit, absolvatur: qui autem illum accusaverat, justum debitumque supplicium subeat:" adding a decree of Adrian's, thus: "Pro quibus hominibus et alii provinciarum præsides, jam ante divo patri meo scripserunt; quibus ille rescripsit, nequid interturbarent hoc genus hominum nisi qui convicti essent tentasse quippiam contra rempublicam." Euseb. 'Hist. '(lib. 4). And though, under that excellent prince, Antoninus Philosophus, some persecution was raised, it was mostly by officers at a great distance, in France, &c., yet all was staid, and favour showed them, upon the miraculous relief of the army by rain, upon the Christian soldiers' prayers, called Legio Fulminatrix; when they were at war with the Quadi; of which see Jul. Capitolin., Dion Cass., Tertul. 'Apolog.,' Euseb. (lib 5.), Orosium,' &c. His letters to the Senate are these: 66 Credibile est Christianos, licet eos impios existimemus, Deum pro munimento habere in pectore: simul enim atque humi sese abjecerunt, et preces fuderunt, ad ignotum mihi Deum, statim è cœlo pluvia delapsa est, in nos quidem frigidissima, in nostros vero hostes grando et fulmina: eorumque orationibus et precibus statim Deus præsto fuit, qui neque vinci neque expugnari potest. Quamobrem concedamus talibus, ut sint Christiani, ne quæ tela ejus generis contra nos petant et impetrent."
After this emperor, a company of beasts successively followed; yet most of them were restrained from great persecutions : Commodus was restrained by Martia, a friend to the Christians, as Dio Cass. writeth; and others by other means. And the Christians often tendered their apologies: among whom, Apollonius, a senator, in the reign of Commodus, offered a book for Christianity, and was beheaded; Euseb. (lib. 5.) But of all the emperors that were from Augustus to Constantine, there were but ten that persecuted the Christians, of whom, those that I have mentioned, who reversed their decrees, or restrained the persecutors, were a part.
Septim. Severus forbade any to become Christians; but what judgments did fall upon divers of his presidents, who persecuted the Christians, and what convictions some of them had by miracles, is worth the reading in Tertullian Ad Scapul.'